How Pioneer Energy Services Increased Business Agility with Workday

Founded in 1968, Pioneer Energy Services provides land contract drilling services and production services to oil and gas exploration and production companies. The organization provides four core services: drilling, wireline, well servicing, and coiled tubing services.

When Pioneer’s legacy HR system couldn’t keep up with their needs, they replaced it with Workday Human Capital Management, including Workday Payroll and Workday Benefits. We spoke with Bill Schneider, vice president of information technology, and Jody Joles, human resources information systems (HRIS) manager, at Pioneer Energy Services, to learn how they transformed their HR and payroll processes to increase business agility and enable their employees.

What prompted you to evaluate a new system?

Bill Schneider of Pioneer Energy Services
Bill Schneider

Schneider: Previously, we were using a legacy system that would have required up to nine additional bolt-on products to provide the comparable functionality delivered within the Workday platform. It became apparent that we outgrew the system when it couldn’t keep up with our business needs or support the growth of our organization going forward. Additionally, it required a significant amount of manual work, and it didn’t provide employee self-service, business process automation, or support our volume of transactions, creating a lot of operational inefficiencies.

There were some strong system constraints that prohibited our teams from working effectively and in concert with one another. For example, to process payroll every week, the HR team would be required to log out of the system in order for our multi-hour payroll processing to be completed. On top of that, the performance of the entire system would be significantly impacted whenever normal reports were processed. As a growing mid-sized business, we realized we needed a more sustainable approach to how we manage these critical business processes.

Jody Joles of Pioneer Energy Services
Jody Joles

Joles: Because our other employees didn’t have access to the system, they had limited visibility into their own data and relied on manual outreach to get answers to important questions or to change their personal information. The only information they had access to was printed on the paper pay slip or check sent in the mail every two weeks.

We chose Workday because we can now simplify our HR and payroll processes and enable our employees to become self-sufficient. And because security is integrated into the core of the application within the cloud,  it’s safer and more transparent than our previous on-premise system when it comes to auditing and maintenance.

What are some ways that Workday has transformed your business?

Joles: With Workday, we were able to streamline business processes across all our business lines so that every employee and manager process is the same. Yet, we still have the ability to configure them uniquely if needed.

Additionally, all of our paper processes have been automated in Workday. Our organization was able to save $50,000 just by moving to paperless pay slips alone, and we were able to reduce our new hire onboarding packet from over 50 pages down to just five. Processes that used to be paper-based, like benefits enrollment, employee changes, and manager approvals, can all be done digitally now. While only 40 percent of our employees have a work-issued laptop, all of them can access Workday from their mobile devices or home computers. In fact, 84 percent of our workforce uses Workday from a mobile device to access their paychecks and update their information.

There is also better visibility into our payroll processing now, which is critical when you consider that our pay structure consists of different pay rates by position, which vary based on the skills required and location of work.

“With Workday, we were able to automate our complex pay rate tables.”

Can you tell me more about how your payroll processing has changed with Workday?

Joles: In our previous system, our payroll team had to go into the system each week to manually update an employee’s pay rate based on the information that was provided in the timesheet. To add to this challenge, they had to process Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) premium rates for bonus payments and retroactive calculations for time missed or paid incorrectly using Excel spreadsheets, and then enter them into the system. Our payroll team also had to manually enter all garnishments that were received by mail, calculate disposable income, and determine the garnishment priorities and applicable regulations.

With Workday, we were able to automate our complex pay rate tables. We have a look-up table that assigns the pay rate by evaluating the employee’s base rate, location, and position at the time of work. This also ensures that the employee pays the appropriate taxes associated with the location of the work and the employee’s resident state. Additionally, Workday supports automatic FLSA premium rate calculations, which includes recalculating overtime rates for a bonus paid over a period of time and automatic retroactive calculations for time missed or paid incorrectly. When the payroll team adds a line into the current payroll for the number of hours missed and the date worked, the system will look back to the prior period and recalculate it to determine the amount owed to the employee.

The cherry on top is that HR can continue to process changes during payroll calculations. Whenever payroll recalculates, the changes are included in the current processing cycle, which reduces the need for manual checks and incorrect payments due to last minute changes or approvals.

How has Workday enabled your HR, IT, and business managers?

Joles: One of the greatest improvements for our organization has been the ability to learn and grow with Workday. Our staff now has access to a system that allows them to collaborate, engage with our entire local and remote employee base, and work more efficiently than ever before. They’re able to accommodate the constant changes associated with a dynamic oil field services business.

Even better, we can do all of this on our own. We don’t need to hire a consultant to do it, and we don’t need to have a large team of developers. My background consists of functional human resources and payroll, and all my technical knowledge about Workday was gained through the use of the system and Workday education and training. By leveraging classroom training for Workday HCM, Workday Payroll, and Workday Benefits, along with hands-on learning during the initial systems configuration by our implementation partner Collaborative Solutions, I’ve been able to effectively maintain the platform and implement additional configurations beyond the initial go-live.

“We have a system that we can configure to meet our needs, even as they change.”

Workday’s open configuration model gives us the visibility needed to make changes to our setup if we need to add new pay structures or earning codes, customize our open enrollment offering, or build business processes that match our culture and the way we do business. We aren’t forced to change our business processes and try to fit them into an out-of-the-box solution. With Workday, we have a system that we can configure to meet our needs, even as they change.