With a fast expanding network of modern, walk-in facilities in the New York area, CityMD - the company opened eight units in the last quarter of 2016 - had a pressing need to match modern treatment facilities with modern accounting and payroll.
Planning for growth
Louis 'Lou' Salamone, CFO, CityMD explains it this way:
I'd been used to delivering pay and financial information via the Intenet in a past life. People are our most important cost and the one we must manage as effectively as possible. The question was whether we could get all of that on a single platform. We looked at a number of systems including those from Oracle and Microsoft but Workday was the one we believe has the best potential to help deliver operational efficiencies. At the time we made our choice, we were relatively small with some 300 people. But our expansion plans meant we knew we would grow into Workday pretty quickly and now we're up to 1,600.
It is unusual for us to see a Workday customer start with financials, normally it is HR/payroll. I was curious to understand why CityMD took that approach. It turns out that alongside the single platform issue, CityMD is owner/operated by physicians:
These people need dashboards which are graphical in nature rather than being presented with row and column reports. Workday's way of presenting information lent itself to meeting their needs.
Worktags in action
When I speak with Workday finance customers, I like to understand how they get on with the concept of Worktags, which to me, provides a natural way of flexibly organizing financial content according to end user needs. This comes at a price that is easy to overlook. Worktags require a degree of discipline because like systems that use taxonomies, they can quickly run out of control.
We faced that problem. We had to limit the ways in which information is parcelled out via Worktags and the way we overcame it was to have reporting ‘gurus’ who control how people use Worktags. They work alongside information consumers to understand what is required and ensure they get what they need while maintaining control over the environment. I think we've got a good balance between flexibility and control without running the risk of creating a financial Tower of Babel.
Spreadsheet hell - be gone!
How well is the Workday system working?
We’re out of spreadsheet hell. We plan every site as if it’s a separate business (there are 20 more sites planned for 2017) and hold site managers accountable for the things they can control like payroll. They all manage a P&L. That's realistic but more to the point, we anticipate a very fast close at the end of the month.
Which brings us neatly onto Workday HR, where CityMD says that the single platform is saving the company a good three full time employee days each two weekly cycle.
Three days is a waste of time, money and management talent when you want to be decision making as close to events as you can. Having pay and financial data in the same platform goes a long way towards eliminating errors in allocation.
Beyond the Worktag discussion, I wanted to understand the kinds of lesson that CityMD believe other customers can pick up on. Salamone said that while most systems will allow a degree of rethinking process, Workday allowed the company to build processes from scratch but in an 'outside/in' manner.
This is not easy and especially when you've already got a day job, but it is worth working from the outcomes you're looking for back into the processes you need to accomplish those outcomes. We found that Workday is very well suited for that purpose and has given us a streamlined system that just works well.
What of the future? Continuing to add business units at a good clip is one thing but is there more to be achieved?
Data is everything; in fact it's like potato chips, once you start eating you can't stop. In our case we have two customers: the patient and insurer and, of course, everybody talks about Big Data. We want to include external data – CDC data on flu - for example . We want to compare and benchmark ourselves with data. Much of what we're trying to achieve is about removing delivery cost. Those are value adds for our insurer customers and helps us streamline our business operations. We're not there but we can see the prize ahead. The next big step will be to build out a fully fledged business intelligence function.
Each Workday customer is unique and CityMD is no different. But as I find more of these customers, threads and trends are emerging:
- Plan for expansion - Workday provides a better ROI as the system grows.
- Rethink your processes from the outcome standpoint.
- Be prepared to do a good amount of upfront thinking and actively engage with information stakeholders.
- Get IT involved at the right time.
- On financials, carefully work through the Worktag concept because it will reap significant benefits.
- Consider the platform approach as your ticket to streamlining data.
- Make sure that you can expand your data pools to include the kinds of external data that matter to your business. Workday is constantly looking to 'acquire' data sources across a number of vertical markets.
- Be prepared to compromise where it doesn't matter. Sweating those details isn't going to provide an optimal answer.