According to many, some of these Workday products just aren't working out. Workday is a "moneypit" and a "disaster."
The district has responded, it seems, by doubling down. We're throwing good money after bad, they say.
What kinds of software are we talking about? There are two parts of our Workday purchase, and that's important to understand. Part one includes a financial program plus an HR program. SOCCCD has purchased Workday FDM [Financial Data Model] and Workday HCM [human capital management].
The fiscal part of this bundle is new and is very buggy, they say. Reportedly, it's hell to work with. The HR part also? It's older; bugs should have been worked out.
The other part is the student system part called Workday Student; we signed onto that almost a year after adopting the FDM/HCM bundle (December 2014). We’ve agreed to be a guinea pig in its development—for a discount. Not sure how bad Workday Student has been. (Is it fine? Let us know.)
I’ve made an effort to assemble all the things we’ve reported or otherwise come across regarding the district’s WORKDAY adventures in recent years. Here we go.
* * *
The first thing I’ve got on Workday is two and a half years old:
January 27, 2014 - The district’s Board Meeting Highlights for the January meeting of the BoT reported
Agreements for a new HR/Financial Software System with Workday in the amount of $3,227,361 and Implementation partner CedarCrestone, Inc. in the amount of $3,189,501 covering a five year period.January 27, 2014 - Dissent the Blog's (DtB’s) report of the January 27, 2014 Board Meeting included the following:
Item 4.2: [… D Fitzsimmons has come up with the usual suspects: Bugay, Hilton, Davit K.] Business Process Analysis, Software project.
. . .
Current software systems for HR and Finance are "old and out of date." She spells that out. Thus lots of our processes are "manual" and labor intensive. We knew we wanted to improve these processes.
C Hilton: ... Outlined existing process. Very depressing. We came up with small, nimble process. Described ideal model that is simple, user friendly, compliant, transparent. Wanted to avoid the "COSTCO effect." …"If we automate a mess, we have an automated mess." –A motto, I guess. They “self-examined.” She started talking about "BPAs" [“Business process analysis”]. Blah, blah, blah. They're hoping the board will approve the new streamlined system and processes. She hands off to Bugay:
D Bugay: we want a "one source system," i.e., one entry point. Current. Blah, blah, blah. We want to eliminate "shadow systems." We learned that transparency works very well. Everyone knows what's going on. A series of common themes emerged. Starts talking about DFPs (?). Turns it over to Davit.
Davit K: seven initial responses from vendors. 3 were invited to give presentations….
Workday, Inc. is recommended as the HR/Financial Software systemWhy Workday? Blah blah blah. Starts saying things like "cloud based," "object oriented," "data analytics."
CedarCrestone, Inc. Is recommended to be the implementation partner for the project.
Lists "technological advantages." These are mere assertions, of course. Promises made. Blah blah blah. Available on any mobile device. Davit liked that. Turns it over to Fitz:
Fitzsimmons: expands on "mobility of this product." Talks about dashboards. User-friendly. Fitz seems genuinely excited. Implementation will take 18 months for both phases. Blah blah blah. We anticipate going live at end of fiscal year 2014... Mentions "steering committee." Consultants. Lots of college input.
Now turn to 6.1. They advance that (approval of agreement with these firms).
They divide the question--for the two vendors. That is approved unanimously.
Milchiker: it appears that the process went well. How did you get people to participate?
Fitz: we invited folks, had much participation. They had much to say.
Padberg: so impressed that we're finally doing this. Such an important activity, hiring.
Jemal: I concur. Long overdue. But this is a very substantial investment. Fitz has Bob Bramucci explain.
Bramucci: Student-centeredness. There’s an expectation of that now. This is true cloud-based software. New paradigm. Has a different data model, thus more upgradable. Object-oriented model. Talks data and codes.
I have no idea what he's talking about.
A "tower of Babel problem." Huh? Service-layers. Hard coding. –Whatever. What he said: it was a "nutshell," evidently. That's some nutshell.
Jemal: current process is labor intensive. This new process is less labor intensive, presumably. New training in the district? Is cost of that factored into this?
Fitz: will eliminate some duplicative processes. People will be doing more service-oriented tasks, not menial tasks. I can't give you a dollar amount. Yes, training of our employees is "embedded in the cost." Software is more "intuitive."
Jemal: hope this happens smoothly. Hopes this will follow timeline presented.
Prendergast: I didn't hear answer about "ongoing costs." Maintenance costs.
