- it gives complex power to the users in reporting, via an online interface where you build them. (As opposed to having to write complex expressions with if/then statements, for those of us from a PeopleSoft world).
- it allows for 'cleaner' development, as a developer is also using the online point and click functionality to build these items, rather than writing code from scratch.
- they are convenient, since you only need to build them once and then can reference them in reports, integration, etc.
Where are they not so convenient?
Looking online at the Workday Community site, other companies are grappling with these very same issues. (Sidenote: I'm a little surprised that WD itself does not issue more guidance). There is a 'solutions' section in the community where other WD customers can post their top tips and documents, to share with other companies. The group at Brown University put together some really great documentation, but just to give you an idea of how extensive this calc field naming can get, here is a snippet of their rules:
My tip of the day
As you can probably gather from the above, calculated fields can get very messy, quite fast. Not necessarily WD's fault as it's a side effect of the flexibility of the technology, but you need to have strong business processes in place to control the creation of these things. So I'd suggest:
- Define who will create calc fields in the future. Read up on Community, various customers have defined different ways for this to happen (HR Business users, HRIS, IT, etc.)
- Develop your guidelines and structure of how these items will be named and categorized. WD does provide things like 'tags' to help you in classifying them. Again, the Brown University guidance is a good start.
- Be prepared to do auditing on calc fields in the future, to be sure that your environment is doing well against your rules.
Training on calculated fields
It's probably worth a mention, calc fields is a 3 day/15 hour online course from WD, to give you an idea of the level of complexity that you can get into with them. The pre-req is the Report Writer class (2 days/10 hours)