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9/4/2014
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Workday Steps Up To Real-Time Reporting

Workday Composite Reporting feature takes advantage of in-memory computing. App updates support financial services companies.

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Workday has its core, cloud-based platform, and also applications that run on top of that platform, led by Human Capital Management (HCM) and Financial Management apps. Workday on Thursday announced a significant reporting upgrade for the core platform as well as several industry-focused feature enhancements for the Financial Management app.

Composite Reporting, part of the core platform, is something that every Workday user can take advantage of whether they're using HCM, Financial Management, or Workday Big Data Analytics. This report component serves not only financial professionals, who close corporate books, handle consolidation, do actual-to-budget comparisons, and provide other deep financial reporting, but also HR, departmental, and line-of-business managers who deal with budgets and report on operational conditions.

Composite Reporting gets its name from the fact that it starts by composing master reports that might include year-ago data, budget data, actual performance data, and more, all with drillable details down to a granular level. The new reporting component effectively exploits in-memory database capabilities that Workday has had since the cloud platform was introduced eight years ago.

[Want more on Workday? Read Workday Q&A: COO Talks Oracle, SAP.]

"In-memory is an enabler, but we've built a user-friendly report writer on top of that technology to allow people to put together reports that give them drill-down capabilities to all parts of their business, and they're able to combine headcount numbers, actuals, and budget figures and maintain that ability to drill down," explained Mike Frandsen, senior VP or products at Workday.

The big gain with this in-memory advantage is that you don't need a data warehouse or separate BI system, yet you get fast analysis and reporting against real-time data that lives in the underlying application. Drilling down brings you to the details that explain the root causes of exception conditions, rather than being stuck with summary-level data, as might happen with cube-based or relational reporting systems.

Workday Composite Reporting incorporates mobile support including a notebook mode for use in meetings and boardroom presentations.
Workday Composite Reporting incorporates mobile support including a notebook mode for use in meetings and boardroom presentations.

Another gain from the report writer being part of the core platform is that it inherits the security, access controls, and workflow capabilities of the platform, so no separate setups are required to enable use with each application. Composite Reporting is also designed to look and act like Microsoft Excel, except in the case of a notebook feature designed for use with tablets, which Workday said delivers boardroom-ready presentations that are also drillable and up-to-the-minute with live data.

If you still have Excel purists in the house, Composite Reporting can deliver pre-formatted extracts that don't need to be massaged by accountants before being used by managers, according to Frandsen.

On the industry front, Workday has always focused on people-intensive industries in which personnel are the primary cost of the business. This includes software and technology, education and government, and business services. With the Workday 23 upgrade introduced this week, the company has added Workday Financial Management features specific to three industries:

  • Banks, insurance companies, and diversified financial services now have average-daily-balance calculations and reports available to meet their routine reporting needs.
  • Software companies and Internet service providers gain new capabilities for revenue recognition across complex contracts and subscriptions, meeting emerging FASB and IASB financial reporting requirements.
  • Educational institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations gain new options for allocating different types of costs to various entities and grants so they can stay in compliance with grant terms and conditions while fairly allocating costs incurred.

Workday HCM is the company's most mature application, competing most directly against Oracle PeopleSoft. Financial Management, by contrast, is the vendor's up-and-coming app, with a wider play against Oracle E-Business Suite, SAP, and other financial-management-oriented ERP systems. As Workday COO Mike Stankey recently explained in an in-depth interview with InformationWeek, these industry specializations are the company's next step toward broadening Financial Management. The company is also scaling up the app and increasingly targeting Fortune 500 and Global 2000 customers.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
9/4/2014 | 3:00:03 PM
Hyperion/SAP/Cognos Buster?
Think of Composite Reporting as another reason Workday would present for adopting its cloud-based HCM and Finanancial Management applications. If you're still using on-premises alternatives, you're probably using something like Hyperion, BusinessObjects or Cognos Corporate Performance Management apps. Or maybe you want agaility and you've switched to Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics or one of the other cloud-based financial reporting alternatives. I definately see it as a cleaner approach if you can get it all in one, cloud-based package with one, shared access, security, roles and reporting approach.
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