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Workday is Here!

Employees welcome modern, intuitive Human Resources system

CASTLE ROCK – Douglas County School District (DCSD) has proven once again to be a “District of Firsts” with the successful launch of its new human resources system, Workday. DCSD is the first K-12 institution in the nation to utilize this Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

There was no fanfare, celebration or even an announcement when DCSD’s Workday system officially went online early in the morning on Wednesday, April 1. It wasn’t long, however, before employees began to log in and share their thoughts.

“Immediately, we received positive feedback,” said Chief Information Technology Officer Gautam Sethi.

Like Facebook or other popular applications, Workday has a very intuitive design that doesn’t require much training, at least for basic functions.

“We don’t need hours and hours of professional development to use any of those ​websites. Why should ​our payroll and HR system be any different?” Sethi asked. “It speaks to how intuitive the system is and how easy it is to use. It is up-to-date and​ in line with most​ modern​ systems​.”

Just in case, however, the District worked to train Workday Implementation Leads (WILs) at each building to help employees though the transition.

“The goal was to train an adequate number of ​staff in ​all buildings, so they were available to answer questions and then to provide them ​training materials​, so they could train all the people at the​ir​ school,” Sethi said.

WILs across the District, including at Fox Creek Elementary, reported a smooth transition for staff members.

“We have been very well equipped to support the staff,” said Fox Creek WIL and principal’s secretary Robyn Riches.

“Everyone was very excited, once they got their hands on it and poked around,” Riches added. “When they finally saw it, they said, ‘oh, I get it. This is easy.’”

She says the learning curve has been a bit tougher for the administrative functions.

“My principal is deep into hiring and has to be able to move things through. We haven’t done it before, so we’re trying to go through it together. We are learning a lot.”

The Workday team, including representatives from Information Technology, Human Resources, Benefits and Payroll, has been standing by ready to help.

“We were prepared to have a huge influx of calls. We got here early and had everything ready,” said Human Resources Director Katie Shortsleeve. “We have received calls. We have received some questions, but nothing that we couldn’t handle.”

Shortsleeve was one of the many DCSD staff members who have spent countless hours working towards the successful launch.

The hardy bunch worked over the past several months to set up the system, pull in data, create new processes and verify everything worked, before opening the tool to the district’s nearly 9,000 employees.

“There were a lot of weekends, a lot of late nights,” Shortsleeve said.

“From the outset, we knew this was going to be a challenging project,” explained Sethi. “We ha​d not​ updated the existing system in a decade​, pulling data out, cleaning it up and moving it into the new system was a complex and delicate undertaking​.”

“I do not believe people appreciate the amount of effort that team put in, because it was so understated,” added Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Cesare. “They did it without a lot of fanfare or leveraging of other resources. They did it efficiently and improved the processes.”

Implementing an ERP system is difficult, due to the many systems that must be connected correctly.

“ERP system ​is ​akin to the heart,” Sethi explained. “All data flows into the ERP and everything comes out of the ERP.  If you are trying to calculate someone’s pay, the inputs that go into calculating someone’s pay can potentially touch four or five systems.”

With that level of complexity it is impressive that DCSD launched the system on schedule.

“I have done a few of these projects​ in other school districts in the past. It is an ​accepted practice that you miss a couple deadlines before you would go live with the system.  This team pulled it together on time and on schedule"​

“To have it on time and on budget with a huge project like this, is a big, big deal,” Cesare added.

“I have been in a few organizations that literally called these major projects “2-2-.5,” because it takes twice the amount of time to get everything in place, there is twice the cost that was budgeted and you get half the product,” Cesare continued. “For us to go in and get everything we wanted on the same timeframe and the same budget that we set out a year ago, is really, truly phenomenal. I’ve truly never seen it before.”

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Benefits immediate following launch
Prior to the launch of Workday, some of the data, especially the contact information for employees, wasn’t updated, because it was difficult for employees to update the data.  Thanks to the intuitive nature of the new ERP system, more than 400 employees accessed the system on the first day and updated their personal information.

“We now have the right data. We did not have a mechanism to make it easy for people or provide people with the desire to maintain the accurate data,” Cesare said.

As promised, the system is also eliminating paperwork and streamlining processes.

“It cuts down on errors. It saves paper, money, time and processing,” Shortsleeve said. “Since launch, we haven’t lost a piece of paper. Everything is in the system. You can see it. You can see the history of it. You can see whom it is waiting on.”

Plus, the system is better supporting our leaders, by providing them the data they need about their employees.

"We now have all the H.R. data in one place and our leaders can access their relevant data real time, it is literally at their fingertips," Cesare said.

What’s Ahead?
While the launch was successful, the work isn’t over for the Workday team.

“Getting this system in place was not only a major milestone, but it is a precursor to doing all of the process improvements and District efficiencies that are yet to come,” Cesare said.

Here are some of the upcoming items ahead for Workday:

  • On April 20, the system will process paychecks for the first time
  • Later this Spring, DCSD plans to offer access to Workday via a free app
  • In January 2016, the District will move to multi-monthly paychecks*

*Originally the District had planned to start multi-monthly paychecks in July of this year, but the move was delayed to ensure that there was a successful launch of the Workday system, including this month’s payroll.

Resources & Support
Have questions? Please contact your Workday Implementation Lead (WIL). Our WILs are excited and ready to support your transition into Workday.

Additional resources are available in our Workday Google Site:


April 9, 2015 | By rmbarber | Category: Workday

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