#WorkdayQA | 6 min read

#WorkdayQA: Mark Grignon, Co-Founder @ Kognitiv

Khero Witey
Written by Khero Witey

The latest instalment in our Workday Insights Q&A series, we spoke with Kognitiv Co-Founder, Mark Grignon discussing many things including: his journey thus far in the Workday ecosystem, some of the biggest changes he has witnessed, they key trends he is excited about & what characteristics make up the environment of a successful post go-live.

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

Mark Grignon (MG): I have always been interested in owning, and running my own business. I was an Entrepreneurship major at Suffolk University in Boston where in my senior year I started an organic clothing company, IDEOLOGIE, with 2 of my classmates. About 3 years into that journey, I got connected with a start-up company out of Boston, Meteorix. (This was early 2011, Workday 11/12) Meteorix was an early Workday Partner, back when there where only a handful of boutique consulting firms in the ecosystem, and about 100 clients live on Workday. (There are about 2,500 now from what I hear)

When I first started, I was doing data conversion for go-lives. As the ecosystem exploded, and thus, Meteorix grew, I started leading the HCM, Compensation, Security, Payroll, and Time Tracking workstreams on new implementations.

Around Christmas of 2013 I moved into a new role, partnering with my current business partner at Kognitiv, Luke Swikowski, as well as an integrations lead, to form the Post Production Services arm of Meteorix.

TR: Over the past 3 years, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the Workday industry?

(MG): there are a number of different things that stick out to me:

  • Partner Consolidation – About 3-4 years ago, there were a number of Workday Partners, early and established Partners, acquired by the larger players in the ecosystem. CPSG was bought by Mercer, Day9 bought by Accenture, and my previous employer Meteorix was bought by IBM. This led to lots of experienced consultants moving around from one partner to another, as well as clients moving around form one partner to another, really shaking things up.
  • The Rise of the Independent – There was a point in time you simply didn’t see, or hear of “independent” Workday consultants. Today, you hear it all the time.
  • Workday Cloud Platform – It’s hard to really say where this goes, because it is still so new, but in theory, this will change things, BIG time. We are extremely excited here at Kognitiv about the potential, and are just starting to learn more about this new functionality. Anytime you can successfully create a true “platform” or “marketplace” it will take your product/service to the next level as your community, and the input from your community grows. Possibilities are endless!

TR: And looking forward, what emerging Workday trends are you most excited about, and why?

(MG): Adaptive Insights, hands down.

Workday has acquired many companies over the years, but none who had already gained the scale, and following of Adaptive Insights. After seeing more of this product for myself, I can see why Adaptive has been successful, and I really believe this will turn out to be one of the best moves Workday ever made.

TR: In your opinion, what characteristics make up the environment of a successful post go-live?

(MG): This is a tough question to answer without writing a novel, but I think we can sum up a few things at a high level.

  • Stabilize – The first thing we like to do with new clients is make sure that the core functionality they are using is stable. It’s impossible to really do a good job enhancing, and expanding on your Workday environment if the current configuration, or data is not clean.
  • Enhance – Build on, and make what you already have better. Some common examples of this could be BP’s or Security.
  • In the case of BP’s; picture a client who has Change Job configured, and sure, it works, and we have it “stable”. However, there is more we could do to make the user experience better. You could configure and add to the consolidated BP template, create product/guided tours, help text, notifications, validations, conditions, report/integration steps, or add services steps, just to name a few! Creating that “White Glove” look and feel for self-service users of Workday (managers and employees) can go a long way in making people feel comfortable, and confident using Workday.
  • Expand – This is where all clients want to be. At the end of the day, we need what we have in Workday Production to work both consistently and transparently, using the most up to date best practices. Once you make it to this point, it’s time to add on, and expand your Workday footprint.
  • At this point it is important to create a clear, concise, and achievable roadmap. Everyone needs to be on the same page. We sometimes see clients take on more than they can take on internally, meaning it’s not always about how much work the consultants can do, there is always the need to have the internal bandwidth to test, validate, and manage the release of new configuration.
  • As an organization you might ask yourselves:
  • What areas of Workday are you already paying for, and not using?
  • What system gaps does your organization have currently that Workday offers a solution for?
  • Is there a product you use, spend money on, and Workday has a competing solution?
  • Is there a system that needs to go away in the near future for one reason or another, and Workday could be the replacement?
  • Whatever the reason, there is always (99.99% of the time) something clients are looking at using that they aren’t currently. Organize those things into a list, prioritize that list, as well as analyse what on that list might be an easy win. Even when something might not be a “high” priority, sometime taking a few easy wins to start can help restore faith in Workday, and even the HR team itself. Once you create some positive momentum, it becomes easier to get your organization to buy into some of the larger initiatives that will create more change.

