Workday 25 beefs up financials, announces learning for Workday 27

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy September 29, 2015
Workday 25 is now in the hands of customers. It is more a maintenance release than one that has new blockbuster features. The roadmap ahead includes a new learning module.

Global to local - WDAY 25
As Workday Rising 2015 gets underway, the company is announcing the release of Workday 25. Or rather it is announcing that customers have had their hands on 25 for a few weeks. Workday is also committing to a learning module for delivery in roughly a year's time. We were briefed on the detail behind the release last week.

As a bit of background, Workday now counts 29 publicly traded companies as financial management customers and has crossed the 100 customer milestone in Europe. On to the product.

Workday financials

While there are no huge announcements, many of the enhancements help Workday cement its position as a vendor that is growing into a global position.

Workday has enhanced the global configuration engine and now covers 30 country specific configurations for things like sales tax/VAT.

The financial scorecard and framework have been given a facelift. Customers can now take the dashboard with packaged metric calculations as the starting point for building custom scorecards. The plan is to continue building packaged scorecards both horizontally and vertically.

Workday created an audit dashboard which includes 14 reports. These are designed to manage risk related topics such as flagging areas where there is an inadequate separation of duties.

Other dashboards cover revenue, projects and inventory. Speaking of inventory management, which Workday restricts to indirect and indirect internal purchasing, Workday is building out to meet the needs of its nine target verticals. Key capabilities are set out in the graphic below.

internal supply chain indirect WDAY25

Mobile expenses sees welcome enhancements in the form of posting direct from captured receipts. Prior to 25, this was a manual affair. The system can’t yet capture from services like Starbucks and Uber that provide an electronic receipt.

Vertical markets get a substantial makeover with a slew of new functionality per the following slide

Enhanced vertical functions - WDAY 25

Customers can now create 'lights out' inventory replenishment tied to Workday procurement and auto sourcing in inventory.

HCM Enhancements

The big announcement is less an enhancement and more a statement of intent. Workday will offer learning - not an LMS but learning components - from Workday 27, or in about year's time. The company says it has seen much more demand for learning in the last year and says that it has become an important topic in every deal. Many learning systems not integrated into HCM and don’t cover what people expect to have for learning purposes. People enablement needs learning, allowing for subject matter experts to contribute and share information more easily.

Elsewhere, Workday has built a recommendation engine for retention management, dramatically improved payroll integration to collapse the time to value and automated the Affordable Care Act reporting requirements.

My take

Based upon what we heard during a fast paced run through over 90 minutes, Workday 25 has more of the feel of a maintenance release than one where you can salivate over new features. Nevertheless, the enhancements build upon the the benefits of its multi-tenant architecture and demonstrate a maturity that keeps Workday highly relevant in the marketplace.

The audit dashboard may seem a modest improvement but this will be welcome by internal audit departments, keen to ensure that the accounting function is properly managed according to good practice. In turn, internal auditors will have the process maps that external auditors can also use as the basis for testing. A small thing in one sense, but a big cost saver in the long haul. Seeing expense management get a much needed boost is great. It removes process time for end users. I would like to see Workday commit to direct integrations for the new classes of service like Uber, Lyft and Starbucks as that would remove more friction from a much maligned and detested process while retaining a pristine audit trail for expense claim management.

It is perhaps a statement about the market that Workday has committed to its own learning solution. This was something where the company was happy to partner in the past with the likes of Cornerstone OnDemand. It remains to be seen how that plays out given its learning partner has a very long head start.

We will hear more this morning during the Rising keynote and in the analyst briefings scheduled for later in the day. I am looking for an update on progress of the planning solution the company flagged up recently. We will either update this post with additional detail or develop a fresh story.

Disclosure: Workday is a premier partner at time of writing.

All images via the Workday provided analyst slide deck

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