Friday, July 3, 2015

Workday doesn't work? (A serious district FUBAR?)

     It has long been clear that our district is saddled with antiquated and inadequate human resources/financial software (HR/F software), and so, a couple of years ago, steps were taken to find a solution via a sprawling process that solicited wide opinion among district employees.
     Vice Chancellor of Business Services, Debra Fitzsimons, seemed to be the point person in this quest.
     The upshot: in January of 2014—i.e., nearly a year and a half ago—the SOCCCD entered into an agreement with WORKDAY—i.e., Workday Human Resource Management, which offers consulting and software. The selection of Workday was a bit risky, for the company had little experience with educational institutions, at least on the financial side (as their name implies, they focus on HR, not finances). But they offered us a special deal plus lots of techno razzmatazz and big promises.
     “Hooray,” people said, at least for a while. (Well, some of us quietly worried that we've heard all this before: the new system is the big fix! You won't believe how intuitive and clever it is!) As you know, Workday training sessions have commenced, district-wide, producing tacit waves of consternation and worry. (Faculty have told me that they have found the software difficult to work with. I've simply avoided it.)
     So, as we can all see, the Workday train is slowly building up a head of districtular steam. But is it the Big Fuckup Express?
     The district has been reviewing and assessing its business processes, and these, too, have been found to be wanting. (One might suppose that our venture with Workday would address that problem. I'm told that Ms Fitz, who should have known better, supposed likewise, but wrongly.)
     In the course of the review, it became clear that the district’s contracting processes in particular are ineffective and cumbersome, and, as was discovered some time after January, 2014, Workday offered no fix at all. Hence, Fitz and her crew decided to update its contract management tools and procedures—i.e., to purchase yet another system for the contract process. Fitz commenced a search for a system (software) that, in her words,
should also allow for contract templates library, electronic signatures, ability to search text within contracts, document version control, ability to manage versioning and routing to legal counsel, ability to route email notifications and reminders on contract status, ability to store a library of standard contracts and contract clauses, and be integrated into Workday, among other things.
     Thus it was that, in late January, 2015, the district advertised for proposals from firms to provide “Contract Management System and Related Services.” By early February, the district received four proposals. After a review of the proposals, the RFP committee recommended the software of SciQuest, Inc.
     Why SciQuest? Because it “will be able to be integrated with Workday’s HR/Financial System Software.”
     That brings us to May. Item 6.13 of the May 18 board meeting was this:
SOCCCD: Contract Management Software System Project, Approval of Agreement for Contract Management System Project, SciQuest, Inc.
Approve the contract for the Contract Management Software System with SciQuest, Inc. for a five year term effective May 19, 2015.
     At that meeting, Fitzsimons briefly made the case for the contract, whereupon the ever fiscally conservative Trustee Dave Lang wondered why the district had employed yet another contractor (Strata Information Group, I think) to vet the four proposals. Didn’t we have the expertise within the district to do that? Fitz answered that the district was “strapped”—for time, I guess—since it was preoccupied with “the Workday contract,” a big project. Strata helped with the logistics, organizing the vendors’ presentations, etc., she said. Lang seemed to like that answer. He then asked why, contrary to usual practice, this contract used SciQuest’s agreement (some kind of standardized form), not ours. Fitz answered that the contract passed muster with the district’s lawyers, plus we got everything we wanted in the agreement.
     But Lang didn't ask the obvious question: didn't we already take care of this with Workday? Is belatedly hiring a firm like SciQuest part of the original plan?
     Fitzsimon’s oddly anxious demeanor piqued my curiosity, and so I’ve asked around about this Workday/SciQuest business. So, here’s what I've got:
     According to people I’ve spoken with—and they do seem to know what they're talking about—there is a sizeable FUBAR afoot. It has a greater part and a lesser part. First and foremost, Workday is turning out to be a pig in a poke. Second, and predictably, Fitzsimons seeks to draw attention away from the fact that Workday lacks “contract management,” thus necessitating the SciQuest contract. Fitz and Co. really screwed the pooch and they don’t want the trustees to understand that.
     That’s the story, anyway. It sounds mighty plausible. It's all very high-handed and arrogant, of course. A special kind of fucked up.
     I attended the May meeting, and I’ve reviewed the relevant streaming video, and I don’t think that this (alleged) state of affairs—namely, that contracting with SciQuest is an expensive patch on the inadequate Workday—was in any sense communicated to, or understood by, our trustees. At the meeting, trustees seemed satisfied with the request—as though taking on this further third-party contract was always part of the plan, and so they approved Item 6.13, giving SciQuest a five-year, $330,223 contract. They were as pleased as punch.
     Again, the core problem here is that, as it turns out, Workday doesn’t work. It lacks contract management; sources, including faculty and classified, tell me that even HR can't make it work. Faculty (some, anyway) hate it. Payroll, too, does not mesh with Workday and benefits are a mess. Workday can’t deal with the complexity of our district—its different employee types, different employment contracts, the variety of ways that faculty are paid and the fact that employees often are paid for less than the full year. Classified overtime is a big problem: Workday can’t handle it at all.
     The situation, I’m told, is nothing less than a disaster. A grand fubar.
     The fundamental problem is that Workday was originally designed for private industry, not educational institutions and government accounting. It is “cloud” based, but the SOCCCD is not. Workday, it seems, simply cannot be “customized” for our district. It can't be made to work.
     How did this happen? I’m told that the committee members that chose Workday were dazzled by fancy new technological fixes and did not give enough weight to the mundane but crucial input, of which much was provided, of the people in the trenches.
     But there's more. According to my sources, despite Workday's utter inadequacy, the district is going forward with it, full steam ahead. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. All efforts to slow things down or develop workarounds are being rejected. Workday is ours and we will like it.
     It's quite a mess, a real morale buster.
     Do the trustees know about any of this? Apparently not.
     So, is it true that Fitz and crew are hiding a fubar? Is the choice of Workday the unmitigated fiasco described above?
     Tell us what you know. I've always liked Debra F. I don't want her to turn out to be just one more arrogant administrator. And I don't want to have to learn another lousy, soul-sucking  program.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Roy, thank you for taking time to research the issues with Workday. It's about time that someone is shining some light on a major problem that is going to have a huge impact on our staff and faculty. The HR roll-out in January, uncovered many issues with the Workday system, but everyone kept the "it will be fine" storyline going...unfortunately it was not and things progressed full-speed ahead despite obvious problems. The second phase of the Workday roll-out (the financial and accounting system without the contract piece you described) was scheduled for July 1st. Given the problems with the initial Workday roll-out, one would have expected a delay in the second phase until problems with the first phase were resolved. No such luck, as the second phase has now been implemented and the problems are just starting to surface as our faculty and staff try to utilize the system. Your analysis is spot on: MAJOR FUBAR! Unfortunately, those of us at the college that have to deal with this mess are getting little support and the frustrations and problems will only continue.
Please keep updating the campus as to what is going on, as the administration (especially the District) will not.

