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Workday Adds Android Support, Customization

Workday updates of cloud-based HR and finance apps provide new mobile options and more ways to customize deployments.
13 Big Data Vendors To Watch In 2013
13 Big Data Vendors To Watch In 2013
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Workday is rolling more than 170 new features with its annual spring update this week, but the headliners are clearly first-time support for Android devices and a bevy of new configuration options.

Workday updates its cloud-based human capital management (HCM) and financials applications three times per year. Workday 19, the update announced Tuesday, delivers on a number of big "vote getters" from customers on the vendor's community sites, according to Workday.

On the mobile front, Workday has been Apple iOS centric to date, with native support for iPhone and iPad. Workday introduced an HTML5 site last spring with an eye toward better support for non-iOS devices, but the company is now adding a Workday for Android wrapper around the HTML5 application that will better support Android devices.

"You can download Workday for Android through Google Play, and it matches most of the functionality that we support on iPhones," Stan Swete, Workday's CTO, told InformationWeek. "The HTML5 wrapper lets us use on-device cameras, for example, to take snapshots of expense receipts."

[ Want more on Workday's long-term strategy? Read Workday Posts Strong Start As Public Firm. ]

To better support company-specific needs, Workday 19 includes a battery of new custom field options on Workday objects. In previous releases Workday added customizable fields to the Worker, (job) application, job profile and bank account objects. With Workday 19, customers can add custom fields to the supervisory, supplier contract, purchase order, customer, supplier, cost center, location and company objects.

The idea is to support "customization," but the advantage of supporting this capability with configuration settings is that it's not something that has to be done with coding and software development. You can even set up field validation logic without coding, according to Swete.

"You fill out forms to define cross-field edits to compare one field's value to another, so, for example, if you wanted to compare two dates, you could generate an error or a notification of one date if it inappropriately comes before the other," Swete explained.

Because the custom fields are handled with configuration settings, they won't break, disappear or have to be tested and reconfigured as applications are updated, according to Workday. Other updates in Workday 19 also fit this pattern. For example, the Workday Financial Management application supports custom Worktags that can be used in place of conventional expense code categories that are based on long strings of inscrutable numbers used to represent cost or profit centers.

Custom Worktags let users set up natural-language categories, such as "annual meeting," "ACME account" or "Burns project," in place of numbers. Even though they're not numbers, you can still establish hierarchies and relationships so you can roll up and report on finances by department, account, project and other ways.

The Financial Management update also delivers new functionality to track the value and life cycle of intangible assets, such as copyrights, patents, trademarks and licenses. The value of these assets can be managed and measured from the inception of contracts through amortization. Another new feature manages and automates prepaid expenses and supports centralized customer and expense payments on behalf of other entities.

New Workday HCM functionality added with the latest update includes headcount planning functionality that continuously reports on hires, terminations and progress toward annual HCM goals.

HCM is Workday's most robust cloud-based application, used by giant employers including Hewlett-Packard and Flextronics with hundreds of thousands of employees. The sweet spot for the Financial Management application is currently among companies with 5,000 to 10,000 employees, but Workday has detailed plans to scale up the app over the next couple of years to handle large enterprises.