Moving Finance and HR Into the Cloud at Designit

The employees of international strategic design firm Designit understand the importance of product aesthetics and user experience better than most. Founded in 1991, Designit has expanded from its Copenhagen headquarters to 500 employees in offices around the globe. To support the organisation’s growth, Designit wanted to replace a number of legacy finance and HR systems with a unified tool capable of bringing all of its data into one place. Rasmus Moller Sorensen, executive director at Designit, spoke to me about the importance of design and user experience on the journey toward digital transformation.

Can we start by talking about the moment Designit leaders realised they needed to rethink the way they managed finance and HR processes?

Rasmus Moller Sorensen
Rasmus Moller Sorensen

Firstly, I think it’s important to stress that as a company we’re known for our strong design culture. It’s what we do. This means that, by nature, if our employees see a problem either inside the company or with a client, they try to solve it. Their flair for problem-solving meant they adopted different systems to get the job done, some of which did not have the best functionality. At one point, there were five parallel systems that solved the same task in different places. Although it solved problems locally, it posed challenges at our headquarters. As you can imagine, such an approach makes it difficult and time-consuming to get an accurate view of the two key areas of any business—people and money.

How complex was it to get an accurate view of the business with a multiple-system approach?

It’s difficult because when you are combining data from different sources, such as spreadsheets, there is always a margin for error. Did somebody manually key in the wrong information? Is there an error in the formula? It doesn’t inspire complete confidence that the data you have is 100 percent accurate. Then there is the time involved pulling that data into a format that senior managers can use to make fast decisions. For Designit, we want to be fast, agile, and make decisions quickly, which just wasn’t possible in the old world.

How important were design and user experience when you were looking at transforming your business systems?

It was hugely important. If you are spending the time and resources to put your finance and HR data into one place, you want your employees to not only use it but also want to use it. That means the experience has to be intuitive, and it has to make those painful HR tasks like expense entry very easy. It also has to work on mobile, because we’re entering an era where the smartphone will be the place every employee engages with this kind of data. That attention to user-friendliness was one of the main things that drew us to Workday.

“We now have a tool that can deliver real-time business insight and in-depth analysis almost immediately, directly to a leader’s tablet.”

How will access to financial and HR data help create more engaged employees?

A business like ours depends on our ability to motivate, develop, and treat our employees as individuals. What we love about Workday is that it gives us that single overview of “hard” financial numbers and the “soft” figures from HR data, which allows us to analyse things like which teams are more productive working together—so we can maybe understand and try to recreate those conditions across the company—and how long new employees take to become profitable, which helps us better understand employee onboarding and development.

After 26 years in the design industry, we have learned that professional development is absolutely crucial in retaining the right people. With Workday, we can measure and understand the effects of our actions, and we can see the impact of our training and development. This means we can understand which employees are engaging with development content and those who are not engaged in the process so that we can adjust to be more effective.

What are some of the other benefits you have seen from moving finance and HR to Workday?

I think it’s important to mention how Workday is helping us meet the data requirements from our owner, Wipro Ltd. We’re now able to provide accurate, real-time insights from our 16 offices, and producing these reports is unbelievably easy with Workday.

At an analytical or tactical level, we now have a tool that can deliver real-time business insight and a myriad of in-depth analysis almost immediately, directly to a leader’s tablet. If we look at what Workday helps us achieve more strategically, then it is the ability to maintain our strong design culture by hiring and retaining the right people and ensuring we develop our employees effectively.