Diary of a Deployment: Workday Adopts Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud

Workday is now live on Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud—only 10 short weeks from when we kicked off the deployment. Barbara Larson, vice president of corporate finance at Workday, shares details of the deployment and what it's going to mean for our FP&A organization.

Today at Workday Rising, I had the pleasure of joining Tom Bogan, CEO of Adaptive Insights, on stage to announce that Workday is now live on Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud—only 10 short weeks from when we kicked off the deployment. I’m incredibly excited by what this means for Workday and the ability of our financial planning and analysis (FP&A) team to help guide the business with insight.

Why was our timeline so short, coming just four months from when we announced that we acquired Adaptive Insights? Two things drove yesterday’s go-live. First, October 1 is when we begin the planning process for our next fiscal year. If we missed that deadline, our next opportunity would be in March 2019, a month after the start of the fiscal. Secondly, it was important for us to be able to share our experiences with customers, starting this week at Workday Rising.

For those of you that can’t join us at Workday Rising, here’s what we did (and learned), in the hopes that it will inspire you on your own planning journey.

Plan the Work, Work the Plan

Our colleagues at Adaptive Insights say planning is the intersection of strategy and execution. It’s where you translate your intentions into action. As a team, our job is to provide management with the insights and recommendations they need to drive the business forward. So as we looked to adopt Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud, we built a plan with our goals in mind and were guided by a set of core principles.

  • Provide relevant, timely, and actionable insights. In order to stay agile and make the best decisions possible, our management team needs to understand our performance relative to plan, and the possible outcomes of different scenarios.
  • Create simple and efficient processes. We know that things are going to change, both within our business and beyond. So our processes need to allow us to be agile, encompassing the complexity of our business while being simple to follow. Simplicity also means they’re easy to get everyone involved and update when the need arises.
  • Be a trusted advisor to the business. I joined finance because I was excited by the ability to help the business as a trusted partner. To help our management team and operational leaders, we need to build a model that lets them test assumptions and provides self-service reporting on the key performance indicators that matter to the different parts of the business.

A Foundation for the Future

Our initial phase focused on building the profit and loss (P&L) model, including revenue, headcount, expenses, and capital, for both Workday and Adaptive Insights. That we were able to do this in just over two months is incredible and is a testament to what the Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud is going to mean for our FP&A organization.

While it’s still early days, we are already starting to unlock to possibilities. Let’s look at two specific areas where we’re already seeing benefits: revenue modeling and headcount planning.

On the revenue side, we’ve built a model that pulls together scheduled revenue, renewals, and forecasted bookings. On top of that, we added two new dimensions, product and region. With a static spreadsheet, this is simply too much data to try to model.

Headcount planning is critical for Workday because employees drive our company forward. We want to make sure our headcount planning supports the growth of the business, and that the costs associated with employees are fully modeled out. We built this model in Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud as part of our initial phase, leveraging the position and compensation data from Workday. We look forward to using the deeper capabilities that are part of the new Adaptive Insights for Workforce Planning solution announced today, including skills-based planning.

These early successes will give my team more time to act as a strategic partner to the business. On the revenue side, we can collaborate more fully with sales and the rest of the finance organization. On the headcount side, we have time to partner with recruiters and managers on the hiring that helps us grow.

Planning should be part of how we run the business, not just an annual event.

Looking ahead, we’ll add more capabilities in future phases, including our balance sheet, cash flow, and sales planning—as well as deeper workforce planning. The speed and flexibility of Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud  will let us more fully embrace active planning. The robust modeling, multidimensionality, and scenario planning capabilities have us all chomping at the bit to do more.

After all, the FP&A team adds value to the business when we’re collaborating with operational leaders, helping them understand the current state of their business, and predicting where they should go. They’re more confident when they know that our planning models are comprehensive, taking into account the complexity of the business and up-to-date with actual data. And now, the planning models will reflect the current state of the business, and we can continuously model new scenarios so that planning is something that guides us. Planning should be part of how we run the business, not just an annual event.

Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud gives us a strong foundation for the future and has our FP&A team excited about how we can expand from this fast start to model more and more aspects of the business. I look forward to talking with and learning from customers about their own planning journey and sharing more of our experiences. In the meantime, go forth and plan!

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