Cloud-based ERP solutions (SaaS) have exploded in recent years and human capital management (HCM) has been no exception. Workday is a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for human resources and finance that is making it easier for businesses to manage their HR, recruitment and payroll processes.
Most companies that are considering implementing Workday have one of the below business drivers:
- A directive to consolidate multiple ERP applications (often across multiple geographical locations) that are supporting HR, Payroll and other processes into a single application.
- A need to meet division specific requirements that are not catered for in the centralised ERP solution.
In either scenario Workday has the potential to expand your existing HCM related functionality and streamline your business processes, but it can’t work in isolation. To maximise the efficiencies and cost savings that can be gained with Workday, you must focus on how to integrate the application with your existing on-premise and cloud systems.
In this blog I am going to share some of our key system integration learnings from a Workday implementation we recently completed for a large Australian business.
There are multiple options for integrating Workday with other systems. As it is a relatively new product it may not always be clear which approach would best suit your business needs. There are a number of questions and/or dilemmas you may face at the start of your implementation including:
- Workday integration options versus traditional integration providers, or a combination of both?
- Point-to-point integration versus best practice integration methods?
- How to re-use Workday integrations over a phased Workday rollout approach?
- How to minimise the integration risks associated with regular product releases and the upgrade of Workday and downstream systems?
- How to minimise long-term dependency on external Workday subject matter experts to support and manage integrations?
The key is to assess your specific situation and consider the approach that best aligns with your short and long term business objectives. One of the common mistakes I’ve seen is organisations only assessing integration with the Workday application as opposed to validating integration from an end-to-end perspective, which will involve a number of downstream systems.
Avoid Point-to-Point Integration
This may seem obvious as point-to-point integrations are a long known problem that have caused challenges for both the business and IT for many years. It could be tempting, however, to take this approach for a quick and easy implementation of Workday or any other SaaS solution for that matter. To this I would say, DON’T DO IT!
You only have to use a little imagination to think about the complex web of integrations you could be creating when you start using more SaaS products in the future.
Take a Process-Focused View
Workday will enhance your existing HCM related functionality and streamline your business processes but it is not a complete ERP-system. Therefore, it is important to take a process-focused view to integration to avoid duplication and maximise the efficiencies that you are expecting as part of your rollout.
Some examples of where a process centric view is important include:
- Establishing whether a Hire business process is initiated directly in Workday or an external recruitment system needs to trigger the process through integration
- Determining how to you apply company’s specific duplication check rule during an integrated Hire BP
- Defining what needs to be integrated to payroll (or other) systems when a Termination BP is initiated in Workday
- Understanding integration impact on downstream systems due to the Rescind, Cancel and Correct functions in Workday
- Ensuring processes and data capture are not duplicated when Workday is integrated to other Payroll or Financial ERPs
To-Be business process design, supplemented with integration points should typically be done upfront.
Choose the Right Middleware for Your Situation
Workday provides its own cloud-based integration middleware that is well suited for building integration parts that sit close to the Workday domain. However, middleware platforms (on-premise or iPaaS) outside of Workday may offer greater flexibility when integrating with multiple applications.
Consider the following before choosing which middleware platform to use:
- Does your organisation have an existing middleware platform and skills?
- Will the six monthly Workday product update impact the integration points you build?
- The number of Workday integration points is likely to be less on an external middleware platform e.g. the Worker data common model would only have to be built once.
- An external middleware platform may provide more flexibility and features to integrate with target systems than Workday middleware e.g. direct database, JMS and many other protocols.
- Traditional middleware skills are easier to find in the market than the skills required to support integration on Workday middleware.
Utilise Suitable Integration Tools from the Workday Integration Toolkit
There are a number of options available as part of the Workday’s integration framework and choosing the right one is critical for long-term support and maintenance. Workday provides out of the box connectors and an Enterprise Interface Builder (EIB) that are appropriate for simple integration scenarios.
They require very little development but have limitations on re-use. For larger organisations with complex integration scenarios, custom integrations can be built with Workday Studio and Middleware, Message Queues and Workday Web Services.