Launching Workday Financials can be a massive undertaking for any organization.

Every organization has pain points (i.e. accounting journals, account posting rules, transaction processing, revenue rules, etc), so it’s important that you have a practical approach and everything you need (including insider tips and tricks) to successfully deploy the system in your organization.

We’ve already given you a brief, high-level overview of the Workday Financial Management solution, but we thought we’d dig a little deeper.

We reached out to one of our senior-level Workday consultants who has over ten years of hands on experience with Workday Financials (and also happens to have a background in accounting and finance) to get some insider information. And, trust us, you’re not going to want to miss out on what we have to share with you.

Let’s get started.

What to Expect from This Conversation

Ready to learn about all the ins and outs of the Workday Financials system and some useful tips and tricks to help your Workday Financials implementation run smoothly? You’ve come to the right place.

As many of you know, implementing a new Workday Finance system involves more than just online training modules for employees and surface-level preparation for your entire workforce. Implementing a system like this requires careful examination of current business processes, in-depth planning, and continuous evaluation of core organizational functionality.

In this Q&A, we go behind the scenes of the Workday Financial system to get some top tips straight from one of the best industry experts in the Workday space. Let’s get started. 

Q: What do organizations need to consider before deploying Workday Financials?

A: The first thing to consider is staffing. It’s critical to make sure you have the resources to support the implementation and your day-to-day operations. Bringing in a client-side implementation partner to augment your staff and provide expertise to the project is vital for success. 

Next, take into account the scope of the project. I always encourage clients to take a broad perspective regarding the functional areas or the work streams that they want to deploy. Your implementation team can help you get familiar with all the different work streams and functional areas. However, keep things simple and don’t feel like you need to tackle everything on Day One. Implementing a new solution can be overwhelming, so be patient and lean on your implementation partners for support. 

Finally, develop your timeline. Before the project starts, work with your team and stakeholders to come up with an achievable timeline. Every timeline is different, but you can plan for a six- to nine-month timeframe for most mid-sized enterprise deployments. Larger enterprises will require 12 to 18 months. Your implementation partner can take the lead on the timeline and build a Workday Financials training plan for your team.

Q: What are some lessons learned during your many years of implementing Workday Financials?

A: You can never start too soon. There’s always something you can start working on early, whether it’s data clean up, data purging, identifying integrations, updating security policies and so much more. Best advice: don’t wait. 

I would also encourage clients to start thinking about the data model. Workday has something they call the Foundation Data Model (FDM). FDM is the core of the entire Workday platform. It’s essentially the multidimensional structure of Workday accounting and financial reporting. It’s also broad and impacts human resources (HR) and payroll. So your cost centers, ledger accounts, etc., will change in the online Workday Financials model. It’s very common for Workday customers to go from thousands of ledger accounts in their legacy system to a couple of hundred in Workday. You ultimately have the same level of detail, but understanding that data model is critically important. 

Also, start using the system as quickly as possible. Workday provides organizations with demo environments so you can start familiarizing yourself with the tool and even entering data into it immediately. What I enjoy most about my job is educating clients and helping them get comfortable with Workday. It’s all about understanding the architecture and how finance processes in the system work. There’s going to be a learning curve, but the product is designed to be iterative. Get started as quickly as possible and refine as you go. 

Q: What’s your advice for tackling business process frameworks? 

A: I would say one of the most powerful and beneficial tools that Workday provides is its business process framework (BPF). BPF enables customers to configure and maintain core process flows to connect people, applications, and services. 

It’s the heart of your Workday system. But the problem for new customers is setting it up. There are hundreds of business processes, and they need to be set up, configured, and tested before deployment. 

I encourage clients to start thinking about their BPF early in the process. It’s another area where you want to keep things simple at first and refine as you go. They will never be perfect on day one, but having an experienced resource who has worked with BPF is extremely beneficial. They can help educate your organization on how it works and the best way for configuration in your financial accounting setup. 

Q: What are some key considerations as you approach Workday Financials Go-Live?

A: Determine how you’ll support the application and the users once you’re up and running. You’re going to have a lot of new users with a new tool. They need to be trained on how to use the system effectively, so they’ll be leaning on you for that support. 

You’ll also need to consider integrations. Check to make sure all the integrations are working properly, and you have people to support them. 

And don’t forget reporting. This is critical in finance. Creating simple reports in Workday is straightforward, but more complex reports often require other toolsets. Sometimes reporting becomes an afterthought for many companies, but it should be considered before you go-live. 

Finally, the most vital thing to consider as you approach go-live is security. This is usually the number one issue clients deal with in their first three months. You’ll be flooded with tickets from users who don’t have access, or maybe they have too much access. They might also be getting bombarded with notifications they don’t need. Remember, it’s never perfect on Day One. However, prepare for the extra tickets and support in the first few months to be higher than usual. 

Q: How should organizations deal with the data conversion process?

A: I try to encourage clients to purge as much as they can. For example, many organizations have thousands of suppliers, and many of them are not active. The same goes for customers. In most situations, I tend to take a fairly aggressive approach when it comes to data purging. 

Q: What’s the biggest issue you’ve experienced in projects that can impact the timeline?

A: Not having the proper staff and resources to commit to the project. Some organizations will try to have their staff manage the project on top of their day jobs. This will be painful for your staff and, ultimately, your implementation. 

You need to have resources that can keep up with the pace of the project if you want to stay on track. Bringing on client-side resources for your implementation can help alleviate the pressure on your staff and ensure the deployment is successful. 

Q: Any final advice for organizations deploying Workday Financials?

A: I’ll go back to my first piece of advice in this interview: bring in experienced resources. It will benefit everyone. It helps with your organization’s learning curve and ensures a smooth implementation.

The challenge is that many clients don’t recognize this need at the beginning and often call in for support when things go wrong. And sometimes, there are certain issues that can’t be undone quickly. It might require more time and effort just to get the implementation back on track. So bring in experts as early as possible to keep your implementation running at your own pace.

How Can We Help?

Surety Systems has an experienced senior-level Workday consulting team that can help with everything from project management to deployment, education, support, and more. Need help implementing your new Workday Financials modules? Our consultants can help with that. Just need an extra hand with your Workday Reporting processes? They can handle that too.

And, to give you a better idea of what to expect when partnering with us, we’ve included a sample profile of another one of our top-notch Workday Financials consultants.

Surety Senior Workday Financials Consultant 

  • 8+ years of Workday experience
  • Certified in Workday Financials and Composite Reporting 
  • Specializes in Workday Financials and Reporting, including matrix, composite, and advanced reports
  • Experience in the Higher Education industry
  • Designed and delivered custom dashboards

Contact us today to learn more and get started on the road to success.