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Office for Students Chooses Workday, a First for UK Public Sector

Leading UK education body completes digital-first initiative on time, on budget and with greater returns.

In the first project of its kind for the UK public sector, the Office for Students (formerly HEFCE) has selected Workday as its next ERP solution. The move represents a significant step forward in the government’s Digital First agenda and makes OfS the first UK public sector agency to move away from traditional vendors and embrace more innovative, agile ways of working. The project will deliver operational efficiencies and move one step closer to meeting the Government’s target of a true Digital First public sector by 2020.

“We felt that of all the vendors we looked at Workday was a natural choice as they were, we believed, the only truly multi-tenanted, cloud-based solution that would enable us to deliver a sound return on investment—now and in the future,” said Alison Jarvis, Head of Finance at OfS. Embarking on what is set to be a truly digital transformation, OfS chose our Kainos WorkSmart team as its Workday implementation partner via the GCloud9 tender process.

Our extensive expertise as a dedicated Workday consultancy, coupled with unrivalled experience in leading a number of Digital First programmes across the UK public sector, was a factor in the decision. “We chose Kainos WorkSmart as our implementation partner primarily because of its understanding of the public sector. We were conscious that choosing a vendor like Workday is new territory for us, and having Kainos WorkSmart on board with its knowledge of similar projects in the public sector was a way of mitigating any perceived risk,” Jarvis added.

The challenges OfS faced were threefold:

  • an aggressive timeline of six months to implement Workday HCM, Finance and Payroll modules across the organisation;
  • increasing pressure on government budgets; and
  • the need to show a return on investment that is now practically a prerequisite to any project.

Jarvis also had other concerns to balance. “We were living with legacy systems that meant we were focused on transactions, not growth. We choose Workday because nothing else would enable us to deliver the future. I felt that of all the implementation partners we considered, Kainos WorkSmart was really invested in our success and had a genuine drive to see us succeed. Its informal approach and its effort in engaging with our people were vital.”

Padraig Callaghan, our Head of Public Sector, led the OfS project from the outset, putting together an agile team that had the experience and understanding to guide OfS through considerable transformational change. “OfS could see that we were committed to and shared their focus on enabling success,” said Padraig. “We were able to effectively demonstrate not only that we had an excellent reputation in both working in the public sector and as a Workday consultancy, but also that our teams were empathetic to and could work collaboratively with theirs to grow their capabilities along the way. We work as an extension of their team in an open and honest way which makes us approachable and the project more efficient.”

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