Workday gaining some traction for combined HCM, financials

Schumacher Group is one of 50 companies now live on both of Workday's cloud-based software modules

Workday's move into cloud-based financial software appears to be gaining steam, with some 50 customers now using the module in tandem with the vendor's SaaS (software as a service) human resources application.

In total, Workday has more than 450 customers now, according to company spokeswoman Christy Sasser. The 50 financials customers are all using the software in conjunction with Workday HCM (human capital management), Sasser said.

One of the newest among those 50 is health-care staffing provider Schumacher Group, said company CIO Douglas Menefee. The privately held company is a long-time user of Workday for HCM, but earlier this year completed a move onto Workday's financial package and will no longer use Oracle's PeopleSoft product for the latter function, he said.

Schumacher Group, which uses cloud-based software extensively, "was looking for a 360-degree view of how human capital and talent management are tied to overall productivity," Menefee said. The company evaluated a number of products, including Oracle Fusion Applications and Microsoft Dynamics, but ultimately went with Workday.

"It gives more options for us to better understand how we spend dollars and how we manage dollars," Menefee said. "That was really the selling point."

For Menefee, Workday provides "real-time insight into where spending is going on within the IT organization," he said. "It's expedited the way we can do procurement and eliminated a lot of unnecessary, 'who has the ball' type of conversations."

The strength of Workday's mobile applications presented another allure, he added. "We have a highly mobile executive team."

Schumacher Group took "probably twice as long as what we needed" to migrate from PeopleSoft financials to Workday, but that was because of the overall amount of activity and growth ongoing within Schumacher, he said. The company added 400 positions in 2012 and has seen double-digit revenue growth for the past 18 years, he said.

Going live on Workday was "pretty much a nonevent," and workers found training on the new system "self-explanatory," he said. "The product is very intuitive."

The fact that Schumacher Group moved to Workday financials from PeopleSoft is telling. Workday was co-founded by PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield along with Aneel Bhusri; they serve as co-CEOs of Workday.

Oracle famously gained control of PeopleSoft through a hostile takeover completed in 2005, leading to thousands of layoffs, something over which Duffield has expressed great angst.

Along with taking the fight to Oracle and SAP on the product level, Duffield and Bhusri have sought to re-create the folksy, customer-friendly culture for which PeopleSoft was known.

Still, Workday, which recently undertook a successful IPO, has a long way to go before it overtakes its larger rivals. It's too soon to know just how successful it will be, according to one observer.

"Workday customers bet on the PeopleSoft promise," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "Today, many of those customers see Workday as the extension of that brand promise. Oracle still has a lot of loyal PeopleSoft customers so the next five years will tell whether or not they will stay with Oracle or make the move to Workday as folks shifted from Siebel to Salesforce."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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