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7/12/2011
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Workday Goes After Higher Education, Public Sector Markets

Brown, Cornell, Georgetown, and USC help define college- and university-specific human-resources and payroll functionality.

8 HR Collaboration Platforms In Action
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Software-as-a-service-based ERP vendor Workday announced Tuesday that it's moving into the higher-education market with a wave of new functionality and a focused, industry-specific business unit.

Co-founded in 2005 by higher-ed veteran Dave Duffield, Workday has heretofore sought customers for its HR-, benefits- and payroll-centric SaaS app across many industries. With this week's announcement, the company has launched Workday Public Sector, a separate business unit that will guide product strategy and development, sales and marketing, and services and support specifically for government and higher-education.

Building a partner ecosystem in education, Workday has tapped early customers Brown University, Cornell University, Georgetown University, and the University of Southern California to provide advice on application design and functionality. For example, Workday has moved beyond business-oriented supervisory and hierarchical organizational structures to add project teams, decision matrices, committees, and shared-services structures that are used by colleges and universities.

This new functionality will enable Brown University to "match financial resources with organizational structures--something we could never do with our current on-premise systems," said Don Schanck, the university's assistant vice president and controller, in a statement issued by Workday.

Other industry-specific functionality includes HR and payroll support for contract labor, faculty appointments and tenure tracking, sabbaticals, non-resident-alien processing, and visiting academics.

The move into higher ed is a homecoming of sorts for Dave Duffield and his son, Michael. The elder Duffield founded ERP vendor PeopleSoft (now owned by Oracle) in 1987, and his son Michael managed PeopleSoft's successful higher-ed business for more than a decade.

Named general manager of Workday Public Sector, Michael Duffield said in an interview that current and future higher-ed and government-oriented functionality will be built into the same multi-tenant application used by mainstream commercial Workday customers, thereby keeping costs low and minimizing upgrade and customization woes.

"One of the undesirable downstream impacts with on-premise software is the need for customization," Duffield said. "With Workday, it's one service for all, but you can configure various options and settings in lieu of coding."

Workday Public Sector will push into the government market by the end of this year, Duffield said, but the vendor already has public-sector customers such as the State of Nebraska. Colleges, universities, and government agencies are "choking on the care, love, and feeding of behemoth ERP systems," Duffield said.

Workday's goal, he added, is to help customers offload the management of software, middleware, databases, operating systems, connectivity, backups, and all associated hardware.

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