Workday DevTalk: Community Leadership in Workday Development

In this episode of Workday DevTalk, host Chris Bledsoe sits down with Sreenivas Raman, staff enterprise engineer at LinkedIn, to discuss his journey into the world of development and how he’s contributing to the Workday developer community.

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Audio also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

The developer community continues to evolve at breakneck speed, with new languages, tools, and methodologies emerging faster than ever before. Because of this, staying connected, informed, and engaged with a community of peers is not just beneficial—it’s essential for innovation and growth.

In this episode of Workday DevTalk, Chris Bledsoe, Workday head of developer relations, sits down with Sreenivas Raman, staff enterprise engineer at LinkedIn. Raman shares insights into his developer journey, including his initial intrigue with programming, pivotal moments of growth, and his substantial contributions to the Workday developer community.

Below are a few highlights from Raman, edited for clarity. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, and remember you can find our entire podcast catalog here.

  • “One of the most common challenges developers encounter is effectively managing project scope and deadlines amid ever-changing requirements. It’s crucial to grasp the project’s nuances before diving in to ensure we craft a robust and scalable solution. My approach typically involves starting with a project brief to establish clear goals, objectives, scope boundaries, and potential risks and dependencies. Understanding the anticipated impact and success metrics up front, along with devising a plan to measure them, adds significant value.”

  • “Workday DevCon is a place where developers come together from diverse industries. For instance, I currently work at LinkedIn, where my requirements differ from those of someone in retail or healthcare. Engaging with developers from various backgrounds is invaluable; sharing insights about our respective projects often uncovers solutions or approaches we hadn’t considered. Last year, during a breakfast at the event, I had the opportunity to connect with a developer from Australia who was doing remarkable work. I gained valuable insights from that conversation that I was eager to apply in my own work. The interactions are incredibly beneficial."

  • “Staying current with rapidly advancing technologies and frameworks is paramount. I make it a point not to miss Workday’s biweekly knowledge-sharing sessions, developer program update calls, and extended community zones. These sessions provide invaluable insights into the latest updates, upcoming developments, knowledge sharing, and best practices. They’re essential for staying informed. Additionally, I believe in the adage that knowledge is everywhere, so I regularly visit Workday Community to keep abreast of product release updates and deprecated features, aiding in effective planning. Following Workday on LinkedIn also exposes me to tech talks by industry leaders, further enriching my understanding of the platform.”

Join us in-person or digitally at Workday DevCon, June 3-6, 2024.

Chris Bledsoe: Welcome to the Workday DevTalk, the podcast for developers, by developers. My name is Chris Bledsoe, and I'm your host. Today's guest is Sreenivas Raman. He's a staff enterprise engineer at LinkedIn. So, Sreenivas, welcome to the show. It's good to have you.

Sreenivas Raman: Hi, Chris. I'm very excited to be here.

Bledsoe: So my first question for you, and I ask this of all of our guests, is tell us a little bit about your humble beginnings, how you got into developing and building software. What were some of the first apps you built, and then kind of led to where you are today?

Raman: Oh, definitely. In fact, even before I wanted to be an engineer, while I was in school, I really wanted to be an Air Force pilot until I realized that I had motion sickness and I wouldn't enjoy any of those amusement park rides. And I had to give up on the dream. One of my elder sisters is also a developer. And when she was in college, I watched her write programs. And that's how I got the interest in writing programs as well. When I was learning a programming language, I started with C++, Visual Basic, which were the most popular programming languages at that time, and then SQL. So I started enjoying writing programs with VBA, with Excel, and macros, and Microsoft Access. So it was fun. And my first job was as a developer at the Dell Corporation, where I built custom applications using .NET framework. I also did some reporting and analytics with SQL and Excel. And at one point, I loved Excel so much that I also was a trainer for the new hires as a part of Excel 101 onboard training module.

Bledsoe: Oh, that's awesome. Well, that totally makes a lot of sense, right, because you have this background in wanting to help other developers learn how to do stuff. In this case, learning how to use Excel. That's phenomenal. So you're very involved in our developer community here at the Workday Cloud Platform. And I was wondering, why did you get involved? What inspired you to be a part of that?

