What is Workday?

Workday provides a cloud-based comprehensive human resource information system. While many of the products we review suit small to medium-sized companies, Workday aims at the more sophisticated and complex needs of large and enterprise businesses. Highly configurable to meet clients’ needs, Workday provides workforce planning and management, recruitment and talent management, full payroll and benefits administration, and exhaustive planning and analytics capabilities.

Workday was founded in Walnut Creek, California, in 2005. The two founders were the founder and former CEO of PeopleSoft and the PeopleSoft chief strategist. Both left PeopleSoft following a hostile takeover by Oracle, and they pioneered software-as-a-service business applications with a focus on human capital management and finance. Workday had over 300 clients within seven years, including several Fortune 500 companies. When the company went public in 2012 with a New York stock exchange listing, its value was $9.5 billion. The company now turns over more than $5 billion annually and has over 15,200 employees.

Workday payroll and workforce management assist with scheduling and labor optimization, time and attendance, payroll, and absences. Having invested heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Workday automates processes and provides analytics and insights to identify and manage workforce trends. The HR features talent management capabilities to support global operations, no matter your business location. Benefits and compensation packages are defined, adjusted, and managed to integrate seamlessly with payroll.

The Workday accounting center manages your accounts payable and receivables, fixed assets, cash management, and financial reporting. It also offers an automated general ledger. Revenue management ensures ASC 606/IFRS 15 compliance and end-to-end processing from contract to cash, with profitability reporting and automated intercompany transfers. Reconciliation, consolidation, reporting, and close are automated within one system for accuracy, with global consolidation and third-party general ledger integration. Procure to pay, inventory management, and expenses are also administered, with extensive reporting and analysis features. Additional modules also provide project and resource management, employee engagement capabilities, and features aimed at education providers to manage student admissions, records, and finances.

What popular features do you get with Workday?

  • Contingent labor management
  • Process automation capabilities
  • Learning management system
  • Open APIs

  • Global workforce administration
  • Recruiting support
  • Highly configurable architecture
  • Easy integration with third-party apps

  • Enterprise planning module
  • Project and resource management capabilities

Customer Support is available at Workday

Workday claims it offers 24-hour, 7-day support to its clients. While we accept this, we can’t validate it as all support requires signing in to the Workday Customer Care Portal. Once inside, you can rank the severity of your issue, with the highest priority problems targeted for a response time of under 60 minutes. You’ll receive a case number and a confirmation email. Status updates are sent as your issue progresses. There is also a chatbot for less pressing concerns and a large Workday community that may be able to assist.


What kind of business is Workday ideal for?

Workday is a heavyweight in the world of HR and financial service providers. It’s up there with Oracle and SAP and is slowly morphing into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. That means the features and products are built for enterprise-level clientele and, given their sophistication and extensive capabilities, are likely to be serious overkill for small to medium-sized companies. While we can’t comment on pricing since Workday will only provide quotes once they know more about your business, the consensus is that Workday is one of the more expensive and extensive offerings, even at the enterprise level.

Pros and Cons

  • Great customization due to its unified data architecture
  • Data analytics and big data management
  • A great and intuitive user interface
  • A comprehensive employee portal
  • Great performance management features
  • Open APIs and easy third-party integrations
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Process automation

  • Reporting can be complicated
  • No live chat, only a chatbot
  • Pricing is impossible to ascertain as it’s quoted only

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How much does Workday cost?

*based on information provided by the vendor. Actual cost may vary.

It’s impossible to say, as there are no prices given on the Workday website and even no orders of magnitude to help you understand whether contacting Workday is worth your time. The company works on a quote-only model, requiring you to give up data on your company before they provide a costed solution. We understand that the pricing structure is much the same as Workday’s competitors, in that you pay an annual subscription and a cost per employee under management.

There do not appear to be any free trials, with contracts normally for multiple years. Workday can offer discounts if you pay the annual fee upfront, or you can choose to pay monthly. While unconfirmed, there is some suggestion that you can choose to take individual modules and pay for those alone rather than buy the entire platform.

Final thoughts...

Workday is a huge integrated package of capable and sophisticated tools that provide end-to-end management of a company’s human resources, payroll, talent management, accounting, and project management. The company has made some very targeted acquisitions, particularly in the artificial intelligence space, to provide data analysis and insight while having the capability to build a knowledge base from a company’s internal communications.

Workday has a reputation as being one of the best solutions for global companies, offering local languages and a diverse network of offices to support their multinational clients. They are also renowned for their management of contractors and freelancers, analyzing remuneration by project, country, or department, and tracking contract costs and durations. Some unique features assist with company restructures, allowing drag and drop organization chart functionality, with cost centers and pay systems updating automatically in the background, allowing easy analysis of impacts.

While Workday is a large and sophisticated product, most users praise its ease of use, although making full use of the features offered can take some time. The user interface is surprisingly modern, and the screens and dashboards are attractive. If you’re a small company looking for payroll and HR support, this is not it. However, if you have a large company or require complex, cross-border functionality and HR management, you can’t do much better than Workday.