Sunday, 19 May 2013

My review of the Workday Report Writer training

I recently attended virtual training on reporting from Workday. While you get a high level overview of reporting in the HCM Fundamentals class and run one report, Report Writer is the first reporting class that you can take to learn how to create your own reports.  It's a virtual class, 10 hours spread over two days. 

At first glance, the WD reporting product is not the easiest to learn on your own with no instruction (believe me, I tried!), especially if you're used to a relational database model.  In WD you can access the reporting tool from within a page, so you can click the 'related actions' from a hyperlinked field and choose to 'create report from here' or to view related reports.  However, if you don't have the report basics, you will soon be lost.

I'm happy to say that the two day WD training cleared that right up for me.  The class starts with some background about the WD database structure and some high level details about how the reporting works.  Then, you start to run delivered reports, then you build basic reports (on one object such as the Worker object), and finally advanced reports where you combine objects and then some simple matrix ones where you run counts, similar to an Excel pivot table.

This class was probably helpful to me at this point, because I now understand the structure of Workday, and how there are various objects such as the Worker, Location, Company, etc. and how the data is clustered around these objects.  There were some people in the class who have never seen WD beyond attending the HCM Fundamentals class (a required pre-requisite for this course) and they were lost before the end of the first day.  If you are at least in the implementation stage and have some idea of how to navigate around the WD system on your own and hire someone, for example, you'll be fine.

WD offers Report Writer as an introduction to reporting, then you can follow it up with Advanced Reporting and Analytics (15 hours over 3 days) and/or Calculated fields (15 hours/3 days).  These are all virtual options, with Report Writer being the pre-req to the other two.  There is also the option to do the reporting suite in a classroom setting by taking Workday Reporting:  Basic to Analytics.

That being said, assuming that you have a test tenant to use and can get a hold of the manual, you could probably walk yourself through the training quite easily. 

Some of the things that confused me at face value, before taking the course:

1. The overwhelming plethoria of fields with the same name.  Every instance of a field is its own reporting field.  This differs greatly from a relational database, where if you have something like 'jobcode description', you'll have one jobcode table with a description and you tie your code on your secondary table back to your foundation table. 

If you type 'Name' into Workday to find the field 'Name', you'll quickly get confused as you'll get all sorts of Names (descriptions) for things.

2. The icons used in the reporting tool.  The icons are meant to give you short-cut details about a field without having to look into the details, but until you know what they mean, it's a bit confusing.  Sure 'T' stands for text and '#' is a number field, but what's the thing that looks like a spoon?  Or the fireworks?  Once you know that the spoon is the base table and the fireworks represents a one-to-many relationship, it becomes a little more clear.

Once you get a handle on those basics, it becomes easier to navigate through the tool.

The one odd thing to me--and granted I come from a mix of HRIS systems from basic homegrown MS access applications to more sophisticated tools like PeopleSoft--is that WD locks down reporting from the join perspective.  So if you're doing a 'basic' report, then you're only working on one object--say 'Worker'.  If you change your mind and need other data that is not on Worker, you need to convert to an advanced report (which is possible).  However, if you start your report on an object and discover that it does not have all of your fields, if a join does not exist, you cannot 'force' a join the way you can in other databases.  You basically have to begin again, this time using the 'right' datasource.  I can imagine that one causing some frustration at the user level.

To view my other posts on training, click here.


  1. Hi,

    I found this break down very useful. Commenting so you know that someone is reading (and enjoying) your work.


  2. Thanks for the information.Keep posting.

  3. Is there any assessment in this training or just we need to attend it virtually

  4. Hello,

    I am doing report writer - independent course so I do not know hat is the real course, is there people doing Q&A with you or do you just watch videos? Thank you!

  5. Good Post. Thanks for this great share. Keep up the great work here at Sprint Connection! Workday is building a complete suite of on-demand products to help you run your business.
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