Diary of a Deployment Part 2: Business Insights with Workday Worktags

You may have read my post yesterday about the first two months of our Workday Financial Management deployment and what we accomplished in that short time. Today’s post is about Shelter Insurance Companies’ goal for more transparency across our business, which we expect to achieve with the data transparency and analysis capabilities within Workday.

With our legacy finance technology, we created a daily report that shows the premiums that were collected and the claims paid out the previous day. This report provides some insights, such as if premiums are going up or down and how the loss ratio compares to the break-even point, but we want to know the reasons behind the numbers. We want to be able to look at losses by state and even lines of businesses within each state, so we can understand what is happening related to an uptick in losses in a region, for example. Right now that would be at least an all-day project and include discussions with our claims team, which may or may not be able to quickly identify the root cause.

We also want more from our monthly data. We close our books at the end of each month and within 10 business days all statements are reviewed, approved, and published as PDFs to our internal site for management review and approval. By that time not only is the data at least 10 days old, there’s not a way for our management team to drill down into any level of detail to spot trends and find answers to questions, such as why results from one monthly period differed considerably from another.

diary_of_a_deploymentWe’re excited about the analytics capabilities built into Workday, and part of our planning at this stage is looking at how we can answer these types of questions much more quickly—even as fast as just a few clicks of a mouse. Our goal is to help the business partners get answers to their own questions through Workday’s self-service capabilities.

Worktags  are critical to these goals. Worktags are keywords, or tags, assigned to things and events so we can report and analyze our data from within the system. Using these provides the ability to track data in what seems like endless possibilities. The power of these Worktags came to life in a committee meeting during the selection process of our new finance system, where one of the members started suggesting different things within our company that we could tag. It’s funny, because many times we all go into meetings about new projects, and there’s that caution to avoid “scope creep.” But here we were talking about things that expanded the scope of what we thought we could do with a new finance system, yet in a way that had the potential to make our business more efficient and profitable. The value of business transparency is pretty simple: If you don’t know what you don’t know, you can’t do anything about it.

For example, today we are forced to set up separate general ledger accounts for any expense we would like to track. In Workday one type of Worktag is called “spend categories.” With this Worktag we are able to group, track, and reconcile similar types of expenses into one general ledger account. Using the Worktags that we are designing, we will have the ability to look at expenses based on account, spend category, cost center, location, state, and many other ways with a few clicks of the mouse. Worktags are going to give us so much more insight into our data. Because of how they help us organize information within the system, we expect to reconcile transactions and track expenses more efficiently.

Worktags also play a part in our ability to reduce accounts pretty dramatically with the new system (as mentioned in my previous post, from 1,400 to about 400). One example is a Worktag we’ve created for business type.  Shelter provides insurance protection directly to our policyholders but we also purchase insurance from other companies to protect our capital from loss from catastrophes such as large hail storms and tornados. With this Worktag, we can capture transactions related to each business type in the same accounts rather than have to manage separate accounts for them. We’ll also create a Worktag specifically for catastrophic events to better manage and understand losses related to these significant events.

As we continue to deploy Workday Financial Management, I hope to post again at the Workday Blog and share more insights we gain through this process. If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave them here in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer and continue the conversation.