A Tale of Two Companies

How can two large companies in different industries—with different needs, processes, and regions—use the same technology platform effectively? By looking at two Workday customers, we see that numbers don’t always tell the full story when it comes to business needs.

There’s high demand from companies across industries to digitally transform to better adapt to a changing landscape and achieve long-term business growth and success. But each individual organization has very specific problems to solve and requirements to meet. So, in conversations with potential customers, we seek to understand a variety of things: scale across a number of dimensions, customer-specific requirements, language support, and often, regional complexities. 

What’s unique about Workday is that all types of individuals from organizations of completely different sizes across various industries can use the same tool—a single cloud service with one source of data—in such completely different, but equally productive, ways.

Because Workday has a highly flexible and adaptable architecture, the platform can successfully support various types of workloads stemming from organizational differences, no matter how challenging they are. We specifically designed Workday with these challenges in mind to not only scale with worker counts and base transaction rates, but also to scale across multiple different dimensions derived from our extensive experience of large customer deployments.

Whether supporting 5,000 or 500,000 employees, every Workday deployment starts with a deep review and characterization of the customer’s business and use cases.

Often, large prospective customers want to discuss employee count, transactions per second, and other scale metrics. We almost always have customers with similar or greater volume, but to best help them, we need to get behind the numbers and understand their business, and all the associated use cases. Although raw numbers can be an indicator, they don’t tell the whole story.

Real-World Examples

Consider two existing Workday customers that, from the outside, appear very similar. Each organization shares the following characteristics:

  • Large enterprise Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) customers.
  • Leaders in digital transformation.
  • More than 300,000 full-time employees.
  • Hire more than 50,000 employees annually.
  • Thousands of contingent workers.

At the outset, these two customers would appear to have similar requirements: they have similar employee counts, are growing their businesses at similar rates, and hiring at a rapid rate. However, we need to look beyond these headlines and examine how their businesses actually operate and what they need to be successful; it’s only then that we understand the true requirements. 

These two customers are from different industries—one is in the retail sector and the other is in professional services.  But even within their own industries, every customer is unique, and the factors that enable success will differ in nuanced ways. It’s only through our repeated successes of bringing multiple large enterprises live on Workday that we acquired the knowledge and expertise to do this.

Whether supporting 5,000 or 500,000 employees, every Workday deployment starts with a deep review and characterization of the customer’s business and use cases. This exploration seeks to understand the detailed nature of how the company operates, because we truly need to know everything from the obligatory employee counts and transactions-per-second (TPS) rates to the many other details that can have a huge impact. 

We take into consideration all of the following: 

  • How users will interact with the system.
  • Reporting requirements.
  • How existing and future business processes can be optimized.
  • What integrations and third-party systems are in scope.
  • How seasonal factors influence the business. 
  • How the solution will support the transformation of the business.

Let's return to our example and illustrate how seemingly similar business requirements can diverge and result in quite different challenges.

The Seasonal Hiring Challenge 

Both customers are growing their employee counts at a similar rate annually. However, while our professional services customer is growing at a steady rate throughout the year—a relatively standard scalability challenge—the retail customer condenses its hiring into a short time window. 

The challenge begins with the retail customer driving up interest in its open positions through intensive marketing campaigns. As the chart shows below, hiring ramps up in September, October, and November, in anticipation of the holidays. This results in a surge of applications—a wave of online activity hitting our user interface infrastructure—and the first test of our scalability. 

As soon as the job applications, which can exceed over 35,000 daily, are submitted into the system, hundreds of recruiters start their review processes, more than 100,000 reports are run daily, background checks are run, and job requisitions are submitted—driving further waves of workload to hit the reporting, integration, and machine learning resources within Workday HCM. 

Our scalable Workday architecture ensures that the appropriate capacity is allocated to the relevant resources as and when it’s needed, with specialized and multi-role resources adapting and flexing to the different transaction types as the business activities proceed and complete. In other words, what can be a challenging time with legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems is business-as-usual with Workday.

Centralized and Decentralized Organizational Models 

Let’s explore another difference between the same two companies. Our large retail customer has a more traditional hierarchical organizational structure, with different functional areas servicing the entire company, as well as multiple regional operations supporting the core business. This approach epitomizes economies of scale, where centralization and coordination help enable business success and strategic goals. In contrast, our large professional services enterprise is structured around separate operational groups specializing in specific industries. This distributed model is optimized to allow for different groups within the company to operate independently—in practice like separate companies—favoring agility, flexibility, and specialization. 

These distinct business models directly influence operational workloads and utilization of system resources. Integrations and reports that are globally scheduled for our retail customer are, in some instances, locally scheduled for our professional services customer.

Integrations and reports that are globally scheduled for our retail customer are, in some instances, locally scheduled for our professional services customer.

The retail customer, with its centralized structure, can quickly apply global configuration changes to their tenant and optimize processes centrally that will propagate to all users. It can choose to stagger or distribute activities such as Workday Learning campaigns in order to best meet its business needs. Our professional services customer, favoring the distributed model’s independence and autonomy, may not derive the same quick wins from global configuration changes, enhancements, and optimizations given its organizational structure, but they do retain the flexibility to deploy different solutions for their different organizations. 

So as you can see, numbers are important as indicators, but they do not tell the whole story. Only our deep understanding of our customers’ business needs and challenges—coupled with our flexible and adaptable architecture—allows us to effectively support companies of all sizes across myriad industries around the globe. And, as their business grows or changes, we’re with them every step of the way. This is how we empower our customers' success, regardless of how disparate or unique their particular use cases may be.

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