Oracle Cloud HCM vs. Workday: 5 things to know

August 9, 2022 | 10 minute read
Jeff Wilson
Director, Global Competitive Strategies—Applications
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Every day at companies around the world, HR decision-makers persuade leadership that it is time to look for a new HCM suite. It’s not a minor decision and requires thorough vetting of multiple vendors, as well as coming to terms with the required financial investment. Maybe the company has grown and the old HCM solution no longer meets their expanding requirements, or perhaps their current HCM technology has not innovated as well as they need. 

Whatever the reason, the individual(s) leading this process is now tasked with understanding not just what is important to the company but separating facts from spin. This approach means understanding what the different HCM suites offer, what they lack, and the impact of missing functionality on the business.

Two solutions that many HR leaders consider when choosing an HCM suite are Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM and Workday. Here are five factors every potential customer should consider when shopping for an HCM solution.

A unified cloud matters

At one time, Workday used the tagline “The Power of One” to describe its platform, which it has since stopped using.[1] The company recently began to use “The Power to Adapt” in its place.[2] Was this shift because “The Power of One” was no longer accurate given Workday’s multiple platforms from acquisitions?

Since 2008, Workday has acquired 17 different companies. However, not all of them are on the same platform. For example, Workday Adaptive Planning[3] and Workday Peakon operate outside the core platform and require integration to function properly.[4] The company’s cloud strategy is equally fragmented, with leadership having adopted a multi-cloud strategy and adding partnerships with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Workday’s strategy depends on absorbing and combining the innovations of those partnerships and passing the accumulated innovations onto the customer as its own.[5]

Combined with a multi-cloud strategy, these acquisitions result in different products on different clouds and platforms, adding complexity and cost. Workday once maligned SAP and Oracle’s solutions as “Frankensteins,” meaning their architectures were bolted together with fragile and poorly integrated interfaces.[6] However, whereas Oracle has taken a unified approach with a natively built platform, Workday has arguably become what it once critiqued. 

Oracle Cloud HCM is one suite of products for all processes, one user experience across any device, and one technology platform natively built in the cloud from the ground up. It is a solution that is adaptable and configurable because it brings consistent processes and a single source of truth across the most important business functions, enabling businesses to increase agility and react to change faster than ever before. Analysts have praised Oracle Cloud HCM’s tech stack and flexibility as one of its greatest strengths.[7]

Evaluate whether your TCO is driving value

Some analysts and Workday customers agree that Workday is often a more expensive product and is generally not well-suited for cost-sensitive customers. In addition to subscription fees, all customers pay an additional innovation index fee of up to 2%, which is included in the flat fee for the initial term. If a customer chooses to defer some initial costs in the first term (known as a payment ramp), Workday will separate its standard schedule into a payment schedule and subscription fee schedule. Because of those deferred costs, the subscription fee schedule will have a higher cost in subsequent years to compensate for the initial discount.[8] 

Renewal pricing is a different story. Workday calculates the cost by adding the subscription fee schedule price in the exit year and adding a renewal fee, consisting of the innovation index fee and an annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase, all negotiated as part of the initial deal.[9] As a result, renewal costs can be more expensive than expected due to the compounded effect of a potentially higher exit year price, innovation index fee, and CPI increase (which is currently at a 30-year high due to inflation).

To meet its objective of reaching US$10 billion in revenue,[10] Workday tasks its sales team with cross-selling other solutions beyond just HCM such as FINS+ products or “add-on” solutions such as Workday Peakon, Workday Prism Analytics, or Workday Learning. Its presentation materials show that “add-on” solutions have an 8x multiplier effect on sales revenue.[11] Within the past couple years, Workday’s annual contract value (ACV) from existing customers grew from 20% in FY2020 to 40% in FY2022.  Given that Workday has publicly announced a generous employee bonus program, product investment, and the return of T&E expenses,[12] is the expensive TCO needed to fuel those extra costs?

Alternatively, Oracle does not currently have its renewal fee tied to the CPI or have an innovation index fee. It provides a unified and complete HCM cloud to drive business value through better user engagement and adoption, streamlined processes, improved productivity, and a lower TCO. Customers have reported a 60% increase in employee engagement and a 33% decline in HR costs, saving teams time and energy.[13]  

Payroll should be both global and efficient

Workday is primarily a US-based company, with only 25% of its revenue from other countries.[14] This focus reflects in its payroll product, which only supports four countries currently,[15] with future plans in two more.[16]   

Oracle Payroll is a fully unified solution that enables compliant and configurable payroll in ten different countries, with three more expected to become available by 2025. Not only is Oracle Payroll scalable, flexible, and capable of assisting with global, national, and local compliance around payroll laws and tax regulations, but its efficiency is driven by intelligent tools, embedded analytics, and a payroll dashboard that provides insightful information to help manage and automate global payroll processes. Additionally, innovation is driven by four annual updates, delivering innovation which boosts user experiences, productivity, and agility.

