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The Most Common Workday Implementation Challenges

Table of Contents

Workday Background

What is Workday all About?

Workday is a cloud-based application that serves human capital management (HCM) and financial management software.

The Workday platform and its product have come a long way since 2005, expanding past an HCM-specific application and now includes enterprise resource processing (ERP) software. Their product catalog includes Financial Management, Workday HCM, Workday Adaptive Planning, Spend Management, Talent Management, Payroll, Workforce Management, Analytics & Reporting, Professional Services Automation, and more

With Workday, enterprises give employees greater payroll and benefits information oversight while modernizing and automating the related processes. It enables organizations to understand their workforce’s abilities and performance. Utilizing predictive analytics, enterprises can procure vastly improved real-time perception of their workforce data, allowing them to make better business decisions.

Workday HCM Research

Workday HCM Research

It’s one of the most powerful solutions in the market but not always the easiest to implement. The period for Workday implementation usually varies from 6- to 14-months, and on average, it takes 8.2 months* to execute across any organization. 

Most organizations have an exaggerated idea of how much their HR systems will cost. A solid understanding of the Workday implementation challenges and cost of Cloud HCM is essential for making smarter purchase decisions and ensuring that businesses are adequately resourced for the realities of longer-term ownership of these solutions.

“Increasing efficiency” (29.46% of companies) is one of the top-cited reasons for implementing new and advanced software. The second reason for enterprises (“consolidating disparate systems“) didn’t even come close, lagging by 10%. Like many companies, leadership hopes to streamline their processes, automate tasks, and reduce manual labor with technology. 

Workday Benefits & Implementation

Enterprises benefit from Workday software implementation as it reduces inefficiencies and improves process compliance, accuracy, and productivity. Automating tasks saves valuable time and resources to reinvest in other mission-critical areas. 

Incorrect software investments can have unintended consequences. Failing to invest in the right tools can result in a competitive disadvantage, wasteful spending, and pulling potential resources from other critical opportunities. Making strategic spending choices toward digital transformation and ensuring digital adoption of those choices is pertinent to increasing software ROI and business success.  

Any implementation delay eats away at your Workday ROI. Avoiding delays in your Workday adoption makes it easier to see the value in your application. As enterprises point out in their second reason for software implementation, no one wants to pay for shelved and unused software. But is it your software that’s lacking or is it the implementation process and strategy?  

Workday Implementation Challenges

Here are the top 9 Workday Implementation Challenges that several enterprises face:

  1. Poorly Defined Project Scope
  2. Lack of Collaboration and Communication 
  3. Vaguely Defined Process Without Any Priority
  4. Inclusion of Right partners 
  5. Not Prioritizing Regular Tests and Quality Checks
  6. Substandard Documentation and Decision Log
  7. Underestimating Budget and Time 
  8. Data Migration and Reporting Issues
  9. Improper training program
  10. Digital adoption resistance 

1. Poorly Defined Project Scope:

Poorly Defined Project Scope

According to a Project Management Institute (PMI) study, poorly defined project scope accounts for more than 25% of project failures. Sometimes the projects are defined loosely, creating chaos during the process, and eventually delaying the implementation. To properly define your scope, gather the data. Gather data that will help you understand the scope of the problem and identify potential Workday solutions to prioritize. This data can come from a variety of sources, including customer surveys, interviews with employees, and data (as well as missing or faulty data) from your company’s database(s). 

Sometimes the projects are defined loosely, creating chaos during the process and eventually delaying the implementation. Here are factors that affect project scope:

