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Workday Payroll and HR Software Review

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Workday’s Sweet Spot & Alternative Solutions

Workday's Sweet Spot

Though initially targeting organizations with 1K-5K workers, Workday's current focus is not so restrictive and its client list extends from mid-size companies with 200+ employees to global corporations with 200,000 or more employees. While Workday does not profess to target any particular industry sector, the majority of customers come from the verticals of Financial Services, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Services, and Technology. Workday have declared an intention to move into the higher education vertical and the public sector.

Workday marquee customers include Facebook,, Kimberly Clark, Flextronics (with 200K employees, the largest single deployment of a global HR system of record delivered via SaaS), Chiquita, Thomson Reuters and Time Warner.

When you’re looking for a payroll solution, shortlist Workday if:

  • As a large multinational enterprise you’re looking for a viable SaaS or cloud payroll alternative to your ERP-based HRMS.
  • You are an enterprise seeking to implement a full ERP system (including payroll) but don’t require traditional ERP applications such as supply chain management or manufacturing.
  • You are a midsize organization that needs payroll, HR, plus some specific additional non-HCM capabilities; especially financials and spend management.
  • You are a global company that is comfortable with the adoption of new cloud technologies, and see the flexibility and "on-the-fly" re-organization capabilities of Workday's SaaS offerings as a serious need rather than just an added benefit.

Alternative Solutions

Payroll and HR software buyers may wish to look further afield if:

  • You are fixed on the ownership and/or control benefits of an on-premises deployment.
  • System flexibility and end-user leverage is not a priority for you.
  • You have a mostly contingent workforce and your priority is contract management/compliance.
  • You’re looking far beyond payroll and need a broad fully-integrated ERP software suite with a single-vendor relationship.

Workday Competitors

In Workday’s marketplace, the major ERP competitors are – of course – the ‘big 3’ of SAP, Oracle and Infor. However, within the more specialized payroll/HR arena, Workday’s solution is pitched against all of the larger HRIS/HRMS solutions including Ceridian and Ultimate Software and SAP’s recently-acquired SuccessFactors. Additionally, given Workday’s stated strategy of pursuing clients in the higher education and public sector verticals, it faces competition from the well-established Agresso from Unit4.

Concluding Remarks

Although a young company, (Facebook has been around longer!) Workday has brought to market a collection of software solutions that feature both effectiveness and innovation. Furthermore, the functional flexibility (and unique architecture) of these applications has led to them successfully competing at the highest levels of the payroll/HR and ERP spaces. Gartner have observed "[Workday's technology] enables [the company] to develop quickly, while maintaining high quality, and provides significant reuse within the application (for example, faceted search, mobile, integration tools and embedded analytics)." In fact, most industry pundits and commentators agree that it is Workday’s technology that sets them apart and clearly differentiates them from both on-premises options and competing SaaS solutions.

Workday’s biggest challenge so far and for the future may not be technology-based at all. Rather it is to convince prospective clients of the feasibility of “ripping and replacing” their existing legacy software in order to join Workday on the cutting edge. Countless organizations continue to utilize outdated business software and so long as it does not actually fail them, they are reluctant to change. By focusing on raising awareness of how its architecture can contribute to business success, how embedded analytics will increase organizational agility, and how SaaS is rapidly becoming an industry best practice, Workday may well rise to the top.

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