An Independent Software Review and Analysis
Workday’s official launch was in 2006, but it was founded in 2005 by PeopleSoft founders Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, following PeopleSoft’s well-reported hostile takeover by Oracle. Since then, Workday has been one of the most discussed and debated presences in the payroll and HR software market – partly due to the turbulent waters from which it emerged, but mainly because of its SaaS-driven ambition (Software-as-a-Service) to take on the largest companies in the HR technology space (Oracle, SAP, and Infor). Today, the Pleasanton, CA-based Workday still leads the way in changing the way HR software support business.
Duffield and Bhusri’s vision was to bring the focus of enterprise software back to innovation and service; basically looking to give end users what they need. As Duffield says, "I started Workday to bring passion and customer focus back to the business of enterprise applications." The first product offered was the core Workday HCM (Human Capital Management) solution; since joined by Global Payroll, Financial Management, Spend Management, and the Initiatives business intelligence solution. Thomas Otter of Gartner has noted that "Workday's progress confirms that it is making waves in the enterprise human capital management (HCM) market," and also, "CIOs can expect Workday to be increasingly prominent in HCM and, eventually, financials and procurement." Presently, Workday has over 240 clients with more than 2M workers. In contrast to many software houses’ rapid expansion via acquisition, this point has been reached via a strategy of organic growth, steadily attracting new customers with its sharp focus on the technology. Workday may not always be the fastest vendor to market (e.g. it took nearly 3 years for a payroll service to be offered for U.S. customers, and even longer for financials) but the measured approach appears to be paying off and bringing truth to Thomas Otter’s prediction.
Expansion, Expansion, Expansion
HR and payroll functionality may be where Workday began, but its offering has expanded to appeal to the very ERP customers that would normally gravitate towards the likes of Oracle and SAP. In addition, the company is also moving strongly into the talent management territory previously the domain of vendors such as Cornerstone OnDemand, SumTotal, Taleo, and Ultimate Software. While this enhanced product range doesn’t necessarily add directly to Workday’s payroll offering, for buyers in search of an across-the-board integrated HCM suite from a single supplier, Workday’s payroll solution could be part of a very attractive whole. As with any expansion into new realms, there is a risk of over-reaching and leaving gaps in applications and Workday seek to address this potential problem by forming strategic partnerships to ensure the provision of a complete solution, including JobVite (recruiting), Saba (social learning), Tidemark (analytics), and Zuora (subscription billing/commerce). However, strangely, Workday’s partnership roster includes Cornerstone OnDemand, ADP, Ceridian, and Kronos; all of which are competitors to some extent (ADP, Ceridian and Kronos all carry strong payroll contenders). All of these partners have significant competitive overlap.
Returning to the technology itself (always at the heart of Workday’s strategy), the latest release – Workday 15 – shows the usual array of enhancements across the application suite: integration with MS Outlook and Salesforce.com's Chatter, as well transaction reporting via Workday's Object Management Server. On the payroll front, they have Canadian customer payroll support, a bi-directional connector allowing the importing of data from a third-party payroll provider back into an HCM solution. Finally, they have new strategic partnerships with payroll service providers OneSource VHR, SafeGuard World International, and Patersons.
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