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. They offer excellent facilities, exceptional teaching and flexible learning to their 61,000 students, whether on campus or online.
As part of an overall finance transformation project, Deakin University’s old ERP system needed to be replaced. “It hadn’t been upgraded for ten years,” says CFO, Kerrie Parker. “The ERP was housed within a complex integration environment and heavily customised over its 20 year lifespan.”
“It was a unique opportunity to reassess what we wanted for Finance at Deakin and develop a solution for the future,” says Deputy 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. Workday met our needs more than any of the other ERP systems we evaluated,” says Vanessa. “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 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that aligned with our vision for the future, to move us away from heavy customisation, so the system wouldn’t become outdated.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 spent a week with Workday as part of the procurement process. By the end we were convinced Workday was the best match for us and we’d be able to have a great long-term relationship with them.
Since implementing Workday, Deakin’s finance community has a far greater understanding of how the university operates. Having a single source of truth for its finance data gives Deakin greater efficiency, improved reporting, better visibility of transactions as they come in and how they flow through the business.
Transparency and control.
“In Workday, the Foundation Data Model—what used to be our chart of accounts—allows us to have ‘multi-data dimensionality’. That’s the ability to tag transactional data based on specific attributes so you can analyse, report and plan both across the University and within a particular area.
“It’s difficult to conceptualise what that means when you’re not using it. But it’s been game changing for us. We’re only just starting to realise where it can take us. The value is absolutely there to be had.”
Enthusiastic user take-up.
Vanessa says other Workday clients advised the project team to get users involved as early as possible.
“It takes a certain amount of bravery letting 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. We have had great adoption across our entire community. Workday has a great user interface, which is very intuitive.
“Everyone loves the fact that the search functionality is just like Google.”
We tell everyone: ‘If you can use the internet to shop, you can navigate your way around Workday.’
Global user community.
Deakin is Australia’s first university to implement Workday, so the team was pleased to be able to draw support from an extensive, global user community.
“I’ve never seen anything like this community,” says Vanessa. “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 financials 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 realise we didn’t spend enough time with the community during implementation and take advantage of the collaborative nature of Workday users. Next time, I’d engage earlier and ensure staff are fully engaged in the community during implementation.”
Jacinta says Deakin has already been through two upgrades since implementation, including one a week after go-live. “There’s no standing still. 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