A combination of listening to Service Source CFO Ashley Johnson talking about rethinking business processes, hearing how the audit bill went down as a result of implementing Workday (always a good thing !!) and noting that Workday believes finance and HR are new best friends got me thinking.
Although the thought that an audit fee might actually reduce is novel, it was clear from listening to Ms Johnson that the company had improved processes to the point where the auditors didn't need to undertake significant detailed testing but only needed to work through the process with limited paper trail testing. That tells me a lot about the value that can be added by having a well thought out system of record. I was so impressed with this story that I plan on filming the company next time I am in the Bay Area - probably at the end of October. Watch out for that one!
But I was bemused by the fact Workday believes HR and finance can get along well. Payroll is often in the hands of finance but my experience is that HR and finance have never had a comfortable relationship. Too often finance could not provide the kinds of metric HR needed, except in circumstances when they need to do a headcount cull. Apart from the obvious unpleasantness involved, finance was in effect acting as the sledgehammer to crack the nut, often in what many consider arbitrary fashion. It should be no surprise then that HR tended to distrust finance.
So it was with some considerable interest that I sat down with Mark Nittler, VP product strategy Workday to discover how this environment is changing. It turns out that finance is now seen as a partner that offers valuable assistance in managing talent and not just a number on the page. While some of my finance colleagues might guffaw at such a prospect, it makes a lot sense in the context of helping to not only manage cost but also manage growth.
Among other things, it also means the role of finance is changing. Yes, compliance is still very much top of mind and yes, the audit still needs to be undertaken. But that's not the direction for the future. Instead, finance will increasingly become involved in helping with things like discovering and managing the optimum talent 'mix.' This is a lot more complex than simply hiring the best brains.
From what I could discern, we are at a very early stage in figuring out how this will come together. And it must be said that with a combined finance and HR offering, Workday is clearly positioning this idea with its own interests in mind. Even so, there is genuine merit in the argument laid out by Nittler. The question comes - how will customers respond in the real world?
Disclosure: Workday is a premium partner and partly funded my travel to Rising