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Workday Payroll and HR Software Review


Workday Technology Review

Developed from scratch with the cloud in mind, Workday’s payroll and HR software was begun with the shortcomings of the past in mind. The ex-PeopleSoft team applied their experience and understanding of the shortcomings of traditional on-premises software applications and, looking exclusively to cloud deployment, went on to create one of the most successful SaaS entrants into the HRMS application market. The developers 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 integration issues (particularly in respect of the complexity and unwieldy nature of add-ons). Workday’s solution sets out to avoid the unnecessary system difficulties and costs (and therefore reduced business value) that these failures incur for the user.

System Integration Capabilities

Workday’s integration rests on the company’s web services API, a natural extension of the XML-based Workday Business Services technology. As shown below, by utilizing this technology geared towards web standards, Workday are able to offer a wide spectrum of integration solutions from fully hosted to behind-the-firewall on-premises solutions.

  • Web Services API
    A comprehensive library of web services contains dozens of operations that expose Workday business rules and manipulate Workday data. These services act as points of entry for clients to use the tool or infrastructure of their choice, in addition to Workday’s own tools that can build a variety of integrations -- anything from data synchronizations to complete end-to-end business process management (BPM) flows.
  • Workday Integration Network
    The network facilitates third-party software integrations. The integrations in question 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, providing Workday clients with the mechanisms to create entirely new integrations to support their specific system requirements.
  • Reports-as-a-Service (RaaS)
    Using the Workday Report Writer, can build their own Workday Web Services for integration. All reports can be automatically utilized as standards-based web services (RSS, SOAP and REST over HTTPS) to export Workday business information to other, non-Workday systems. An example of RaaS usage is the integration of Workday system data into stand-alone desktop tools such as Excel – in this instance, RaaS allows the secure 'refreshing' of the data in a worksheet without losing formatting.
  • Enterprise Interface Builder (EIB)
    Using this on-demand application, Workday clients can build no-code, no-software integrations, creating two-way business information exchanges without the need for installation or maintenance of additional on-premises hardware or software. Without the need for programming skills, 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. Similarly, a variety of inbound and outbound protocols including email, s/ftp, file-based and attachments are also supported.
  • Workday Studio
    Clients can use this integrated development environment (IDE) to create complex and customized hosted integrations. These integrations are developed on a data center-hosted desktop accessible to user via the client’s production tenant. The Studio was used to build the above-mentioned Workday Integration Network and is now available to customers to construct their own sophisticated integrations.

Software Customization Capabilities

One flaw in past applications identified by the Workday team is the fact that although payroll/HR systems have delivered workflow since the 1990s, it has usually been treated as something of an afterthought – poorly integrated and often unused. Taking the opportunity to remedy this (and by doing so clearly differentiating the product from competing offerings) Workday have embedded business process design into their payroll/HR applications by making them a part of a configurable Business Process Framework that is straightforward for users. This allows users to implement and maintain the framework so that it is linked to both the organizational structure and the system's role-based security.

The Workday Business Process Framework is a single, unified tool, meaning that users only need to familiarize themselves with this one application in order to configure common HR processes throughout the system. In addition to the obvious benefit of shortening the learning curve, this single entry point approach enforces consistency across the system, with the plus point of facilitating easier understanding of existing processes and those created by other users. Workday are fully aware that the acid test for any workflow functionality is ease of setup and its response to change. By designing the Business Process Framework with the functional user in mind, Workday has made the application largely definitional with no programming required and so has effectively addressed this issue. For many potential clients, the Business Process Framework tool may be the most important feature for enhancing functional configuration, achieving process automation and enabling agility.

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