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The Workday Customer Experience

The Workday Customer Experience

Eight years ago, Software as a Service (SaaS) was a foreign concept to me. I had only just begun to understand the value of Cloud Technology as I became more and more familiar with my iPhone and the seemingly never-ending updates that came with it.

At the time, I was rolling into my 10th year as a Service Delivery Manager at another software company.  My experience was that a vendor sold, deployed, and maintained their own software (and in many cases, the hardware as well). Customers relied on the relationships with their Service Delivery Managers to help them plan, implement, test, and communicate changes. This included all necessary integrations. The most critical role the customer played in the process was User Acceptance Testing, for which we provided very detailed scripts and held their hands. If something was broken, if the customer didn’t like how a certain page looked, or if a particular function operated incorrectly, we fixed it during deployment or post-production. That was the job.

When I was recruited by Workday in 2015, I was extremely intrigued by the software. It was visually appealing and clearly geared towards a positive user experience.  They could demo from a real, Live environment! Everything was developed natively within their core foundation, eliminating the need for integrations between various separate applications. It was truly the “Power of One”, as advertised!

Configuration was also much easier, using business processes and standard functionality, without requiring customers to customize or develop every page from scratch. AND EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER WAS ON THE EXACT SAME VERSION! This blew my mind. Updates were delivered regularly (like I had finally become used to with my iPhone) with the majority being very well-planned out for major releases twice annually The roadmap was always made public and customers had a voice – and a process – for contributing to the planned enhancements. The Global Support organization was impressive and not like anything I was used to. Support Analysts and domain experts were available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This was a no-brainer; I could not wait to join the @Workday ecosystem!

Like any customer new to SaaS, it took me some time to adapt to the fact that Workday itself didn’t maintain the software once it was deployed, nor did they, in most cases, even deploy it. The expectation was that the customer would have their own team in place to take on the traditional roles of an on-premises software vendor: for planning, implementing, testing, promoting to production, communicating, etc. This gave the customer more control over their strategy, scope, roadmap, time, budget, and resources, while Workday could continue to focus primarily on continuing to develop the software. For the customers who preferred the more traditional method of support, Workday created a broad ecosystem of Partners who could supplement this need. It was a brilliant business model…for the most part. 

What I quickly discovered as a Workday Customer Success Manager, however, was that unless customers fully understood this model and were either deeply trained and prepared to be extremely self-sufficient, (ensured that they had evaluated and chosen the right Partner), what is intended to be a successful support model quickly turned into chaos and sometimes, disaster.

Production Preparedness” is a crucial project component that was not always taking place. A planned conversation would surface very important topics for consideration including:

  • Have you ever supported SaaS software before?
  • Are you prepared to build and train an internal team to support the entire Workday application in the following areas?
    • Security
    • Integrations
    • Reports
    • Configuration across all Domain Areas
    • Testing
    • Auditing
    • Ongoing System Monitoring
    • Workday Release Updates
    • Workday Support Case Management
    • Standard Operating Procedures for Workday Scheduled Downtime
  • Will your team be centralized or decentralized?
  • Do you have a governance structure in place?
  • Who are your key decision-makers?
  • Who are the stakeholders across your organization?
  • Who is driving and what is your long-term vision or strategy post-go-live?
  • What is your Change Intake and Evaluation process?
  • How will you prioritize?
  • Who will identify cross-functional impacts and evaluate risks?
  • How will you stay on top of the constant mandatory changes?
  • What is your plan for staying current and increasing value with optional features?
  • Does your team understand that in the Workday world, changes are not developed for any one customer, and most bug fixes and enhancements are planned according to a ranking system?
  • What is your training plan?
  • What are your user adoption goals?
  • What is your change management plan for communicating the deployment and driving user adoption?
  • How will you define success?

In a perfect world, this conversation would start early while a customer is evaluating Workday and would continue throughout the deployment process. The goal would be to fully prepare the customer to take ownership of the system once it’s live. Furthermore, the customer can determine if this is even the type of support structure they want to have in place. Perhaps they have no intention of building a profoundly- experienced, self-sufficient team with 100% ownership. Maybe they will prefer to have a Partner in place to do the heavy lifting.

When this conversation does not occur and customers are not prepared, post-production support from a Partner becomes immediately apparent and essential, mere days after go-live. Integrations and critical operations fail, processing times are higher than expected, reports are not running, end user tickets are coming in at an alarming rate, there is an upcoming major release, and it can feel like the sky is falling.  

So how do you get it all under control?

A Partner can step in to fill the gaps where customer coverage does not exist or is not yet fully built out. They can quickly turn around break-fixes, help to prioritize issues and requested changes, speed up the time to “stability”, support educating the internal team’s knowledge transfer, and maintain a strategic relationship with you to develop a long-term roadmap for optimization, further adoption, and continued value realization.  But choosing the right Partner will make all the difference!

  • The right Partner will have deep experience across all Workday domain areas
    Kognitiv consultants have spent many years in the Workday ecosystem, have in-depth knowledge and expertise, have developed custom solutions to plug gaps in missing or broken functionality, and understand and share best practices for success. 
  • The right Partner will not just be order takers
    Rather than simply completing your request as asked, Kognitiv experts will help you determine if what you’re asking for is truly the best solution and we will provide guidance on whether there is a better way to accomplish your goal.
  • The right Partner will help you build the most effective support structure for your specific situation
    Whether you feel the need to fully outsource or only want help in certain areas or scenarios, Kognitiv will work with you to define the best engagement model for your team.
  • The right Partner will make it easy for your team to engage with them  
    Not sure where to start or how to plug us in? Kognitiv will brainstorm with you to help prioritize and determine the best approach.
  • The right Partner will not spend months defining an overly complicated Statement of Work
    Kognitiv will create a simple, straightforward SOW that makes it easy for your team to submit requests as quickly as possible, regardless of module, complexity, time requirement, or scope.
  • The right Partner will not require you to commit to an annual spend
    If you’re not sure how much or how little support you require, or you want to get started sooner than your next budget planning discussion, Kognitiv will allow you to determine the upfront commitment and will adjust as needed, over time.
  • The right Partner will not bill you for work that has yet to be completed
    We understand that things constantly change so will never penalize you for not meeting your spend commitment. Kognitiv will only ever bill you for the work completed.
  • The right Partner will develop a trusted relationship with your team and will continue to act as an Advisor to help you accomplish your long-term goals and strategy
    Kognitiv will work with you to define the right alignment and engagement. We will hold regular operational check-ins to ensure the timely resolution of requests and review ongoing work, including specific projects. Kognitiv will also facilitate strategic business reviews to ensure that we understand your challenges, objectives, and strategic initiatives and help you to clearly define a roadmap to achieve your goals.

At Kognitiv, Inc. we will do all of this and more. We have already been trusted by more than 400 Workday Customers and that list continues to grow daily! The founders and consultants live and breathe Workday.  It is the only software we support. We want to be the best in the Workday ecosystem.  We hire the best, and we retain the best.

I’m more than happy to continue this story; I could go on and on about all that I’ve seen and experienced! Please connect with me on LinkedIn to hear more and learn how I and Kognitiv can support your goals.


  • Stephanie Simons

    Steph has spent the majority of her 25-year career as a Customer Relationship professional. Her experience has taught her that you cannot assume that Customers know what they need. Customers want to be pushed to think outside the box. They want you to tell them what they don’t know. They want to trust that you will advise them, educate them, and truly contribute to their success. Within the Workday ecosystem, Steph sees no better way to do this than to be a trusted Partner.

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