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Workday Wisdom from HR’s Jill Cline

By Brandi Van Ormer

Workday Rising this October was a great learning opportunity, as you may have seen from some previous posts in the Community, but it also gave those of us attending a chance to catch up with some of our own colleagues between sessions. 

In my case, I caught a few minutes of good conversation with Jill Cline of UVAHR.  Jill’s official title is “Workday Solutions Architect and Configuration Lead,” which I think basically means she knows a lot about Workday and making things work in Workday. 

As she and I chatted, I got the sense that she had some interesting things to say about her experience implementing Workday, so when we got back to Charlottesville, I picked her brain for more information.  It was all so interesting and helpful that I’m sharing some bits of wisdom with you here (with her permission of course).

  • You get out what you put in:  if you don’t contribute to the project, it’s easy to lose sight of the kind of work that’s being done and how that might impact you and your job.  There may be only a few representatives from your area doing the majority of the design for the future state, but it’s still important for everyone to pay attention. Stay in the loop so you can say HEY WAIT! if necessary.
  • Get engaged early:  Of course, we’re all more comfortable with the “old way,” but you get to a comfort level with the future state faster when you’re engaged earlier in the project and have more time to make connections between the current state and future state.
  • Be prepared for work to change:  When we were implementing Workday HCM for payroll, we mapped the payroll work to the new system and then figured out who would be doing what in the new system. For some teams, it might mean that technical and troubleshooting work moves from another source to them instead. The change in the system could result in your team having more of an analytical approach than you are used to having.  For the Academic Payroll Team, the new way meant that the technical and troubleshooting work that had been done by the EA support team would now move to them, instead.  The change in system meant that they had more of an analytical approach than they were used to having.

  • It’s important to understand the WHOLE process: You can have very targeted areas with strong knowledge, but you have to have an understanding of the whole process, too.  At the same time, though, people with deep knowledge about their part of the process need to speak up, even if they aren’t as familiar with the process as a whole.
  • Workday is definitely a more analytical system: it’s not just about running processes.  It’s about understanding what is happening, being able to answer questions, improve things, and troubleshoot.
  • Consensus is important:  We had a few instances where we couldn’t get consensus early enough on some points, and by the time we thought we had an answer, we didn’t have time to do it.  You really have to think about if we don’t do this now, how hard is it going to be to do after go-live?
  • Break down silos as you plan:  You don’t want to find out late in the game that something you planned in one area will have an impact you didn’t foresee on another area.  Do everything you can to understand downstream implications.

  • Design from the end backward to achieve the result you want:  I use the Mapquest analogy – you tell it where you want to go and it maps out the journey for you.  If you don’t know what you want in the end, there’s no way to make that map.
  • Get a look at the new functionality ASAP:  seeing demos of Workday and getting to ask questions really helps build the anticipation of something new.  When people start seeing the new functionality, it can build excitement and get them thinking about how they will participate in the “new way.”  These are also great opportunities to voice questions and concerns and take ownership of figuring out how the system can solve your particular pain points.

See what I mean?  These are great observations for all of us as we look to Phase 3: Implementation. 

I probably owe Jill some lunch. :) 

At any rate, I’d love to hear other advice from folks who have gone through big implementations (Workday HCM, UBI, or even Oracle from back in the day).  Email us at or message us via the Feedback button above so we can learn from your experience!


A Word about Ambiguity 

by James Gorman

“Why is everything so vague?”:  A common FST question

I was pleased to be able to give an FST update at one of the Quarterly UVAFinance Manager’s meetings earlier this month.  I’m a part of the Manager’s group in addition to being a presenter on behalf of FST, and it was great to get questions and comments from my colleagues in UVAFinance about the project.

One question we received which has come up many times in one way or another is centered around the perceived lack of clarity that surrounds the project at this point.

Here’s the comment my colleague had: 

More detailed information would be great. Everything so far has been vague- overview information.  Details, as they become available, would be helpful.  My team asks specific questions I cannot answer.  I have been posting on the community but the answers there are also vague.

Man, do I ever understand that comment.  It’s tough to be comfortable with a lack of detail in a project as large and dynamic as FST, and for a long time now, since the beginning of Phase 1: Planning, we have been talking in generalities and without certainty on many points. 

When big changes come, we all want to get details ASAP.  Details make us feel like we have a handle on things, and like we’re a little more in control when it comes to something unsettling.  Wanting some specifics is a natural and understandable response.  For FST, this surfaces as folks wanting to know how their jobs will change, how their daily work will be affected, if they will report to someone different, and by what month or day they can expect those changes. 

Since the project has “officially” been underway for over a year now, it probably seems to even well-informed observers that we should have some solid details by now, and the truth is, we do: 

  • we know that we’re going with Workday Financials (a big, complicated decision);
  • we have some talented folks on board serving in key leadership roles on the project;
  • and we have pulled together many groups of stakeholders from across Grounds to get a firm sense of the processes we use now and the needs we have going forward (a massive undertaking, since nothing about University business is simple!).

Many things have been done during Planning and Readiness, yet I know my colleague’s comment refers to that desire for more personal impacts.  Folks want to start getting a sense of what the future looks like.  We all do! 

As the end of 2019 approaches (and seriously, how did the year pass so quickly?) and the phase of implementation approaches, that future is beginning to come into focus and it will continue to get sharper as we settle into the work of making decisions and “drawing up blueprints” (to harken back to my house analogy).

Beyond being normal, the vagueness and lack of detail and clarity we have about the future state right now is necessary. Those of you who already took the Lean Projects class offered by Finance Outreach and Compliance probably remember the A3 process, and the importance of filling the A3 report out in an established order (1. current conditions, 2. target conditions, 3. analysis and only then can we get to plan countermeasures to the root cause(s). Following the process ensures we get to address the real problems. This time of slowly building up a foundation on which we’re going to build our future state is absolutely critical.  Our clear understanding of how we work now, in all its complexity and variation, and a vision for how we want to work in the future, is the vital groundwork on which we’ll start laying in the details in Phase 3: Implementation.

As we transition into Implementation, we’ll without a doubt begin grappling with a flood of details, choices, and decisions to make.  In that phase, we’ll start to see with clarity how the improvements we want to make will impact people and processes in the current state. 

My promise, and the promise of our executive sponsors and Co-Chairs Melody Bianchetto and Adam Daniel is that we are making and will continue to make our best, honest effort to take the necessary time and involve the necessary minds to build the future state infrastructure, and that we will communicate details and decisions and more detailed timelines to you as quickly as possible.

I appreciate the good faith the UVA Community has granted us so far in this project and ask for your continued support.  Our aim is to work in partnership with all of you to build a house we will all enjoy living in, one that will meet our needs for years to come and make our everyday work lives more enjoyable and productive.

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to ask questions of your colleagues, here in the community, or even push back when the answer you get is not what you expected.  We are always happy to help!