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The value of Workday enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation in higher education

How cloud migration strategy impacts the ongoing benefits of ERP

Cloud ERP implementation can help higher education institutions transform to a more modern campus-wide operating model that presents new opportunities for growth and innovative ways to serve students. To achieve sustained value, the cloud migration strategy must incorporate a future-focused plan for continuous improvement.

Capturing sustained value from Workday ERP implementations in higher education

Moving to the cloud is a pivotal strategic decision and a significant investment for higher education institutions. The initial return on investment of a cloud-based ERP implementation, like Workday, should be celebrated—and protected over time.

To realize value long after the initial Workday ERP implementation, colleges and universities must incorporate people, processes, and technology fully in the transformation, from the earliest planning stages through go live and the ongoing daily use of the evolving Workday solution.

The technology transformation should be paired with:
  • Business process improvements
  • A comprehensive organizational change management program that prepares users ahead of day one
  • A documented plan for ongoing operational change management and training after go-live

Leaders across the institution should align goals and objectives at the earliest stages of planning and continue to collaborate throughout design, implementation, and ongoing operation and enhancement of the Workday solution.

Lastly, cloud transformation is fundamentally a change in mindset and culture, to embrace operational excellence and ongoing improvement. Leaders should encourage this shift in mindset and look for it in new hires.

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Capabilities and benefits of Workday ERP for higher education

Workday ERP systems are designed to enable more consistent and efficient business processes, streamline integration between applications, and access to information that enables transparency and visibility into integrated data across an institution. Workday offers opportunities for higher education leaders to continually improve operations, lower costs, and align resources more closely to core mission and strategy.

Inherent gains from a Workday implementation can include:
  • Mobile-capable solution
  • Fully unified data business process and data usage
  • Standardized, efficient business processes and workflow with compatibility across schools, departments, and units
  • Less dependence on in-house technical capacity and a smaller role in IT infrastructure management
  • Ongoing industry-relevant updates and enhancements
  • A platform for current and future technology that enables continuous improvement
  • Accessibility to the right information at the right time
  • Significantly improved user interface and user engagement
  • Data validation that maintains data integrity across the entire enterprise

The Workday ERP platform also enables further value realization, such as helping ease the administrative burden of faculty, increasing compliance, and providing better reporting for improved management and decision making.

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How do you sustain—and increase—the value of your ERP implementation?

Achieving the full value of a Workday ERP implementation requires a thoughtful cloud migration strategy and a documented post-implementation plan for ongoing change management, continuous improvement, and sustainment.

Carefully laying the foundation by integrating the following five approaches into the deployment approach can help position you to achieve high-level gains post implementation:

  1. Arriving prepared is essential: Technology implementation should be paired with effective business process improvements, and your change management program should prepare users for initial implementation and beyond.
  2. Change management is “living” and agile: With two Workday feature releases annually, your change management plan should be a “living” document, refreshed as needed to leverage new features and capabilities to increase the value of Workday.
  3. Cross-functional goal alignment and collaboration is the norm: Leaders will no longer be operating in silos across functional areas, schools, departments, or units and will need to align early and collaborate throughout design, implementation, and ongoing operation and enhancement of the Workday solution.
  4. Continuous improvement is a culture hallmark: The value of your Workday solution depends significantly on how fully your organization embraces the cloud culture of continuous improvement to achieve operational excellence—encourage the shift. Direct your teams to fully explore Workday capabilities, adopt new features as they are released, and look ahead for opportunities to leverage future capabilities.
  5. Sustainment teams built for the future: An effective sustainment model will not look like your former IT department. Your sustainment team will need the skills and mindset to anticipate next release features, talk to business leaders about Workday solutions, and be prepared and empowered to deliver changes frequently.


The most successful are the schools with leaders that are bold in their objectives to take full advantage of the transformational opportunity—they push mobility, they advocate for end-user empowerment, and they do not accept the past as an excuse for not embracing better ways for the future.

– Cathy Milazzo, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Successful Workday ERP implementations

While Workday on its own is a valuable tool, Deloitte helps schools drive additional value by taking a holistic, collaborative approach to implementation, with proprietary tools and accelerators designed to extend the software and accelerate implementation and user acceptance.

Change is the biggest challenge institutions face with Workday ERP, as new practices, processes, and standardization are deployed. Rather than focusing on the functionality of the software, Deloitte focuses on the people who will use the system. By understanding how users view a business process, we can configure the solution and align it to their needs. Creating a better, smoother experience helps generate early adopters who can champion and improve new processes and promote change throughout the organization.

Following Deloitte’s approach and philosophy, some of the early advantages schools can expect include:
  • More efficient, effective operations, and service delivery: Reduced cycle time, the introduction of mobile capabilities and self-service, and less reliance on paper forms
  • Higher levels of adoption of new processes: Ability to proactively monitor performance and who is doing what in the system, so issues can be identified and addressed
  • Greater alignment of policy and procedure: Ability to configure validations, business rules, and workflows to help compliance
  • Better alignment and use of talent: Reduced administrative burden and automation of non-strategic activities
  • Enhanced reputation of business offices: Greater data integrity and access to information
  • Increased trust and integrity: Transparency increases when all users are on a single platform, working collaboratively with aligned business practices

No matter where you are in your cloud journey—considering implementation, ramping up, or encountering challenges with an implementation underway or post implementation—Deloitte has the functional and technology skills, as well as the industry knowledge and experience in higher education to help you achieve the value you want from your transition to the cloud, post implementation and beyond.

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