Top 20 Tips And Best Practice for a Successful SaaS Implementation

Who would not want a stress free and smooth transition to any new SaaS implementation? I want to share a few takeaways for a successful go-live based on my experience and going through multiple Workday implementations initially with a top 3 Consultling company in their Human Transformation Practice and subsequently as a client-side advocate for multiple companies in different verticals.

  1. Planning your implementation

 The time to review your processes, pain points, production issues is not when the project starts but much earlier. Take an inventory of your existing business processes, user groups, unique requirements of your business. Review your existing procedures and policies. Identify the processes managed outside of the current system, articulate your pain points.

Having this information will help you evaluate all the product offerings and provide a foundation for you to work off during the implementation.

 Decide on whether you want to go big bang or whether you want to adopt a phased approach to implement Workday. There is no single best way of doing things. What may work for one company may not necessarily work for another. Evaluate your needs, special circumstances, and then make a decision.

2.   Training

Arm your team with the knowledge needed to support and implement new SaaS. Have a group of mentors available to help your team. 

3.   Identify your SMEs

 Make sure all SMEs are represented in design sessions. Spend extra effort to identify the SMEs early on and take their guidance during the implementation.

4. Supporting your team

Support your internal team members who will be working on the project. The team members will have to perform two jobs, learn new technology and sacrifice their personal time. They deserve to be applauded for taking up the challenge. It is easy to forget this as you get preoccupied with the implementation. Appreciate and thank them for their hard work. Celebrate the small milestones along the way. And please do not wait for the go-live date to celebrate. It does not cost a lot but will undoubtedly boost the morale of the team.

5. Choosing the Right Implementation Partner 

While a strong implementation partner’s choice is vital in any project, it especially assumes significance in the specific SaaS space. More likely than not, new SaaS is foreign to your company as well. The implementation partners play a crucial role by providing expertise, experience, and guidance to take you to your end goal.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of evaluating the partners. Perform due diligence, talk to the clients who have used the implementation partners. If possible, identify the prospective implementation partner’s prior client and ask for their feedback. Reach out to the customers for feedback on implementation partners.

Have the implementation partner bring at least some of the Consultants who will eventually work on your implementation at the presales meeting. You do not want rock stars to show up at the presales and initial meetings, and a different set of consultants with limited experience show up when the project kicks off. You certainly do not want freshers and inexperienced consultants to train at your cost. If possible, get the consultant’s resumes who will work on the project and interview them to gauge their skill sets.

Check whether the implementation partners are willing to go that extra mile to help you. Or is their goal to complete the implementation as quickly and possible and leave the scene for the next engagement.

 Understand their staffing policies. Having someone work for very long hours consistently has its own set of consequences. The quality of the work could suffer, the overworked consultants may make mistakes, and in specific situations, deadlines may not be met. In extreme cases, the consultant might drop out of the project taking with him/her invaluable knowledge acquired during the project implementation. All this can prove very costly to the company. A good barometer is to determine the maximum and average length of service of the consultant in the practice. 

 In other words, do your due diligence.

6.   Information Technology Support

Granted that Workday is a SAAS application, and the company will not need IT resources to maintain hardware, support servers, and Operating Systems. However, you will still need IT support for various activities, including data conversion, supporting the integrations between Workday and Third-party vendors, and internal applications. 

Workday makes changes at a fast pace. Given that feature releases are delivered every six months, you want someone to test the integrations and fix those that require a fix. You may also have to change Integration if newly introduced functionality gets implemented by the business. 

 You will also need someone to build integrations to support new business needs. While a company could undoubtedly engage an implementation partner, the partner may not always be available to perform small assignments. Having in-house expertise has its advantages.

7.   Coordination between functional and Integration team

The coordination between the functional team and the integration team and with the implementation partner resources is crucial for the project’s success. Instituting a reliable communication plan for communicating foundation data changes, changes to business processes, security policy changes, changes in the field where data will be stored will pave for a successful and stress-free implementation.

Some decisions may have a far-reaching impact on integrations. While Workday provides flexibility to do certain things, this flexibility comes at a cost. It can adversely impact the data sent to downstream and introduce inconsistencies in the data, and not all changes may end up reaching downstream systems. 

Involving the functional team in testing the Integration is critical as they are the SMEs from business process and data ownership perspective. Make it a practice to have a procedure in place to communicate and test and integration changes. 

8.   Agile Methodology does not mean not testing thoroughly 

Agile does not mean going to production without having fully tested all the configurations and business processes before the gold build. 

The project timelines are generally aggressive. Given the pace of a typical Workday implementation, it is best to plan the functionality you would like to see in each of the prototypes. The more you defer functionality to the next tenant, the more you lose the opportunity to test the functionality. You also lose the chance to test your integrations as changing the foundation data and functionality will cause integration rework and, in some conditions require a complete rewrite of integrations. Make sure you also account for testing the migration to the next tenant. You certainly do not want to find yourself in a situation where something worked fine during the testing but does not after go live.

I will go out on my limbs and say that you should have at least 50 % to 70 % of the functionality and data loaded and tested in P1. I do not fall in the camp that believes in making P1 bare bones to give the client a preliminary view of how their data will look. 

