"On one level, when you implement Workday, it's still a significant process," he says. Importing data from other systems, for example, "can be a complex project."
But Workday has learned that many projects are repeatable for different customers. Typically, implementations take about four months for smaller customers, and seven to 12 months for larger ones, Swete says.
While Workday has strong, built-in business intelligence (BI) tools, "their BI is not a general-purpose tool like Cognos or Business Objects," says analyst Frank Scavo, president of IT consultancy Strativa.
"A company could not take their BI tools and apply them to a lot of non-Workday-related data," Scavo says. On the other hand, Workday's BI tools are simpler to learn, he says.
Scavo says customers and prospects should be mindful of the IPO's potential effect on Workday's culture, because now the company must keep an eye on Wall Street.
"The first risk is the fact they've gone public, because now you have a constituency beyond your customers and your employees, and that's your shareholders," he says. "I think this is true for any company."
Chris Kanaracus is a senior correspondent with IDG News Service.
Read more about software as a service (saas) in CIO's Software as a Service (SaaS) Drilldown.