  • Software Updates: Every 12 months, the Workday application goes through 2 major updates. It takes around 8 months for most organizations to implement Workday, so plan for at least one Workday update in the middle of your implementation.
  • Unclear Roadmap: Implementations are often delayed when companies don’t decide on the project’s primary objectives or create the roadmap without involving all the right stakeholders.
  • Define business requirements. The first challenge when implementing Workday HCM is defining the business requirements. This can be a difficult task as it requires understanding the needs of all stakeholders and translating them into a clear and concise set of requirements. Once the business requirements have been defined, they need to be approved by all stakeholders before the implementation can proceed. 
  • Organizational Changes: Implementations aren’t just about technologies. Often employees’ roles and responsibilities change. Be sure to include plans for a reporting structure or job function changes. Implementing a new Workday workflow or update can be disruptive to the organization, so it’s important to plan for these changes ahead of time. Employees will need training on how to use new features, and processes will need to be updated. It’s also important to communicate the benefits of the changes to employees to help them understand why the change is being made. 
  • Cost overruns: Any unexpected costs and budget overruns can occur while implementing Workday due to scope creep. It can even increase change order risks due to stakeholders requesting additional work or changes. 
  • Delayed timelines: new requirements and task identification may occur later in the implementation process leading to delays in the project timeline. Not having enough time to allocate specific important tasks makes it difficult to determine any necessary resources and workforce needed to complete the project on time. 
  • Reduced quality: Implementation not meeting the requirements or standards set out in the project can lead to lower quality. Task prioritization, resource allocation, and deadline management can be challenging.

Poorly defined project scopes during a Workday implementation can lead to cascading issues.  

Here are a few industry-specific examples. 

  • Healthcare: Transmitting patient data from legacy systems to Workday may result in confidentiality and security issues. 
  • Manufacturing: Inefficiencies and process breakdowns happen when you miss the pre-planning process for Workday integrations with other production systems, such as supply chain and inventory management.

To avoid these challenges, it’s essential to have a clearly defined project scope. Define the project’s objectives, work content, deliverables, timelines, budgets, and stakeholder expectations. It’s also essential to involve all stakeholders in the scope definition process to ensure everyone aligns with the project’s goals and expectations. 

Relevant Read: A Complete Workday Change Management Guide

2. Lack of Collaboration and Communication:

Lack of Collaboration and Communication

Effective collaboration and communication can drastically improve Workday implementations and updates. Software rollouts involve different teams, which often leads to these common collaboration and communication issues: 

  • Many organizations focus on involving their leadership while adopting Workday and, in the process, forget to involve mid-level managers and end-users.
  • Organizations usually involve people from HR, Finance, and IT for Workday implementation. Still, they must also focus on involving other functional groups, like the supply chain that will use the application. If this is not done, then product adoption gets hindered.
  • Organizations must often focus more on collaborating effectively with service partners and consultants. It leads to a communication gap which might eventually result in project failure.
  • Involving stakeholders at different stages of implementation will ensure the smooth execution of tasks. It also ensures the project is in line with the leadership’s expectations, but in some cases, it’s overlooked.

To avoid these challenges, establish clear and open lines of communication between all stakeholders involved in the Workday implementation project. Regular project update meetings and engaging stakeholders ensure everyone is informed and involved. Not everyone has to attend every meeting. The cadence of different members can differ, and the regularity of these meetings can change throughout the process. Anyone who has planned an event knows that the meeting frequency increases when the date–or due date–gets closer.  

Project management tools and collaboration platforms improve transparency and keep everyone aligned with the project’s progress and goals. According to a McKinsey Global Institute survey, organizations prioritizing strong collaboration and communication practices are more likely to have high-performing teams and successful projects, with more than 60% reporting improved project outcomes.

3. Vaguely Defined Process Without Any Priority:

Vaguely Defined Process Without Prioritization

Implementing new software requires updating your processes. Projects with vaguely defined processes and a lack of prioritization are nearly three times more likely to fail than those with clearly defined processes and priorities.  

Considerations for Workday Implementation Processes

Not changing the business processes and optimizing them in line with your organization’s requirements could lead to confusion.

