Southern Oregon University is just two months from its Dec. 16 “go-live” date for the first phase of Workday, the new operational software platform that is expected to eventually save the university more than $750,000 in recurring, annual costs – and improve user experiences and modernize processes for both students and employees. The first phase is focused on employee-based elements of the platform: finance, payroll and human resources.
Employees from various departments across campus who are members of SOU’s Core Information System Replacement (CISR) project team have been working for more than a year with the university’s implementation vendor, Alchemy, to prepare for December’s launch. Alchemy specializes in helping colleges and universities implement the various functions of the Workday system.
Workday will ultimately replace the outdated core information system currently used by SOU and most other universities throughout the U.S. The transition to Workday will enable employees to juggle fewer systems and see modernized and automated workflows, improved analytics and better security. It will include a shift for all employees – including faculty and student employees – to electronic time entry, leave requests and reimbursement procedures, and many other processes will be modernized and streamlined.
The next phase of Workday implementation – the student module – will begin after the employee module is fully in place, and is expected to last another two years. The new platform will affect how students view and register for courses, and will provide tools for them to create academic plans, manage financial aid and complete other functions throughout their academic careers. Most functions will be accessible on Workday’s mobile app. Workday also will become the primary portal through which the registrar will schedule and manage courses, and where faculty members and advisers will view and edit students’ transcripts and course progress.
Highlights from SOU’s first phase of Workday implementation include:
- End-to-end testing in August and September. The CISR team evaluated more than 1,600 test scenarios, meticulously inspecting the newly built system for defects and errors. Ninety-five percent of the test scenarios passed, in large part due to team members’ extra efforts.
- Parallel payroll testing has begun. This is a phase where SOU’s payroll team is running prior payrolls from earlier this year through Workday to compare them against what was paid to employees through Banner. This testing has just begun, but initial results appear strong. There will be two full months of this testing, using two different pay periods to ensure that payroll will be as accurate as possible when the university goes live.
The CISR Project Team will continue over the next two months to address defects, test the system as updates are made and test payroll. Workday “User Readiness Review” sessions are scheduled for the week of Oct. 23. These sessions will provide a select group of SOU employees temporary access to Workday to complete daily activities in the system, helping the CISR team to understand the user experience and tailor the university’s training materials. Workday training will be made available in early November with both virtual and in-person options. Sign-up will open on Monday, Oct. 23, on the CISR Project Training page.
The project team is still working to determine the best channel(s) for providing SOU employees with the information needed to use the system for daily activities when the first phase goes live. For now, employees are encouraged to visit the CISR Project Website often to view project updates and other important information about the Workday transition.
SOU intends to leverage its experience in implementing Workday to serve as a model – and potentially as a mentor – for other universities that shift to the platform. Several other institutions in Oregon and elsewhere have indicated they plan eventual transitions to Workday and are closely monitoring SOU’s progress.