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Workday allies with ADP payroll to extend global reach

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright December 2, 2015
At its EMEA conference today Workday allied with ADP to extend payroll integration, gave news of customer advances and unveiled new steps on data protection

Workday Rising EMEA 2015 illuminated hashtag sign on Dublin's River Liffey
Cloud HR and financials vendor Workday chose its EMEA customer event in Dublin today as the platform for announcing a deepened alliance with payroll giant ADP. The event also showcased Workday's growing international footprint, with attendance doubled since last year and a new batch of EMEA customers named in the keynote.

The vendor also addressed continuing concerns over data privacy regulation in Europe, introducing a new option for customers who hold their data in Europe to have it supported by personnel based in Europe.

Workday deepens ADP partnership

The ADP partnership will add an integrated user experience to the existing data integration between the two products. Once released in the second half of 2016, Workday HCM customers will be able to access ADP Global Payroll functionality from within the Workday user interface. Users will be able to add local data in Workday for automatic validation and processing by ADP, and will be able to view local payroll data and legislative updates sourced dynamically from ADP.

More than half of Workday's multinational customers use ADP for payroll, but the two companies have had a frosty relationship in the past. Workday became a competitor after it built its own payroll solutions for the US and Canada, and is currently nearing completion of versions for the UK and France. It offers integrations to a marketplace of partners, including ADP, for other countries.

The deeper integration with ADP, which will support payroll in more than a hundred countres, reflects ADP's increased emphasis on signing partners to use its APIs, but marks a shift in strategy for Workday. In remarks to analysts and media at today's event, Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri explained that the change of heart had come after ADP's CEO Carlos Rodriguez got in touch.

Candidly, we did not have a great relationship with ADP. Carlos reached out to us. When we understood how many customers we have in common, we realized we probably could serve our customers better by working together.

The new relationship likely means that further payroll development for additional countries has been put on hold, although the company would not be drawn on its plans today. Leighanne Levensaler, senior VP of products, told me:

We evaluate new payroll against other investments. We won't build fifty payrolls. Will we build a couple more? Perhaps. We have no new announcements of payroll to offer today.

Unilever live, Sky Betting signs

Customer announcements at today's event included news that consumer goods giant Unilever has become the latest European-headquartered large enterprise to go live with Workday HCM. Its roll-out to 170,000 employees will be the largest in Europe to date.

The implementation of core HR at Unilever went live as a single 'big bang' roll-out and was handled directly by Workday's own professional services resources rather than using a third-party implementer, said EMEA president Chano Fernandez.

Unilever was a project that we ran. That shows that we have resources within Workday that are able to handle complex global implementations.

Workday also revealed today that Sky Betting and Gaming, which is spinning out from its parent company Sky, has signed up for the complete suite of Workday applications, including financials, HCM, payroll, procurement and expenses. The online betting and gaming company must complete implementation within a short timescale dictated by the separation from its parent, including going live with UK payroll from April.

Other European customers named today include Swedish insurance company Skandia, Swiss life sciences group Lonza, and UK radio broadcaster This is Global. These were among 11 new European customers won in the past four months, said Fernandez, including previously announced Centrica. Workday is also opening offices in new countries, he added, including Spain next year.

Data protection

The decision to offer a new European-only support option had been a response to heightened concerns over data protection regulation, said Fernandez, even though the company insists that its use of EU-recommended standard contract clauses means that its customers were not impacted by the demise of Safe Harbor.

I want to make it quite clear we were never relying on Safe Harbor.

The customer community in Europe were feeling quite comfortable with our policies but we need to go the extra mile to address concerns.

Workday is also taking steps to comply with the Russia's new data residency laws that require data on its citizens to be stored in the country. But that action will not include opening a datacenter in Russia, Levensaler told me.

We've created a report utility to get that employee information out and we are working to partners and looking to get specific endpoints in Russia so they can fulfil that requirement.

We're working collaboratively with our customers and their legal counsel to do everything we can to support them — besides building a data center.

My take

The rapprochement with ADP is as much a matter of ADP warming to co-operation as it is Workday turning cool on extending its own payroll platform into Germany and beyond. It's a pragmatic move that helps remove obstacles to further expansion of Workday's global footprint. With everything that's happening with data regulation, there are enough obstacles as it is — the more of them Workday can remove, the faster it can expand its reach.

Image credit: Illuminated hashtag sign on Dublin's River Liffey - supplied by Workday.

Disclosure: Workday is a diginomica premier partner.

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