Workday Technology Review
Conceived and built from the ground up to be a native cloud application, the Workday software technology has been one of the most successful Software as a Service entrants into the HRMS application market. Given the fact that the company itself was founded by a team (mainly from PeopleSoft) with scores of software development experience, it's not surprising that the design and applied technology of the HR system was specifically intended to handle the shortcomings of the traditional, prior era on-premise software applications. Namely, Workday's founders perceived that traditional architecture failed on two fronts: a) too much separation and segmentation of business intelligence from the daily work and process; and b) not enough attention was being paid to integration—especially in regards to the complexity and unwieldy nature of add-ons. These issues, thought the founders, were the basis for unnecessary system difficulties and costs—and damaged the value the HR system could actually bring to the business.
System Integration Capabilities
The foundation to Workday's Integration Offerings is the Web services API. The core of the Workday Business Services technology is based in XML (the language of Web services) and the Web Services API is a natural extension of that core technology. Working with Web services technology and standards gives Workday the ability to provide a wide spectrum of integration solutions from fully hosted integrations to behind-the-firewall on-premise integrations.
Web Services API
Workday provides a robust library of Web services exposing dozens of operations that manipulate Workday data and expose Workday business rules. Workday surfaces these Web services as interface points so customers can use their tool or infrastructure of choice – as well as Workday tools - to build integrations from data synchronizations to complete end-to-end Business Process Management (BPM) flows.
Workday Integration Network
The Workday Integration Network provides Configurable Integrations to other 3rd party software applications. The integrations within the network are standards-based interfaces to Workday partners that can be configured for customers who wish to use them. These configurable and repeatable integrations are configured, hosted and vendor-managed by Workday.
- Workday Integration Tools
The Workday Integration tools consist of applications for building enterprise-level business integrations and end-user tools for performing business-level integration tasks. These tools provide the mechanism for Workday customers to create entirely new integrations to support their specific integration requirements.
Reports-as-a-Service allows business users to build their own Workday Web Services for integration. All Workday Report Writer reports can be automatically exposed as standards-based web services (RSS, SOAP and REST over HTTPs) to export Workday business information. A common usage for RaaS is to integrate Workday data into desktop tools such as Excel. RaaS provides the ability to 'refresh' the data in a worksheet without losing formatting and while maintain security.
Enterprise Interface Builder (EIB)
The EIB is an On-Demand application that enables building no-code, no-software integrations. The EIB can be used to dynamically create two-way business information exchanges with Workday without needing to install and maintain any on-premise hardware or software. The EIB achieves simple-to-medium complexity integrations without the need to write a single line of code. The EIB supports internal and external data sources (RaaS, REST URLs, SOAP-based Web Services, Attachments, and FTP-based Files), out-of-the-box (XML-to-CSV, XML-to-Excel, etc…) and custom (XSL-based) transformations, and a variety on inbound and outbound protocols including email, s/ftp, file-based and attachments.
An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that customers can use to programmatically create custom, complex hosted integrations. Integrations are developed on a desktop, hosted in Workday's data centers, and accessed by the customer's production tenant. Workday's Integration Network is built with Workday Studio which has now been exposed for customers to build sophisticated integrations themselves.
Software Customization Capabilities
Although workflow has been delivered with applications dating back to the 1990's, it has largely been treated by many as an afterthought – rarely integrated well and mostly unused by customers. Workday set its sights on altering this by deeply embedding business process design into their HR applications and by making them a part of a configurable framework that an HR or Financials user could both implement and maintain. Workday calls this their Business Process Framework.
Business Process Framework is a single, unified tool to manage business processes and has essentially been built so that users only have to learn this one tool to understand how to configure common HR processes in the system. Not only does this dramatically cut learning time and increase productivity by the functional users designing the processes, it also enforces consistency across the system making it easier for end users to understand the process and also the status of their requests.
The real trick with any type of workflow; however, is how easy is it to setup and then how it responds to change. By designing the Business Process Framework for the functional user, Workday has largely addressed this issue—making it largely definitional with no programming required. Additionally, Workday has tied Business Process Framework into both the organizational structure and the system's role based security. Given these elements, perhaps no other feature in Workday is more important than Business Process Framework for enhancing functional configuration, achieving process automation and enabling agility.
It should be noted that given the continually delivered enhancements, most functionality within the Workday system is configurable by end-users; however, integration will likely still require the involvement of IT staff due to the architecture's complexity. The above mentioned Enterprise Interface Builder (EIB) does allow end-users to perform basic integrations without IT staff involvement. And according to Workday, 95% of production customers "use EIB for simple inbound and outbound integrations".
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