At Workday Rising Milan, BP, Dyson, and Julius Baer joined us on stage to share their advice how to lay a strong foundation for any Workday deployment project. Some of the liveliest discussion during the session focused on getting the right team composition. In this post, we share those key takeaways.
When you’re a Workday customer, you’re always deploying. First there’s your initial launch, and then you’re continually evolving and growing your Workday footprint with valuable new Workday modules and functionality to deliver evermore benefits and efficiencies to your business.
According to our panelists, one of the most important factors for a successful deployment is finding the right partner and project team member to build your ‘A’ team.
Finding Your Dream Team
Workday recommends that customers work with certified partners who have certified consultants. So selecting a certified partner is the first step towards deployment success. But with all certified partners being qualified and competent, the panel suggested specific advice to vet your way to the best option for you.
Favour partners with custom proposals
Once you have a good understanding of your requirements and have developed a detailed RFP to explain those requirements, it’s important to find a partner that customises their proposal to those specific needs. It signals that they’re taking you and your project seriously, that they listen, and that understanding the nuances of your project is a priority for them. It also indicates the level of collaboration they intend to have with you during the project. Treat boilerplate proposals with extreme caution.
Scrutinise their implementation approach
For many companies, deploying Workday or expanding your Workday footprint isn’t a cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf system implementation. You may be changing your operating model as part of the project, your service delivery model, your BPs, third-party systems, etc. So be sure to consider the bigger picture and the various activities that will be going on— implementation service, delivery model implementation, change management, integrations, data remediation—and make sure to select a partner who can help you to link all of those moving parts.
Probe with key questions and scenarios
- Lessons learned—What are the key lessons learned from engaging with other Workday customers like you on projects like yours? They should be able to describe key challenges they faced and also explain how they mitigated certain risks, which is valuable in helping you evaluate their approach to dealing with issues, finding solutions, and getting through difficult phases.
- Who would do what?— Query how they typically segregate tasks and to-dos between the partner and the customer. What would they be expecting from you? Where they are expecting you to take the lead? Where can you expect them to take the lead? Interface discussions are critical during partner selection, as they help you uncover early on if your assumptions are correct, whether you can deliver on their expectation with current internal resources and skill sets, etc.
- Scenarios—Scenarios allow you to take unique problems you think you’re likely to face in your project because of the nature of your business and hear how a potential partner would handle it. For example, if you have an extensive expat community amongst your workforce, pose a scenario that asks how the partner would manage international assignments and move a worker through the organisation. Can they talk in detail about past experience in this area? Pitfalls to avoid? What they’ve had success with in the past? Do they have a grasp of key considerations required for all touch points, like benefits, payroll complexities, etc? Do they convince you that they have the skills, knoweledge and experience to come up with the best solutions within Workday for your challenge?
Meet their leads
Deployment projects can last months and sometimes years, depending on the scope. So ensuring that you can work with the people assigned to your project is critical. When evaluating partners, meet with and review the people who they proposed to assign to key roles on your project (like the Lead Architect and the Program Manager). Do you feel comfortable that they fit into your team? Do they speak the same ‘language’ as your team? Can you imagine collaborating with them day in and day out long-term? And do they have the breadth of experience required? They don’t necessarily have to have been with that organisation for many years, but you’ll want evidence that they have worked on a project of your scale and complexity before.
Insist on unfacilitated reference calls
It’s common for partners to connect you with their longest-standing, happiest clients for reference calls, which can be a useful starting point. But also push to speak with a client that mirrors your company or your project. For example, if you are global organisation in 30 countries that isn’t very mature, ask to speak privately with a similar client they’ve worked with. This will allow you to ask blunt questions and get a deep understanding of what that partner would genuinely be like to work with.
BUILDING YOUR INTERNAL PROJECT TEAM
If choosing the right deployment partner is the first step towards a successful project, getting your internal team right is the second crucial step.
Don’t settle for less in a program manager
According to the panelists, without the right person in the role of program manager, everything else becomes irrelevant. Having to replace this pivotal role mid-project can create significant delays and re-work. Key qualities to look for include impeccable organisational and communication skills, grit, and resilience. For leadership skills, the panellists recommend finding a candidate who can manage down through the project team, but also manage up to senior staff. Determination and creativity were also called out as essential traits—someone who will not take ‘no, it can’t be done’ for an answer but instead will push, challenge and collaborate with team members or your deployment partner until they uncover what can be done and will be the driver that gets you past all of the obstacles and makes sure you get live. Keen observation and motivational abilities are also prized, as deployment projects can be a marathon. A great program manager will stay tuned to the emotional ebb and flow of the team, recognise when engagement is low, and will take steps to raise morale, celebrate successes and be emotionally supportive.
Remember to include pivotal non-functional roles
SME and technical expertise from HRIS, HMIS or IT on your project team is obviously key. But Workday deployment projects have far-reaching impacts on an organisation, with intersections beyond just the functional area being rolled out. Appointing team members with expertise in change management, legal, data, privacy, security, and testing can help ensure that project decisions aren’t made in isolation, that project-related risks for these areas can be addressed and mitigated in good time, that user adoption is strong, and that these areas who will have a role in ongoing maintenance and QA of your system after go live have a detailed understanding about its architecture and the reasoning behind it.
Partner With Kainos On Your Next Deployment
Kainos has been a certified Workday partner since 2011, rolling out Workday’s full suite to organisations of all sizes around the globe. If you’d like to talk to us about working together on your next project, get in touch today.