| 3 min read

#WorkdayQA: Arthur Lokerson, Workday Lead @ Slalom

Francesca Greane
Written by Francesca Greane

The first in Third Republic’s Workday Leaders Q&A Series, Third Republic spoke with Arthur Lokerson. Drawing on his experience implementing Workday across a number of businesses, Arthur provided some incredible insight into how organisations should go about structuring and rolling out their projects in order to ensure success…

 

Third Republic (TR): Firstly, can you give us an overview of your background, and how you got into Workday?

Arthur Lokerson (AL): So, I’m a business transformation consultant; I have about ten years of experience mostly within the back office, HR, finance and payroll departments.

I’ve mostly worked for multinationals, as well as private and public sector organisations including Booz Allen Hamilton and PwC. I’m now working at Slalom, where I’m the Workday Practice Lead.

 

TR: You have had the luxury of working in a lot of different environments; can you tell us what the biggest mistake you’ve seen from Workday customers during your time in the industry is?

AL: A lot of customers want to just get right into the project, but I think there needs to be an emphasis on proper planning, and that can sometimes get overlooked. I see a lot of Workday customers diving straight into the configuration but designing and setting up your project for success is a key attribution if you want to successfully be guided through the process.

For some individuals, implementing Workday might be the most significant change within their entire career, and they may only do it once or twice. Despite this, many customers see the chance management and advisory function as having little benefit and I think this can be a mistake.

 

TR: So, from your experience, what would you say a good WD project structure looks like?

AL: Obviously you have your good technical consultants, who will be doing all the configuration and integrations of your project. They’re essentially the fingers on the keyboard and they’re always going to be integral to your structure. But there are certain other aspects of your project team that shouldn’t be overlooked either; I like to break those into five key areas.

Private sponsors are those who empower your overall project team with key strategic advice and move the project forward, whilst project managers rally the team and keep them targeted to end goals. The change management lead knows how to communicate those decisions and their impact to the business, whilst your subject-matter-experts are your business analysts who own the system moving forward.

Finally, it’s always good to have a Workday advisor on board who has been through an implementation once or twice before and can help to shepherd the team through implementation and post go-live period.

 

TR: Presumably the Workday advisor should be someone external to the business, so that they can focus on the implementation without any bias.  

AL: Absolutely; they have a real multi-hat role in the project, and they should be able to have a strategic high-level perspective whilst also ensuring that their team doesn’t lose focus on the goals.

On top of this they should be able to help junior analysts understand the configuration aspects of the implementation and make the best decisions for the team moving forward.

 

TR: When it comes to resourcing the programme, I would imagine the advisor is therefore the most difficult position to recruit for?

AL: Definitely - there are not that many of them out there, and they have such a diverse portfolio of skills, so it can be really difficult to find individuals who can straddle both sides of the role by talking configuration with consultants and talking functional with the business.

 

TR: So, once you’ve structured your team, got your people and the change strategy, and everything looks good, how do you suggest an end client goes about actually implementing Workday into the business.  

AL: Workday has its own methodology, particularly around multi-phased deployments, but one thing that’s key is to take on an agile retrospective. Doing so will enable you to identify lessons learnt, and to move between phases more smoothly.

I was part of a multi-phase approach where they went through eight HCM modules, then financials and then payroll, and as we moved through the major gates in the project we had mini, and then a final major, retrospective in order to increase the speed and velocity of the team throughout the project.

 

TR: You have previously spoken to me about key themes that you tend to see once you’ve adopted and implemented Workday. Can you expand on what these are?  

AL: That’s one of the key benefits of having a Workday advisor, because they’re able to see the train lights coming and the warning signs because they’ve seen everything before. I bucket these themes into four areas; change impacts, configuration, testing and then your operating, or post go-live, model.

From a change impact perspective, Workday is a low-code, easily configurable system, however this each of change can lead to teams pushing key decisions and making changes really late without considering the downstream impact it can have once you go live.

It’s also important to consider the fact that Workday has bi-annual feature releases, so you have to prepare the business for this impact and put it into your longer-term plan as to how you deal with this. From a configuration process perspective, it’s easy to change things quickly within Workday, but businesses need to maintain an understanding of their direction at the start of the project because, whilst there will be changes along the way, you want to ground yourself with the initial design session throughout. 

Then, from a testing perspective, you need to remember to plan for the future but test reality; so, test your most used business processes first and foremost. Involve multiple end-user groups – including any core project team members, sensitive groups and change agents you might have.

That allows you to have a training opportunity as you’re testing so that you’re not leaving everything until the end. Finally, when you go-live you need to remember that you own the Workday system and it differs from an ERP or HCM system because it’s ongoing and you need to have an active relationship, so it’s important for businesses to have this mentality.