How Customers Are Using Workday to Respond to COVID-19

Chief Customer Officer Emily McEvilly shares how customers are using Workday to help them maintain business continuity and solve challenges created by the pandemic. Emily also discusses how customers have influenced new product configurations we’ve created to help them manage their businesses and workforces.

In times of great upheaval and uncertainty, what matters most is that we’re there for one another. I’m personally grateful for the countless individuals who are on the front lines of this crisis and thankful for the strong bonds we share in the Workday community of employees, customers, and partners. And we know our customer organizations, which represent more than 46 million workers, are counting on us to help them maintain business continuity during this time—and be prepared for whatever the future brings. 

I sat down with my friend, colleague, and fellow Clemson University Tiger, Emily McEvilly, our chief customer officer, to hear about the ways Workday is helping customers navigate this changing world through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the highlights from my conversation with Emily, who leads our Customer Experience organization.

How are you seeing this crisis impact our customers, and how did our Customer Experience team initially respond to support them? 

We started by doing what we always do—listen to customers. Based on those conversations, we’re seeing COVID-19 affect them in different ways, but universally they’re concerned about the health and safety of their employees and keeping their businesses running. Many customers have common needs—like paying their employees on time, identifying new resources and skills, and closing their books remotely—but what’s happening in their specific industries is driving their individual needs.

As the crisis continues, we’re adjusting to help customers face the challenges this period brings. And thanks to our secure and mobile operating model, we’re able to provide the same level of service they expect, with the additional support they need to weather this storm. 

Business continuity is more important than ever—how are our systems helping customers maintain it?

Our customers have told us they’re glad Workday is built in the cloud because they can continue essential services remotely, without delays. They’ve shared that the combination of our security model and cloud architecture gives them one less thing to worry about, which helps them focus on serving their stakeholders.

One of our customers in higher education was able to start advising students in Workday one day after they shifted all classes online. I’ll also highlight another customer, Aon, a global professional services firm with 50,000 employees in 120 countries that uses Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) and Workday Financial Management. Aon was able to deliver a fully remote, 100% virtual financial close for the first time. And, they told us it was one of the most seamless closes they’ve ever had.  

“As COVID-19 required colleagues to work from home by mid-March, we were in a 100% virtual close when we began the process. In the end, our close went without a hitch—it was fantastic.”

Mike Neller Senior Vice President, Global Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer Aon plc

What about customers who aren’t live on Workday yet—is your team supporting their go-live activities virtually? 

Yes, both Workday and our partners are. We’re fortunate that the Workday deployment methodology has enabled us to deliver projects 60-70% remotely since our company was founded, so it was a relatively easy transition. We’ve successfully shifted and executed every stage of a project virtually, including kick-offs, global design sessions, training, and testing. In the last month we’ve had more than 80 new customers go live with Workday HCM, Workday Financial Management, and/or Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud.

We also launched a COVID-19 customer information center on our Workday Community site, which provides access to resources about our business continuity plans, product configuration and reports for managing the impact of COVID-19, and regulatory developments. In addition, because it’s so important to learn from others during a crisis, we’re sharing thought leadership from experts, customers, partners, and Workday executives on leading through and beyond this pandemic on our website.

Can you tell us more about the COVID-19 product configurations for managing the impact of the pandemic?

As you know, customers play an integral role in our product development in normal circumstances. However, given the urgent and swiftly changing nature of things during this pandemic, that’s been amplified. We are getting questions, suggestions, and creative solutions from customers. We’ve been able to turn those into nearly 100 contributed solutions published on Workday Community—and they cover all product lines. Workday’s Power of One makes it possible for us to deliver new solutions, and for customers to share them with each other and quickly uptake them into their environment.  

We’ve also created some new reports to provide customers with key data and insights about their people and supplies to help them understand the impact to their organization and to distribute their workforce as necessary. For customers who may need additional support for a COVID-19 product configuration, we’re also offering additional virtual office hours with a certified Workday consultant at no additional charge. 

What are some of the ways you’re seeing customers on the frontlines lean on Workday applications to help them respond to their challenges?

It’s remarkable to see how our customers are leveraging the flexibility of our products to find solutions that meet their needs. A large healthcare company is using Workday HCM to build a redeployment tool in Workday, so they can identify doctors and nurses across the organization and determine where they should be deployed based on operating gaps and skill sets. Another healthcare provider implemented new policies and a new tag that gives leaders visibility into which employees are working from home or on emergency leave.  

One of our retail customers is using “announcements” in Workday HCM to send out critical safety alerts to its entire workforce. And another retail customer is using our mobile capabilities to implement a safer time entry solution for warehouse employees. 

Are there specific products you’re seeing our customers use more right now?

Yes, customers are realizing some applications like our Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud are especially useful right now. Our business planning cloud is processing up to 30 times more forecasts and build-out scenarios than usual, because customers have to plan for a variety of potential business situations in an uncertain future.

One of our retail customers is providing multiple pictures of their budget based on different assumptions, and instead of doing report extracts and formatting spreadsheets which could create version control issues, everything sits in our business planning cloud and is securely accessible to those involved in the planning process. 

We’re also seeing people ask more about Workday Prism Analytics and Workday People Analytics. These solutions can help them pull in data from other parts of their enterprise into Workday to get more accurate and meaningful insights about a variety of areas ranging from their people to business processes. 

It’s incredible to hear how our customers are responding to this crisis with the help of Workday—is there anything you’d like to leave our customer community with? 

We have their backs. The strength of our vibrant Workday community will help our customers get through this, and they can be confident that Workday is the partner they can trust to help them respond to these rapidly changing times. 

More Reading