Optimising financial processes

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Does Workday ‘Cloud’ Risk and Control Exposure?


Workday, the new kid on the block of low cost, simpler ERPs continues to make significant inroads throughout the corporate landscape. The promise of low cost, low impact integration is certainly an attractive alternative in an area traditionally filled with obstacles and costs that keep enterprises locked into a well defined ERP path. Workday responds to a growing need to reduce cost and to eliminate administrative churn through simplification in enterprise systems. It offers complete solutions in HR as well as finance.

Workday supporters point to the lower cost and time of integration, typically less than a month in duration and less than $100k, as compelling drivers of change – hard to argue with that! The shift from traditional ERP functionality to the new world of seamless workflow and easy user interface ERP, either for one function, such as HR or Finance and HR, seems to be straight forward.

A shift to Workday requires careful consideration from a Risk and Control perspective. Workday delivers an excellent configuration and rule based security functionality that can be readily configured to adapt to most organizations with little or no customization. Yet, compliance challenges manifest when a risk and control framework designed for a legacy system function, such as SAP HR, with all its deficiencies and mitigating controls, is replaced by the new streamlined control environment of Workday, without first conducting a control assessment.

Assessing the impact of the control environment integration on the new platform is a key element of a pre-implementation review of any Workday implementation. A valuable result of this assessment is often seen as a challenge to the modest cost and time estimates initially presented. Any process deficiency or gap not adequately managed or mitigated pre-integration will be carried forward into Workday, and possibly worsened. As many processes are streamlined in the Workday environment, legacy processes with numerous manual controls may be difficult to adapt to the new model and could require substantial discussion and re-work.

Workday provides a refreshing alternative to many of the process and interface challenges of Finance and HR in ERP systems, yet as with any tool, it is only effective as the effort taken to refine the underlying processes that it will automate or facilitate.


Author: Robin Ashby