Diary of a Deployment: Workday Financial Management at Shelter Insurance

Late last year, Shelter Insurance Companies selected Workday to move our finance operations off legacy technology and into the cloud. We are nearly halfway through and expect to have Workday Financial Management fully deployed in September. Workday invited me to contribute to the Workday Blog, and I’ve taken them up on the opportunity to share our experience with others.

I serve as director of corporate accounting at Shelter. In this first blog post, I’ll cover two things that have really stood out for us at Shelter: the speed of the deployment so far, and how Workday has partnered with us to map accounts, data conversion, and system integrations. In my post tomorrow, I’ll talk about Worktags and how we plan to use them to meet our business transparency goals.

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Shelter is based in Columbia, Mo., and provides home, life, auto, and business insurance to customers in 17 states. Our goal with Workday is to have one system of record for financial data and create more transparency across business lines and divisions. Workday is in the cloud, but when we started the selection process to replace our aging accounting systems we didn’t focus on whether the solution should be cloud-based or on our premises. We just wanted the best we could find for our company.

So how’s the deployment going so far? It’s been pretty awesome. Moving to a new financial system takes time and effort, and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but we at Shelter have been pleased with how it’s progressing. Workday has been a great partner. In addition to being really helpful, I’ve liked working with every person I’ve come in contact with at Workday. These positive interactions speak to the company’s culture.

Speed of Deployment

In March, just 10 weeks after we started deploying Workday, we were already testing transactions and had converted in a full year of historical data. I never imagined we’d be that far along so early in the deployment phase. Part of our decision to select Workday was driven by the perceived ease of implementation when compared to on-premise solutions, so already the value of a cloud-based solution is saving us time and money.

We started with a test tenant Workday set up for us that helped us make decisions about how we would build our financial data model (FDM) and configure Workday to suit our specific needs. We have since moved on to our configuration tenant. In this tenant we have already been able to create test data as well as build our ledger accounts, cost centers, spend categories, regions, and other types of Worktags.  This model provides us with a view of how our finance system will look and operate when deployed companywide in September.

As we pulled together our team for the Workday project, we put a lot of thought into making sure it represented a varied knowledge base across our company. That’s been very helpful at project meetings so we can make decisions about plans and goals and keep things moving. Through every step in the process, we’ve kept a list of how we’ll test new and improved business processes with the new system, how these changes will impact users, and how we’ll communicate those changes to our user community.

Financial Data Model

One of the best things about our strong Workday relationship is the consultant from Workday who partnered with us to build our FDM. Because of Workday’s object model and its use of Worktags, we’re able to reduce our accounts from about 1,400 in our legacy system to 400 in Workday. So it’s a fantastic change, but it’s also a big change.

Our IT group was concerned during our initial planning phase about the amount of time it would take to rework the integrations between our insurance systems and our new finance system. The consultant used our data, ledger accounts, and reports to develop the FDM before anything else happened, and set it up in such a fashion that we have a great mapping from the old way to the new way.

In fact, the FDM has been such a great roadmap for transitioning from our old financial accounts model to our new accounts, our IT team and Workday are using it as a roadmap for data conversion and for integrations. This approach has given the team a lot of direction on what we’re trying to accomplish and how we’ll meet those goals.

As I mentioned above, in tomorrow’s post I’ll talk more about analytics and business transparency.