What government can expect from Workday finance solutions

By on 01/07/2024 | Updated on 01/07/2024
A building with the Workday logo on it

By Tim Wakeford, Vice President, Product Strategy, Financials, Workday

While founded nearly 20 years ago, in 2005, Workday is still considered by some as the fresh-faced youngster in the world of financial management software. But it’s a description that many in our company continue to take as a compliment. When we started and, to this day, the sector needs fresh thinking, higher standards and a better overall vision. And it’s our ambition to continue to deliver on each of these for our customers – across public, private and third sectors.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking to UK and international customers about why they made the switch to Workday’s finance solutions, and the benefit that switch has created for their departments and their organisation. Many of these themes are vital to governments as they work to address many complex pressures. Here are four of the most common.

Time and cost savings

People who work in finance have a keener understanding than many that time is money. If a piece of software allows you to do a job more quickly, you can get more done with the same time, or save on resources.

That’s one of the first things on our list of priorities and keenly appreciated by customers. At Coventry Building Society, for example, payroll officer Andy Smart told us that Workday: “just frees up so much time for us to be doing what we should be doing. When one team member retired, thanks to Workday, we did not need a replacement.” The team had previously been very strict about finance staff taking time off around traditional crunch periods: now, they know they’ll be able to handle the load even if people are absent.

The energy group Centrica told a similar story, saying that payroll calculation time had been reduced by more than 50%. It’s now able to complete a full population run in just 2 to 3 hours.

Automation and efficiency

The time savings customers report are the result of several factors, but an important part of that piece is the ability to automate processes that previously required manual attention. This becomes possible because the information required had historically lived on separate systems, or intermediary spreadsheets, compiled by hand. Now this information is connected. While this is a problem that many government organisations face, it is not a problem that just the public sector faces. This happened too at ecommerce solutions provider Checkout.com., where there would be hundreds of spreadsheets, but no way of interrogating the information or joining the dots between them.” Workday Prism Analytics and Workday Accounting Centre helped unlock the power of the organisation’s data

At Coventry Building Society, there was a similar problem – and a similar solution was enacted, with an extra push on automation. Andrea Harrison, Head of Finance Transformation says: “Implementing the Workday solution has led to a close-to 70% reduction in the spreadsheets that used to surround month-end processes. This has been a huge, huge achievement. Linked to that is an increase in the number of automated controls in our month-end processes, from less than around 5% to more than 70% of them being automated or semi-automated.”

Unlocking holistic vision and providing greater agility

Workday brings some of its most significant value to many customers by offering a single source of truth. Just within finance, it’s historically been likely that departments employed several different technology solutions for different aspects of their function, with few possibilities for interoperability. This leads to conflicting figures from different sources, imposing an entirely unnecessary extra burden on finance personnel as they seek to consolidate and resolve those conflicts.

For the Crown Commercial Service, the UK government’s procurement organisation, obtaining one version of the truth has become a significant enabler of agility. “Now, when our senior management team are in meetings they can access data directly and look at it live,” delivery manager, John Seery, explains. “Before that, a report would have had to be created, meaning it was effectively out of date straightaway.” Access to live data, common across the whole organisation has helped deliver a genuine cultural change within the department, according to Seery.

Agility was also a key result for fintech provider EQ (formerly named Equiniti). Workday was an essential ingredient in allowing it to adapt quickly to market changes and business needs, and the company says that Workday has enabled them to be more agile and responsive to changes, which is crucial in such a fast-paced industry.

At the engine manufacturer Rolls Royce, transformation director Marcus Millership explains that a single source enables the company to plan better for the future: “Gaining a full understanding of our cost base, using accurate information consolidated in one system and being able to update or extract that very quickly and easily, has been really important. Total visibility of our workforce and how we plan a budget is essential, and this is what we now have.”

Modern and easy

Having software that looks good, works well and delivers the ease-of-use people expect from current consumer apps has sometimes been considered cosmetic and, therefore, not organisationally  important. Enterprise software, to some minds – it seems – is supposed to be hateful to use.

Nothing could be further from the truth. User experience is the most important factor in persuading people to use software in the first place, then using it effectively and, ultimately, pushing it to its limits.

Customers  find  Workday’s usability is absolutely necessary for achieving the time savings we’ve described. They get things done in a few clicks, not multiple, baffling forms and tabs that won’t explain why your entry is unacceptable.

Usability is especially vital when implementing self-service for employees and middle-managers, so that processes can be devolved from overworked finance personnel. Coventry Building Society has taken full advantage of this possibility thanks to their Workday system’s usability (“It’s so much more modern and intuitive to use”). So has the Crown Commercial Service, where the imperative was to remove a whole layer of duplicated, unnecessary work: “The drive was to have a single system that could do self-serve – meaning colleagues would be able to access their own data as well as to update it in the system. This would remove a great deal of the admin load that at the time sat with finance and HR, and move it to the line manager or staff member.”

The new kid

The ‘new kid on the block’ label for Workday is certainly overstated: but it’s one we’re still very happy to own. We’ve already spent nearly twenty years kicking up a fuss about what enterprise finance software ought to do, how it should behave and the standards to which it should aspire. We aim to carry on being the not-quite-so-young rebel for the foreseeable future. We’d invite fellow rebels, rock stars and finance futurists to get in touch.

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