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  • Writer's pictureMatilda from Sweden

11 Things I Wish I Knew When Starting Workday

This year I started a new job with a customer just about to go live which brought back a lot of “how to do this” feelings - but also a “I know how to avoid redoing this in the future!” thoughts. So - what is it you need to have planned for before going live?

1. Flexible report <- possibly the best report in the world

This is the report to get rid of all “I want a list of this”, “almost copy if this other report”. Allow your end user to tick the boxes of what information they want in the report and get those things in a report - with the security in place! I think I have talked about this enough times in the customer sharing movement that my husband (one of those not-working-with-Workday-people) can do the sales pitch on it - but if you have not heard about it before, trust me when I say that this might be the best “wow” Workday moment that I have ever had. Setting this up at a new workday-customer and saving the time for those 50-something requests coming in -> SO worth it! You can watch The Sharing Show, Season 2, Episode 20 to see more details!

2. Learn how the business object model works

Really - learning about BOM is on this list? Of course! While this may not be the easiest to understand when you look at it the first time it is critical for you to understand how things are working and are linked together. Needing to build a calculated field -> here is how you find how to pull a field between objects! Need to find a data source for this field you

have found that is the most important ever to have in the report -> here is where you can find your options!

3. Decide on the naming conversation as soon as possible!

I know a lot of people think this might be one of the most boring things in the middle of a fun project but trust me - the maintenance that will come due to this not being in place will take more time then deciding this. Remember to share the naming convention with all that will create new names, (reports, calculated fields etc). This includes both the internal team (don’t forget new people joining!), implementers as well as re-naming solutions you import. Whatever you do - keep to ONE naming convention. If you already have one that all are using - good! If you don’t or have one that is not working well - here are my favorites:

A. Naming convention - calculated fields

Start all calculated fields with zcf (for functional use) or zcfi (for integrations).

The z in the beginning means all calc fields will always be at the end of a list as well as giving you three characters so you can easily search for them.

The difference between integration and functional calculated fields means you won’t have any unintended change on integrations (or validation rules!). This is useful when a field is changing and you have tested it in a report. For the end user perspective a somewhat different layout, lets say a change from data separated by comma to data separated by getting split in different rows doesn’t appear to matter that much. However, for integrations the same change could break the integration... So, for once the duplicates will be worth having!

B. Naming convention - reports

There are a bunch of naming conventions when it comes to report names. Some companies use numbers to know that the change should be done to custom report “123” followed by a name. Some put the target group in the name. I prefer to answer the question “what do you see”. For example - any matrix report should be called for example Headcount by Country to show what is shown (headcount) and by what dimension (country) the report is showing.

C. Naming convention - report tags

This is generally an underused function on reports. Either you have none - or you have way too many! For me this is the perfect way to specify what area a report belongs to (having one tag for each functional area - such as Core, Compensation, Talent, Expense etc) as well as who the main target group is (Manager, HR Business Partner etc). This allows you to set up a library where your users can search on a specific functional area and see what is available!

4. Make sure all reports have a clear purpose!

Sometimes you get requests like “I want a list with these items”. While this might be the case it is really hard to measure business value to the question. You WILL have a backlog - so it’s really important to know why things are needed so you can prioritize correctly. My favorite is to ask questions like “what business problem will this solve”, “how much time/money will this save”, “who are the primary target group” to get the baseline of all requests.

Remember - a report that shows % of those with, for example, too low/compa-ratio, will help more for those working with it to get an overview and slice and dice the data with “view by” rather than exporting it to Excel and doing the same work in non-live data! If you come back looking for the report a couple of years later - will you really remember what was the reason behind it?

5. Use the different fields on the reports!

There are 4 places where you can add free text on the report - use them to your advantage! Brief description - what is the report for (will be showing to end users when searching the report), More info - how should I think when looking at the report (shows when the report is run), Comments - development notes that are normally not visible for end users and the perfect place to store internal notes. Prompt instructions - guide your users how to enter the values they will need.

6. Ensure all reports are being used!

Worst feeling? Having spent tens of hours putting a report together, testing, etc, and it not being used. So - how can you prevent it? Make sure the target group can find it! By making sure no report reaches production without report tags and description you will reduce the risk of a report not being used. BUT - for reports targeting for example managers or HR Business Partners you should also make sure they are added to a dashboard (as a worklet, in a bulletin worklet or in the menu) to maximize the chance of the right report being used at the right time.

7. What reports will be affected by future configuration changes?

Do you think you will ever do any changes to the configuration, due to change of regislations or a M&A somewhere down the line? (If you ever do a M&A the answer most likely is yes!)

Start preparing for it as you go from the beginning and those 2-3 days of full time looking at a report to identify possible impacts can be done in 10 minutes!

Start noting what reports are hard coded, e.g. where future configuration changes could affect the report. Example - you have a report where you only show Gender = female. If in the future you will add more genders this can be a report you want to check to avoid the new configuration changing the report in unwanted ways. On reports simply add “Hard coded on gender” in the Comments -> then create a report filtered on “Comments contain hard coded”. Run the report and search on Gender and you will find all reports that have gender in filter, subfilter or prompts.

8. What calculated fields will be affected by future configuration changes?

Similar to reports you will have calculated fields that are dependent on configuration. It can be specific companies, countries, gender, bonus plans or about just anything! Here you can either use the same logic as for reports - write “hard coded on [field]” on the description on the second tab, or there is another option too! You can write a report on all calculated fields of the type true/false (since every selection will come from here!) and then see the fields being used. While the second option requires less time from the beginning, it also means all the calculated fields saying “[field] is empty” will also show up.