Insist on parallel run. Typically, the workday methodology does not explicitly spell out parallel runs. Parallel runs are especially vital if you are implementing Workday Payroll.

 9. User Acceptance Testing

If you have done your homework, you should already have your list of super users and their access needs. Involve them in user acceptance testing. Cover all possible permutations and combinations of transactions. If you have super users in multiple countries, make sure each country gets adequately represented in the User Acceptance testing.

All business process and integrations must get tested for all flavors of transactions and edge cases. Implementation can be a mad scramble, and coordination between the function resources and testing will always be a challenge. Regardless, the comprehensive testing strategy and plan will pave the way for a smoother go live and less production support issues, especially after go live.

 10. Data Conversion and Validation

Data conversion can be a beast. For example, Workday is very unforgiving in terms of data load. Addresses, phone numbers, names have validation rules that vary from country to country. What may be a straightforward thing could potentially be a source of a headache.

Plan on fixing data quality issues in the source system as time progresses. 

A decision on what data should be converted is a critical decision that has both availability and cost implications. While the implementation partners will steer you away from loading historical loading data, the industry you operate in may benefit from historical data conversion. The more data you load, the more the possibility of fallouts and data quality issues in source system showing up. Between not loading any history and loading complete history, there are other options. The cost will also vary based on the option you choose. 

 It is important to validate the data after loading it. Plan on extracting the data from Workday after loading it and then comparing it against the source extracts. Make the process repeatable by building processes in your programming language of choice.

11.   Reviewing the Business Processes, validations and foundation data

Reviewing and verifying the foundation data in the tenant and validating the data after new tenant builds will guard against unpleasant surprises. I would caution against leave this entirely to the implementation partner resource. 

12. Testing the access of employees and super users.

Security must be configured such that all the users can perform their tasks. It is, therefore, important that every group of users are included in User acceptance testing and are given an opportunity to execute all the tasks expected of them in production.

13. Integrations

Having the internal team develop some of the integrations certainly has its merits. It gives the team members an opportunity to develop the integrations and prepares them for life after go live. It also helps them interact intelligently with the implementation partners during the Knowledge Transfer sessions. 

 Given the benefits of building Integration internally. More likely than not, the implementation partner team will be preoccupied with their own resources and will not have the time to train and support the internal team on an ongoing basis. Know that you have choices. There are quite a few boutique firms with experienced connsultant available to help companies with this. I have helped many clients through their Workday implementation. As a part of this effort, I have also helped the internal team acquire the knowledge necessary to maintain their system in the future. The

14. Reviewing the Integration built by the implementation Partners

No one is more interested in making sure that the integrations build are robust, scalable, and maintainable that the company will own the integrations. Plan on reviewing the designs builds from time to time. You may think that implementation partners have a process to review the work and ensure that standards are followed in developing Integration and that the end result will be a set of Integration that is easy to maintain. The last thing you want is a bunch of Integration with more or less the same functionality but are not consistent in terms of approach, standards, how the integration processes data etc. Workday does have delivery assurance services. However, their review is at a high level. They look for the existence of specific attributes in the Integration that will raise alerts. However, the reviews are not comprehensive enough and not a guarantee that the integrations will make production support life easy.

15. Reviewing the builds of internal resources 

Reviewing the Integration built by the internal resources will go a long way in ensuring the integrations’ quality and reliability. Given that Workday application is new to most employees, this should be mandatory. 

16. Restructure how you do things.

There is no reason to continue to do something the same the way you do today. It is quite possible that limitation on the existing systems (or perhaps budget constraints) caused you to perform tasks manually outside the system. The implementation is your opportunity to take a hard and fast look at review everything and move those manual processes into Workday. Use the opportunity to take a hard and fast look at what you do today and consider reengineering your processes to make them efficient and scalable. Remember, there is no better time to implement this than at the time of initial implementation. Take advantage of the momentum gained during implementation.

17. Build with Post Production support in mind.

  I cannot tell how many customers find themselves in a bind because the application was not configured with making post-production support a breeze. This includes super complex business processes, integrations that do not provide adequate information when they fail. Surprisingly, it does not take a lot to make sure that business processes and integrations are designed to make post-production easy.

18. Change Management

 It takes a village to maintain any ERP system. Workday is no exception. More likely than not, the number of super users initiating transactions will grow. Plan on training the employees who will be working in the system as super users. Involve them in testing the system. Develop comprehensive training manual and videos for all sets of users, including employees, managers, HR BP, Payroll Partners, etc.

19. Post Production Changes

Going live is just the beginning. While this is strictly not related to implementation, this area is critical enough that it merits your attention. You will come across situations requiring changes to foundation data, business processes, and integrations after go live. Changing circumstances will require you to build new integrations. Workday might come with new features that could be leveraged for your business and, in some cases, deprecate existing functionality and objects. Plan on reviewing the feature releases and testing your main processes to make sure these do not break.

20. Engage Boutique Consulting Companies.

Use Boutique consulting services like ours to bring down your cost while providing seasoned professionals to do the heavy lifting for you while you focus on your strategic objections. Our offerings and value propositions are unbeatable.

 Do you think I missed something crucial or essential? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.


  1. Srini G on Blog

    Thanks for sharing the information!

One thought on “Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: