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Workday Review—A Deep Dive Evaluation

4 stars Average rating: 4 (from 496 votes)

An Independent HCM Software Review and Analysis

No doubt one of, if not the most talked about HR software companies today is the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) juggernaut Workday. Aside from the incredibly ambitious (and largely on track) bid to take on the largest companies in the HR technology space (Oracle, SAP, and Infor), Workday is leading the charge to change the way HR software conducts business.

Founded in 2005 (and officially launched in 2006) by PeopleSoft founders Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, after the oft-discussed hostile takeover of PeopleSoft by Oracle, Workday was created as a way (so say the founders) of putting the focus of enterprise software back on innovation and service—designed to always give end users what they need. According to Duffield, "I started Workday to bring passion and customer focus back to the business of enterprise applications".

Beginning at the end of 2006, Workday began offering their core solution Workday HCM (Human Capital Management), and has since added Global Payroll, Financial Management, Spend Management, and Initiatives solutions to the mix. While still leveraging relatively low numbers of customers for each of these SaaS solutions, the company appears to be on the fast track to a cloud solution that a growing market will find appealing. Indeed, as Gartner's Thomas Otter, cites "Workday's progress confirms that it is making waves in the enterprise human capital management (HCM) market". Otter goes on to say that "CIOs can expect Workday to be increasingly prominent in HCM and, eventually, financials and procurement."

As of this HCM software review, Workday has 240+ customers, just over 2M workers under contract, and approximately 950 employees—all built from a nearly 100% organic growth strategy that has focused on slowly acquiring customers and an almost laser-like focus on its technology. In doing so, Workday has been slow to market with several of its offerings (e.g. it took nearly 3 years for a payroll service to be offered for U.S. customers, and even longer for financials), but appears to be gaining momentum from the ancillary-to-core build-outs in the talent management, and larger ERP solution space.

From Backyard to Global

Although the Pleasanton, CA-based Workday initially built out and focused on proving its worth in the HR applications market, the company has since expanded to an offering that is clearly focused on taking ERP software customers away from Oracle and SAP. As well, Workday is advancing on what was once solid territory for some of the larger talent management players like Cornerstone OnDemand, SumTotal, Taleo, and Ultimate Software. However, inherent with these advances is the risk of exposing gaps in applications—a problem that Workday seems to be aware of (and addressing) by seeking strategic partnerships as a means of providing a complete solution. While this partnership strategy certainly allows for increased marketing opportunity for Workday, some of the more odd relationships that Workday has forged include Cornerstone OnDemand, ADP, Ceridian, and Kronos—all of which have significant competitive overlap. Not all of the strategic partnerships have undertones of confusion though, as JobVite (for recruiting), Saba (for social learning), Tidemark (for analytics), and Zuora (for subscription billing/commerce) clearly show.

Yet partnerships are just one side of the multi-faceted Workday story, of which the most compelling are the integrations and advances within its own SaaS product suite. Specifically, Workday's latest advances (in Workday 15) in its application suite include MS Outlook integration,'s Chatter integration, and transaction reporting through the release of Workday's Object Management Server. Workday 15 also boosts capabilities in talent management and Canadian customer payroll support via a new data connector. Current customers however, due to the multi-tenant nature of Workday's software, are all on Workday 14—reviewed ahead in more detail.

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