Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Why I wouldn't want a career in Workday HCM

Probably not the best title, but regardless...before I start let's be clear:  I like what I see of the Workday application, and have the utmost respect for Workday as a company (despite my occasional jabs, critical reviews of functionality and whining about how they could improve their software and become more global).  :)

I previously was employed by PeopleSoft many moons ago (prior and during the Craig Conway years--boo!), and if the Workday company environment is anything close to the early years of PeopleSoft, feel free Workday internal recruiter to send me an email, I'll be on the first train into central London to interview!  ;-)

I'd do anything to be able to work with Workday, I'd even work for free! 


Every week someone stumbles onto this blog and sends me an email about how they'd love more than anything in the world to get a hands-on position (be it HR, IT or somewhere in between) with Workday.  I can only assume there are a few key drivers for this interest:
  1. There is a lot of work for contractors, supporting Workday implementations.
  2. There are a lot of new internal positions being created to support newly implemented WD systems.
  3. Both of the above pay above market rates due to the scarcity of talent in the market.
  4. Based on WD's recent growth, it seems like there will be jobs in this area for years to come.
  5. It's something new and exciting, and who doesn't like a shiny, new software and being the first to have it?
However, some musings and my two cents on the topic based on what I've seen internally post go-live at our company and through talking with others, internal and external.  I may be a little controversial (short-sighted?) in making this statement, but if we were not implementing WD, I wouldn't be looking to jump ship or hitch my star to the Workday wagon, and here's why.

Reasons I wouldn't want a Workday job


* As a SaaS, it's a locked down system.

I am fully aware of the business value of such systems and the business benefits such as driving standardisation and its subsequent benefits such as lowered operating costs that such systems bring.  However, as an IT professional who designs usable solutions and implements HR Systems to support the business operations, Workday is not my bread and butter, and I'm struggling to find any crumbs even.
It is what it is, but my 'creating design and usability side' is floundering here.  My focus is more on forcing data into fields and convincing HR people to drop business requirements or to accept that a field called 'end date' can be used in your country for 'expected end date' while in another country it truly is 'end date'.  In PeopleSoft, we'd customize and add another field.  Now, I'm creating a messy data landscape, and even worse, I know that I'm making a mess but I have no other options.

The current generation of HR Systems professionals will have an entirely different skill set than ones who cut their teeth on ERPs or even some of their green screen predecessors.

* High salaries will not stay forever, and will ultimately be replace by lower salaries than you're on in the first place. 

Around a year ago in London, the Workday market was absolutely on fire.  All the big consulting houses were offering top money and the ability to train and certify you in WD.  The niche players were out there as well, seeking everything from consultants through to business development and integration specialists.  The work is still out there for consultants, HRIS Analysts, HR Systems Managers, Workday Tenant Managers, etc.

However, I'm also seeing an ugly underside.  I see positions trying to recruit HR Systems Analysts at 18k in central London where as an equivalent title in the ERPs (PSoft, Oracle, SAP) will get you 23-25.  Granted, the skillset in the WD arena is lower, very operational:  maintaining configuration, supervisory orgs, job profiles, etc.  Ultimately, this is the benefit of a SaaS solution, isn't it?  You don't need highly skilled resources to operate and support the software on a day to day basis.  Granted, Psoft, Oracle and SAP may not be around long-term, but I'd prefer to ride it out with one of them rather than getting lowballed 2-3 years from now as the market fills up with skilled resources.

* I don't want to be an operational drone!

I stole this phrase from one of my HRIS colleagues.  This person is currently the first tier of operational support for the HR colleagues.  She partners with them on new functionality requests to help document their requirements for me to solution, as well she provides user support for the application (data entry, query, etc.)

She's been noticing what the US side of the house is doing with her counterparts and is not impressed.  As part of the move to WD, we implemented a mega HR Shared Service Center (in a low-cost country).  This hub is now responsible for that first level user support.  The previous HRIS staff are no longer tasked with speaking with the HR customers but instead are focused on data entry for configuration (which was not a distributed task to the Shared Service Ops folks).  So she'll lose that 'people' connection with her job and is not happy to be a 'glorified HR data entry person'.

On the IT side, the IT Analysts got tasks with being the Security Admins.  Workday has been a step backwards for us from a Security Administration standpoint.  (It's one part application clunkiness + 1 part our WD certified implementation partner's inappropriate setup for our requirements = inefficient, admin-heavy administration -- but that's a topic for another posting.)  I recently heard one of my IT colleagues comment on a call--I don't really have time to look at this HR user security request, this isn't my real job.  Well then.  Same outcome though, isn't it?  Implementing Workday may give you more of a mindless, yet operational necessary role in an organisation.

I certainly don't want to be negative here at the Workday application, I think these points are part and parcel of operating a SaaS, and a bit of a shock to people who previously had a different job prior to WD.  My point is that the grass is not always greener on the other side for those of you searching for work in this area.  However, let's face it, the industry is going cloud and SaaS, but relevant to keep your eyes open, as this is a completely different world than traditional HRMS.

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