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Workday Implementation Success: How Do Other Companies Do It?

Apr 8, 2020

A successful Workday implementation pays off in reduced costs, faster execution, improved performance, and overall employee morale, but executing on that success takes a lot of hard work. After all, a new solution affects everyone in your company, from the employees that use it to track their time all the way up to senior management and how they steer the business forward. That’s why, if you’re planning on implementing Workday, it’s very important that you put in the work ahead of time in terms of preparation and planning.

The good news is that you’re not the first company to implement Workday, so you have the benefit of learning from others (both strategies to emulate, as well as mistakes to avoid…) To help jumpstart your preparations, we reached out to some consultants of ours who’ve worked with other companies and their Workday implementations to pick their brains for some advice. Here’s what they recommend.

Create a Robust Governance Model

Whoever your project manager is, they’ll need to create and own a well-defined governance structure for the team to execute on to improve decision-making time and issue resolution. To keep everyone informed, make sure to set up a routine meeting schedule and regular status report delivery, and to develop a clear vision for the future of the solution, the implementation project must have executive sponsorship and engagement. 

You’ll also need to implement reliable tools to track issues, risk, and a plan for a testing strategy. An experienced PM who understands the Workday methodology can guide you on what the governance model should look like for your implementation to succeed.  

Develop a Change Management Plan 

Creating a change management plan is one small step that will ensure big success for your project in the long-term. After all, implementing Workday is one thing, but what will your needs be a month after the project ends? Or a year after? If you’re investing this much time and energy into a solution, it’s worth putting in a little more to make things easier when your needs change down the road.

A good PM will start working on this plan early (as in, before implementation) and can identify the resources you’ll need in the workstream. Your change management team should include a change management expert (this could be your main PM or someone else), a training lead, marketing/communications team members, and a change champion. Again, if you’re not quite sure who should fill these roles from your organization, your PM can help you locate them.

Plan for Post-deployment 

Similar to change management, another vital question to think about before implementation is, “How will we manage and maintain Workday post-go-live?” A strong roll-out strategy needs to include training, resources, and design, but your PM can develop this plan, as well as implement changes and support post-deployment. 

You’ll also need to consider any Phase X implementations you may need, such as Payroll or other modules. Other system implementations planned for your organization will impact Workday, and your plan must account for those future changes. If you’re going to implement those systems after you get Workday up and rolling, your primary PM can simply stay on the project and help execute those projects as well, or you can bring them back on later if you plan to wait a bit.

Prepare for Integrations

Often, companies interested in implementing Workday are coming to the solution from a variety of disparate systems. And that’s an understandable move—one of the major benefits of a cloud ERP system like Workday is that your data gets out of those separate siloes and into a connected system that allows you to work smarter, not harder. However, moving from a scattered set to a unified collection can be easier said than done. That’s why it’s essential to figure out how you’re going to unify your IT (before you flip the switch), and where your implementation PM will really shine. 

Thanks to their experience with Workday methodology, your PM will be able to help you integrate your solution with whatever internal and/or third-party systems you may have. They can manage and regularly meet with teams across all your applications, as well as connecting with and creating contractual governance for third-party vendors.

In addition to your external PM, you might want to consider additional Workday PM roles to help with specific areas, such as integration, data conversion, and functional work-stream leads. (For more information on that subject, we suggest you check out a recent article of ours—Project Manager Roles You Need for a Successful Workday Implementation).

Start Early 

We can’t stress this message enough—start planning early. Your external PM can begin this initial work before you kick off the project with your Workday implementation partner (preferably one month before kickoff with said partner).  

Getting this head start allows you to work through staffing, governance models, integrations, notifications to third-party vendors, and training, as well as whatever unexpected may arise during this process. As the old saying goes, “No plan survives contact with the enemy,” and in this case, the enemy is Murph (of the infamous “Murphy’s Law”).


Taking the time to walk through these steps with your PM will help you prepare for a successful Workday implementation. We also have more resources to help you prepare, including an article on common implementation mistakes to avoid, as well as PM roles you’re going to need for your Workday implementation team. When you’re ready to get your project started, our senior-level Workday consultants and project managers are here to help you succeed.

Contact us today to kick things off.

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