The City of Dallas embarked on its Workday implementation in early 2018. Before Premier International was contacted, the city had already struggled through 3 test cycles on their own, averaging 10 weeks on each and completing only two. Delay after delay caused frustration within the city. The project to modernize Dallas’s Payroll and Human Resources was floundering. The situation became dire when first responders felt the impact of the city’s antiquated systems.

Data Issues Make Headline News

Data issues and inconsistencies within Dallas’ legacy Lawson system were the main cause of the delays. However, project delays were a minor issue compared to the litany of problems brought to public attention by the president of the fire fighters association in February of 2019. The president reported to local news outlets that Dallas firefighters were not being paid the proper amounts, merit raises were not being paid on time, and that health insurance was not being administered correctly.

Gathering Political Will

City administrators knew that project direction had to change quickly, as the livelihood of thousands of fire department personnel depended on solving this systemic issue. The help they needed came when the Workday system integrator referred the city to Premier International. Citing years of successful collaboration, the system integrator knew that Premier could address Dallas’ data issues and steer the project back on course. Next came days and nights of planning, after-hours text messages between the Dallas CIO and Premier International leadership, and accelerated negotiations to figure out the best path forward. City administrators cut through red tape with true Texan determination and successfully added contracting with Premier International to the city council agenda in March 2019.

The Cleanup Begins

Premier spearheaded the clean-up of Dallas’ legacy benefits systems and took responsibility for generating the workbooks needed for the Workday data migration. The SQL queries and COBOL programs previously used by the city’s IT (Information Technology) team were converted to Premier’s standard mapping specifications and rebuilt in the Applaud® software within the first month. Premier leveraged its repository of Critical-to-Quality (CTQ) checks specific to Workday, amassed from prior successful Workday HCM (Human Capital Management) Go-Lives, to find data inconsistencies and shortcomings in the data. These pre-validation checks ensured data integrity moving into Workday and to enabled the city to accelerate data cleanup.

Analyzing Employee Payroll and Benefits

Applaud made it possible to gather detailed statistics on the data set and zero in on root problems that made headline news the prior month. By comparing employee benefit plans, types, and number of dependents, Premier ensured that providers had the right information to serve city employees. This effort was critical to restoring the payroll and benefits that were promised to firefighters, police officers, and thousands of other city workers. Prior to the Workday go-live, Premier used their proprietary Gross-To-Net (G2N) tool to compare payroll runs in Workday against Dallas’ current payroll system over several pay periods. This robust and flexible reconciliation gave Dallas the confidence they needed in their new payroll system. However, additional challenges awaited the project team on their path to Workday.

Legacy System Gaps

When Dallas began populating Workday withholding orders, they discovered that data dumps out of their legacy Lawson system could never meet Workday technical requirements. The Workday tenant needed more data than what was captured in Lawson. In response, the Dallas payroll team manually entered withholding data into the Workday load workbook. Data entry for employee withholding orders was difficult since an employee could have multiple orders and these orders can be updated over time. These complications, along with the fact that you had multiple people doing data entry, made the effort rife with errors and Dallas needed a systematic way to audit employee withholdings.

Audit Employee Withholdings

To audit withholding data, Premier partnered with the Dallas payroll team to automate comparisons between Lawson and the manually created files. This effort revealed gaps in the manual process, programmatically derived critical information, and resulted in withholding data that could be confidently loaded to Workday.

The Future of City Administration

The City of Dallas realized that the technical challenges they faced were outside their ability. Through careful self-reflection, resourceful problem solving, and contracting with Premier International, the city worked towards a solution that would correct mistakes in their payroll and benefits administration. Today, the City of Dallas is running on Workday with greater efficiency, more security, and better administration than ever before. Dallas’ strategic investment will serve them, their employees, and the entire city for many years to come.