Fitz: "data migration" .... yadda yadda. I dunno what she's saying. Looks like this is less costly than others. This was the better product in terms of price too….
Jay: the complexity of this program, its "hugeness" is "beyond imagination." He seems to be advising that "we" take this in in bite-sized chunks. Yes, overall a simpler model. But this process is going to be big. He seems to be saying, "Don't blame me if, in the end, we don't like this" cuz its fucking big.
Wright: want to applaud all of you for your hard work. Were all the committees on board with this? I guess so. Bugay comes up to praise Fitz bigtime. Agrees with Jay, will be "big." Describes the way updating occurs. Micro-updating occurs all the time, etc. Thanks Debra's leadership.
Lang: what sort of due diligence have we done? Other districts using this software?
Fitz: quite a bit. Workday is a fairly new product. Their HR [part is] much older than Financial. Had conference calls with other districts/universities: USC, et al. U of Texas, Washington system, et al. Examined contracts: we got a better deal. "We feel that this is a good product."
Milchiker: blah, blah, blah. Keep us apprised, how this is going.
Prendergast: let's vote on 6.1A. Unanimous, except for one abstention: Lang.
Jay abstains on vote re 6.1B, I think.
Poertner: [discusses] how much work has gone into this project. Special thanks to VC Fitzsimmons; an unbelievable amount of work shepherding this through. Did this while negotiating the ATEP agreement. Applause. (Looks like Fitz is riding high.)
Planning for the project began in early February. A detailed project plan has been developed in collaboration with SOCCCD; the implementation partner, CedarCrestone (CCI); and Workday, and is in the final stages of approval and activation using an online project planning tool.It includes a section entitled “Observations”:
Even though this project represents a significant increase in workload, the SOCCCD project team is very enthusiastic, engaged, and dedicated to the success of the project. They are very knowledgeable in the current systems, both at SOCCCD and the County Payroll, which is an important factor in the success of the project. The teamwork between the SOCCCD project team and the CCI team has been highly collaborative, professional, and efficient, resulting in significant progress thus far in the project.
The need to replace the [CedarCrestone] Engagement Manager was an unfortunate situation, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the progress of the project. CCI has addressed this issue quickly and professionally, and have provided quality interim support in that area until a replacement comes on board…. [My emphasis.]
June 2014 - The Board Meeting Highlights for the June 23, 2014 meeting of the board included this among actions:
Agreement with eNamix for an amount not to exceed $207,960 for the term of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 to provide IT testing lead services for the Workday HR/Financial systems project.
Poertner: introducing presentations. "Our number 1 priority, student success," he says, utterly predictably. Student success and completion, blah blah blah. Goes through goals: blah blah blah. Discusses a new software, Workday. (This is dry, man.) Much better than what we had before, he says. (Gosh, we've heard this all before. Let's hope it's true this time.) He's really doing a sales job on Workday. Good grief, does he own stock in the company? Gosh, Georgetown uses it, too. It must be good!September 2014 - The district’s Board Meeting Highlights for the September 29, 2014 board meeting included this:
Agreement with JB Technology Consulting, LLC, for an amount not to exceed $117,844, for the term of October 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 to support ongoing operations and project obligations of District IT heavily involved in the implementation of the Workday HR/Financial systems.October 2014 - In my notes for an October 2014 Senate meeting, I wrote:
District IT also made a very long presentation regarding a new system called Workday, which will be some sort of student system.November 2014 - Then, in November, I reported again (as Senator) about Workday: “Workday: HR forms go live Jan.; Fiscal goes live in July.”