9. Have a security matrix in place with easy naming to identify the security groups!

I don’t think I can stress this enough. Who has what security is not only a question for the security administrator but also vital for those working with reports, as well as configuration, to know what security group to share a report with or what security group should do action on a business process. Having a clear matrix with similar names for the same type of level will help you know who should be added to a report or business process without looking it up frequently.

My favorite way is thinking that all areas need 5 security groups.

  • Administrator (those doing the configuration) - user based

  • Global admin (those responsible for the global process, typically 2-3 people) that is a user based one

  • Transactional person - for those doing most of the work, for example Recruiter or HR Admin. These are typically role based.

  • Role to see but not touch data.There is generally a need to see the data without doing any changes. Typically role based (and sometimes on more than one type of organization).

On top of this you will most likely have the roles for managers and HR Business Partners - but they are spread over multiple functional areas.

10. Connect with other customers!

I don’t think I can stress this enough. Almost all problems you face someone else have faced and/or will face in the future. We are all on the same version of Workday and while there can be some workarounds that require extra modules, (yes - I am referring to all of you using payroll!), most things that are possible for one customer are possible to build the same way for any other! So - what are the best ways to connect with other customers?

Join the sharing café’s that are every Wednesday and bring whatever question you have stumbled across since last week. Join the share space on slack and post questions to other geeky workday fans or listen in to one of the sharing shows. I, for one, am happy there is no tracking how much time you have spent on these - but the hours *cough*weeks*cough* are SO well spent - especially when you are new! And yes - there are a lot of the things mentioned here that can also be found in the recordings of the sharing show and circle discussions, such as the flexible report, naming convention discussions and more!

B. Workday community

I know that in the beginning the workday community takes some time to get to know. But once you know - there is a wealth of information to learn! Start by joining the groups relevant for you (regional, products etc) and subscribe to any update. Yes - the email takes ages to go through if you, (like me), subscribe to 10 groups but if you get them daily you can fairly quickly just read the headings in the email without opening up the full post to know if it’s something you want to dig into more (or share your knowledge with something you have learned!).

C. Workday Customer Networking Event

Imagine a call with some 400 people and you can go to a bunch of breakout rooms and discuss a specific topic. This is a great option, once a month, to connect to other customers and talk whatever you want that month. However - note that Workday has gone from one global call to one by region and last I attended we were 5 people.. So my tips - join the one for North America no matter where you live!

11. Steal with pride!

Since we all are on the same version of Workday there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time you need to do something new. Does that mean everything is ready out of the box? No, but it definitely means you can start with something and tweak it rather than building something from scratch. How you may ask? These are some ways to get the blueprints you will benefit from:

A. Get them from the community

People are posting solutions in the community (normally in PDF or Excel format). This is why you can save time by putting in the time to read the emails on groups you subscribed to. Open up - “manual” copy paste into your tenant and voila - here you have something!

B. Copy the solution directly into your tenant.

Workday offers us the option to import solutions into your tenant. While it requires the security for it and you need to be careful to have the reference ID’s mapping it can be a great way to have an out of the box solution (but remember - you probably want to tweak it still!) in a quick way. I will just repeat one thing - you might want to rename things according to YOUR naming convention to keep it aligned as well as double and triple check the reference IDs before you move anything to production.

C. Check out the GMS

The GMS tenant is available to everyone with access to the Workday community (there is another tenant for those not working on private companies). While Workday is clear this is not meant as best practice it is still a great way to shop around for ideas. Need to quickly show your stakeholders what is possible - this might be the place! If they want the exact same thing (yeah, chances are very slim but still!) you can go behind the scenes and see the set up on a business process or report.

So, if you are already live, is this list moot? No! There is always time to gain by structuring your tenant (and O M G - the FLEXIBLE REPORT if you have not set it up yet can itself save tons of time!) but be aware - changing all calculated fields to a new naming convention takes time, a lot longer than having it set up from the beginning. Same goes for reports - if you look at the standard dashboard “Report Administrator” you can see how many reports have not been run the last 6 months. Chances are the number is way higher than you’d like to see!

My tips if you have been doing this for some time and realize “I could have done this better” (since let's be honest, if you don’t feel that way at least once you probably have not done Workday long enough yet) is start with low hanging fruit.

Set up the Flexible Report and start directing users as well as scheduled reports to that report, kill off the old reports you can replace as you go.

  • Start joining in on all the fun with other customers! Join one occasion when your schedule fits, start following your main areas in the Workday community and take some time to read the emails.

  • Decide on a naming convention and edit to that one on all new things you do as well as everything you go in and edit in. Do the big clean up after a year when you have more things in place.

  • If you are in a M&A take the time to go through the reports that might be impacted by configuration changes (e.g. almost all of them) and add in the comments if they are hard coded on anything.

  • Plan some time every week to go through all reports to review the naming convention, descriptions, hard coded and report tags. Yes, you probably have some thousands of custom reports so if you do 15 reports every hour it will mean over one year before you have gone through the first thousand. Remember - you might have a friend at work to ask to join in the work! And trust me - once is enough for you to remember to do this the first time around next time!

Since I know there are a bunch of other great report writing people out there - what do you think is the most important and the most underrated things to have as early as possible? And what did I miss that you would put on your own must-have-list?


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