Anonymous said...

It already has a new name...it is called "WORSEDAY"

Anonymous said...

Wow! Just can't believe you are dissing the only administrator trying to make positive changes to this district, she has been working on this in a methodical and systemic way. She is the only one who actually listens to us and is improving this place. The workday system was never supposed to manage contracts but when an opportunity rose to have software to augment WD, she facilitated that too, again, to make improvements. Give her and the team a break. Have you all led a change effort like this, it's not easy. I commend her for doing this. BTW, the go-live date was just 2 days ago. And, part of the go-live plan is to roll it out over several months and stabilize the system. This is rolling out as expected and adjustments are being made as we go. I think you need to talk to folks who know more about this project and get the correct info. I commend her for taking on this enormous task. No one else around here is willing to lead and make such positive changes.

Anonymous said...

Sad that you didn't talk to someone informed about this project. Fitz is one awesome lady! You really should talk with her to get the facts. The project is going as expected and nothing this large and complex is done overnight. Look at the project plans and you will see how complicated it is to make all these changes from paper to digital and improve business processes.

Anonymous said...

She is 'hands down' the best exec we've had at district ever. And, she is the only one willing to take on hard tasks such as making these improvements to our 1960's bureaucratic processes. She is actually making a difference. Criticizing the Workday project before it's finished is hardly fair. I'm surprised at you, Roy.

