How Customers Fought the Familiar by Moving Finance to the Cloud

At Workday Rising 2014 a number of customers took the stage to share stories about the business benefits they’re seeing with Workday Financial Management, underscoring the community’s growth and momentum. But what really stood out for me were the stories about letting go of the familiar—legacy systems and processes—and coming out on the other side with something that delivers far more value.

Riaan du Preez, director of HR and finance applications at Netflix, talked about facing the tough decision to move off the ERP system the company was using. He recalled sitting in a boardroom meeting at Netflix where “we almost made the decision to stick to the familiar of what we had. Thank goodness we didn’t.” By choosing Workday, du Preez said, Netflix has moved from 11 applications to just one application for finance and HR.

Netflix had been managing financials using three applications—an ERP system from one of the legacy vendors, plus reporting and invoice approvals running on top of it. Expenses, compensation review, human capital management, and payroll were managed by eight additional applications. Now all of Netflix’s finance, workforce, and payroll data, as well as processes and approvals, are unified within Workday, and they can run reports and gain insights on that data right within the system.

Workday Rising 2014Tina Workman, vice president of accounting and assistant treasurer at Shelter Insurance, acknowledged that the transition to Workday was an adjustment for some on her team, requiring them to give up the same paper processes they’d been using for many years. Yet with Workday Financial Management deployed since September 1, Shelter now has cash, procurement, assets, accounting, expenses, revenue management, and reporting all within one system. Supplier invoicing is now fully automated, with approvals routing to the appropriate managers. “We are now able to get better insight into our vendor spend,” Tina said, adding that it’s helping the company identify discounts it can take—perhaps “quite a bit we didn’t realize.”

“We definitely have faster answers” with Workday’s drill-down capability, Tina said, which enables users to click numbers within a report to find relevant details about them. “We don’t have to go to that file cabinet and remember the requisition number, or the date we wrote that requisition on.” She added that Worktags also are providing the company with transparency and insights it never had before.

Letting go of the familiar was also central to a session on how we are automating our own quarterly financial reporting at Workday, featuring Workday Chief Accounting Officer Robynne Sisco. Robynne talked about how we are letting go of the reporting binder and moving to fully electronic, multi-dimensional quarterly reports using our Composite Reporting tool.

No question—there’s nothing easy about change. It requires time, commitment, planning, and collaboration, especially for those consolidating multiple applications into one. Yet there’s also nothing more satisfying than knowing your courage to fight the familiar led to incredible results. Together with our customers and partners, we’re moving finance into the cloud and into the future, and away from the familiar, on-premise legacy approach that no longer serves us well.