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Workday Technology Review

Workday’s Human Resource and payroll software is a native thin-client, Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. The former PeopleSoft team applied their experience and understanding of the shortcomings of traditional on-premises software applications and, looking exclusively to cloud deployment, created one of the most successful SaaS entrants into the HRMS application market. The company felt that the traditional software architecture failed on two counts: 1) too much separation and segmentation of business intelligence from day to day processes; and 2) insufficient attention to system integration issues (especially with regard to the complexity and unwieldy nature of add-ons). The Workday software set out to avoid the unnecessary system difficulties and costs (and therefore reduced business value) that these obstacles incur for the user.

System Integration Capabilities

The Workday software integration rests on the company’s web services API, an extension of the XML-based Workday Business Services technology. As described below, by leveraging a web standards approach, Workday software is able to offer a wide spectrum of integration options from fully hosted to behind-the-firewall on-premises solutions.

  • Web Services API
    This is a comprehensive library of web services which includes dozens of operations that expose Workday business rules and manipulate Workday data. These services act as points of entry so that customers may use the tool or infrastructure of their choice, in addition to the Workday proprietary tools that can create a variety of integrations–ranging from data synchronizations to complete end-to-end business process management (BPM) workflows.
  • Workday Integration Network
    This network aids third-party system integrations. The integrations are hosted and vendor-managed by Workday and consist of standards-based interfaces to Workday partners with client configuration options.
  • Workday Integration Tools
    This selection of end-user tools enables the building of enterprise-level business integrations, offering Workday customers the methods to create entirely new integrations to support their specific software requirements.
  • Reports-as-a-Service (RaaS)
    The Workday Report Writer can create Workday Web Services for integration. Reports can be automatically utilized as standards-based web services (SOAP, REST and RSS over HTTPS) to export Workday data to other systems. An example of RaaS is the integration of Workday data into stand-alone desktop tools such as Excel–where the RaaS allows the secure 'refreshing' of the data in a spreadsheet without losing formatting.
  • Enterprise Interface Builder (EIB)
    Using this application, customers can build no-code software integrations, creating two-way business information exchanges without the need for installation of additional on-premises hardware or software. Without the need for programming skills, savvy users can design simple-to-medium complexity integrations without writing 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), and both out-of-the-box (XML-to-CSV, XML-to-Excel, etc.) and custom (XSL-based) transformations. A variety of inbound and outbound protocols including email, FTP, file-based and attachments are also supported.
  • Workday Studio
    Clients can use this integrated development environment (IDE) to build sophisticated or complex system integrations. These integrations are created on a data center-hosted desktop accessible to users via the client’s production tenant. The Studio was used to create the above-referenced Workday Integration Network and is available to customers to develop their own complex integrations.

Software Customization Capabilities

A historical flaw with HR and payroll systems is that workflow and Business Process Automation (BPA) have been treated as something of afterthoughts – poorly integrated and often unused. Workday seeks to remedy this missed opportunity and thereby create differentiation. The Workday software embeds business process design into the payroll and HR applications and makes it part of a configurable Business Process Framework that is relatively straightforward for users. This allows users to implement and configure the framework so that it is linked to both the organizational structure and role-based security.

The Workday Business Process Framework is a unified tool, meaning that users only need to learn a single framework in order to configure common HR and payroll processes throughout the system. This single entry point approach enforces consistency across the HCM application, with the added point of facilitating easier understanding of existing processes and those created by other users. The company is fully aware that the acid test for any workflow capability is ease of setup and its adaptability to change. By designing the Business Process Framework with the user in mind, Workday has made the HCM application largely definitional without programming and so has effectively democratized process automation. For some customers, the Business Process Framework may be the most important tool for enhancing functional configuration, achieving process automation and enabling agility.

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