Raman: Definitely. Workday Extend has significantly grown in the last year or year and a half. And it continues to get bigger each day. And while I was working-- when I started working on Workday Extend at my previous organization, we had a business requirement which we know Workday Extend would solve. However, because Workday Extend was still in its early stages, the documentation wouldn't provide all the answers we're looking for. And here, my creative juices are running high, and I'm eager to build this great app and solve all the business challenges. And we start with the development of the app. And we have a RAS report. We are trying to bring it onto a grid, allowing the leaders to nominate their employees for a bonus award. And we run into some challenges with the data not coming in properly and having issues. So I posed this question on the developer forum. A day later, Clint and Christian are there to my rescue. And I completed the development of this app and few more apps that would follow. I started really understanding Workday Extend a lot better, the limitations of it, the workaround, and I had all these tricks up my sleeves, which I knew I could solve for somehow and have a workaround all the time. So that really inspired me to contribute and involve in the Workday community and help other developers within my capacity. And while I was doing that, I got better as a developer, and that really impacted my career in a big way.

Bledsoe: Well, that's amazing. Yes, Christian and Clint have been awesome to help us out on the developer forum, but they're not alone. You've been answering quite a few questions yourself. If I remember correctly, you're the number one on the leaderboard today. And you're leading by a substantial margin, so that's pretty sweet, man. We do appreciate that.

Raman: Thank you.

Bledsoe: So based on your experience and what you've been doing with Extend and stuff like that, what are some of the most common problems that you see and changes that developers face that they need to figure out what to do?

Raman: One of the most common challenges, I feel, is trying to manage the project scope and the deadlines effectively with ever-changing requirements. So it becomes crucial for us to understand before we start in order to build a great and a scalable solution. So to address this, what I usually like to do is start with a project brief, trying to establish goals and objectives of the project, trying to establish what is in scope and what is out of scope. And are there any risks and dependencies which are there? And sometimes it's just not all about what we're building, but it becomes important for us to understand what is the impact of what we're building. So if we can try to gauge the success metrics of it and also find out a plan to measure these, which are an added advantage. Now, not everything can be solved for with Workday Extend. 

Bledsoe: What? Not everything?

Raman: Yeah. Hopefully. I would love to see that, but.

Bledsoe: Obviously, yeah. That's clear. We try to help. We try to help, so.

Raman: Yes, definitely. And I love to see that day for sure. But if you also have the luxury and the option to explore open-source technology, sometimes that might be the right answer. But it is important for us to understand before we start the development. Now, I like to start with a wireframing of a project before I start the development. And if I do have the time and it's something new I'm trying to build, I try to implement the fail-fast, fail-forward principle and start with a prototype. And that helps me understand if there are any challenges. And then, especially with Workday Extend, when you start development and promote the app beyond the development tenant, there are certain things you cannot undo. And so it becomes really crucial for us to know what we want. And those are some of the things I would say you need to really be careful of. So I try to break down into manageable chunks, and I would highly recommend others to do the same. And that will really help overcome the challenges if you have a peer you can do a code review with. So overall, I would say proactive planning and then effective communication and continuous learning are some of the ways you can overcome this challenge.

Bledsoe: No, I think those are absolutely great points. Scope creep, oh my gosh, that'll get you every time. Something that would normally take you six weeks, eight weeks, they change the scope, and then boom, now you got to add more time. And your stakeholders are like, "Hey, what's going on?" Totally makes sense. Also love this idea about doing the wireframes first, right, to kind of get a visual representation of what you want to build out before you actually start writing the code and putting everything in place. I think that makes a lot of sense. And I think, also, like you said, communication, frequent check-ins to make sure people know that stuff. I think these are all challenges that developers face all the time on the platform.

Raman: 100%.

Bledsoe: So that's really great. Well, one of the things I'm very excited about, we're going to have our fourth annual DevCon '24 in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. Now, have you been to previous DevCons before?

Raman: Yes, I definitely have. I am very excited about DevCon and Hackathon. In fact, each year, I look forward to this event, especially the one in 2024 happening at Cosmopolitan Vegas, so super excited. And it's funny that, a couple of days ago, I was thinking, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." But I'm going to make an exception for this event because I can't wait to get all the learning. And I would love to share this particular event with all my friends and colleagues who will not be able to attend, unfortunately. But fun fact: my very first DevCon was in 2021, which was completely remote due to COVID. And we did participate in the Hackathon, and we were in the top 10 best projects. We were selected as the top 10 best projects out of several projects which were submitted. And the more exciting part was we were the only two non-partner companies which made that cut, so we were really excited.

