Creating harmony between IT & HR in Workday implementations

Creating harmony between IT & HR in Workday implementations

Tue 11 Oct 2016 | Case Studies

Discover how Alina, an Interim Programme Director specialising in Workday, rescued a global implementation covering 36 countries and 12,000 employees.

The successful implementation of an HCM platform like Workday requires a partnership between HR and IT quite unlike any other HR technology-led programmes.

As the global FTSE constituent in this case study found out, a robust and inclusive programme structure can ensure the two departments work in tandem, preventing scope creep, cost over-run, and ultimately helping to deliver the benefits outlined in the business case.

The organisation was implementing Workday for its 12,000 employees across 36 countries, yet the programme was at risk of being wound up. It was a fairly bleak outlook – the HR department lacked any major project delivery capability, and with IT having already established most of the programme structure there was no reporting into HR, leaving them blind as to progress and delivery.

The situation was further complicated by IT’s inexperience with cloud-based platforms. Although they had successfully implemented on-premise IT solutions, the knowledge around deployment, integration and other Workday specific issues was a blind spot. Combined with a questionable history of realising the business benefits from previous implementations, an IT-led mentality and a naivety of delivering something of this size and scope meant that the in-house capability was practically non-existent.

This was the first and largest implementation of its kind for the organisation, and one that could not fail. To rescue the project and ensure its delivery, they engaged an Interim Workday Programme Director called Alina. Her consultancy background and experience of managing what is widely regarded as one of the flagship implementations of Workday in the UK was instrumental in her success in this assignment. In particular, it was Alina’s ability to consult and co-ordinate successfully at every level within the programme structure that made the difference.

“There was no alignment between IT & HR when the workday programme stared. We had to work extremely hard to break down the silos, align the agendas and establish a programme structure that could deliver.”

The first essential step was to create engagement and ownership of the project for HR. Alina acted as programme representative, attending all of HR’s regular forums to communicate the programme progress and raise awareness of the benefits of Workday.

She also invited every single HR employee into a live walkthrough of Workday, and established a regular and detailed programme reporting process in to the Global Group HR Director and HR Executive team.

Educating key IT stakeholders as to the limitations and technical architecture boundaries of Workday helped stem the scope creep for the programme. Alina personally attended and/or led every Integration and Data workstream meeting to manage constant change requests from the IT function which would cause delays and additional costs for the project – especially since these requests were usually based on poor knowledge.

Due to Workday’s requirements for using live employee data during prototype builds (design phase), Data Privacy and Data Security compliance with local Works Councils in Europe is often overlooked. Alina discovered that this hadn’t been considered, and the project was at significant risk of being shut down. She established a holistic data governance approach and completed the necessary checks and audits with the local Works Councils within the four week period before the design phase as per local requirements.

With the correct governance, reporting and programme structure in place, Workday was implemented across the organisation in just 12 months. Alina’s detailed awareness of the individual workstream activities was key to pushing this over the line, as was her upward stakeholder management to C-level. She essentially had to become the glue between HR and IT for the project to deliver and align both functional agenda’s for the project to ensure success.

Programme Outcomes:

  • Go-live of Workday HCM to 12,000 employees in 36 countries within 12 months
  • Meeting legal data privacy and data security laws during implementation phase, avoiding risk of project shutdown due to non-compliance
  • Established fit-for-purpose IT & HR programme reporting structure, enabling transparency & communication

Alina is available for her next assignment in October, so I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss how she might help maximise the business benefits from a successful Workday implementation by contacting

Hensen Associates on +44 (0) 1189 901137 or email ellen@hensenassociates.com or jordan@hensenassociates.com

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