Workday is not an ERP solution—and that’s an issue

January 20, 2022 | 5 minute read
Charles Homs
VP Global Competitive Strategies
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ERP covers finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing, procurement, service and supply chain. For this to work efficiently and effectively in a modern cloud environment, a common process, data, governance and security model is a prerequisite. This way, it ensures the flow of real-time information in business processes both inside as well as outside the company. iWhat I like about this definition is that it highlights not only functional aspects (the modules that must be present for it to be ERP) but also the foundational aspects, like integration, common processes, a single data model, and business processes.

From a functional point of view, one can immediately see that Workday does not have an ERP solution, simply because they lack distribution, manufacturing, and most supply chain functionality—like transportation management and warehouse management. What’s also missing in Workday are Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, maintenance, order management, product lifecycle management (PLM), most of configure-price-quote (CPQ) and risk management.

Workday doesn’t have a common process and data model. The many acquisitionsii that Workday has made so far come with their own process and data models. This contributes to the lack of deep end-to-end processes: with missing functional modules, inconsistent processes, and multiple data models, you cannot have complete end-to-end processes; at the very least, they’re inconsistent and don’t flow.

What also contributes to a lack of deep, end-to-end processes is the fact that Workday is using many different data stores. It inevitably increases the chance of having inconsistencies in processes, master data and data models, and potential security, governance and SOD (separation of duties) issues.

Having many data stores with Workday means:

  • Multiple data models and data conversions from one store to another
  • Multiple security records
  • The need to put all data from the Workday data stores into Workday Prism Analytics and normalize it
  • Making sure that all the master data and transactional data remains in sync
  • Complexities with integration, having to integrate to multiple data stores
  • Issues and complexities for developers and system integrators
  • Ultimately, the complexities can result in higher TCO

In addition to the fact that Workday doesn’t have an ERP solution, it also doesn’t have a CRM solution or manufacturing and supply chain planning. What company or organization doesn’t have customers? With Workday, you have to manage customers in another platform, which again leads to the same problems: even more data stores (Workday plus a 3rd party vendor), missing functional modules, and inconsistent processes.

There are arguments that one could use to explain Workday’s strategy:

  • It doesn’t matter that Workday doesn’t have ERP, because your company doesn’t need the missing functionality
  • Your company wants to use cloud solutions from multiple vendors as a premeditated strategy to make sure you’re not dependent on one vendor
  • Your company prefers to combine solutions from multiple providers that fit your business needs best

But in all three cases, you’d have to ask yourself ten questions:

  1. Are you sure this will remain the case? It could be that one day you’ll need ERP functionality that Workday doesn’t provide. Do you consider change in your business to be a risk or an opportunity?
  2. Perhaps you are depending on partners (for example) to manufacture products for you, and your company merely designs and markets the product. But from a continuity and recovery point of view, will that stay the same, even in times of significant supply chain upheaval?
  3. How stable are all these software vendors? Are you sure that the risks associated with relying on multiple vendors doesn’t somehow become bigger than the risk of relying on a single, larger, and more complete vendor?
  4. How well can you measure your business if you are relying on multiple vendors? Are you sure your employees are productive, your speed to market is adequate, your operational efficiency is as good as can be? Can you fully engage with your customers and business partners online? Is it possible that two people buy the same goods from the same supplier for different prices without realizing it?
  5. Are you as innovative as you need to be in your sector? Are your teams empowered with the right tools, or do they spend more time trying to connect the dots—the disparate data from various application vendors?
  6. Are you having trouble finding the best talent? Could it be that today’s dynamic work force requires more modern, consistent tools and techniques to do their jobs? Do they prefer to use a smart device and a digital assistant? Can they work with multiple systems from different enterprise application vendors?
  7. Can you build extensions to your environment with a single tool in a consistent manner, using the same data model, process model, and security model?
  8. Is the security consistent, not only across your applications, but also at every layer in the technology stack?
  9. Are you sure that data governance is consistent across your applications? Can you commit to GDPR, CCPA, FedRAMP?
  10. Are you sure that running your business on multiple platforms and vendors is giving you the full benefits of artificial intelligence? AI may be really smart but giving it disparate and potentially contradictive sources of information isn’t going to make it any smarter.

Chances are that you will answer “no” to a few of these questions. The potential issues described here are directly attributable to the fact that Workday is incomplete and inconsistent with its multiple data stores.

In comparison, Oracle has a complete suite of ERP applications and a consistent cloud platform, running on the Oracle database.

Oracle built a completely, brand new set of business capabilities for the cloud from the ground up, using a single data model for all line-of-business challenges. It is modular and composable by design but engineered to work together for seamless extension.

Companies need to move toward a portfolio that is more adaptable to business change, with composable applications that can be assembled, reassembled, and extended. This is more important than the notion of suite vs. best-of-breed. Oracle can provide these composable applications because we have the entire suite of applications: ERP, EPM, CRM, HCM, and SCM. Many cloud providers started with one of those—like Workday with HCM, or SalesForce with CRM, and SAP with HCM (with the acquisition of SuccessFactors)—but with just one or two of these cloud solutions, they can’t offer the composition capabilities that Oracle can.

Oracle can offer a SaaS-based, business-centric application to complement any customer’s on-premises footprint. It adds immediate value, and we can seamlessly extend this partnership over time. With Oracle you have the possibility to compose this all into one cohesive suite, engineered to work together. No other vendor can do this right now. For a more detailed comparison between Oracle Cloud ERP and Workday, see https://www.oracle.com/erp/oracle-vs-workday/.

[i] See also https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/erp.asp   
[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workday,_Inc.#Acquisitions

Charles Homs

VP Global Competitive Strategies


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