  • Define the problem Workday is aiming to solve. Be as specific as possible. What are the symptoms of the problem? What are the root causes of the problem? Answering these questions will help you to create a more focused and effective roadmap. 
  • Have a process owner at each stage to create accountability, consistency, and communication.
  • Update your business processes to align with your enterprise’s requirements and Workday’s feature capabilities to ensure you meet your digital transformation goals. 
  • List third-party applications with which Workday must integrate prior to implementation. You may also need to factor this into resources and costs. 
  • Think about the features of your new Workday software and develop a training plan (in-app, tangible, and in-person) to utilize them. Understand and define how each Workday feature will be implemented, used, and monitored. This improves workflows, increases digital adoption, and decreases onboarding frustrations. 
  • Defining and scheduling regular scope reviews, feedback loops, QA checkpoints, and reassessments can ensure the project stays on track and achieves its goals. 
  • Think about your timeline. If it’s short, expect to pay more and include more resources. If you can’t afford this approach, consider extending your timeline to be more realistic. 
  • Remember to allot time for flexibility. Issues will arise, and you’ll need time to fix them. 
  • Before launching, do beta tests with a small focus group of users within your organization. This will work out any last-minute kinks before a larger rollout. Doing this will foster employees’ trust that they will not endure the aches and pains of a fresh launch. 
  • Don’t forget to implement follow-up monitoring after launch to prove software ROI, areas for improvement, and digital adoption.
  • The non-existence of the process owner at each stage usually needs to be more consistent.

To avoid Workday implementation process challenges, we recommend revisiting existing business processes that this new software will replace and updating them to align with Workday features and enterprise requirements. For consistent implementation, have a process owner for each stage. Additionally, listing all third-party applications that must integrate with Workday to help ensure a smooth transition. 

4. Inclusion of Right Partner:

Include the Right Partner

You’ll probably need some help with your implementation. You should consider the following:

Typically, the service partners are not selected based on their expertise in a specific niche which could create problems, especially if your domain is new for Workday implementation.

Sometimes companies wait to recruit Workday consultants in the execution stage. They must be included in the planning stage to ensure better results.

Choosing the Right Workday Partner

  • Consider Your Needs: What features and functionality are you looking for in a Workday partner? Do they add value from a consulting standpoint or are they just there to sell? Make a list of your must-haves, and then narrow down your options based on which partners can provide what you need.  
  • Compare Pricing: Once you’ve narrowed your options, it’s time to compare pricing. Workday partners typically charge a monthly or annual fee, so be sure to compare pricing structures before making a final decision. 
  • Do Your Research: Several online resources can help you learn more about potential partners, such as their websites, social media accounts, and business references. It is also a good idea to speak with other businesses that have partnered with them in the past to get their insights: check references. Was the partner easy to work with? Did they provide good customer service? Were they able to meet their needs? 
  • Read Reviews: In addition to talking to references, be sure to read online reviews. Look for reviews from unbiased sources, such as third-party review sites or online forums. These reviews can give you insights into a Workday partner’s reputation and how well they address customer concerns.  
  • Request Proposals & Get a Demo: Ater you have done your research and narrowed down your options, request proposals from your top 2-3 partners. In your proposal, be sure to include information about your business, your budget, and the specific services you are looking for. Finally, be sure to get a demo. This will allow you to see first-hand how the partnership works and whether they offer the features and functionality you’re looking for. 

Organizations collaborating with the right partners and suppliers are more likely to have successful projects, with more than 70% reporting improved project outcomes. Factors to consider when selecting a partner include expertise, communication and collaboration skills, cultural fit, budget, and references. Ensuring the partner is a good fit for your enterprise will help ensure that the implementation is completed effectively and efficiently and is well worth the investment.

5. Not Prioritizing Regular Tests and Quality Checks:

Not Prioritizing Regular Tests and Quality Checks

You could delay your implementation if you wait until the end to test. Here’s why:

  • If you wait until the end to run quality checks and find an issue, it will take longer to fix it because you’ll have to make changes to the entire system.
  • A rigid Waterfall approach to project management can delay implementations because it doesn’t allow enough flexibility. Teams will have better luck using an agile methodology.

Mandatory tests and quality checks are essential. Involve the leadership, the implementation team, and end-users to understand all aspects of the system for thorough testing. Projects with regular testing and quality checks have a nearly 10% higher success rate than projects without these practices.

6. Substandard Documentation and Imperfect:

Substandard and Imperfect Documentation

Documentation is vital to Workday implementation as it helps guide the user through many complexities while supporting a smooth transition to the new system.

