VuePoints: Adaptive Planning

Why Workday Works For Professional Services Firms

This article focuses on key features and functionality in the Workday product suite and explains why professional services firms that use Workday have a vastly better experience than with their existing solutions.

Workday Financial Management and Human Capital Management are an excellent fit for professional services firms.

I have covered the many benefits of the cloud in previous blog posts. You can find articles like How to Evaluate the True Cost of Upgrading Your Legacy PeopleSoft Application or 9 Reasons CFOs Love the Cloud which outline the many benefits of the cloud and the massive adoption rate of cloud products in the CFO’s office.

It is One Unified Solution

As a professional services firm, you are probably using many different systems to manage your business. You find candidates, hire people, maintain skills sets, manage projects, manage resources, report on progress, run payroll, pay vendors and subcontractors, facilitate time and expense, bill your clients, recognize revenue and procure goods. For most organizations, these processes are probably handled in four to five different applications, if not more. You have likely built interfaces to pass data between them as you connect your business processes across applications. However, in reality there are major differences in how the applications work. The data tends to be incongruent, often causing you to have to wait for “the nightly batch cycle” to finish your work.

Workday is one solution that can meet all of these needs. It pulls all of this information and functionality together in a unified platform. This means better information at your fingertips to run your business and more efficient processes where once manual steps are automated. Your recruiters, billers, resource managers, and project managers are focused on delivering for your clients not keypunching data.

It is Mobile

Let’s face it – those legacy on-premise ERP systems are dinosaurs. They were invented when cell phones were the size of a brick. Vendors have tried to make them mobile, but often fail as they are just putting a Band-Aid on a 20 year old solution rather than building with mobile in mind from the beginning. As a professional services firm, your team is not typically tied to a desk at a corporate office. Your project managers and consultants are on-site delivering for your customers. They need applications at their fingertips when they want to use them, like at an airport.

Workday is mobile. One of the top challenges of professional services firms is the accurate and timely submission of status, timesheets and expense reports. Workday applications are built with a modern look and feel so your team can quickly enter data and submit it no matter where they are – on the road, at the client site or in the office. Workday Worktags can default in key employee or project information so that it flows through to the GL and billing without the user ever entering these data elements, limiting the amount of data the user needs to key. By decreasing the complexity of timesheets and expense reports, accounting gets better data in a timely manner – which means faster billing, less data corrections and a reduction in re-bills.

It is Smart!

The cost of hiring an employee or subcontractor is immense. This includes the actual costs of recruiting, agency fees, interviewing, onboarding and ramp-up time. It also includes the risk of the person not working out – a bad hire is worse than no hire. That is why you need to do everything you can to keep the valued employees you already have on board.

In addition, attrition is in the professional services industry is rising. The average duration that an employee spends at one company is consistently shrinking. SPI Research completed a study of professional services firms. SPI found that attrition has increased 33% from 2009-2013 and profit has decreased 33% over the same time frame. Is that a coincidence? It is not. So how does a professional services firm tackle these issues and can their existing software help them?

Workday is smart and is the only solution that addresses these problems. Workday is now delivering Insight Applications that leverage predictive and prescriptive analytics as well as machine learning. These applications mine the data in your system and combine it with outside data sources to provide projections and direction on your workforce.

Workday can predict the likelihood of an employee leaving based on historical worker data as well as the service time, compensation, and roles of the current workforce. It can also identify which high performers are most at “risk” of leaving (and your high performers are also likely your most billable and demand the highest rates). In future releases, Workday will also make suggestions to your team on how to keep that employee, such as another internal role that might be more engaging. Workday not only helps you manage the financial aspect of your business, but it also helps you keep your most valuable assets – your people! Can your legacy ERP system do that?

It is Insightful

In the services industry, data is everything. Your employees and your clients want to know about resource availability, run rates, budget to actuals and overall project status. With Workday, all of this information is available at your fingertips. Since Workday is one system, data is available to all team members as it is entered. There are no interfaces that need to run to move data from the time and expense system into the GL. A batch process does not need to pick up data from the sub-ledger so it is available for reporting. Project managers can see time and expense data real time for an accurate budget to actuals comparison that they need for a 5pm status meeting with their customer. Resource managers can find the right workers with the right skills and view their availability for a project role.

Workday is insightful. Workday also provides powerful analytics right in the base product. Users can slice and dice data to view it by any dimension. If your customer wants to know how much of the invoice is attributed to employees working in the San Francisco field office, this can easily be done. The project manager is now empowered and does not need to rely on finance and accounting to get the data they need. This will not only save you time and money in terms of the operations staff, but will also allow you to deliver timely and accurate information to your end customer.

It is Constantly Improving

Your old ERP system is on its last leg. Vendors are putting their R&D dollars into other products where they see new sales potential versus maintaining and enhancing their old product lines. For example, Oracle has announced that after PeopleSoft 9.2, they are no longer planning for any additional releases. Oracle will release new features in feature packs and let customers selectively choose which ones to apply. This puts a lot of burden on you to become a software company and maintain your own version of the system. In addition, the release will likely only include tweaks to the already existing solution versus any game changing functionality (such as predictive analytics!). So whatever you have on your existing solution is pretty much all you’re going to get.

Workday is continually improving. Workday releases two major feature releases a year. Workday releases are seamless. All of the heavy lifting is done by Workday over a few hours (versus a massive upgrade project every four years that takes you months, if not years, to complete). You get all of the benefits of the upgrade, with little of the work – just review the release notes and determine which new features to implement. For example, in 2014, Workday released a new resource plan user interface, granular project web services, enhancements to task resource assignment, configurable and flexible billing rules and advanced skills management. All of these new features are useful and will change the way you manage your professional services business. In 2015, Workday is again making a huge investment in their PSA capabilities by improving functionality in Resource Management (Track and Find Resources, Resource Forecasting, Skills Acquisition and Resource Assignment) and Project Billing and Accounting (T&E, Billing, Revenue Recognition and Accounting).


Workday is an excellent fit for professional services firms. It is a feature rich and cloud based unified platform. It is the application you need to streamline your operations and provide a better experience for your employees and customers.

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