Employee experience needs to understand every worker

The culture of work and workers’ expectations have dramatically shifted, with employees seeking more support and flexibility from their employers. Many employers fail to meet those expectations, so many employees have resigned to look for better opportunities. Some employers are investing in employee experience platforms (EXPs) to attract and retain top talent.

Workday, like many HCM solutions, has employee experience products available. However, at various events and on different parts of its website, the company provides differing definitions for what comprises employee experience. 

  • For example, one part of the company’s website describes the EX solution as consisting of Workday Journeys, a customized experience tool that provides insights. The product also implies “streamlining HR case management” in a testimonial, which alludes to their Workday Help, Knowledge, and Case Management HCM products that work in tandem with Workday Assistant, the company’s digital chatbot.[17]  
  • On another part of its website, Workday alludes to the above products and describes employee experience as talent management, learning, and “measuring employee sentiment with pulse surveys,” which presumably references Workday Peakon.[18]  
  • The company also presented its EXP at its recent Innovation Summit as containing most of its products, including Workday Prism, Workday HCM, Workday Financial Management, Workday Peakon, Workday Adaptive Planning, and more.[19] 

It is unclear what Workday defines as its employee experience platform. Is it a clear list of products, or literally everything?

In addition to the confusing composition of their employee experience platform, the products in Workday’s EXP do not offer strong functionality. Workday Assistant, for example, was launched in 2020R1 and has been largely uncelebrated by the analyst community.[20] Others in the industry have also noted the solution’s inability to aid, instead directing employees to IT or HR support.[21] Workday Peakon, as previously mentioned, is located on an entirely different platform from other company products. The employee experience management solution also mentions delivering “tailored announcements,” but the company does not have a designated tool to communicate with real personalization and depth.[22] 

Oracle ME, a part of Oracle Cloud HCM, is the only complete employee experience platform that empowers your talent to connect, grow, and thrive. With a full understanding of the needs, aspirations, and the “me” behind every worker, you can design experiences that bring out the best in every person. The platform consists of:

  • Oracle Journeys: Drive success by delivering personalized guidance to support employees through professional and personal workflows, such as onboarding, exploring career opportunities, transferring to a new role, or getting married
  • Oracle Touchpoints*: Provide a continuous engagement and action channel between employees and managers that create meaningful interactions
  • Oracle HCM Communicate: Create communications that shape culture and drive behaviors that matter to your organization
  • Oracle Connections: Enrich relationships in the workplace by helping people find colleagues, experts, and mentors and share interests and feedback
  • Oracle HR Help Desk: Deliver quick, consistent, and intelligent HR services to every employee through a scalable and unified service request management solution
  • Digital Assistant for HCM: Provide seamless communication and guidance to all employee questions with conversational AI support through an HR chatbot

Oracle ME Cloud Infrastructure

​In contrast to Workday, Oracle ME is natively built into Oracle's end-to-end HCM solution and uses knowledge from comprehensive workforce data to deliver the right guidance based on an understanding of every individual's career and personal details. You can also broaden experiences with workflow actions and resources from third-party systems and other Oracle Cloud applications from Financials to Supply Chain to Customer Experience, all without the assistance of IT.

HCM should support all your processes

Workday HCM has many products and features. However, it is what the company does not do that merits attention.

  • Workday does not have all of the same controls offered by Oracle Advanced HCM Controls. While it does claim to have audit controls, fraud detection, and some segregation of duties capabilities, these are classified under its Financial Management solution and focus mostly on approval thresholds and preventing unauthorized transactions rather than HCM.[23] Oracle Advanced HCM Controls offers deeper segregation of duties analysis, secure role design, sensitive access certification, and automated HCM configuration and transaction monitoring, in addition to fraud and error prevention. The sum of these features allows for compliance with data privacy regulations, stopping insider threats, and quick adaptation to risk and compliance mandates.

  • Workday’s benefits product offers some wellness programs, it does not have a complete “work-life” functionality as part of its platform.[24] Oracle Work Life brings wellness, volunteering, and personal brand opportunities to promote engagement and well-being. Employees can set goals to focus on their well-being, explore volunteering opportunities, or develop a brand within their company.

  • While Workday offers some degree of design customizability through its Canvas Design System[25] or Business Process Framework,[26] neither solution appears to be truly unified or purpose-built for HR. Oracle Experience Design Studio is a powerful resource for HR to configure business processes using pre-built practice workflows and no-code rules construction without requiring IT assistance.

Oracle ME HCM

​​​​​​One of the many companies that have realized the value of Oracle Cloud HCM is ArcelorMittal, a global steel giant that is modernizing its recruiting, people management, and other HR resources. As the company digitized and automated more of its global operations, it also saw the need to enhance the education and rebalance the skill sets of its nearly 200,000 employees. ArcelorMittal chose Oracle Cloud HCM because of the platform’s comprehensive, intuitive, enterprise-wide offering that could support all HR efforts without the need for IT. Since implementing Oracle Cloud HCM, the company’s recruiting capabilities have improved and managing employee performance is more streamlined.

