Back in 2018, UK government purchasing organisation Crown Commercial Service (CCS) had to face up to an unpalatable truth: its legacy IT infrastructure needed replacing. According to Lucy Bruce, senior product manager, “At the time, we had three separate systems for HR, finance, and learning, and we had multiple offline manual processes. At this point, too, our systems were unsupported and clearly at the end of life.”
Bruce and colleagues had a very clear idea of the kind of solution they needed to bring in. “The drive was to have a single system that could do self-serve—meaning colleagues would be able to access their own data as well as to update it in the system. This would remove a great deal of the admin load that at the time sat with finance and HR, and move it to the line manager or staff member.”
The drive to facilitate cultural change.
We wanted something that went beyond just being a new HR or finance system—something, in short, that everybody could be happy with.
John Seery, Delivery Manager
One solution was quick to catch the project team’s eye. “Workday had the functionality we were looking for, alongside the new biannual update releases that the company develops based on customer feedback. And it enabled us to configure processes with the system.”
Delivery Manager John Seery adds, “Workday also provided the ‘one version of the truth’ that we were looking for to help us facilitate the cultural change we were focusing on. We wanted something that went beyond just being a new HR or finance system—something, in short, that everybody could be happy with.”
Reducing complexity with one version of the truth.
For Seery, it is having one version of the truth that has delivered the greatest benefits since Workday went live. “Now, when our senior management team are in meetings they can access data directly and look at it live,” Seery explains. “Before that, a report would have had to be created, meaning it was effectively out of date straightaway.”
It’s also reducing the admin workload in many ways. Seery continues, “For example, there’s now no further need to reconcile the headcount-related issues that HR needs to report on with those that finance needs to report on relating to people’s cost to the organisation. It’s all there.”
Such clarity is providing some practical benefits, including the streamlined settlement of supplier invoices and complete eradication of debt aged 91+ days. But, for Seery, it was especially important that the Workday implementation enabled cultural change across the organisation.
“It was important that middle managers became aware of how to do the expense approvals, absence reporting and other tasks they were going to take over from HR and finance,” Seerysays. “To learn, they had to quickly get used to logging in. So we didn’t move across any of the personal historical data about people that came under GDPR. Instead, we provided desk aids that took them through all those tasks, so they learned quickly how to use the system. It really paid off in the speed of adoption.”
Continuous improvement comes as standard.
According to Bruce, the greatest advantage realized from deciding on Workday is “the access you get to various enhancements and features as part of their biannual releases,” Bruce says. “Simply having access to a powerful source of continued improvement that’s shared among all customers is great—and with most new advancements, we get the chance to tap in once we’re ready. In other words, we can choose when something suits. It’s one more thing that I simply don’t have to worry about as a product manager.”
Seery has been most impressed with the optical character recognition (OCR) capability. “The introduction of OCR is evidence of the ongoing development of AI and machine learning, which are starting to play an important role,” Seery says. “It’s streamlining our approach to areas such as purchasing, for example, where we’re increasingly looking for a risk-assessed two-way match with lower-value products or services, meaning there is no need for a goods receipt speeding up processing and payment. Anything that reduces admin is very positive.”
Simply having access to a powerful source of continued improvement is great. It’s one more thing that I simply don’t have to worry about as a product manager.
Lucy Bruce, Senior Product Manager
A really good depth of understanding.
Bruce and Seery agree that having Kainos as CCS’s implementation partner has worked well. “Kainos’ people are generally specialists in their own field first, and are then Workday-certified within that area,” says Seery. “So for example, if you’re looking at absence, you’re generally talking to somebody with several years’ experience in dealing with sick leave, giving them a really good depth of understanding in precisely what you need to address.”
Bruce is also a strong advocate of Workday Community, a portal comprised of users across the globe sharing their insights and experience. As Bruce says, “There is so much information in there that there’s almost nothing you cannot find. It’s absolutely my go-to if anyone has a query over functionality, to find out if something is feasible or not.”