Thursday, February 25, 2021

X Marks the Spot: FST's Hunt for Support Model Insights

Last week, the Finance Strategic Transformation (FST) team completed the last of six interviews with other organizations about their support model implementations. The Project Management Office (PMO) team targeted universities (and one corporation) that use one or more Workday platforms. Their goal was to gather information to evaluate peers’ support model implementations in terms of several characteristics, including level of support centralization, governance maturity, best practices observed, and key lessons learned. Insights gained from these conversations will ultimately contribute to choices UVA makes about the support model implemented for Workday Financials and how it will mesh with existing support.

FST Project Manager Phil Hamlett explains, “That’s the whole idea behind cross-platform support: that’s where the ‘cross’ comes in. The idea is to make it one. To marry it and make sure there’s a good integrated model doing support for Workday HCM in HR and Workday Financials.”

Hamlett conducted most of these interviews with peer institutions; he started participating in project work related to cross-platform support around May 2020.

“We’ve been having conversations about what a good, robust cross-platform support model may look like,” Hamlett explains. “We had our first workshop back in October with the senior leaders to talk through it—set the tone for what we thought we wanted to do.”

At that meeting, leaders asked for more information about what peer organizations are doing to gain a firmer basis of reference to inform decisions for UVA’s approach. That’s how these conversations with other institutions came about.

The discussions yielded a number of helpful key findings for the PMO team. Most peers used both Workday’s HR and finance systems, with two of the universities also readying to implement Workday student information software. All the organizations use a standardized service platform, such as ServiceNow. A high level of IT involvement and support team integration is in place for most of these peers. Governance maturity, overall, is high, though some still struggle with the proper governance model. The level of centralization differed between the groups, with roughly half centralized, half decentralized in terms of support.

The organizations also shared best practices based on their implementation experiences. For example, Georgia Tech advised socializing new processes and procedures as soon as possible once established.

“The sentiment that we heard early and often was to start on support model as soon as you can,” says Hamlett. He explains that several peer organizations shared that they waited until late in their implementation process to start thinking about the support model. “Several of them said the fact that we were starting as early as we were, since we’re going live next year—they said that was a very good thing.”

Wake Forest shared that the university is quite siloed; they experience challenges with IT and functional owners sometimes making changes independently without realizing the affect it would have on others. This issue highlights the need for a unified approach to changes moving forward after implementation.

LSU and Texas A&M have tiered support models similar to what UVA has in place now with HR Workday. In A&M’s support model, each case is assigned an owner. That person is responsible for ensuring the issue gets resolved, even if others are engaged in the process throughout.

Georgia Tech also shared that their reporting and data warehousing needs were underestimated; that’s definitely something we’re working on at UVA already. The cross-platform support workstream established four working groups, and the data, reporting, and analytics group has been active for some time.

Hamlett says, “We want to translate these insights into action items.”

The information gained from these interviews will inform recommendations the team will present to senior leaders at a second cross-platform support model workshop in late March. After the recommendations are discussed and decisions are made, the other workgroups (end-user support, operations, and user adoption) will ramp up their activities with a clear path ahead.

As far as collaborating with peer institutions, this round of conversations was only the beginning. “All of them were very enthusiastic about us staying in touch and sharing best practices,” Hamlett says.

Many of the other universities are interested in continuing the dialogue and developing collaborative relationships to keep sharing best practices that will help each other.

“That was one of the best things about it,” Hamlett explains, “the fact that we established this dialogue, these working relationships with these institutions doing something similar to what we’re doing.”

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