With over 40 years of experience as one of Australia’s leading tertiary education providers, Deakin has a history of being innovative and cutting edge. It offers excellent facilities, exceptional teaching, and flexible learning solutions to its 61,000 students, whether on campus or online
“It was a unique opportunity to reassess what we wanted for finance at Deakin and develop a solution for the future,” says CFO Vanessa Evans. “We decided to replace our old system with a cutting-edge ERP. Our objective was for finance to provide better business partnering for Deakin, offering faster and more insightful analysis and decision support. We wanted to make more time for what matters, improving the speed and effectiveness of our services so we could move our focus to the tasks we wanted to do. We also wanted to drive uniformity, consistency, and best practice. We recognised a new system would enable greater transparency and oversight.”
“In the end, it was an easy decision,” says Evans. “Workday met our needs more than any of the other ERP systems we evaluated. We wanted the latest and greatest technology. We liked the fact that Workday is highly configurable. From an overall solution perspective, Workday was the highest ranked when compared to our requirements. Our people were impressed with the user interface compared to some of the older clunkier systems.”
Amy Fuller, program director of Finance, says Workday offered Deakin a solid core platform for the future. “We wanted a product that aligned with our vision for the future, to move us away from heavy customisation, so the system wouldn’t become outdated. Workday’s investment in innovation and continual product development stood out among the other options we considered. We were also impressed by the opportunity for support from its user community network across the globe.
We implemented Workday Financial Management, which basically brought together all of the disparate teams across Deakin that undertook finance into functionally aligned, customer-focused teams.
Transparency and control.
“Since implementing Workday, Deakin’s finance community has a better understanding of how the university operates. Having a single source of truth for its financial data helps Deakin increase efficiency, improve reporting, and gain better visibility into business transactions.
“In Workday, the foundation data model—what used to be our chart of accounts—allows us to have ‘multi-data dimensionality,’” says Evans. “We can tag transactional data based on specific attributes so we can analyze, report, and plan both across the university and within a particular area.
“It’s difficult to conceptualize what that means when you’re not using it,” Evans continues. “But it’s been game changing for us. We’re only just starting to realize where it can take us. The value is absolutely there to be had.”
Enthusiastic user adoption.
Evans says other Workday clients advised the project team to get users involved as early as possible.
“It takes a certain amount of bravery to let people behind the curtain. We were concerned about getting a broader audience involved too early before we felt ready. But we discovered a real advantage to having future users gathering knowledge as they went and understanding why decisions were made. The more you engage with your people, the better prepared they are at go-live for the challenges that change can bring.
“Our people have been very open to the new technology,” Evans continues. “We have had great adoption across our entire community. Workday has an intuitive user interface.
We tell everyone: If you can use the internet to shop, you can navigate your way around Workday.
Global user community and constant improvement.
Deakin is Australia’s first university to implement Workday, and was pleased to find an extensive, global user community.
“I’ve never seen anything like this community,” says Evans. “We can see what other customers are experiencing and learn from other people’s solutions. We can attend conferences where customers get together to share. We’re currently looking to establish a dedicated Australia and New Zealand financial user group.”
Jacinta Savage, manager, Financial Systems, says a big learning was to engage with the user community earlier. “It’s an incredible resource. We now realize we didn’t spend enough time with the community during deployment and take advantage of the collaborative Workday users. Next time, I’d engage earlier and ensure staff are fully engaged in the community during deployment.”
Deakin has already been through two upgrades since deployment, including one a week after go-live. “There’s no standing still,” Savage says. “Workday keeps us current and forces us to do that major shift in mindset of rapid change.”
Rather than updating every few years, Workday has a pipeline of new capabilities to implement every couple of weeks. It is a great enabler for continuous improvement.
Program Director, Finance