Using general Workday documentation instead of your own can create issues with adoption. Your enterprise could have different processes not mentioned in Workday default documentation. General Workday documentation can’t provide detailed information that fully considers your legacy stack, organization’s culture, and department initiatives, especially integrating with your enterprise’s processes, protocols, and goals. It may need clarification and additional integrations to operate the system effectively.  

Lack of customization may negatively impact the adoption of the system. In short, one size doesn’t fit all. Over 60% of employees reported project delays, budget overruns, and decreased customer satisfaction in organizations with substandard documentation and imperfect information management processes. 

Another issue big corporations encounter is not logging changes during the execution process. A decision log helps track the individual who made the decision and why they made it. This plays a vital role in the execution phase if an issue arises: you can backtrack changes to the source to fix the cause instead of the symptoms effectively.

 To avoid substandard documentation, developing inclusive logs that are accurate and concise meets the needs of the end-users, developers, and admins by providing accountability, understanding, and involvement in the process. It is also necessary to conduct regular reviews of the documentation and procedures to ensure they are up to date.

7. Underestimating Budget and Time:

Understanding Budget and Time

Management often focuses on delivering projects as quickly as possible at the lowest cost, which can create issues when not accurately planning for the resources needed in a large implementation. Substantial IT projects tend to run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.  

Reasons for underestimating budgets and timelines include the following:

  • Leaders feel undue pressure to underestimate the cost and time associated with Workday implementation, especially during economic downturns and IT budget cuts.  
  • Budgets and implementation timelines are sometimes based on information received during needs throughout a sales cycle. But salespeople may not understand your enterprise’s unique processes, requirements, and resources to meet those needs. It’s better to discuss the timeline with the project management team and the consultant to have the right expectations set from the beginning. 
  • When leaders do not fully understand the complexity of implementing Workday with current systems and processes, this prevents appropriate project scope. 
  • Not having a proper digital adoption platform in place could result in higher costs, and in most cases, it also impacts the implementation speed with end-users. 

To avoid underestimating scope, time, or budget, it is essential to accurately plan for the resources needed for a Workday implementation project, including resources, goals, and personnel. It will help ensure the project’s successful completion and users’ adoption of the system. Costs fluctuate throughout the process and are more accurately gauged during pre-implementation planning by your organization’s and external partners’ experts. Involving the project management team and the consultant in the planning process ensures its feasibility. Utilizing a digital adoption platform can minimize extra costs and accelerate user adoption. 

8. Issues With Data Migration:

Data Migration

The biggest challenge for any enterprise is data migration and report management. Though organizations usually prioritize digital implementations, the problem arises when pushing your current data to the new application. According to Gartner research, 83% of data migration projects fail or exceed their budgets and timelines. As a result, it creates a few issues, such as: 

  • Data quality: Ensuring the data migration is accurate, complete, and consistent can be challenging. It can lead to data integrity issues and negatively impact implementing mismatches of data and information. 
  • Data mapping: Mapping the data from the legacy systems to Workday can be complex, as the data structures and formats may differ. It can lead to errors during migration and require significant time and effort to correct. 
  • Data volume: Migrating large volumes of data can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, mainly when dealing with complex data structures. 
  • Data redundancy: refers to the storage of the same piece of data in multiple places within a database or data storage technology. It can be used as a measure against silent data corruption. Some file systems use data and metadata checksumming in combination with copies of stored data to detect silent data corruption and repair its effects. 
  • Mismatch of data and information: can occur when the data collected or processed does not accurately represent the intended information. It can lead to incorrect conclusions, misinformed decisions, and potential negative consequences in various industries.
  • Loss of data points: are those missing data in a dataset can lead to biased estimates and invalid conclusions. It is also due to various causes, such as hardware failure, human error, and cyber-attack.
  • Issues while uploading data in a certain format: This includes document upload errors, such as timeouts, broken thumbnails, or missing data, along with CSV import errors, such as file size, too many fields or records, too many columns or rows, and incorrect file name extensions

9. Improper training program:

Improper Training Program

Usually, enterprises think that once Workday is deployed, they are done with Workday Implementation. But implementation is only completed when the end-user appropriately adopts it and metrics are in place to prove ROI and successful implementation. is measured quantitatively and qualitatively. 