Raman: So the concept was to build a system to manage and verify employee discounts, including their family members and non-workers. So it was a great concept. And last year, unfortunately, we couldn't attend the Hackathon because of other commitments. But DevCon was great. It happened in San Jose, a perfect place to meet all the like-minded, awesome developers from across the globe, right, and then get to talk to them, know what they're working on, and exchange ideas. It's a perfect place. And the features like GraphQL, machine learning, hands-on lab, and Braindates were amazing. I'm looking forward to that this year as well. So Vegas.

Bledsoe: Vegas, baby, here we come. Well, that's really fantastic. Yeah. That was our very first DevCon, the one you went to in '21. I think, this year, it's going to be even more. One of the things we heard from last year at DevCon was that they love the hands-on labs, so we are doubling down on hands-on labs this year. So there are going to be up to 12 different activities you can do on your own. So if you come to DevCon this year, you're going to have a chance to play with the technology before it's released. And that's another unique capability of DevCon compared to other conferences. You actually touch and play exactly with the code that will eventually be released to general availability.

Raman: Wow. That is super exciting because I still remember, the San Jose, it was a houseful. There were so many people who were just tagging along and standing behind watching other people code and still learn. So, I'm looking forward to this new experience.

Bledsoe: Yeah, absolutely. Now, one of the things too that we're going to be doing new this year at DevCon is we're bringing in integrations. So if you're a customer or a partner and you work with integrations, this is the conference for you because you'll be able to play with that. Plus, we have a new product that just came out, Orchestration for Integration, which enables real-time integrations. And if you've ever had to build-- if you've ever used Studio or EIB or BIRT or any of that, you're going to love this tooling. It's really cool, and you'll be able to play with it at DevCon. One of the things you mentioned earlier too is some of the challenges that developers face. When you come to an event like DevCon, what are the kind of things you like to talk with other developers about? What's something interesting to you when you meet other developers like yourself that have come to DevCon and are like, "Oh, hey. I'm a noob at this. What can I learn?" or, "How would you recommend I get better at writing software in Extend?"

Raman: All these developers who are in diverse industries, right - so I'm currently working for LinkedIn - my requirements are very different from somebody who is working in a retail industry or somebody in a healthcare industry. So it's always nice to discuss with them and talk about what they are working on, what you're working on. There might be something they're working on, which you might have not even thought of, but can definitely be implemented in your world too. So I met a few last year while having breakfast in the morning, and then there was somebody from Australia who was doing amazing work in-- I can't remember the specifics, but I got to learn a lot, and then I definitely wanted to implement in my world too. So it definitely helps.

Bledsoe: That's great. Well, I absolutely agree. This is a great place for you to converse, hang out, and talk, and learn from other developers who are there as well. And we support all kinds of industries across that too. So moving on from DevCon, everybody has a routine, right? Every day, you get up, you do certain things at work, same thing, right? What is your routine, and how do you stay up to date on the latest things happening for developers, especially around our world?

Raman: Staying up to date with rapidly evolving technologies and framework is very important. I try my best never to miss the knowledge-sharing sessions, which happens on a biweekly basis, or the developer program update calls and the extended CZs. You get to learn a lot of the latest updates, what new is coming, knowledge sharing, best practices. So these are a great place for you to learn and stay up to date with what's happening. At the same time, there is a saying that there's free knowledge everywhere. Grab it from wherever you can. So I like to frequently also visit Workday Community. And there's product release updates there. There's what is being deprecated. That is very helpful too to plan for. I also follow Workday on our LinkedIn page. And then you get to know a lot of tech talks from other leaders. There are a lot of other leaders from different companies who are sharing their experiences. So it is nice to stay up to date. I would also like to take this opportunity to, on behalf of all the developers across the globe, to give kudos to your Workday Extend team who are doing a great job putting all these contents together. So thank you very much.

Bledsoe: Oh, you're very, very welcome. It is definitely the work of a very large tribe of people pulling that together, so.

Raman: Yeah, you all are doing a great job, so thank you.

