On July 8, Brown University went live on Workday Financial Management and Grants Management. We have been using Workday Human Capital Management for our 11,000 workers for the past year, so for the first time in our university’s history all of our human resources, payroll, and financial data are in one place. This is a big deal for us, and I think it will be helpful to share with others both the impact of having this unified data and some lessons learned from our deployment.
Our launch included Workday accounting and financial reporting, expenses, procurement, grants management, and more. This project has provided us the opportunity to replace Brown’s very old chart of accounts with a modern, simplified account structure and standardized coding for financial transactions. We didn’t need to make heavy investments in a new on-premise IT infrastructure for financials and we don’t have to manage the system; Workday does all that for us. That includes securing our data and delivering updates with new features, functionality, and compliance support.
With this deployment, we have achieved a new and better way to view and manage our financial information. We’re able to streamline business processes, provide greater transparency, and more easily access data for planning, reporting, and analysis. This becomes even more impactful by having all of our financial, HR, and payroll data in the same cloud-based system. That means one system of record for this information with no disparity in data, making it possible to align our strategies and resources campus-wide with the right information for decision making. This unique unified approach is what attracted us to Workday from the beginning, and we’re excited about where it is going to take us. Think about the industry standard alternative for operational insight and analysis, which is to pull data residing in disparate systems and combine it for analysis in a separate data warehouse. That approach just isn’t feasible for universities and the budget pressures we all face in today’s economic environment.
Some of the benefits of our deployment were immediate. Most significant is the increased speed of expenses, procurement, and supplier invoice functions from start to completion. Faculty and staff are very pleased with the turnaround time on reimbursement of their expenses, and the ability to track where a request lies in the process. They can scan receipts and documents from their mobile devices into Workday alongside their expense reports and view the progress of expenses throughout the approval process. We have Workday Grants Management in place for capturing and reporting grants-related expenditures, and are now in the early stages of rolling out additional capabilities in Workday 20.
We’ve also experienced some interesting and positive changes in our culture as a result of the deployment. Our HR, payroll, and finance teams are now partnering and collaborating much more closely than ever before. A unified system makes our teams better aligned, so we can better understand our costs across the university, identify redundancies, improve the overall efficiency of how we operate, and be more strategic. The Worktags function in Workday is already proving extremely helpful, as it lets us tag things such as expense reports, invoices, and suppliers with various attributes so that we can later “slice-and-dice” data for analysis based on what we specifically want to understand.
We are the first institution of higher education to complete its rollout of Workday Financial Management and Grants Management, and I’m happy to report things went smoothly. As additional organizations (whether higher ed or business) consider Workday Financial Management or are already planning their deployments, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the lessons learned. This is by no means a comprehensive list and doesn’t include technical tips, but instead covers some high-level thoughts and recommendations:
I hope by sharing our experiences, you’ve gained a better understanding of the decisions we’ve made at Brown to improve and advance our university with a unified administrative system. Now I’m off to Workday Rising 2013 and look forward to seeing both familiar and new faces!