Protecting your ROI in HR SaaS / Workday programmes

Protecting your ROI in HR SaaS / Workday programmes

Fri 19 Aug 2016 | Case Studies

Read how one of our Associates, Gareth, worked with a global FTSE listed business and successfully mitigated significant ROI risk to their HR transformation programme.

If you are currently considering Cloud HR solutions as part of your organisational change initiative, how do you guarantee a return on investment?

The majority of HR Transformation business cases created by Executive HR and IT Leaders focus on the associated programme delivery cost and the attractive time-to-value HR SaaS offers, however, this can create a blind spots which can significantly erode your ROI in a short time period.

In today’s case study we look at how Gareth, an Associate HR Programme Manager uncovered and mitigated ROI risks for a global HR transformation business case and made key changes prior to implementation to ensure that programme delivery objectives and long-term ROI was achieved.

Foresight to improve a business case

Following a strategic decision to insource HR services, a global organisation with more than 9000 employees in 13 different countries set a corporate goal to build a global HR capability and operating model with consolidated processes and technologies. This created a need for an 18 month global programme with aim of creating and delivering a robust exit strategy from the current Outsourced HR provider, establish a new internal HR Service and transform the existing HR infrastructure from a process and technology standpoint.

Gareth was engaged by the Group HR Director and Group CIO to initially evaluate suitable options across the HR SaaS landscape including: Workday, SuccessFactors and Oracle Fusion HCM. In the course of conducting due diligence, and accounting for the global scope and existing technology architecture, Gareth identified several previously unknown risks in the existing HR Transformation business case. Although the business case had accounted for broad change in systems and processes, it demonstrated narrow thinking around the HR operating model, impact of in-country legacy systems (over 100 HR related systems globally) and HR Service Delivery approach. In addition, it focused heavily on the HR technology deployment ‘time-to-value’ and not the ROI or net benefits.

In practical reality, this business case would potentially erode over 30% of the cost benefit target of the programme through factors such as wage arbitration, retained headcount and continued support of legacy People systems.

Another misguided principle was the fact that it accounted for a quick implementation without realising that a significant cultural change curve was necessary amongst the Line Manager community in adopting and leveraging the selfservice functionality which is critical to HR SaaS.

“All the HR SaaS vendors sell the key benefit of time-to-value, which in essence means that as an organisation you will go-live quickly. Part of the issue with that is that is doesn’t address what happens once the solution is live. Success of the transformation is correlated directly to the extent in which your users adopt the new processes, but also how you choose to manage the solution once the programme team have gone.”

Gareth highlighted the importance of User Adoption and Engagement and specifically the need to establish a “post go-live” capability – one that could sustain the continued evolution of the system, and ensure that HR and line managers kept utilising Workday’s self-service, long after implementation was complete. Taking these critical points into account, Gareth was able to recalibrate the business case to reflect the true cost of the programme against their expected 3 year payback period. Key changes and additions to the business case included:

  • Shaping a unified programme plan between HR and IT for implementing Workday – accounting for the impact of global technical architecture and interdependencies
  • Decommissioning over 100 HR-related technology solutions across 13 countries and the associated transition elements
  • Create a global HR Operating Model with a captive, offshore HR Shared Service
  • Create a previously non-existent business change workstream (user adoption & engagement), accounting for the people change journey to ensure the continued utilisation of Workday’s self-service processes and maintenance of the employee data and hierarchy
  • Establish a post-programme/live environment capability needed to allow for trend analysis of user engagement, keep utilisation high and continuous improvement of Workday.

With the new business case signed off, Gareth went on to mobilise a 5 workstream programme plan which would deliver the Workday deployment and new HR Operating Model. Workstreams included: Data, HR Process & System config, Technical & Business Architecture, Change Management and PMO.

Project Results:

The review and approval of the business case took 2 months and over the course of 9 months, Gareth had delivered the first go-live of Workday and established the new HR operating model. Over the course of the 18 months programme he went on to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Reduced original business case payback period from 36 months to 24 months – equating to a saving of over £1M
  • Avoided 30% loss of ROI / Cost benefit over a 3-year period
  • Successful implementation of Workday Core HR (full ESS & MSS), Performance, Compensation & Benefits – integrated with local Payroll, Cornerstone and Talentlink
  • Built captive offshore production support capability to manage Tier 1 and Tier 2 support, realising significant wage arbitration benefits.

Could Gareth add value to your HR transformation business case process, Cloud HR evaluation process or HR SaaS implementation? If so, contact

Hensen Associates on +44 (0) 1189 901137 or email or


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