Chief Accounting Officer POV: Using Workday to Grow Your Business

Up until recently I had been living a truly intercontinental lifestyle. I was spending part of my time each quarter-end at our Workday headquarters in my role as chief accounting officer, helping to close our books, report our results, and prepare SEC filings. Yet before moving back to California a few months ago my home base was Amsterdam, where I worked with other team members to expand into several European markets.

Expansion into new markets is critical to almost any company’s growth strategy. It’s also time consuming and complex.  At Workday, that work has included evaluating the external costs of setting up new entities and meeting ongoing compliance requirements, as well as the internal costs of expanding operations to support each new entity. We consider cultural and legal differences we might face, and have learned the importance of tailoring an entry approach to the specifics of each country, because each one is so different.

What has surprised me most is how much easier opening new markets is with Workday Financial Management, one of our flagship products and the core financial management application we use as a company. I had helped set up new entities in previous roles at other companies,  and the difference between the legacy applications I’ve used in the past and what I’ve experienced with our own  financial management application is significant.

For the first time in my career, the system I’m using keeps pace with our business growth.

Traditional financial management systems add a lot of time, cost, and complexity to market expansions.  Preparing a new set of books with full operational capabilities often requires a full software implementation, and with that comes project scoping, planning, and IT resources. It’s a big effort that can span six months or more.

While that project is ongoing, finance teams are often forced to work in spreadsheets and other separate applications to keep the required accounting and process work for the expansion moving forward. Even when any needed software rollouts are complete, critical information related to financials and talent still lives in many disparate systems.

The experience with Workday is completely different. Workday is in the cloud, so an onsite software implementation isn’t required to set up a new entity with a full set of books.  In fact, I can configure full procure-to-pay and order-to-cash functionality for a new operating entity in about 30 minutes, eliminating the need for offline accounting and processes.

Another big advantage is that all data related to financials and talent is unified in one cloud-based system, which makes it simple to run reports and gain the insights we need to support our decisions related to growth plans.

Organizations shouldn’t have to spend six or nine months on projects that should literally take only minutes.

As we’ve moved into new markets, our company hasn’t had to wait for the business infrastructure to be built, or for data to be pulled from multiple systems, and our finance team hasn’t had to perform accounting outside our core financial management application. I’ve been able to put more of my focus on driving business decisions, and spend less time dealing with tactical issues. For the first time in my career, the system I’m using keeps pace with our business growth.

Workday applications are designed so that we, as users, can configure them according to our organizations’ needs, rather than having to bring in IT or consultants to implement and customize software. I can make changes to workflow, write new reports, and set up statutory and tax books, all in a matter of minutes. I’ve also found that invoicing in new currencies and implementing new invoicing formats are very easy in Workday.

As organizations develop their growth strategies, they need to look closely at whether their finance systems can keep up with their business plans. They shouldn’t have to spend six or nine months on projects that should literally take only minutes. They should know that there are other options on the market that are specifically designed to support their organizations as they grow. At Workday, our own Workday Financial Management application has been critical to our ability to move swiftly and smartly into new markets.