Bledsoe: Well, thank you. We work very hard. Even though we're a fairly small developer program, we have a high level of engagement, I find. And so we're really excited about that kind of stuff as well. So the other thing I was going to ask you about too is, as you've looked at a number of the program activities we do, I'm excited to hear that. We're planning to have a LinkedIn page just for developers, so.

Raman: Wow.

Bledsoe: You're hearing it here first, so stay tuned. We're really excited because we're seeing this huge amount of interest on LinkedIn around this whole community. And we want to build it out and enable those developers to be very successful. So that's something that is coming up. Stay tuned. We'll probably talk about it more in other DevTalks.

Raman: Yeah, great. I'll look forward to that. And I do notice what you're saying. There's a lot more engagement in the LinkedIn pages, which I see on Workday. I see a lot of great posts from Nick. And so, it is great. So, I look forward to that.

Bledsoe: Yeah, Nick Moores is one of my developer advocates. He's been working for us now for about three years. He is phenomenal.

Raman: Great.

Bledsoe: He's phenomenal. Thank you for that. I really appreciate it. And I'm sure Nick does too. So what advice would you give developers who are looking to increase their skills, right, and make meaningful contributions as it relates to the developer community?

Raman: Yeah, definitely. I would say Developer Forum is a great place I would encourage all the developers to spend some quality time. There are categories like Announcements where the Workday Extend team is doing a great job telling what's new, Knowledge Sharing area, and there's Get Help. So I would say spend some time over there. And it's also always an added advantage for a developer if you worked in other functional areas, just like Prism Analytics, BIRT, and Worksheets, there's a lot more studio integration. So the more you have worked in these areas, you have a lot more ideas and a workaround. So definitely, last DevCon and each year, Workday Extend can seamlessly now integrate with all these areas. So you get to learn a lot and also spend time in app catalogs and tutorials, which are amazing way to learn, and just start contributing. One other scenario I would like to share is there are times I spend time at Get Help. And one day, I was reading one developer's post seeking help. And just by reading the post and the code snippet they had posted, I noticed that they had some more efficient code than what I had used, and I thought, "That's a great learning." So even before I could answer that question, I had learned something from that. So you're learning constantly. So the learning is endless. So I would say spend time and then get better, and you can have meaningful contribution back in Community.

Bledsoe: No, I absolutely agree. People love to connect with other people, and we learn from other people as well. I think that's one of the qualities I've learned. I love your earlier comment about free knowledge. It's like it's free knowledge. You can learn. Somebody has already done or tried to do what you want to try. And so leverage that, right? So you don't have to spend hours trying to figure it out for yourself, right? Well, that's cool. So one of the things that, as a developer, we're always wanting-- you probably heard the phrase, right, grow or die, right? You're either going to grow, or your skills will start diminishing. When you look forward into the technologies that are coming out or what you've heard about, what are you the most excited about learning and getting more of an expertise in?

Raman: These days, AI is big, right? Machine learning and artificial intelligence is everywhere. And we are using ChatGPT. There's Microsoft Copilot everywhere. Workday is doing a great job with the Skills Cloud and machine learning and everything. So I'm really excited for their potential in further revolutionizing the diverse world and in the realm of Workday too. So I would love to spend more time over there. I'm already spending some good quality time in exploring all these features within Extend. And I would like to see what more can Workday Extend do with this AI and machine learning world. And that's what I would like to see, it more growing. And I personally like to spend time with that.

Bledsoe: Well, that's actually a great segue because we are going to be introducing some really cool new AI functionality at DevCon. So you're going to definitely want to come and try it out.

Raman: Awesome, yes.

Bledsoe: Cool. Well, hey, first of all, thank you very much for taking time out of your day to be able to join us here on the DevTalk. It really does make a difference. And I know that there's other people like yourself who are developers who want to learn from people like you. You're really a significant piece to our developer community, and it's individuals like you that stand out that I think helps the rest of the people go, "Oh, I want to be like Sreenivas. I want to be able to do what he does." So thank you so much for being that.

Raman: Yeah, great. It was a wonderful opportunity to be here and share my experience and learn a lot about DevCon too. So thanks for having me.

Bledsoe: Awesome. Well, thank you very much.

Raman: Thanks.

Bledsoe: This is Workday DevTalk, a podcast for developers by developers. If you enjoyed watching or listening to this, please be sure to subscribe at I'm Chris Bledsoe, your host, and we look forward to seeing you again on Workday DevTalk.

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