All of the data is stored in-memory, which means finance can transact, analyze, and report on real-time data in the same place, without ever pulling it out of the system. We also created a way for customers to add dimensionality to business events using what we call Worktags, which are customer-defined metadata tags. Worktags let customers assign meaningful attributes for multi-dimensional reporting to any event, such as an expense report, purchase order, or payroll transaction. So when creating a purchase order, customers enable the tags that are associated with the transaction and that they want visibility into, such as the department, supplier, project, or employee.
With this foundation, finance is able to combine data—such as actuals, budgets, statistics, and headcount—into Workday Composite Reports, which are live multi-dimensional reports that stakeholders can drill down into for details on things such as spend and profitability, and then take action on those findings all within the same system. This foundation also enables a close level of collaboration between finance and the business, and gives business managers self-service access to relevant data, such as running a profit and loss statement for their division.
Our customers are seeing a major impact to their businesses with this technology approach. As one example, Redstone Federal Credit Union found that the percentage of time its finance team spent on the preparation of data versus analysis significantly shifted from 70/30 to 30/70.
Wayne Sisco, who is vice president and controller at Redstone Credit Union, said that “Being on one unified system is huge for our business. It’s allowed us to move from a transactional to a more strategic focus, improve visibility throughout the business, simplify and access more effective reports, and drive a needed shift in company culture.”
One of our higher education customers—a top tier research university—dramatically improved visibility into departmental spending, resulting in $4 million in savings from improved cost center accountability.
While many vendors today offer solutions claiming real-time or multi-dimensional reporting, at the foundation, these systems still can’t deliver the speed, easy access, and dimensionality of data. These solutions still require time and resources to move data between systems, resulting in stale data being used for analysis and reporting.
Looking ahead, the technology foundation of a finance system will become even more important as companies seek to leverage more external and internal data sources for insights. Recently we announced Workday Prism Analytics, with the initial release to be delivered in the fall of this year. This offering will provide customers with the ability to blend and analyze both Workday and non-Workday data for deeper people, financial, and operational analytics. Non-Workday data could include data sources such as customer-relationship management, point of sale, or industry-specific systems. For example, an insurance company wanting greater insight into product-level profitability could combine policy and claims data from their insurance systems with finance and workforce data in Workday.
My next blog in this series will look at planning, and how finance can shift from explaining the past to forward looking decision making, and why the foundation of a system matters to supporting speed, insights, and the ability to collaborate.
(Read the first three blogs in this series: “Finance and the Tech Foundation: Making Sense of Enterprise Tech Concepts, Part 1”, “Finance and the Tech Foundation: Making Sense of Enterprise Tech Concepts, Part 2,” and “Finance and the Tech Foundation: Real-time Consolidation and a Shorter Financial Close.”)