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Navigating the future of government: a Deloitte and Workday blog

Look around! Important steps for assessing the impacts upon the broader technology ecosystem prior to implementing Workday in government.

Implementing a cloud ERP solution can deliver a host of much-needed benefits to government organizations, ranging from risk mitigation to operating efficiencies to modern self-service capabilities. But, like ripples in a pond, the impacts of deploying a modern cloud platform like Workday will be felt across the broader technology ecosystem. All-too-often organizations overlook the impacts upon other systems in the rush to get their new cloud-based solution up and running. This can delay implementation timelines, elevate risk, and jeopardize benefit realization.

To account for these impacts, upfront planning is essential. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare:

  • Develop a vision, guiding principles, governance, and leadership alignment.  Project leaders should be able to answer: “Why are we doing this? What are we using to guide our decisions? How will this affect our people, processes, and other technologies within the broader ecosystem? And, do we all agree on where we are going and how we are going to get there? This is the “soft” stuff, but it is ever so important. Project leaders often underestimate the breadth and depth of the journey before them, either from a technical lens (i.e., they think it will be simpler) or they don’t recognize the peripheral effects on their people, processes, and other technologies. As a result, the project can quickly lose momentum. 
  • Inventory your existing technology ecosystem. This is often harder than it sounds, since this inventory extends not just to the systems that are immediately touched by the implementation, such as finance and HCM, but also systems that integrate with those systems to the second and third degrees. Plus, agencies, departments, or units in a governmental entity may be using software that is not readily apparent to those who are driving the cloud ERP transformation (i.e., the central IT organization or certain business functions).  For instance, a system may have been in place for such a long time and have such limited application that it has been forgotten—except by the few who still use it. In taking inventory, it’s important to consider the primary function of the new cloud-based solution; whether or not it integrates with the legacy technology being replaced; and, if so, what type of data is being integrated, at what volume, and how frequently. Other initial considerations include who owns the solution from a business and technology standpoint, and whether or not you believe this system can be replaced by the new cloud ERP solution immediately or later. Also, the technology ecosystem is constantly evolving so there should be a process in place for agencies or departments to communicate any changes. 
  • Decide what should be remediated, retired, or retained. Some systems will be replaced entirely by the new Workday solution; others will be replaced in the short-term but not immediately; and still others will be retained as part of the long-term technology strategy. Deciding which is which and determining how to handle the impacts on legacy technology often starts by asking: “Why is this system still needed?” In our experience, organizations will often insist that a system is still necessary without identifying why. If users can’t articulate a system’s value and purpose, then it likely can be retired and/or replaced.
  • Look where you’re going. The technology roadmap always comes into play. In some cases, there might be a system that is already slated for retirement, so an organization wouldn’t necessarily want to invest the money to remediate it entirely. Nonetheless, it will still need to be considered in the ecosystem of the implementation. In this instance, the organization may decide to retain that system, devising a way to support whatever piece of its functionality that needs to operate for the remainder of its lifecycle. Another situation may involve redesigning the Chart of Accounts (COA) during a cloud-based finance implementation. In this case, there are commonly three remediation options: 1) put a foundation data model (FDM) translator in place; 2) remediate the legacy systems to accommodate the redesigned COA; or 3) a combination of both by using the FDM translator as a stop-gap measure until all systems can be remediated. These examples illustrate the potential extent of the impacts upon legacy technologies, which will vary based on the scale of the product suite that is being implemented.
  • Don’t forget about funding. The funding element in government takes a lot of time, and it can be your biggest constraint. Funding can affect your decisions about what to retire, retain, and remediate, and it can create barriers between agencies, departments, and units regarding who should pay for what. Dealing with funding challenges early and figuring out who will provide the resources for remediation work are often key to success. 
  • Learn by doing.  Often, agencies believe that all decisions need to be finalized and all impacts on the technology ecosystem need to be known before they can start. This runs counter to the hybrid Agile implementation approach that is used in many cloud implementations. Government organizations would be well-served to adopt a mindset of “starting with the information we have,” rather than “waiting until we have all of the answers.” Decisions are made on an ongoing, iterative basis throughout the lifecycle of the project as information becomes available. In a cloud-based world, everyone learns by doing, not by waiting.

Many government organizations are poised to gain significant benefits from cloud transformation programs, but a narrow view that reduces their solution deployments to merely a technical challenge can hinder their progress. It’s far-too-easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the ERP solution itself, without taking into account the ramifications upon the broader technology landscape. Slowing down and charting a course through this landscape, which can be quite complex within government, is important for arriving at the desired destination quickly, safely, and with fewer detours.