* * *November 2014 - This is probably a good place to mention the November 2014 SOCCCD "climate survey," even though the results of that survey weren’t made available until—well, I don’t know when really. I managed to promulgate an early version of the report in June of 2015, which caused quite a stir. (See Animosity.) It included written comments by survey-takers, some mentioning Workday:
December 2014 - The Board Meeting Highlights for the December 15, 2014 meeting of the board included this action:
Another concern that I have is that the training for workday, required that one is out of the office for the majority of the day. ... District Services feels that they are "our" customer rather than the other way around. … The colleges do not work for District Services rather District Services exist to provide support the colleges. A prime example of this would be the Workday Meeting Schedules. District services, without consultation with the IVC and SC, decided that they would plan various Workday meetings that would be held ALL DAY long the 1st week of the Fall Semester. If anyone from District Services had taken the time to look at the academic calendar they would have known that this is the WORST time EVER to expect Sr. Admins. to be away from the Division Office. Most workday meetings I've found have been set up in multi day meetings held all day long during a single workweek. This has prevented participation from various college employees and Sr. Admin. Assistants. It has also made it difficult for the colleges to receive support for various depts. within District Services as the people we need to contact are no where to be found. ... There is … an overwhelming feeling at both Saddleback and IVC that the District did not take in to account our workflow or schedule when planning WORKDAY sessions. They even scheduled an entire week of workday sessions the 1st week of our Fall Semester. For the colleges this is our busiest time of year and to expect Sr. Admins. and other staff to be out of the office for long periods of time was not reasonable. ... Any process change at the District level that impacts the colleges needs to be communicated widely and in a clear and understandable way. Adding such changes to the bottom of an email blast isn't 'training', it's barely notification. We're all too busy to catch everything these days. Workday will require a ton of training. You cannot offer too much training at different time slots to accommodate people that may want to take a training more than once to be sure they got it. …[T]raining is currently lacking. With the implementation of Workday—have we identified several trainers? It is key that we have an abundance of employees who understand the colleges/district day to day operations to ensure Workday functions properly for the success of the colleges/employees and students.
SOCCCD collaboration agreement with Workday, Inc. to participate in Workday's Strategic Influencer Program and assist in developing a student success system called Workday Student.DtB reported on that meeting. I wrote:
[Item] 6.2 was about a proposed agreement with Workday, Inc.—the idea is that the district will collaborate with that company, thereby gaining great savings in the long run on student services STUFF—while being all cutting edge. The Techno Twins [i.e., Bramucci and Gaston] were there, and they're good speakers, and so the whole thing went down pretty easy. We're gonna partner with this Workday outfit, but there's an "escape clause," which, evidently is something like a Santa Claus, and it will save us from some kind of death spiral should the company go south. Something like that. Actually, it all sounded pretty good. The Student Trustee chimed in to represent the "digital native" POV. That sealed it, baby. I think when he said the word "mobile" all the trustees fainted, so excited were they to do something technical that the kids liked.December [?] 2014 - I’ve come across a district document entitled Workday Collaboration Project, which seems to be dated December, 2014. It explains that “Workday is seeking partners to assist them in collaborating in the production of the Workday Student system. … Other partners include Yale, Rochester, University of Texas, Southern New Hampshire, Broward CC, Tallahassee CC and others.” It discusses three options, including one called “Workday Strategic Influencer,” which is partnering with Workday. I guess that’s the arrangement we chose, at least for the student system.
|From the document; concerning Workday Student|
The District is seeking vendor proposals for the procurement, implementation, and ongoing success of a Contract Management System that will also integrate into an electronic signature system. In addition, the District seeks professional services to assist in the implementation.
. . .
Currently, the District's contract templates are stored on SharePoint in either Word or PDF format. At the most basic level, users at each of the three colleges or the District office download the contract, enter information such as vendor name, contract term, a scope of work description, and contract amount. … The District does not have any reporting, version control, standard file naming conventions, or standard storage locations for its contract. The District is implementing Workday HCM [human capital management] and FDM [Financial Data Model], and will have some capabilities through system workflow to perform final approval and encumber against approved contract. … When a contract is in negotiations, multiple parties such as the vendor, vendor’s legal counsel, the District, and District’s legal counsel, as well as the initiating department might enter or edit contract data. Microsoft Word change-tracking is used to track activity. This can be a lengthy process. Dealing with various versions and persons providing input gets complicated, time-consuming, and confusing. The District desires to make this versioning process more user-friendly, efficient, and to significantly reduce processing time to achieve the final product….
March 2015 - In my report of the March 2015 board meeting, I noted that, during his trustee report, Jim Wright declared that he “liked” Workday.
May 2015 - I found a district report, I guess, dated May 9, 2015, of the BoT’s “self-evaluation.” It mentions “Trustee Listening Sessions,” which inspired the trustees to discuss “Workday training,” among other things. Their discussions resulted also in “requests for specific reports.” (Including "What's the matter with Workday"?)
May 2015 - In DtB’s report of the May 18, 2015 board meeting, I noted the following reports and exchanges:
Jim Gaston: [He discusses] District-Wide technology projects. … Lots of other projects listed. He highlights some of them. … Also mentions "Workday Student" system. No doubt this means something to somebody.
. . .
[A trustee has another question:] for techno folks. We have a very ambitious set of projects that we are funding. How much of this will be done by our own IT folks? How much subbed out? Etc.
