Pixentia Insights

How to Choose Your Workday® Implementation Partner

Written by Pixentia | Jan 8, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Congratulations! By investing in Workday®, you have placed yourself on the leading edge of enterprise technology. You are about to make it much easier to manage the complexity of your finance and human capital management operations, and you have an opportunity to improve and engage your workforce.

If you are migrating from a traditional ERP to Workday®, you will find the implementation cycle to be much shorter and less expensive than a traditional platform. It will also require much less support from your technical team.

Workday® Implementation is Easier than ERP

Traditional ERP platforms are installed as a suite of applications built on a large relational database you own and maintain. Implementations are long and expensive.

Workday®’s platform is a single line of code on a single object model architecture. It defines each organization, job, person, and every other object by its metadata. The relational database on the Workday® servers contains only the metadata, so applications can be easily modified by defining the metadata instead of rebuilding dozens of related tables and customizations.

It also means that expensive and risky upgrades are a thing of the past. Because all customers use the same application, upgrades are available to all customers. 

 Not a Do-It-Yourself Project

A Workday® implementation is not a do-it-yourself project. An enterprise platform has a lot of moving parts, and the implementation is, of necessity, complex. The difference between Workday® and traditional systems is that you will be working alongside your implementation partner, learning as you go, instead of giving a large group of technical consultants your requirements and hoping they get it right.

Workday® Quality Assurance

Workday® has established a required Framework for Success for all its deployments designed to deliver increasing value over the long term. The company maintains an ecosystem of certified partners who are required to recertify twice a year as Workday® updates its products.

All partners must complete their implementations using Workday®’s standardized Accelerated Deployment Methodology. Workday® also offers Delivery Assurance, which provides reviews at critical points in the deployment from planning to launch.

You have much less concern about your implementation partner’s ability to do the work, and you can focus on the things that matter most.

Planning Your Partner Selection

Careful planning is the most important key to success, and the preparation begins long before the partner selection process.

Assemble the Team

Your implementation team will consist primarily of subject matter experts in the business functions you are implementing. The support you require from your technical team will be limited compared to the IT resources necessary for a traditional ERP.

Your technical team may be needed to help you:

  • Export and clean data from legacy systems.
  • Provide sufficient internet bandwidth to handle peak loads.
  • Configure and test data integrations.
  • Assign security roles and responsibilities.

If you do not have the technical expertise to provide the support, your implementation partner or a trusted technology consultant can provide it for you.

Define Governance and Decision Processes

One of the first tasks for your team will be to determine what role your implementation partner will have. You may want your partner to manage the entire project, provide minimal support while you perform the work or anything in between.

Unified program governance, clear and frequent communications, and a defined decision process are essential. No one can anticipate everything, and issues will arise. You must be prepared with a well-understood decision path to avoid delays.

Define Program Objectives

Lowering total cost of ownership is an important objective, and should be one of the top items in your discussion. However, Workday® implementation presents an opportunity to make your workforce a dynamic, adaptive force that will drive better business results. Define objectives to measure the business impact of the programs your Workday® implementation will support.

Define Selection Criteria

Workday® has partners in many industries, some of whom specialize in a single vertical such as financial services or healthcare. Some are tiny boutique firms, and others are the world’s best-known business consulting companies. Some limit their operations to a single geographical area, and others have substantial experience in global implementations.

Marketers have known for hundreds of years that emotion overrules clear thinking and logic. Once you have chosen your criteria, stick to them.

We have listed relevant criteria, based on suggestions from Towers Watson and CIO Magazine.

  1. Can you work with them? The most important criterion is a cultural fit. Does the company share your values? Do they carefully consider your business needs before making recommendations? Do they listen to your questions and answer them until you are satisfied?
  2. Do they know your business? Experience in your industry is important, but be wary of canned “best practices.” Even within industry segments every business is unique. You will want a partner who begins the relationship with a detailed discussion of your business, your vertical, and your competitive environment.
  3. Do they understand strategic alignment? Aligning your program strategy to your business and workforce strategies is essential to your success. Technology alone will not achieve your objectives. Be sure your candidate understands your business and workforce strategies and can articulate how Workday® will support them.
  4. Do they have deep domain experience? Actual experience in the domain is a plus, but you could settle for long experience implementing products in the domain. For instance, an HCM implementation consultant with Global SPHR certification would be desirable.
  5. Can They Manage the Project? Implementation methodology and project management are not the same. Investigate the candidate’s project management tools and methods thoroughly. Ask the same questions you would ask if you were hiring an employee to manage the project.
  6. Are They Trustworthy? The best source for this information will be previous customers. Here is a question from Jill Barson Gilbert we like: Will they tell you if you are about to make a bad decision?

Interview Candidates

Identify potential implementation partners from the Workday® directory who best fit your needs. There are partners from many industries and verticals, and many of them list their satisfaction ratings and specific experience. Some of the companies on the list are exclusively Workday® implementers. Others are full service global consulting firms.

Develop a short list of candidates who meet your requirements. Talk to each of them by phone several times to assess whether they are a good fit with your organization. Your expectation will be that they want to know a lot about you and your business and what your needs are. Be wary if they want to schedule a demo before they know anything about your business.

Discuss your needs in detail. You can make the RFP process much easier by having frank, open conversations with your contenders about your needs and listening well to how they approach their proposed solutions.

Prepare Your RFP

Gilbert recommends that if you have a qualified candidate you want to work with you refrain from launching an RFP just to satisfy a purchasing requirement. You will only create a lot of pointless work for yourself and others.

Be aware that preparing a response to a formal Request for Proposal is an arduous task for a small or medium size business. Limit the number of candidates on your list to those who show the most promise.


"Workday® Deployment Approach." Workday®. 2014. Accessed January 3, 2016.

"Selecting Your Workday® Implementation Partner." Towers Watson. 2014. Accessed January 2, 2016.

Gilbert, Jill Barson. "6 Criteria for Selecting a Software Implementation Consultant." CIO. September 15, 2015. Accessed January 2, 2016.

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