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4/19/2012
09:06 AM
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Workday Courts Mobile Users, Large Enterprises

Cloud-based ERP vendor adds HTML5 mobile support, upgrades financial, HR, and payroll features.

Workday announced the latest upgrade of its cloud-based suite of human capital management, financial management, and payroll applications on Thursday, toting up 128 enhancements in all. The highlights include HTML5 mobile support aimed at non-iOS devices, new workflows, and scalability improvements for large enterprises.

Workday already had strong mobile support with free native apps for iPhone and iPad, but Workday 16, the latest release, offers better support to non-Apple devices through an HTML5 mobile site. Thus, Android, RIM, and Windows devices with HTML5-compliant browsers now have richer, touch-enabled access to lookup, workflow, and notification functionality that will be easier to use than the previous mobile Web support, according to Workday.

When used with older devices that don't support HTML5, the viewing experience "gracefully adapts" to match the capability of the device, Workday CTO Stan Swete told InformationWeek.

HTML5 is likely to be the long-term choice for supporting all mobile devices, Swete said, but for now Workday is continuing to upgrade its iOS native apps. With Workday 16, for example, both apps gained Apple push-notification support, and the iPhone app gained features that originated on the iPad, such as the ability to check and request time off and navigate personnel reporting structures.

[ Want more background? Read Is Oracle Ignoring The Real Enemy?. ]

New on the iPad app is an HR feedback feature that lets managers offer on-the-spot performance assessments--offering either praise or critiques--without waiting for a more conventional six-month or annual review (a feature reminiscent of Salesforce.com's Rypple performance review system).

Contrasting Workday's approach with rival offerings, Swete said mobile support is built into the system and free with standard user subscriptions, rather than requiring separate modules, infrastructure, or fees.

Workday 16 improves on financials functionality with support for defining and describing supplier contracts and vendor relationships. The features make it possible to automate purchase-orders and invoicing processes. Improvements in asset-management functionality let users group assets, such as vehicles or office equipment, and assign group-specific maintenance and accounting life cycles.

Human capital management (HCM) has long been Workday's strongest suit, and it's a market that's consolidating with SAP's recent acquisition of SuccessFactors and Oracle's pending purchase of Taleo. Workday 16 bolsters HCM functionality with a configurable onboarding process. It's essentially a customizable workflow that bundles and streamlines the many tasks involved in hiring employees and easing them into their jobs. The process might include greetings messages, required briefings, forms submissions, and other steps along with workflow reminders and notifications to keep new employee and managers on task.

To better manage salary review processes, Workday 16 has a new multi-level merit-review process that lets managers allocate funds and keep track of how far under or over budget salaries are tracking as merit increases are awarded.

Many of Workday's customers use the vendor for both human capital management and payroll processing. With Workday 16, the vendor says it has benchmarked its payroll service to handle companies with as many as 100,000 employees. The previous performance benchmark was 35,000, but Workday's largest current payroll customer has 50,000 employees.

Workday 16 is one of three upgrades planned in 2012, with the next releases expected in July and November. The vendor said it has 160 customers in production and more than 120 in the process of moving to Workday. All customers will be migrated to the latest release by the end of this week, according to Workday.

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