I've been a great believer in the idea of Workday worktags for financials for some years. The reason is easy to understand. In the old world of the codeblock, you have to design your chart of accounts with a considerable amount of forethought, basing your assumptions about its construction on anticipated future changes. That was OK for a time when business was relatively stable.
But as we have seen over the last 10-20 years, the accelerated pace of mergers and acquisitions, the rise and fall of different industry types, accelerated reorganizations, global reach and expansion has led to a situation where developing a codeblock that will remain useful for any sustained period of time is nigh on impossible. What's worse, in most older systems, the codeblock acts to constrain the accounting system because once laid down, it is incredibly difficult to change. In practice, this means that once the codeblock is established, you are effectively creating a foundation that is set in stone.
Worktags changes that because instead of complex codeblocks, Workday provides the minimum framework from which you can build out a much more complex system. It achieves this scaling feature through worktags, which act as unique identifiers upon which you can analyze the business.
In a customer submitted story, Mark Stinson, director of corporate accounting and Workday business owner for deployment at Shelter Insurance Companies describes worktags in the following way:
Worktags are keywords, or tags, assigned to things and events so we can report and analyze our data from within the system. Using these provides the ability to track data in what seems like endless possibilities.
Stinson goes on to discuss how the concept of worktags has led to imaginative ways in which his company might use worktags to gain fresh insights. Having a flexible systems is one thing but how much impact might worktags have on the ability to rapidly respond to change?
During our Tech Summit day with Workday, we heard from a large financial services business that has made extensive use of worktags to, on the one hand dramatically reduce the codeblock footprint yet have a system capable of reporting over multiple entities and countries. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the customer is able to make process changes within a day. They have successfully deployed a method of codeblock creation that is not only working well but is easily managed. This is achieved by using the Workday security features to ensure that only those with the appropriate permissions get to build new worktags. This changes the dynamic of responsibility in a positive way which I had not anticipated.
Worktags are an incredibly simple yet effective way of expressing the shape of a business at any point in time. As we see more customers warming to this idea, it will be interesting to hear of the use cases that arise from the concept.
Disclosure: Workday is a premier partner at time of writing.