Anonymous said...

workday is working. Whoever you are talking to had no idea or is starting trouble. What haters! I agree that Debra is doing a good job at this and her intentions are to make things better unlike a lot of folks.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 12:24. There have been trainings every day, open labs, a training share point page, lots of communications. Can't believe someone is saying they are not getting support. Never saw so much inclusiveness at this district as was done by VC Fitzsimons on getting input and making adjustments as has been done with this project. Sorry to see your slant on this project especially as it's not even completed yet. Gee whiz. People are just trying to find things to hate on. I for one, am glad she is leading this project and we have all these changes being made. The paperwork and time it took to get things done before was ridiculous. Now, we are coming into the 21st century, at least, and in such a short period of time. I also agree that no one else has stepped up like she has. Kim McCord is also really great. Glad we have the both of them.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to find new sources. Workday was never intended to have contracts management and contracts editing and tracking. It was always planned to have a separate solution and was timed so that we entered into an agreement for that software when we were ready to do that part of the overall project. Also how can people be criticizing this project when it's not completely implemented yet. That's how much those sources know. Your suggestion that there was some major problem with WD that needed fixing is just not fact. The FADUR is your unreliable sources.

Anonymous said...

The people in my area remain flummoxed by this and all we really need to do is report absences. The self-reporting aspect of this is problematic as well.

Anonymous said...

I have never responded to your blog before, but also feel a need to defend her. This workday project is a challenging one. Very complicated. The project is not one where you flick a switch and it's turned on. It's designing processes, going live with them, and making adjustments. It's going exactly how we thought it would go with something large and expansive as this project is. Her leadership has been wonderful. I admire her for leading the effort. With that said, off to watch some fireworks. Let's give this project a chance to unfold, why don't we.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap! Just saw these posts and have to say something. As a long time faculty member, am very impressed with Dr. Fitzsimons. She is very credible. One of the most effective, respectful, and mindful administrators we have had and normal, too. With the other crazies running around here, she gives me hope we will make the changes that are needed. I trust her. Which is saying a lot coming from this cynical old fart. Don't drive her away.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Roy, looks like you and your sources came off half-cocked and you jumped the gun again. Deb Fitz is the best! Looks life Roy & co. are suffering from chronic foot in mouth disease.

Anonymous said...

Roy, you are way off on this one, buddy. You should contact Debra, or the project manager. Or the workday team leaders. The payroll integration and benefits is still being worked on. So, are many aspects. Hope Debra and all the good working people on this project don't get discouraged by all you naysayers. I doubt if they read your blog. But, They have done a stand up job. And, there is a long way to go yet. And, you do know that she is not over HR, right. Have any of you attended any training? I bet not. Anyways, happy fourth.

Anonymous said...

You make it sound like FITZSIMONS was misleading the board. None of the RFP respondents could do contract management. These big HR and Fiscal systems don't have that. It was planned to have a contracts software product to integrate with whatever system was chosen. No X Files mystery here. Nothing was done that was not planned out in advance over a year ago. I think you owe DR. F. a big fat Roypology. I think she was forthright about this.

Anonymous said...

No one is saying that the district didn't need updated systems and a means to go paperless. No one is saying that Debra didn't step up to spearhead this. The training, PR, and communication have been great. To get an honest assessment, you should speak with staff in HR, Payroll, Purchasing and Accounting - the real staff, the workers in the system every day - and you will learn that the system is truly NOT ready for prime time. It is complicated and cumbersome. Many tasks will take far more time to complete in Workday than they did in Escape. It's not a matter of tweaking things for the next few months. There are things that Workday just cannot do, and the district is still trying to figure out how to work around that. Does Debra know this? I don't know. She may be too high level to know about the details. Kim McCord? I commend her for doing everything possible to make this work and for putting on her game face in spite of the constant difficulties with the system. The go-live was just a few days ago, but HR and Payroll have been live for six months, and those systems still do not work. To quote one consultant, "It's like putting lipstick on a pig." And, to quote a member of the project team, "It's like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole." Debra is great. Kim is great. You will not hear either one of them diss Workday, but if they are saying everything is great and you're believing it, you are drinking the Kool-Aid. Again, talk to the people who are using it. I am in a position to know and Roy, it sounds like your source is too.

