What to expect from Workday version 30 and beyond

workdayrising2017

A roundup of the major features coming to the Workday platform in 2018 across HR, Finance, Planning and Prism Analytics, all as announced at Workday Rising in Barcelona this week

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Workday, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) company which specialises in HR, finance, planning and analytics applications, has announced a range of new features across its platform at the Workday Rising conference in Barcelona this week, with greater personalisation and more machine learning key driving force.

Thanks to the SaaS delivery model all Workday customers are always on the latest version of the software, with version 28 delivered in March 2017 and 29 shipped in September. This means version 30 should be expected early 2018.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of feature releases but the top line announcements we heard during the Rising event.

Read next: What is the Workday Cloud Platform, what can be built on it and when is it available?

Starting with its original product, Human Capital Management (HCM) for HR professionals, Workday is looking to redesign its homepage in favour of a more personalised user experience for version 30 and beyond, with something the vendor calls Workday ‘people experience’.

With this Workday is trying to reinvent the HR portal for the modern day. Barbry McGann, SVP product management at Workday described this as "the next generation portal that is personalised, unified and journey driven to know where you are in your career and coach you with the Workday Assistant". The assistant is being rolled out across more of the Workday platform to give users personalised recommendations.

The new look portal will contain personalised content such as onboarding, job transitions, and life events, a new advanced search to find relevant policies and documents, extensions to popular third party apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and more personalisation options to brand the Workday experience.

This drive towards personalisation is something of a trend in the SaaS world right now, as business software looks to more closely resemble the user experience of the consumer internet.

For example, Salesforce recently announcing a range of updates with personalisation of its CRM software at their heart. This new people experience gives HR “employee lifetime journeys”, McGann says, which gives better visibility of career progression.

Read next: Salesforce shifts focus to personalisation of apps, from Lightning to Trailhead to Einstein

Workday has also been working on personalised learning journeys since last year, which are similar to Salesforce’s newly announced MyTrailhead, to help guide employees through relevant training.

Next, there is Workday Financials, which is bringing a whole host of new features for version 30.

Betsy Bland, enterprise software product and marketing leader at Workday, said that version 30 of Financials is “taking advantage of innovation in our technology platform with deep learning for OCR [optical character recognition] to read mobile expense receipts and populate that data into expense reports.”

The Salesforce integration is also deepening in version 30 to allow users to pull opportunity and billable information into Workday to inform planning and budgeting. Workday has also been busy consolidating billing across one-time, subscription, and usage-based billing.

Also, for close-to-disclose processes Workday is bringing “transaction matching, support automation of approval of period end balances using our business process framework and significant enhancements to allocations and lease accounting, and finally it all culminates in real-time consolidated financial information at your fingertips,” Bland said.

In terms of more granular updates the company announced things like:

  • Rebuilding the e-invoicing framework journey
  • Redesigning the expenses experience for browser to better resemble the mobile experience
  • Compliance updates including ISO and Swift enhancements
  • VAT-only invoice, document sequencing
  • The ability to deny or send back individual expense report lines
  • Supplier invoice routing based on the requestor
  • Self-service invoice forecasting
  • Consolidated electronic payment files to cut down on transmissions
  • Worksheets for cash forecasting

Workday Planning, which is one year-old and has 170 live customers to date, announced that for version 30 it is expanding its capability to offer more decentralised planning and personalised templates.

As Aidan Mitchell, director product management at Workday explained, the focus for version 30 is to allow for more nimble planning decisions, instead of brittle yearly plans.

“So in Workday 30 we are laying the foundation for true continuous planning. This means taking actuals from Workday HCM and Financials and populating them directly into your plans to forecast and re-forecast on-demand and even integrate organisational change into plans, so the plan evolves with your organisation," he said.

Workday Prism Analytics, which it just launched this month to allow customers to combine Workday and non-Workday data for analytics queries, is working towards allowing users to simply drag and drop data elements, both Workday and third party, to automatically generate dynamic charts.

For core analytics, Workday is focusing on pre-built analytics dashboards, with headcount movement, workforce diversity and pay equity coming in update 30.

Pete Schlampp, VP product and engineering Workday Prism Analytics said: “The next step in 30 is data discovery which allows users to realise the full power of self-serve analytics to build reports in Workday.”

Prism Analytics also includes an opt-in Benchmarking service in version 29 for no additional charge. This aggregates and anonymises the data of customers (170 so far) to allow for benchmarking against similar companies within a geography or industry vertical. In version 30 Workday is adding more specific benchmarks like financial benchmarks, new hire retention and staffing mobility.

Schlampp said this is just the first service it is planning to launch off of this data-as-a-service platform.

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