Launching a Workday Implementation Amid COVID-19

This college system’s data modernization initiative began in April 2020, about one month after COVID-19 restrictions went into effect nationwide. Accordingly, we quickly adapted to the changing nature of work; college leadership recognized that COVID-19 increased the need for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) transformation and immediately embraced the benefits of the remote work model. We conducted requirement gathering sessions virtually, bringing an intense focus to each meeting with minimal downtime between sessions. We collectively understood that the future of education and other critical industries will depend on cloud technology–we were already witnessing this shift with the rapid rise of remote learning. An ambitious effort today would benefit college students and employees for years to come.

Informed by Personal Experience

As this Workday implementation rapidly ramped up, I realized that I had more intimate knowledge of this institution’s  data challenges than I originally anticipated. Like hundreds of colleges and universities, this client was still operating with outdated software for Human Resources, Payroll, and Student Services. BannerWeb was the legacy system at this college –the same system that I navigated as a college student and campus employee to pay tuition, update personal information, retrieve tax documents, and log hours worked. I had dealt with the limitations of the legacy system firsthand: frequent glitches with time entry, difficulty navigating to the desired web page, and the antiquated appearance of the system itself. As a result, I understood that a successful transformation to Workday would mean greater functionality and better usability for faculty, staff, and students. My personal experience with the Banner front-end allowed me to better understand how to profile the data and ultimately execute data conversion objects on our accelerated project schedule.  

Solving Administrative Challenges in Higher Education

During the data assessment period, we discovered anomalies and business processes that had to be addressed as part of the transition to Workday. For example, college faculty have frequent position changes that coincide with changing academic terms. Although repeated position changes are standard in higher education, it poses technical challenges for a software implementation. Workday requires that an employee must be hired into an active Primary Position to load their benefits, direct deposit information, personal information, and education/trainings. Many faculty no longer held the position that they were initially hired into; as a result, we had to use a combination of placeholder positions and carefully sequenced data loads to ensure that all associated employee information was accurately converted from Banner to Workday.

Other data issues emerged through our data profiling and analysis, which we addressed using our Applaud® software and keen knowledge of Workday. Our team identified many cases where employees had positions starting before their hire date. Based on how the Banner system was being utilized, the employee’s hire date would be updated after a position change at the college. This business process resulted in certain employees with position start dates that predated their hire date. To address these cases, we dynamically identified these individuals and pushed the Workday Position Start Date to be on/after than the worker’s Most Recent Hire Date. Additionally, old benefit enrollment records for retired employees were still flagged as active in the legacy system. This poses an issue if an employee returns to the college after their initial retirement—these workers are called Active Retirees. Accordingly, we made sure not to convert benefit records associated with their prior tenure at the college.

Premier used hundreds of Critical-to-Quality checks gathered from previous Workday implementations to ensure that data were ready for loading. These validations examine relationships between benefit enrollments and an employee’s active position, report addresses that do not meet Workday standards, and verify effective dates for logical consistency.  These automated data checks accelerated the project by identifying data issues early, before they could derail the project schedule.

Accelerating the Project Schedule

From our initial onboarding, we were able to deliver Workday-ready files in less than five weeks. We breezed through the Foundation build with high load percentages thanks to our Critical-to-Quality validation checks and amassed Workday expertise. We completed the Foundation build one week ahead of schedule, saving time and money for our higher education client. Across the End-to-End, Parallel, and Gold builds, we averaged a 98.49% load success rate. This accuracy in data conversion also saved the college time in the validation process, as they had high confidence that their existing data were correctly reflected in Workday.  

Preparing for the Future of Higher Education

Many colleges have not upgraded their data architecture in decades, leaving them to operate on outdated mainframe systems. Moving to the Workday cloud solution positions the college well to scale as they add new campuses, employees, and students. The end-user experience will also be enhanced, alleviating the issues that I noticed in my undergraduate days. Ultimately, performing this data cleanup exercise while transitioning to Workday will allow the college to have a more robust, maintainable data repository in the years to come.

Workday Student: The Next Phase

In addition to moving over the college’s HR (HCM) and financial data to Workday, the next wave of the college system’s data transformation initiative involves implementing Workday Student. This upgrade will vastly benefit the over 50,000 students who attend courses at the college annually. The college system will be prepared to handle the modern challenges associated with maintaining and effectively using employee and student data. We look forward to the continued success of our client as they tackle new technological challenges and serve their community.