Workday HCM – Lessons Learned

Regardless of how many IT (or other) projects you’ve been a part of, I guarantee a Workday Implementation is very different than anything you’ve ever seen.  I’m not saying it’s bad or good, just that it’s different.

There are many things you need to be aware of before/during/after implementation.  Here’s a short (high-level) list to get you started:


It can be tempting to get right into implementation but that doesn’t mean you’re setting yourself up for success.  Some Workday projects will have many integrations to consider.  If so, it may be wise to introduce a pre-implementation phase to consolidate/upgrade/eliminate integrations.

On-site Implementation Partner

Workday projects suggest that the implementation partner should be off-site as much as possible.  The idea behind this is that the customer is forced to figure things out for themselves which puts them in a much better place post go-live.  However, the project team can get quite frustrated when they expect to see certain things and their expectations aren’t met.  Overall, an on-site implementation partner simply saves times.  That doesn’t mean they have to be on-site for the entire project, but as much as possible is desired.

Workday Delivered Training

Most people would agree that the Workday Training is not just valuable, but necessary.  However, trying to squeeze this in during implementation can be a daunting task.  The courses are not offered ever week and the most important ones do require travel.  Completing the training before implementation ensures that it actually happens.

Custom Fields

There are situations where out-of-the-box Workday does not meet the HR needs which is the whole idea behind custom fields.  However, introducing too many custom fields can become a maintenance nightmare.  If you’re supporting multiple languages, these fields will have to be translated.  Also, if these fields are needed in reports you’ll have to create custom reports.  Furthermore, if the base report that the custom report was generated from ever changes (i.e. upgrade), you’ll have re-generate the custom report to take advantage of the new features.

Workday Rising

This is a no brainer.  Attend the annual conference to learn and network.  Ensure the right people from HR (and possible IT) are attending.

Automated Testing

It’s rare to come across automated testing with Workday.  Automated testing can provide many benefits.  It can act as regression testing when incorporating semi-annual Workday upgrades.  Also, it can speed up testing during the Prototype Reviews/End-to-End/Parallel testing.  There may be many permutations of testing that are not possible from a manual standpoint but take mere seconds when automated.  The resistance to automated testing is around the upfront cost.  It does take time to create automated tests but the payback is enormous.

Project Team

Have the best people on the project and backfill their positions for the duration of the project.  Also, if the timelines are not realistic, adjust.  A team that is stressed out will not deliver high quality.


Look at what Workday offers out-of-the-box and ask yourself “Do you really need to change it?”.  Even if you have to change your current business practices it really makes sense to align with Workday best practices.  In terms of integrations, don’t try to build for the future.  Just focus on what you actually need.


On most projects, reports are an afterthought.  Identify your report inventory before you start implementation.  This will give you an idea of what you’re building towards.  Also, reports can help you test the system.


Make decisions quickly and responsibly.  Don’t let decisions linger otherwise they’ll likely hold something up.  Also, involve the right people so that the implications of the decision are discussed.