Anonymous said...

I am in a position to know, too. Kim, debra, Rosie, brenda, and tons of staff have been working their butts off day in and day out on this project. Is everything going perfect? No, of course not. That is part of what occurs on these projects. We are replacing Hundreds of processes. It's incredible. As each day goes by, they are making the fixes needed. I heard Debra say something a couple of weeks ago about being patient and kind. And, it really hit home. No one can understand how much of an effort this takes. All the staff are working together to make this work. And, it will.

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love Debra. She has her fingers on the pulse of this project. I'm sure she would be the first to say that kinks are being worked out. And they expected to have the kinks. She is a straight up person. You should ask her how things are going. I know she would be up front with you. I liked what the other post said about being patient and kind. Good night.

Anonymous said...

I like the new system. Approved a vacation request the other day from the beach. Sure couldn't do that before. Way easier now. I think that change is hard and people need to be positive. This will be a good thing for the college. Takes time to get use to new things.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Roy for this post because it very clearly illustrates one of the biggest problems in this district. And no, it's not evil and/or corrupt administrators as you seem to believe. Do we have some lousy administrators? Yes. Do we have some lousy faculty? Yes. How about managers and staff? Yep. However my experience is that a vast majority of employees in this district are good people who are doing their best within a very politically charged environment.

In my opinion one of the biggest problems in this district is the tendency we all have to jump to conclusions based on incomplete information, assume ill intent on the part of others and judge the work of people in other areas when we really don't know what we're talking about. That leads to entrenched and defensive cliques who are distrustful of others and it makes it very difficult to move forward with any kind of cohesion. And the worst part? The students suffer because we can't get our act together.

This blog has wide readership within the district and with that visibility comes power. You have the power to enlighten your readers with your insights into the actions across the district and hold our leaders to a reasonable and fair level of accountability. You also have the power to belittle, demean and contribute to the poisonous political environment in which we find ourselves. A lot of your readers would like to see much less of the latter and much more of the former.

Anonymous said...

There is so much misinformation in this particular blog post, that I don't know where to start. For instance, the soft roll out for HR was planned. The district also does not run its own payroll, the county does. The integration with WD and the county is being developed. That will roll out in a month or two. When it's ready. I highly suggest you talk to the people running the project. They have the information. They would share. They have been sharing it. The VC and others are all working through this project plan. I am happy we are doing these long overdue improvements. People are really making it happen. No wonder people never wanted to address hard issues or solve difficult problems before. Its hard but is being made harder when you get these kind of accusations and rumors. We will forever be in mediocrity if we can't get out of this habit. No one will ever want to step up again. Sad.

Anonymous said...

I normally agree with a lot that you have to say on DTB, but not this time. I agree with some of the other comments. Think you jumped the shark on this one. VC Fitz is well liked, mainly because she does her homework and follows through. I would not expect any less on this software initiative. The insinuations on the blog look rather unfair.

Anonymous said...

You said you were only posing a question, but no, you weren't just doing that. You had a lengthy 20 plus paragraph blog with some half baked accusations before you actually posed the question of what folks think about Workday. Which also, was premature to be asking, given implementation is just occurring. Not cool. I can see why folks commented. Plus Debra and gang are good people.

Anonymous said...

10:47, this all seems to be the general M.O. of the folks who author this blog. It has been their approach from its inception.

Anonymous said...

Typical Roy. Shitting on what he doesn't understand.

Anonymous said...

8:29's sublime little missive provides a key reason why I despair about the human race.

Anonymous said...

8:47, wow, you are a deep thinking individual aren't you? If this is all it takes stay locked up in your house with the lights off.

Anonymous said...

(Musn't feed the troll..musn't feed the troll... don't yield to the urge ....)

Ah, there, that's better.

Anonymous said...

Definition of Troll on DTB:

1. Anyone who doesn't agree with Roy, et.al. & DTB.
2. Anyone who criticizes them, questions them, their assertions, stories and claims.
3. Anyone who calls them out on their BS.
4. Anyone who has to repost their thoughts because you-know-who keeps deleting them.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, what?

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