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Workday payroll arrives for the UK - why it matters

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy April 14, 2015
Workday payroll for the UK represents a significant step forward. France will be next. This is why it matters.

workday payroll on iPad
Workday Payroll on iPad

The other week, Workday pushed release 24. At the time, we were briefed about UK payroll but were told the announcement  was under embargo until today. This is exciting for a variety of reasons.

First mooted in 2013, it gives some idea just how hard it is to create a payroll that it took Workday almost two years to bring this to market. My concern at the time was that this would be a PeopleSoft re-run. Why?

I recall very clearly PeopleSoft briefing me in the 90s, claiming they had a global payroll when in reality they only had it operating for six countries. On this occasion, Workday is being much smarter, building natively for its core markets and partnering for others. Note how they set expectations:

Workday Global Payroll Cloud is the foundation of the company’s global yet local approach to payroll, where customers benefit from a unified view of HR and payroll data in a central HCM system while leveraging local payroll providers that meet the specific requirements of individual countries. With Workday Global Payroll Cloud and Workday’s country-specific payroll applications, business leaders have greater visibility into the true cost of the global workforce with real-time analytics on global payroll actuals in a single currency or country-specific analytics in a local currency.

For anyone left confused by the differences, Workday says:

...the new payroll application enables customers with UK employees to address the full spectrum of enterprise payroll needs, providing administrators with the flexibility, control, and insight required to support the unique aspects of their organizations.

The good news for buyers is that as a cloud first solution, it is Workday that takes care of 'legs and regs' and not the end user organization. This will help considerably in deals where the HR department has payroll responsibility. A typical scenario of this kind almost always goes to the vendor that can demonstrate both payroll and HR admin capability. In this case there is the added bonus of not having to worry about a critical maintenance component.

As you might expect, Workday adds a mobile twist saying:

With one self-service application, employees can check pay slips and payment elections -- any time, on any device. The flexibility of the cloud also gives administrators the ability to process payroll from anywhere at any time.

On analytics Workday says:

Organizations can now see what they are actually spending on workers via pre-built reports and analytics for payroll insights. With the same reporting format used throughout Workday HCM, users can combine datasets to increase the context for decision making.

Since Workday is a unified single system of record, no integration is required to link Workday payroll with Workday financial management. They automatically work together seamlessly, as does Workday payroll with Workday HCM. Integration is only required if a customer is linking Workday payroll with a third party financials application, which is quite common in the customer base. Another integration scenario is linking Workday HCM with a third-party payroll provider, which also is quite common in the customer base. Workday makes this easy with certified, pre-built integrations with its global payroll cloud partners. These include well known names like ADP, NGA and Aon Hewitt.

It is too early to expect solid customer references but I will be very interested in observing how this new addition impacts deals. For those champing at the bit for a French version, Workday has slated this for 2016. That will be quite the achievement since the French system is an order of magnitude more complex than the UK system.

Workday has recently highlighted progress in Germany but the company remains silent on whether it will develop payroll for that market and in what timeframe. Being something of a conspiracy theorist and having watched how Workday likes to surprise on occasion, I would not be fazed if Workday made an unexpected announcement on this topic.

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

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