Introducing Launch for Government: A New Way to Deploy Workday

Built for small and midsize local governments, Launch for Government is a new, data-driven approach to deploying Workday that results in an accelerated, more affordable, and lower-risk approach to digital transformation.

As large governments accelerate their journey to the cloud, many small and midsize governments are often left out—struggling to access the breadth and depth of industry-leading, cloud-based enterprise systems. 

According to an analysis of 1,500 projects by McKinsey and Oxford University: “On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.”

Given these experiences, it’s no wonder many governments can sometimes face challenges with modernizing their enterprise systems. 

Introducing Launch for Government

The time has come for small and midsize governments to demand a holistic deployment and ownership experience.

That’s why we’re excited to announce Launch for Government, a new model for deploying Workday, with the best solutions available for running modern, midsize local governments.

To embrace Launch for Government, however, nearly everyone involved needs to shift their mindset. It also requires letting go of what we think of as the “My Way” approach to modernizing enterprise systems. 

The My Way approach entails formulating large-scale projects with a big budget and multi-year deployment in an attempt to modernize the entire back office at once. However, governments don’t have to “go big or go home.”

Setting the system foundation and optimizing and extending it in the future is a better approach, especially for small and midsize governments.

Launch for Government: Built On Insights From Hundreds of Customer Deployments 

Our principal objective in establishing Launch for Government was to shorten the time to value in systems deployment.

To meet this challenge, Workday let the data do the talking. We analyzed how hundreds of customers across various industries use the different system components of Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management (HCM). These customers differ in size, complexity, budgets, staffing capacity, and project management capabilities—enabling us to dive deeper into diverse data.

For example, through these insights, we can look at a customer with 3,500 employees in a specific industry and predict the functionality their employees will or won’t utilize after go-live.

Our principal objective in establishing Launch for Government was to shorten the time to value in systems deployment.

Four Key Parts of the Launch for Government Approach

Analyzing this customer data allows us to do four things for Launch for Government:

  • Prepackage functionality. We can confidently articulate the specific set of software products a customer will require based on their size and needs. We can also propose a preconfigured set of processes that address a customer’s highest priorities. This allows us to deduce a fixed scope. 

  • Propose a realistic timeline. Based on successful deployments for similarly situated customers, we can propose a realistic timeline. Workday and our certified systems integration partners can contractually commit to a fixed timeline.

  • Calibrate to a project budget. With the scope and timeline identified, and hundreds of prior projects under our belt that tracked staffing efforts for both customers and consultants, we can propose a fixed cost for the project.

  • Accelerate deployment by prepopulating the tenant. With packaged functionality defined, Workday can establish a cloud tenant that allows a customer to get a head start instead of at square one. As a result, the first month of the Launch for Government implementation is much more productive and impactful than the “My Way” model. 

The My Way Approach: Challenges for Governments

The prevailing My Way approach to enterprise systems starts with a lengthy systems planning phase that involves dozens of stakeholders across central offices (for example, IT, HR, finance, procurement, and others) and line departments and agencies (see figure 1). 

Like an omnibus bill sailing through Congress, stakeholders pile on their priorities, and the scope quickly expands to gain broad organizational support. Functional leads collect thousands of business and technical requirements and often map “as-is” business processes—resulting in a large set of business areas and shadow systems targeted for modernization. They also document an exhaustive list of interfaces to ancillary systems and data conversion needs. 

This planning phase alone can take one to two years, producing a business case that often requires a large financial outlay for software and consulting services, as well as funding for sizable internal staffing levels. 

“Workday is transformational for the City of Akron. You get very few opportunities in the government space to make a systematic leap forward in technology.” 

Darren Rozenek Chief Technology Manager City of Akron

Organizations will then make a de facto promise to elected executives, boards, and legislative bodies to go live in two to three years (or longer). They release an RFP, evaluate and select software and systems integrator proposals, and a deployment process begins fraught with cost, risk, and disruption. 

Small and midsize governments may need help managing the scope, cost, staffing expectations, and risk of a My Way approach. This leads them to either retain their antiquated ERP system well beyond its useful life or select rudimentary cloud or on-premises technology based on two factors: the minimum functionality needed to run the business and the lowest cost.

Figure 1. Typical My Way systems planning and deployment vs. Launch for Government.

Early Results of the Launch for Government Approach to Enterprise Systems Modernization

Among early adopters of Launch for Government, we found that projects are completed nearly 20% faster than My Way projects. 

Launch for Government projects for special districts (for example, utilities, transit agencies) were nearly 15% shorter in duration than cities and counties—not surprising, given the greater centralization and commercial-like business processes at these organizations. 

Finally, Launch projects for private sector organizations were completed nearly 30% faster than those for local government, which is also expected. 

While based on a small sample, these results are intriguing and confirm that in a Launch for Government strategy, tailoring timelines to the type of organization and their capacity to manage change can be a better strategy for enterprise systems modernization. 

How Launch for Government and the Traditional My Way Approach Compare

Launch for Government gets small and midsize local governments into production faster, more predictably and reliably, with less strain on staff, and does so at an affordable cost. Local governments get access to world-class tools and technologies; they don’t have to wait years to use modern cloud software. 

Table 1 highlights some differences between the My Way and Launch for Government deployments. By weighing the factors, a customer can choose which approach to use. 

Table 1. Comparing My Way with Launch for Government

Customer Spotlight: City of Akron

The City of Akron, Ohio, was one of the pioneering customers to deploy via Launch for Government. The city was hacked in 2019, accelerating the case for platform modernization and a desire to implement innovative business processes. In a mere 45 weeks, and working entirely remotely due to the pandemic, the City of Akron migrated its entire back office—finance, procurement, HR, and payroll—to the cloud.

The City of Akron emerges stronger with increased automation and security.


The Workday system provided many benefits, including a much higher level of security, expanded employee self-service, and mobile access to employees (figure 2). Darren Rozenek, chief technology manager, City of Akron, summarized the city’s experience: “Workday is transformational for the City of Akron. You get very few opportunities in the government space to make a systematic leap forward in technology.”

Figure 2. City of Akron’s Launch for Government project.

Accelerating the Cloud Journey

While Launch for Government improves time to value, it is much more than an accelerator. Workday is a true-cloud SaaS system built from scratch and designed with flexibility and adaptability.

Many software companies have introduced accelerated implementation methodologies to serve the midmarket. Few, if any, have made a significant impact because legacy software is too rigid, and customer needs are dynamic and evolving. 

Many other companies have migrated legacy software designs into their cloud products, but rigidity, among other limitations, still remains. Some companies have merely “lifted and shifted” their legacy solutions from the customer’s data center to one the software vendor manages.

With this approach, continuous improvement and rolling adoption are more difficult. Significant legacy system improvements must usually wait until a costly major upgrade. 

By contrast, Workday is an agile platform designed to adapt, optimize, and extend functionality over time. With Launch for Government setting a strong foundation, new functionality is successively easier to embrace. For organizations to deploy quickly and reduce risk, every possible integration may not be in the Launch for Government scope, but can be addressed during optimization and rolling adoption steps in the future. 

The result? Workday has a 95%+ customer satisfaction rating and a stellar track record for on-time and on-budget implementations. 

To learn how Launch for Government can help modernize your local governments, contact us.

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