Workday ramps time to value with Launch expansion

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett June 18, 2020
Workday's Launch program is being extended to large enterprise alongside reorganizing for customer success

Workday Launch
(via Workday)

Workday's Launch program is being extended to select large enterprises in industry segments most hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a briefing this week, Emily McEvilly, newly appointed Chief Customer Officer, explained to me what this means. 

Regular readers will know that at last year's European Rising, I reported that:

(Launch) was an initiative designed to drive down the cost of implementation for Workday's smaller customers that resulted in a reduction of 30% in the price of implementations for those customers. The result was less revenue per customer, but it drove volume. 

Readers will also know that Workday maintains a tight control over its partner ecosystem designed to ensure that Workday is able to maintain the highest possible satisfaction rating among its customers. More on that later. But what about this announcement?

Ms McEvilly explained that the company has brought all support services (except sales) under one 'customer' umbrella. This umbrella includes support, partner ecosystem and success teams. There is a dotted line between McEvilly and the sales/marketing functions to help ensure sales/marketing are equipped with the customer success metrics which Workday believes are central to deal wins and project success.  But it goes beyond this. 

Since the early days, Workday has the concept of a 'business development manager.' In the wider world this role is normally seen as something akin to pipeline driving. In Workday's case, this is about both understanding the customer's scope and then matching that scope to available partner resources and then suggesting three potential partners.

The idea is to reduce friction in the sales cycle while also ensuring that recommendations come with the assurance that Workday already knows the level of existing partner commitment to Workday projects which is then measured against likely timelines. Net-net, this should mean that deal flow is efficient, that projects are predictable and that quality is maintained. 

What does this mean in terms of Launch? As McEvilly outlined, Launch was originally conceived as a way delivering value to customers with much simpler contracts, pre-configured processes and a focus on rapid deployment. Now it's being expanded. 

We've had great success since the original Launch back in 2017. We've since expanded Launch which started in U.S. medium enterprise commercial. We're now in Europe, Asia, we're moving now more into industry pre-configuration so healthcare (non-acute,) higher ed, state government, and now we're looking at non-acute in healthcare. For large enterprise we're p(currently avaiailoting a handful of these today. 

The rollout of the available packages - HCM, HCM payroll, and full suite - to all large enterprises is some way off (currently available to select companies) and Workday has to make tweaks to both scope and timelines since large enterprise needs are more complex and demanding. And the program is being expanded but details of those future enhancements have not yet been finalized. What about the real world?

Of necessity, companies will come to us saying that the packages are OK but what happens if we add this or that and we can accommodate them but they also need to understand how changing scope likely means more time. But what we're not doing is trimming scope so that they're in a bare bones kind of functional situation. That doesn't make sense. Rather we'll give them enough that they can see real value and a way forward to greater service consumption. 

Help in the crisis

I wanted to steer the conversation towards the CHRO role as it is developing during the current crisis. Here, McEvilly said - and you'd expect this - that HR is at the center of executive decision making but now with purpose, something that has been missing in a number of cases. Combining what Workday offers with - the joint offering with Salesforce, is creating interesting opportunities both with Workday and non-Workday customers. 

The status of employee health is obviously important but we're also seeing firms where they are having a hard time working out how they staff their business for the required skills while also keeping people safe. What roles are fairly redundant at the moment and what are needed in greater numbers so help us get the skills. In addition, diversity is now an incredibly important topic and firms want dashboards for those metrics. In short, there are many demands, there's a lot to do. 

My take

We sometimes wonder whether Workday's control over its entire ecosystem is necessarily a good thing. Launch suggests that provided the component parts are operating towards the goal of customer success - something with which Workday is obsessed - then on the balance of probabilities, it's likely OK.

Of course the Workday organization needs to evolve alongside. Putting in a CCO role and then using that as an umbrella with success metrics around custsat at the center serves to ensure that competing interests are turned into sources of collaboration. Does it work perfectly? No and Ms McEvilly will be the first to say that there is always more to do. 

But the message that Launch is coming to large enterprise is welcome and needed. As many leaders have told me in recent times, despite lockdown, things are moving more quickly than they've experienced and that just surviving by having the right people doing the right work in the right place is enough of a challenge. 

Finally, I'd like to see innovation on the planning side. We know that customers are having to run multiple scenarios as conditions change but what I'm not hearing is how that gets translated into actionable decision making at pace. You can argue that planning is almost pointless but I don't believe that. What I do believe is that techniques like zero based budgeting as a baseline for costing plans has now become critical. I also believe that when done well, planning acts as the corporate glue that keeps people marching in lockstep to the company's goals.

What we need therefore in services organizations especially, are dynamic plans that fuse workforce, financials and logistics with fast track templates and deployment methodologies which encourage people to move away from the spreadsheet mentality. That, though, is for another day.