Reasons for inadequate training

  • Lack of user involvement: Meet the needs of your users–both admins and end-users–by listening and involving them throughout the process via surveys, focus groups, informational interviews, or software QA. 
  • Insufficient training time allocation: Training takes time away from productive work, and many businesses view it as an unnecessary expense. As a result, employees often do not receive the training they need to do their jobs effectively. If training is rushed or critical topics are brushed over, users may not fully understand or utilize the system effectively. You can accelerate training by using in-app learning tools, LMS platforms, and proactive analytical insights. 
  • Inadequate training materials: Training materials that need to be well-designed or updated to reflect changes in the system can positively impact the training program but do require more time and expense. As a result, employees do not receive the quality or quantity of training they need to improve their skills and knowledge. Adapting to the unique methods of how people learn using different media (videos, links, PDFs, images, etc.) or guidance (in-app versus in-person) helps reaffirm and enforce business processes and application usage.   
  • One-size-fits-all approach: A one-size-fits-all approach to training does not consider users’ different learning styles and levels of experience. In-person group training sessions may not work for some who would prefer a veteran one-on-one session tailored to their expertise level. 
  • Siloed approach: Involving experts from other departments can help cross-application insight. For example, including HR, finance, and department leadership in training sessions can walk trainees through an entire cross-application process instead of one portion of the application’s features. It helps them understand how their data affects output elsewhere.  
  • Lack of resources: Another reason for inadequate training is the lack of funding. Training can be expensive, and businesses may not be willing to invest in the necessary resources. Additionally, businesses may view training as a short-term expense rather than a long-term investment. Save money by implementing software solutions like a digital adoption platform
  • Lack of skilled trainers: Not all trainers are equally effective, and businesses may not have access to the best subject matter experts. Additionally, educators may be unable to cater their training to the business’s specific needs. Try reaching out to external experts if you can’t find someone internally. 
  • Lack of motivation: Employees may not see the value in training and may not be motivated to participate. Additionally, trainers may not be able to engage employees effectively in the training process. Offering different self-paced or incentivized learning options can help fill that gap.  
  • Lack of clear objectives: Businesses may not have a clear idea of what they want to achieve with training, and as a result, they may not be able to effectively design or implement a training program. Think about the positions, tasks, and cross-application use cases to formulate your training program. Include visuals, screenshots, videos, and in-app learning activities. DAPs can accelerate this process with Workday walkthroughs and the creation of learning collateral.  
  • Lack of feedback: Feedback is essential for learning, but businesses may not provide employees with adequate feedback on their performance. Additionally, businesses may not collect feedback from employees on the effectiveness of the training itself. Implementing optional surveys, focus groups, and feedback loops with leadership increases trust, communication, and cultural buy-in.  

The added costs associated with poor Workday training are a detriment to your enterprise as they can lead to employee disengagement, frustration, and poor productivity. According to Lorman, 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills or re-train. This shows that proper training and development can increase employee performance.

Consider proper training goals and timeline:

a. short-term: It enables individuals to acquire and improve their skill set to be job-ready. It can be achieved by providing on-the-job training, wherein the employees receive training while doing their job. 

b. Long–term: Consistency and comprehensive knowledge are essential for the long-lasting success of employees. This can be achieved by using the tools to help the organization identify gaps in its business process and training program. 

The cost of Implementation because of poor training is a drawback for your organization as it can lead to Employee disengagement, frustration, and poor productivity. According to Lorman, 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills or re-train. This shows that proper training and development can increase employee performance.   

As a result, Workday training bridges the gap between human capital and workplace expectations. 

10. Digital adoption resistance

Digital adoption resistance

Digital adoption resistance can undoubtedly be challenging when implementing Workday or any other new technology in an enterprise. People may resist change, primarily if they are used to working with a different system, and may need to familiarize themselves with the new technology.  According to the McKinsey report, enterprises experience a 30-40% disengagement rate, where employees resist utilizing digital tools. 

