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  • Writer's pictureSheena from Texas

5 Tips For Your First Workday Release Cycle

First, Welcome to the Workday Community! Preparing to manage your first Workday release can be daunting but rest assured that it is manageable and you can get through! It is important to prepare for your first release, so here are 5 tips to help you to prepare:

Tip 1: Create a Project and Assign a Project Owner/Manager

Having a point person to manage the release and ensure that everything is managed and completed on time will help to ensure your success. This is typically a member of the HRIS team, but it can also be a non-technical project manager. The timeline should start with the date the release is available in Preview and all testing needs to be complete before the updates go live in production. You can find the release dates on Community, and a Feature Release Testing Kit. As a reminder, Workday has 2 major releases per year.

Tip 2: What’s New Man?

Export the “What’s New in Workday” report from your Preview tenant once the updates are available in Preview. Filter out the functional areas that are not applicable to your tenant and sort by functional area. This might be 400 items, so it could be a large task, but review everything that is “automatically available” to understand what is changing. Then review items that require configuration to see if there’s anything that you would like to add to your roadmap. The What’s New videos on the community are a great asset to understanding the new offerings!

Tip 3: Engage Your Subject Matter Experts (SME)/Functional Owners

Setup meetings with each of your functional owners or SMEs (payroll, learning, talent, etc), to let them know what is coming with the release that could enhance or impact their platform (needs focus during testing), as well as what bells and whistles are available for their future roadmap. Engage the functional owners to make decisions and design their own roadmap. This also ensures that the business continues to see the value being added in Workday.

Tip 4: Test, Test, Test!

Create a testing plan that ensures that all your major processes will continue to function with the new release. Will job changes still work correctly? Will compensation changes still work? Will the performance review still go through the right approvals? This can be a list of test cases in Excel, or you can track them in your ticketing system or project management system. What is important is that you list all of the test cases that must be completed and you keep track of who is responsible for the testing and whether the test case passes or fails. If a test case fails, you will need to resolve the issue before the release moves to production. You can work with your functional leaders to ensure that your testing plan includes all the processes important to the function of your business. You should also test new items that you want to start using.

Tip 5: Communicate & Update Training

During your functional review of new items and during your testing, you should make a note of any major changes to the user experience and to your training documents. Any training documentation that has been impacted by the update will need to be updated as well. In the week before the update goes live, communicate changes with your power users (Usually HR and admins) and your employees. This could be an email communication, a live training session, or even a recorded video. Set expectations so that there are no surprises for go-live day.


These 5 steps will get you started and help you manage what could be an overwhelming process if you had no direction or plan. With each upgrade, you will be able to fine-tune and improve this process. It’s easy to miss new items and miss out on new functionality, so having a solid upgrade process not only ensures that you maintain system access and processes, but that you are fully leveraging the ever-increasing functionality of your investment.


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