Customer Tips for a Successful Government Agency Cloud Deployment

Fresh off a successful go-live of Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management, the ERP project manager for Port Orange, Florida, shares deployment tips and explains how “digital transformation” is really “people transformation.”

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Fresh off a successful go-live of Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management (including Workday Payroll) for the city of Port Orange, Fla., ERP project manager Jane Davis shares her deployment tips and explains how “digital transformation” is really “people transformation.”

Her presentation at Workday Rising last October about the deployment was so well received, other government ERP project managers sought her out for additional advice. We asked Davis to share the questions she’s most frequently asked, and added a few of our own for good measure.

How do you start a digital transformation at a governmental agency?

Even though we often say “digital transformation,” it’s really about getting people over the hurdle—it’s a people transformation. You need to convince people that yes, they can get rid of the servers. Yes, they will be able to use mobile without sacrificing security. And, people have worries about job security, and the concern that there won’t be anything left for them to do. But there are so many ways to leverage a cloud-based tool that it’s not a matter of losing work, but people will have to change what they work on and how they do it. In fact, here at Port Orange people who were apprehensive realize how much there is to do, and they’ve learned a whole new skill set, plus can work on more strategic items now that they have more automation with Workday.

How did Port Orange decide it needed to switch to the cloud?

First, I should describe Port Orange. It’s south of Daytona Beach, has 60,000 residents, and the city employees 460 people. The IT organization is a team of 13. I was brought on two and a half years ago as project manager for the implementation. The old system was 30 years old—there were tiny computer windows you’d have to open and then get back out of, and the whole experience was poor. We needed many paper processes to make things happen, and nothing was automated.

Bottom line, the legacy system wasn’t going to last much longer, so it was clear we needed to make a change. What’s more, employees who came from other places with much more modern systems were surprised that we were still using this archaic system.

For example, if there was a slowdown in the procurement process, because of the long paper trail, it was difficult and time-consuming to diagnose and address the holdup. There wasn’t good reporting or data transparency. And there was concern that we weren’t being transparent with citizens and the city council, but it was really a tools problem. We could not provide good, clear answers in a timely way, even though we wanted to.

How did the city decide to go with Workday?

It was helpful that Workday and its partner had a very streamlined way of submitting their proposal—it made it clear what problems they could address and what we needed to clean up and address on our side.

The leadership at Port Orange definitely wanted a best-of-breed approach. The selection committee ultimately approved Workday because of its ease of use, power, and intuitive user experience that’s closer to a consumer experience than an enterprise one. I think they felt it would take us into the future, whereas if we went with on-premise software, we’d be starting off five years behind and it would only get worse from there.

If your solution doesn’t have the equivalent of what Workday calls the Power of One, you may run the risk of not staying up to date on versions. Workday pushes two major version updates to you twice a year, and we can choose if we want to turn on certain new features that come with these updates.

What benefits are you hoping to achieve with Workday?

Employees will be able to get their information via self-service and won’t need to contact HR to update their information. Instead, HR can do more robust employee development programs vs. drowning in paperwork. That’s a huge efficiency.

Even though we often say “digital transformation,” it’s a people transformation.

The ability of staff to drill down and see more real-time data, and make more data-driven decisions without having to go through the finance department, should also be very beneficial. 

And to be clear, because we are launching Workday Financial Management and Workday HCM with payroll at the same time, that encouraged a lot of integration between HR and finance, and we’ve improved a lot of business processes. This was a lot of work, to be sure. Originally, we were going to do a finance launch and then HR and payroll. But, doing it this way, although more difficult up front, we’re already starting to see results from a thorough examination of our processes, and how HR and finance are much more closely integrated now.

Once you select a vendor, do you have any deployment advice?

We had a great implementation, and it’s really important to pick a partner that you feel is the best fit. Trust is crucial. Organizations pay good money for an implementation partner, and I think it’s important to adopt their methodology and listen closely to the advice they provide. The city of Port Orange had only done one ERP implementation before, our partner has done hundreds so we went with their expertise vs. ours!

I’d also say, rely on your Workday customer success manager to help you make sure you’re using Workday to its fullest extent and you are fully leveraging everything you are subscribed to and are paying for with your software licence and services.

What will make you say this was a success six months after going live?

Everyone will have to be using Workday, of course, and realizing the benefits. I hope that our functional leads will have a grip on their day-to-day jobs using Workday and will be leveraging the great features and functionality at their fingertips. I hope they will continue to analyze and dig in and be excited about streamlining tasks, growing their own jobs, and their capacity to be more strategic.

It’s been very labor intensive, so in a year’s time I will be interested to see the fruits of all that hard work. When auditors come in, for example, it shouldn't take as long as it has in the past to produce the reports and documentation they might need.

If you could give one piece of advice to an organization looking to make this kind of change, what would you tell them?

We could have done a better job right from the start freeing up internal staff time. An implementation is a lot of work, and it will take a lot of time. Start offloading work away from the project leads earlier rather than later. And, by engaging the rest of the department to pick up the work the project leads normally do, you give others the chance to learn new skills and grow before a single new functionality is turned on. That does a lot, psychologically, to show people that Workday is going to be good for the organization as a whole, plus it is a great professional development opportunity. 

We just went live in December 2019 and things are going great. But one of the things I liked best is that right after we signed the contract, we got our first tenant (instance of Workday) and started seeing samples of our own data in it and could take an agile, iterative approach to configuring Workday.

Our go-live was really quite smooth as far as ERP implementations go and we went live on time, and within budget. There were not really any technical issues with the software and the bigger piece was change management and training, which goes back to the people part of the transformation. It has been a great experience and the city of Port Orange employees are excited for the future with Workday. 

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