According to a G2 review, after implementing Workday, an employee in a recruitment department spent hours reviewing, assigning, and posting job requisitions that used to take him 15 minutes. They became so frustrated that they stated that “it has made [his] life exponentially more difficult, to the point that [he is] tempted to seek other employment with a company that uses another system.” To better assist an employee beyond training, an organization could implement additional tools for automatization, process compliance, and data integrity for employees such as this. 

It’s essential for the enterprise to effectively communicate the benefits of the latest technology and provide training and support to help employees understand how to use it effectively. Additionally, involving employees in the implementation process can help build buy-in and minimize resistance to change. By taking these steps, enterprises can increase the chances of successful adoption and ensure that their investment in technology is well-utilized. 

Simplify Your Workday Implementation

The challenges associated with Workday Implementation could look overwhelming, but if necessary, actions are taken with enough Workday training for employees, and these issues could be easily avoided. 

 Integrating an in-app, cloud-based digital adoption platform (DAP) into Workday software can provide users with a seamless and effortless transition into a new workflow. DAPs provide training, support, and resources to successfully implement Workday software. They consider a systematic, holistic, and user-friendly approach to the implementation process.

An enterprise DAP instantly deploys digital adoption best practices for an enterprise in navigating its new system allowing users to transition between different screens, processes, and settings in the system and across platforms. Providing proactive analytics and metrics enables companies to understand where the inefficiencies within the platform are taking place from a user perspective. It provides feedback to help them adjust their strategies according to user needs. In addition, a DAP can offer direct access to the vendor’s help desk and provide an avenue to receive support when settings or the application itself is not functioning as intended.  

 6 ways DAPs help Workday implementation

1. System Integration: A DAP easily integrates across multiple systems like Workday and enterprise applications (ERP, ITSM, HCM, or CRM), enabling data flow and access in real time. It facilitates administrators’ data maintenance and employees’ ability to share information across various systems. 

2. Automation: A DAP provides automation to make manual tasks simpler and more efficient, saving time and reducing errors. Automation can be applied to mundane tasks like data entry or more complex tasks like complex report generation or daily calculations. 

3. Security: DAPs are cloud-based overlays on platforms like Workday, so they do not require security-breaching integrations. This reduces project scope and can work seamlessly as a package rollout with your platform. 

4. Reliability & Data Integrity: Enterprise DAPs are designed to help with process compliance. If a walkthrough requires repetitive inputs, use automation, launchers, or validations to expedite the platform task and ensure data accuracy.  

5. Flexibility: DAPs are flexible and allow for Workday customizations based on needs and preferences. Depending on the application, it includes custom reports, analytics, automation, guided walkthroughs, virtual help desks, media guide libraries, and more. Instead of spending thousands of dollars in post-implementation customization costs or wasting hundreds in IT hours on level 1 tickets, DAPs help bring ownership and autonomy to the HR, leadership, or business unit needing a Workday change. 

6. Cost: DAPs are cost-effective solutions for enterprise systems, providing users with the benefits of data integrity, accuracy, access, and security for a fraction of the cost. It makes it easier for companies to move to a more efficient system without breaking the bank. 

An enterprise digital adoption platform, like Apty, is essential because it first helps you understand employee behavior throughout the application and roadblocks to completing necessary tasks. You may guide your employees from one step to the next and design a virtually limitless workflow to reduce human error and ensure employees’ productivity. 

In addition to this, Apty improves and works in tandem with conventional training methods thanks to in-app tutorials, real-time contextual help, and a repository of all the relevant documents and videos that your employees might require. 

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Krishnan Kaushik V

Krishnan Kaushik V

Krishnan is a Marketer and Content Crafter. He has an in-depth understanding of Digital Adoption, Transformation, and Enterprise applications that helps business to generate business outcomes. In his former life, he was an IIoT & Automation engineer. You can find him trying new recipes, riding a bike, and wondering about the most complex object on the face of the earth i.e Human Brain.

88% of Employees Think Leadership Did a Poor Job with Onboarding Process

Technology advancement usually brings many opportunities but not without its challenges. In this guide, we discuss some challenges faced while implementing Workday, solutions to said challenges, and the use of digital adoption solutions to drive better software adoption and employee experiences.

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