Gaston: we don't expect all of these things to be done in the next year. Yadda yadda. Mentions some projects that won't require consultants: desktop upgrades, etc. (They leave the impression that they're pretty organized.)
Lang: we've been proud of the MAP (?) program, which will be integrated into Workday, etc. Is that right? Can you explain?
Gaston: mentions MAP and SHERPA(?). Yammers about this for a bit. Development teams have met with consultants, etc. We have a strong sense of ownership with MAP. Might be transitional problems with Workday. Blah blah blah. We want an integrated system. Whole system integration in 2017, then transition for two years. Workday is a longterm goal.
Lang: [re] security, proprietary stuff...Has our stuff come under attack?
Gaston: yes, any system comes under attack. We've got lots of security safeguards in place. We have vendors' help with that. We try to stay on top of security. Another advantage of going with Workday, which meets European (higher) security standards. We have some great firewalls, etc. Some of the hacks come from on campus, not just external….
May 2015 - The district’s Board Meeting Highlights for the May 18, 2015 meeting included this action: “agreement with eNamix for an amount not to exceed $241,920, for the term of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 for testing lead services to properly implement Workday specifications.”
June 2015 - I’ve come across a document, dated (I think) June, 2015, which presents the Tentative Budget for 2015-6. It touches on Workday:
The second category is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, where we are replacing aging software for human resources and finance with Workday’s new cloud-based ERP software. In addition, SOCCCD has joined key institutions in assisting with the design of Workday’s new Student system, which will include functions from SOCCCD’s award- winning suite of student success software.July 2015 - Based on things I had been hearing from reliable folks, a year ago (July 3, 2015), I posted something called Workday doesn’t work, which got quite a response, some of it very negative. I attempted to explain our history with Workday. Then I wrote:
. . .
Human Resources: Human Resources transitioned from an antiquated HRIS system to Workday, and significantly reduced the backlog for classified hiring without impacting full- time faculty hiring. HR completed over 917 new hires, an increase of almost 20% over the previous year.
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.—On I went like that, trusting in my sources.
“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 [or loud?] waves of consternation and worry. (Faculty, too, 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.
. . .
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.
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 [or at least part of it] 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 plausible. It's all very high-handed and arrogant, of course. A special kind of fucked up.
. . .
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.
. . .
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….
Some folks reacted angrily on Debrah F’s behalf. See Defending Fitzsimons: Comments on our post “Workday doesn't work?” [July 4, 2015].) Many seemed to think that I was hostile to Fitzsimons. Now, in fact, until then, I had always described her positively. She seems very personable. She seems nice—and, as far as I knew, she was good at her job. This whole “Workday fubar” business was the first negative thing I had heard about her. (It is important to remember that she was part of a group that recommended this software.)
October 2015 - The Board Meeting Highlights for the October 26, 2015 board meeting included this:
Amendment to the Human Resource and Financial Software System Master Services Agreement with Workday, Inc. to include the addition of a Employee Recruitment Module, in the amount of $126,000.December 2015 - The Board Meeting Highlights for the December 14, 2015 board meeting included this:
Agreement with eNamix for an amount not to exceed $130,368 for the term of January 1, 2016 to August 31, 2016 to provide backfill for staff involved in the Workday implementation project.2015 [?] - I have encountered a document labeled SOCCCD Board of Trustees Employee Evaluation Highlights, evidently from 2015. It’s last section is “Goals for the Coming Year:”
Provide fair compensation and working conditions part-time faculty, as well as for full-time and classified staff; complete contract negotiations; be knowledgeable about and fiscally support student success; maintain sound fiscal practices; foster growth; ensure Workday works….April 2016 - During the April 2016 meeting of the SOCCCD BOT (reported here), the trustees requested a Workday progress report—no doubt this was inspired by what they heard during the “listening sessions.”
June 2016 - The report wasn’t revealed until the June meeting of the board. According to Tere’s “board meeting highlights,”
A current status report was provided on the Workday project and related software projects, following the board's request for report on the subject. Several managers and administrators provided a recap of reasoning behind the decision to move to the new enterprise resource planning system and the 3.5 year rigorous process which included contributions from all constituencies through business process analysis sessions. Moving from paper to online and toward ideal and transparent processes requires systematic change management to make a cultural shift in organizations. [My emphasis.] The group provided an overview…. Some of the challenges include getting used to new reporting and short-term increases in workload due to changes in processes. This will be examined to ensure that front line staff feel supported. ... Some items have been delayed for roll out to allow for adjustment to the current changes. The goal is to increase training and raise the comfort level during the initial two-year stabilization period. This [?] is to be expected in any major change management initiative. [Tere's notes for June meeting.]As you know, some DtB readers have labeled the above report/presentation an obfuscation of the facts and a dastardly attempt to shift blame onto employees. Some, however, seem to think that there's nothing especially wrong with these Workday tools, that employees are just dragging their feet, refusing to learn the new system.
