Reducing time to go-live in Workday / HR SaaS deployments

Reducing time to go-live in Workday / HR SaaS deployments

Wed 27 Jul 2016 | Case Studies

This month, we uncovered how a Global Programme Lead on a large scale Workday implementation improved, and ultimately reduced a pressured deployment timeline.

If you are about to embark on a Workday implementation, consider the difference it would make to your global organisation to reduce the deployment time of Workday by 4 months. Aside from the obvious cost benefit, the oorganisation’s HR function stands to gain both an operational and strategic advantage. However, without first-hand knowledge of the technical complexities and how to establish a solidified change plan for deploying HR SaaS – the value proposition it offers may never be realised.

Greg, our subject for this case study was recently assigned to one of the largest, global Workday implementations in the UK. Not only did he successfully reduce the deployment time by 4 months, but he did whilst also realising the business benefits that HR SaaS offers.

“A stable design was critical to enabling us to increase the scope of countries that we deployed to in phase 2 and enable us to go-live with an early release demonstrating value to our project stakeholders. Listing to the feedback from our local markets and ‘tailoring’ the change and learning approach based on the change agenda and maturity of the market was critical to successful adoption.”

A large part of the implementation success was attributed to Greg recognising that deploying Workday is not a typical technology replacement project.

As later revealed, success would hinge on effective change management and raising understanding amongst business and HR stakeholders how Workday could transform the way HR and Line Managers would be able to manage the people agenda.

Challenges in Phase one Rollout:

Managing Phase 1 of the Workday implementation across two continents (impacting 9,500 employees across 24 countries) provided Greg with specific insights into the multiple challenges that would be presented as they rolled out in additional territories.

For example, in Phase 1 parts of the global template design of the Workday solution were still ‘fluid’, and the time local countries took to define their requirements and supply their data to allow for hands-on experience with the system was unacceptably long. This resulted in re-work later in the project once HR better understood the template, a revision to what the change impact really was for HR and Line Managers and caused a level of anxiety within the local country project teams.

In addition, it became apparent that applying a ‘one size fits all’ approach to deploying Workday in countries varying in size, complexity and employee headcount was completely unfeasible. Quite simply, a more targeted engagement, testing and learning delivery approach was required.

Additional Phase 2 Challenges:

Phase 2 required deployment of Workday in 54 countries to more than 24,000 employees. Even with the experience gained in Phase 1, Phase 2 provided additional challenges such as:

  1. Technical complexities of integrating with multiple payroll providers or migrating from a range of HR platforms such and PeopleSoft & SAP
  2. Effective planning ‘around’ Workday’s global update cycles that take place every 6 months and the impact it could have on deployment timescales
  3. Working within such a wide variety of cultures, with varying degrees of stakeholder support
  4. Local compliance and data transfer agreements requirements
  5. Consideration of managing live markets as part of the broader release processes.

Practical solutions for improved deployment:

By working through the challenges presented in Phase 1, Greg was able to structure a concrete foundation for a solid deployment methodology which he aligned to a robust change management plan for Phase 2.

Greg ensured that early engagement activities took place with markets 3 months before any deployment activity was set in motion. This proved to be pivotal as it created familiarity with the solution and fostered an understanding of the tangible benefits (Talent & Performance being two key areas) that Workday would bring. Furthermore, Greg was able to elicit high-level local requirements early, conduct process walkthroughs and identify ‘pain’ areas early.

Practically, the first Workday prototypes that were created for each country had a subset of local configuration and data setups. Coupled with early training, robust in-country change impact and capture of local systems requirements, it dramatically accelerated the go-live schedule for each country. In addition to this a robust ‘change control’ and ‘governance process’ minimised impacts across the multiple other work-streams such as: functional, data and integration.

Project Success Factors

Phase 2 benefitted from a robust deployment framework, a clear understanding of the change impact, business value proposition and revised programme structure which facilitated more effective communications and problem solving across the global team. Coupled with the alignment of Change Management interventions with the Deployment roadmap, Greg delivered a much improved rollout across EMEA.

Project Results:

  • Successful go-live of Workday to 33,500 employees in 78 countries
  • Accelerated Phase 2 deployment and embedding of improved deployment methodology
  • Go-live included Workday: Core Transactions & Org Mgt (HRMS); Talent & Succession Management; Performance Management; Compensation Management; Operational Reporting; Employee & Manager Self Service (ESS/MSS)
  • 12% Increased Workday adoption within the first 3 months post go-live

If a proven HR IT Programme Manager such as Greg could add value to your HR initiatives contact

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


If you would like to download this case study, please click here