Read more on how customers worldwide have used Oracle Cloud HCM to transform their HR.

Want to learn more about Oracle Cloud HCM?

Choosing an HCM platform for your organization is not easy. With everything the workforce needs today, make sure you give your employees a complete, enjoyable, flexible, and intelligent HR system that meets current and future organizational requirements. 

*Disclaimer: The preceding is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, timing, and pricing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products may change and remains at the sole discretion of Oracle Corporation.


  [1] Workday Staff, “Defining the Power of One”, Workday Blog, 7 June 2015, https://blog.workday.com/en-us/2015/defining-the-power-of-one.html
  [2] Bersin, Josh, “Update from the Workday Innovation Summit: Lots of Growth Ahead”, Josh Bersin, 18 April 2022, https://joshbersin.com/2022/04/update-from-the-workday-innovation-summit-lots-of-growth-ahead/
  [3] “Workday Adaptive Planning Integration”, Workday, Accessed 19 May 2022, https://www.workday.com/content/dam/web/en-us/documents/datasheets/enus-pln-da-workday-adaptive-planning-integration.pdf
  [4] Kristiana, “Set Up Peakon’s Workday Integration”, Peakon Support, 4 May 2022, https://support.peakon.com/hc/en-us/articles/4405995533714-Set-up-Peakon-s-Workday-integration
  [5] “Financial Analyst Day 2021”, Workday Investor Relations, 21 September 2021, https://filecache.investorroom.com/mr5ir_workday/104/workday-2021-financial-analyst-day.pdf
  [6] Bersin, Josh Bersin
  [7] “Oracle Analyst Reports”, Oracle, Accessed 19 May 2022, https://www.oracle.com/corporate/analyst-reports.html#platform-tab
  [8] Lazarto, Jeff, “The Hidden Costs in Workday Payment Ramps”, UpperEdge, 10 December 2020, https://upperedge.com/workday/the-hidden-costs-in-workday-payment-ramps/ 
  [9] “The Hidden Costs in Workday Payment Ramps”
  [10] “Financial Analyst Day 2021”
  [11] “Financial Analyst Day 2021”
  [12] “Workday’s Management on Q4 FY 2022 Results”, Seeking Alpha, 28 February 2022, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4491489-workday-incs-wday-management-on-q4-2022-results-earnings-call-transcript
  [13] “Ten Reasons Customers Select Oracle Cloud HCM”, 2020, Oracle, https://www.oracle.com/a/ocom/docs/applications/human-capital-management/top10reasons-hcm-cloud-ebook.pdf
  [14] “Workday’s Management on Q4 FY 2022 Results”
  [15] “Workday Payroll for the US”, Workday, Accessed 8 July 2022, https://www.workday.com/content/dam/web/en-us/documents/datasheets/datasheet-workday-payroll.pdf
  [16] “Financial Analyst Day 2021”
  [17] “Employee Experience”, Workday, Accessed 26 April 2022, https://www.workday.com/en-us/products/human-capital-management/employee-experience.html
  [18] “Employee Experience Management”, Workday, Accessed 26 April 2022, https://www.workday.com/en-us/solutions/role/enterprise-hr/employee-experience-management.html
  [19] Mueller, Holger, “MyPO-Quite a Seachange in Messaging @Workday”, Twitter for Android, 14 April 2022, https://mobile.twitter.com/holgermu/status/1514678279231324167/photo/1
  [20] Greening, Jeff, “Get Your Workday Assistant”, LinkedIn, 30 April 2020, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/get-your-workday-assistant-jeff-greening?trk=pulse-article_more-articles_related-content-card
  [21] DeMuro, Jonas, “Workday Human Capital Management Review”, Tech Radar, 14 January 2022, https://www.techradar.com/reviews/workday-human-capital-management
  [22] “Employee Experience Management”, Workday, Accessed 26 April 2022, https://www.workday.com/en-us/solutions/role/enterprise-hr/employee-experience-management.html
  [23] “Audit and Internal Controls”, Workday, Accessed 27 April 2022, https://www.workday.com/en-us/products/financial-management/audit-internal-controls.html
  [24] “Workday Benefits”, Workday, Accessed 27 April 2020, https://www.workday.com/content/dam/web/en-us/documents/datasheets/datasheet-workday-benefits.pdf
  [25] “Workday Canvas Design System”, Workday, Accessed 27 April 2022, https://canvas.workday.com/
  [26] “Workday Business Process Framework”, Workday, Accessed 27 April 2022, https://www.workday.com/content/dam/web/en-us/documents/datasheets/workday-business-process-framework.pdf
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Jeff Wilson

Director, Global Competitive Strategies—Applications

Jeff Wilson is a director of global competitive strategies at Oracle, focusing on Cloud HCM. He also previously led competitive insights for cloud software products at companies including Sage and Datto, Inc.


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