No doubt there's at least some truth in both perspectives.
* * *Key terms
SaaS – Software-as-a-service (on-demand software)*Some say that our difficulties with Workday fundamentally stem from its cloud-based nature.
Cloud-based* (or “on demand”)
ERP - enterprise resource planning
* * *
Our first commenter wrote:
Interesting summary Roy. Here are a few facts that are missing and are being conveniently overlooked by many of your commenters. Most of the people at District Services were perfectly happy with Escape. A search was started for a new financial system in direct response to the bitter complaints about it coming from the colleges. The most comprehensive and inclusive decision making process in the history of the district took place to select a new vendor and the colleges had ample participation in it. After an exhaustive process that looked at all of the available options Workday was the clear winner and the college representatives on the steering committee voted for it. The "District" did not force this decision on the colleges. The process was started due to college concerns and the decision was the clear consensus of both colleges and District Services.—8:35 PM, July 12, 2016
Are there some serious issues with Workday? Yes there are and there always will be when you make this big of a change. Are the problems insurmountable? Not if we work together to solve them, but given the dysfunctional us/them mentality in this district I'm not optimistic.
Another commenter wrote:
I do enjoy the fact that many of us have viewed faculty concerns on this blog both small and large and generally valid (and sometimes silly) but when a new software system is truly affecting the work lives of your colleagues, we are called "whiners" and complaint-niks.
I also enjoy the comments comparing the old flip phones to Escape and the new smart phones to Workday. I recall that flip phones worked and Workday is neither "smart" or intuitive or inventive.
"The most comprehensive and inclusive decision making process in the history of the district took place to select a new vendor and the colleges had ample participation in it." This is a stretch. The users today had little part in the original hiring of this vendor and it was the "cloud" capability that sold many in the room. Yippee.
When the system was rolled out and implemented, the users today had weeks of meetings and went over the system. This is the truth. The constant "well, Workday can't do that," or "we never designed it for that," was continuous. In fact, Workday was beginning to "whine." Individuals from the original meetings were even heard to say "oh, you promised us that and now you cannot do it?"
We have a very bright & innovative group of users trying to make Workday work. Hey, and none of them use flip phones. Our frustration and our willingness to voice our frustration has brought about more change today to this system than would have been brought if the employees had chosen to be silent.
As we talk about Workday's improvements, of course there will be some and possibly many over the years. Its been a year and they are still trickling out and it took months for us to view a report that gave us the balance in an account.
—1:43 PM, July 13, 2016
Improved software is what many of us wanted for a very long time but while it may turn into that someday, at this point the most minor of tasks take at least three times as long. While it may be easy to blame people for their inability to keep up with the wonder that is Workday, in truth, it cannot keep up with what we know it should and could do. At this time, they are rapidly creating band aid systems to wrap around the original wounds that are not going away.
There is no point in blaming anyone. This is not the issue. Many of you need to recognize though that the recommendations that came from the utter frustration of this system will actually improve this system. When you hear a "whine" it will generally rise up and become a recommendation and if heard enough, a change occurs in Workday. We have all seen it time and time again.
As you shake your heads over another post that communicates the latest concern from a faculty member, recognize that your colleagues are also dealing with a very difficult situation that is being described as mere "change" that we all need to get used to. We are fine with "change" and look forward to it. We aren't okay with a smart phone that so far is not that smart. We all have hope that this indeed will change.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND READING THE ATTACHED COMMENTS, SOME OF WHICH SEEM ILLUMINATING
See Workday Review—A Software Evaluation (HRlab.com)
However, as Workday grows, perhaps it faces no bigger challenge than making organizations realize that their existing legacy software should be "ripped and replaced". Countless organizations that run outdated business software have gotten used to having software that is sub-par but still works, and it will take a healthy amount of convincing to change that. As such, Workday has to stay on message about how the architecture sets up organizational success; how embedded analytics increase organizational agility; and how Software-as-a-Service is rapidly becoming an industry best practice rather than the flash-in-the-pan many once thought it to be.