Working Closely with Customers on the Affordable Healthcare Act

There’s been a great deal of news coverage in recent weeks about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including a recent development that pushes back compliance with two of the most significant employer-facing mandates until 2015. Yet those in the business of human resources know the scope of the change ahead may be the largest in the industry since President Ford signed ERISA into law. At Workday, we are following each new development with the ACA very closely.

For businesses, much of the focus on the ACA is the requirement for companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance coverage to all employees working an average of either 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month beginning in 2015, or pay penalties. The reasons provided by President Obama’s administration for delaying enforcement of this mandate recognize both the onerous complexity of compliance placed on employers, and the need for them to have more time to adapt their reporting processes and systems to support it. There remain a number of things about the law requiring further definition before compliance takes effect, as well as continuing political debate around potential changes to requirements. But when the dust settles, our customers can be confident Workday’s reporting and analytics capabilities will help them comply.

Because the ACA is such a big deal, made even more so by the current state of flux around it, it’s gotten me thinking lately why I’m so grateful to be doing what I’m doing at Workday. I think we have something very special here, and it’s times like these—when we’re working with customers to tackle the “big things”—that drive home that reality. They reaffirm the choices we’ve made as a company both in terms of our technology architecture and delivery, and the customer community we’ve built. Those choices include:

A collaborative customer community. Our customers share a lot with both us and their peers, which is particularly helpful in times of great ambiguity. While a lot of this is because we’ve been blessed with great customers, it’s also because all of them are on the same version of Workday. So when customers come together and we have those important conversations about the big things, whether they take place online in the Workday Community or in person at an advisory council meeting, we’re all talking the same language. This has been very beneficial as we discuss with customers the best methods and processes for supporting compliance with a new law that impacts all of them, and we are working closely with a team of customer design partners to address these issues.

Our cloud delivery method. All of our customers are on the same version of Workday and all of our updates take place in the cloud. That means as definitions become clearer for ACA requirements, we can deliver the tools and features that support them immediately. It also means that if there are further changes to the law we can very quickly adjust what we offer to support those changes, and deliver them on behalf of all of our customers between our regular updates if necessary. In the traditional on-premise software world, there is no real-time adjustment to change. Updates to support compliance would have to take place through the distribution of software patches or full upgrades. Those patches or upgrades must then be implemented by the company’s onsite IT personnel or consultants, adding latency and great expense to the process of compliance.

The Workday architecture. Our in-memory object model makes it possible for our customers to drill down and analyze all their data they have in their Workday applications. Add to that the ease and flexibility of our built-in report writer and it becomes quite simple for customers to gather information about workers’ hours, salaries, and more that they’ll need for ACA compliance—much more so than it would be in a traditional ERP software system.

There’s no question that ACA compliance is a big job. Yet it’s times like these when I feel we are really working closely with our customers, that I’m very proud of what we do and how we do it.