Workday 19: Customized fields, Android app, financial additions

The company's update to its core Workday features largely build on previous enhancements, but the broader picture is that Workday is putting its development horses on financial tools.

Workday is rolling out Workday 19, an update that adds more options for companies to customize fields, launches an Android native app and continues to rev the features needed to aggressively push its financial modules.

The company's update to its core Workday features largely build on previous enhancements, but the broader picture is that Workday is putting its development horses on financial tools. The goal for Workday is to be the enterprise resource planning company for services-based corporations, which primarily need HR and financial tools.

"One of the big areas of focus for us is to extend work configurability and extensibility," said Stan Swete, chief technology officer for Workday. "We continue to deliver frameworks needed to configure solutions."

Among the key additions out of the 170 features added to Workday 19:

  • Custom fields have been added to multiple Workday objects. Swete said that many customers were asking for overrides on common fields. For instance, terms like workers and employees can be called colleague or teammate depending on the company preference. Terms like merit and target can be swapped as can competencies and goals.
  • On the mobile front, Workday 19 brings an Android app available on Google Play. Previously, Workday focused on native applications for Apple's iOS and went HTML5 for other platforms. Swete said the new Android app leverages HTML5 features, but Workday needed a native version to take advantage of device attributes. For instance, the Android app now can absorb pictures of work receipts for expense reporting. "The Android app also rolls out a common look and feel (as iOS)" and has similar features," said Swete.
  • For HCM, headcount planning, additions and termination over quarters and hiring plans have been added. To add data, customers don't have to enter staging data going forward. Worktags have also been improved.
  • Financials added new dashboards for expense managers, page drilldowns on reports, depreciation for non-tangible assets such as streaming media rights, copyrights and patents.

That last item is probably most notable since Workday is planning to push financials aggressively, but is developing the product. In a research note, Cowen analyst Peter Goldmacher noted:

Workday is focused on investing in the development of its Financial products this year waiting until next year before it makes an aggressive market push. We salute the company's diligence and patience. The near term opportunity is to establish market credibility with its flagship HCM suite and leverage that credibility into incremental product sales over time. There is no rush to get Financials into market now given that the bulk of the near term opportunity is in HCM and getting a flawed Financials product into market too early could do serious reputational harm. Management stated that it has no interest in building out suites beyond HCM and Financials like Manufacturing and Supply Chain although management is also not making any technological decisions that would rule those products out down the road. We believe this positions Workday as a bigger near term threat to Oracle than SAP given SAP's historical dominance in manufacturing.

Swete reiterated what he told Goldmacher. "We're equally investing in each," said Swete, referring to HCM and financials. "The main effort is understanding what we have to do to move financials forward for our next big business." Workday is also investing in sales capacity for financials.



As for implementation times, the biggest bottleneck for Workday---and other HCM providers---is customers uploading data to the system. Workday 19 now includes an option to get data from a spreadsheet or relational database so companies can load more historical information, said Swete.

But more can be done by Workday and its partners to map sourcing of data and better manage the staging and cleaning of information.