Sunday, 16 March 2014

Address Data in Workday - SaaS vs non-SaaS

As a large multi-national employer, we have employee, location and emergency contact addresses from virtually every country in the world. 

Workday defines country address formats for you.  Looking back through the historical updates, I can see that they have evolved over time, to add more state data, update to make fields required/un-required, etc.

We have other HR SaaS systems in the areas of recruitment and training data.  I am struggling with the move from an ERP to a SaaS in the core HR space however.  As we've been running through our pre-conversion run, a few thoughts here, specifically about address data.  Both applications offer specialized, per country address formats.

Workday (SaaS) advantages:

  • WD delivers data such as states, so we don't have to worry about getting that setup data.
  • WD has done the leg work to figure out an appropriate address format per country.  Not sure that it's 100% there, but we are able to map to equivalent fields, so fingers crossed.
  • WD has some validations in place, such as US postal codes are matched against US states, so the user gets an error if something is amiss.

PeopleSoft (ERP) advantages:

  • You can (through normal, online configuration) hide and unhide fields.
  • You can (through normal, online configuration) change the label names.
  • While a core list of states are delivered in major countries, you can add more, change the existing ones, etc.
  • You can, via customization, make a field required or un-required.


My wish list...

I envision the next generation of SaaS tools will become a little more flexible on some of these fronts.  Or maybe it's more wishful thinking, but here's where I'm seeing some challenges:

  • We have configured PSoft to replicate the address formats needed by our downstream payroll systems.  Like many other companies in Europe, we have many payroll systems, often 1 (or more) per country.  IF we do not configure the core HR system to match payroll, then potentially people are putting data into fields that do not get interfaced.  While it might be tackled via training...
    • We're moving toward more of a regional centralized shared services model.  While the teams cover a handful of countries now, in the future, it will be a mega back office operation covering 50+ countries so we need the system to be smart, rather than expecting an entry person to be on top of the details or to have to look them up.
    • Employee self-service will allow an employee to say, use Address 3 in WD, but payroll only has Address 1 or 2.  So it becomes an audit after the fact or a very complex business process if you invoke validation.
  • Due to said payroll systems, we'd like to control the required fields in the HRIS in the same manner as payroll.  So if payroll requires city, then we need to have it required in the HRIS.  With WD, we have no possibility to do so and they are supposed to be our source.

  • We'd have a way to impose field length limits on address data elements in WD.  As those payroll systems downstream all have field limits, it would be nicer if we could impose the same in the HRIS at the data source, rather than losing data in the interface process when it will just cut out those values that are longer than the receiving system can handle.
  • WD has post code validations for the US, but not for us in Europe.  I've seen some customers request more functionality in this area, and assuming they can find a source, seems like this will get there in time.
  • I wish it would get really smart for us and use the address data in related processes.  For example, in Europe, when you receive a company car, you are taxed on it as a benefit.  Some countries take into account the kilometers between your home address and the office address (a longer distance = more benefit = higher tax rate).  Currently in our pre-WD world, an HR person goes to Google maps and types in the details to figure out the kilometers and enters it into the payroll system.  While WD delivers a field for this data (score 1 WD, as PSoft does not have a home for this data element), in my perfect world, the system would do some connecting in the background and figure out that your address has changed and call up a link into google to figure out the km for you.   My perfect next generation SaaS would have things like this built in from the get go.  :)


  1. Really enjoying your blog series as you are first person that is outlining your Workday implementation publicly. Keep it up.

    1. Thanks for the comment, it's been enjoyable so far, getting to know this new application. :)

  2. Thanks for any other great article. Where else may anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for such info.

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