Managing an Accelerated Journey

By Denise Truelove, Director of Human Resources and Employee Services, Kimball Electronics

Denise Truelove, Director of Human Resources and Employee Services, Kimball Electronics

What do you do when you have just been spun-off as a stand-alone company and are growing at a rate faster than your competitors? You figure out what it’s going to take to continue growing at this pace and what is needed in order to meet your strategic objectives. Once that analysis is complete – you embark on a new Human Resources Information System (HRIS) implementation.


Flashback to 2014 when the organization first learned of the upcoming spin-off. One of the first things that would be needed was a way to pay our U.S. workforce, as well as a U.S.-based HRIS system to replace the one that would be staying with the parent organization. We analyzed several solutions at that time and determined it was best (safest out of the gate) to go with a similar system as our former parent company’s legacy system. During the search process, we were very impressed with the Workday product–but needed a “fast” solution for our US payroll needs. We kept Workday in our thoughts as a solution for future potential. Fast forward to the fall of 2015, at our annual fall strategy meeting, when our Vice President of Global Human Resources presented to our global leaders “our future HRIS Solution.” The following April, our Workday journey began.

The Implementation - Accelerated

The project was to implement Workday in all of our global locations, thereby having a single source of data for all of our Human Resources information globally. This was something that our company had longed for over the years and it seemed that the vision would become reality. The biggest challenge with this plan was that our locations had many years of autonomy and this “Workday thing” was going to require “standardization.” Standardization seemed easy when talking about it; however, the reality of determining the “best practice” process, keeping in mind the requirements that are driven by regulatory compliance in each country, was far more complicated. And then of course, the challenge of “living” with and sustaining the standardization and best practice once we would go live was yet a bigger challenge.

"We can finally see all of our global workforce data in one centralized system"

Over the course of just 8 months, we had our partner consultants from Mercer and our Human Resources global team members (one or two from each location plus our core team of four and our HR executive sponsors) meet together face-to-face at two different times. We met once for the “blue printing” of the processes and the system, and once for Testing – which is where the bulk of the knowledge transfer occurred. We had our “big bang GO LIVE” on December 19, 2016.

Sounds simple right? Well, here we are now in the fall of 2017, nine months into our Workday journey and still learning something new about this very complex and dynamic system every day.

The biggest improvement and benefit from this project: DATA, DATA, DATA. We can finally see all of our global workforce data in one centralized system. The system supports metrics by providing data that is consistent so that we measure the same thing in the same way now. We could never do this before. All of this data was in separate systems previously. This gives more meaning to our metrics and allows the data to be more actionable. Additionally, we now have a truly global career portal. We finally have insight to all open requisitions within our organization at the click of a report.

Lessons Learned

Did we get everything 100 percent right? No, of course not.

Would we have ever been ready to GO LIVE if we would have tried to get it perfect? No.

Have we seen the benefit and payback we expected? YES!

Would we do it all over again? YES – but we would definitely do some things differently.

What, you ask; would you do different, knowing what you know now?

Herein lies the purpose of this article:

1) Do not underestimate the need for dedicated resources, or the number of resources needed. If we were to do it again tomorrow, we would have a regional data lead as well as our core team. There are some things that only the local people know and understand about data.

2) Create and document data extraction, conversion and the cleansing process. Make it repeatable, and as simple as possible. If possible, cleanse and convert in the system it is being extracted from to make the entire process more seamless and, in some cases, expedite the ability to interface Workday to local payroll systems.

3) Plan for and prepare for local integrations at the outset of the project. Without having the integrations to local payroll solutions completed, it lessens the importance for our locations to keep Workday up to date and accurate. This also will make the “buy-in” easier if using Workday doesn’t cause them redundant work.

4) Even an intuitive system needs training materials, job aids—this should not be overlooked.

5) When you utilize a consultant firm for implementation services, be careful not to let them “own” the project management. Partnering is a must. Push-back is a must – you have to represent your organization’s needs regardless of the consultant’s “best practice” guidance.

Our company has grown from 4,300 employees worldwide to over 5,400 since we first started this journey. We are now positioned to plan for what’s next for our Workday journey and how we can utilize the system to better understand our talent to strengthen and formalize our talent management and succession planning processes globally.

Are we excited about our future? Heck yes!!!

Will Workday help us get there? Absolutely, without a doubt!

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