TR: How do you combat training & change management elements of a system implementation in a post-go live environment?

(MG): One of the things we pride ourselves in at Kognitiv is knowledge transfer and training.

We don’t simply fix problems for clients, tell them it’s done, and move onto the next one. We get on the phone, WebEx, or some other screen sharing tool, and show our clients what we fixed, how we fixed it, why we fixed it that way, how to migrate that configuration from A to B, as well as how to test that item. Having our clients know what we are doing, and communicating transparently is part of our values here at Kognitiv. We want everyone to be on the same page, as well as make all our clients better Workday users, capable of maintaining, and supporting the application internally.

Of course, we create documentation if/when needed, but that is at the discretion of the client. If they want it documented, we are more than happy to accommodate. We provide our services on a Time & Materials basis, and if we documented everything we did, the hours would be crazy. Because of this, we ask clients to let us know what they want documented and when.

TR: What is one of your biggest pieces of advice you can give to leaders looking to execute their post go-live strategy?

(MG): Create a clear roadmap that everyone can agree on. If no one knows what direction they are going it is almost impossible to accomplish anything meaningful.

TR: How do you manage user adoption when it comes to a Workday implementation?

(MG): Personally, I think people who “protect” or “hide” Workday from end-uses hurt themselves in the long run. One of Workdays strengths in self-service, and not enough clients really use it to the level it was intended to be used, many, not even close.

There are some parts of Workday that inherently lend themselves to having user adoption such as Time Tracking and Absence. If you have a large hourly population who needs to log time to get paid, you better believe they are logging into Workday. If you use Workday payroll people WILL look at payslips. However, if you aren’t using those self-service heavy type Workday products, there are still things you can do.

  • Keep it Simple – In the case of the initial Phase 1 go-live I think staying on the side of simple, and then building in more complicated use cases once what you have works, and works consistently is a good way to go. Sometimes we see people who have overdone configuration to start, and untangling those messes is much harder than build up something that is already stable.
  • Use “Distribute Documents or Tasks” BP – Make your employees sign your handbook, security policies, or other internal documents in Workday. Send out a task to have all your employees validate contact details, bank, or tax information. Not only will this insure you have good data, but you will get users logging into Workday, and seeing how to do those tasks. Next time they need to do that, they know how.
  • Notifications – I mentioned “White Glove” Workday earlier. You can get really detailed and personal with notifications if you get good at adding HTML for formatting, and building Calculated Fields to pull very specific information form the process to show the recipient. Having links back to Workday, as well as to Documentation around how to do what you are asking them to do, can make that user experience much better, and again, it will teach people what to do, so the next time they already know. You can also use this “White Glove” approach when configuring help text and guided tours.
  • Onboarding – I think it can’t go without saying that Onboarding is critical. If you lose someone on day one, its nearly impossible to recover, so insuring your users have a good first experience with Workday is extremely important.

TR: To a business that wants the security of a third-party consultancy to manage their post go-live environment in the short term, what value add can Kognitiv provide?

(MG): Frankly, I don’t see any client we work with as a “short-term” engagement. I consider all clients, clients for life.

As far as value, I think our work quality is clearly our biggest asset. As a Workday consultancy, who is not a certified Workday Partner, if we didn’t have quality, we would have nothing. As a Non-Partner, we can not do Phase 1 go-lives, and thus, all of our clients come from other partners. We have 100 clients now, and there would be no chance of gaining that much momentum if we did bad work. Our employees are the best in the eco-system, hands down. We might not be the biggest firm out there, 55 employees, but pound for pound we are the best in the business, no doubt about it.

TR: If you could give yourself some advice when you first started your Workday journey, what would you say?

(MG): Honestly, I love this journey, and wouldn’t trade it for anything, so I think I’d be worried whatever advice I had would somehow change the path of history. I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut if/when we figure out how to make a time machine. We all saw what happened in Back to the Future right?