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Workday HCM and financial management tools save $1 million for Ensono

Ensono reduced the time to close the books each month and dramatically cut costs when it dumped on-site computing and implemented cloud-based Workday HCM and financials.

Ensono is saving about $1 million a year and closing its books much faster after scrapping its on-site applications...

and launching cloud-based Workday HCM and financials.

Ensono, based in Downers Grove, Ill., went live with Workday on Aug. 1, 2015, the same day the company started operating separately after being spun off by Acxiom.

Alan Cole, vice president and controller at Ensono, an IT infrastructure provider, said the cost savings are one reason for switching to a system that uses the internet. He said it is also an advantage to run a unified Workday system for human resource management and financial management tools.

"When you look at all those maintenance costs that we were paying on an annual basis for our on-premises software, compared to what we are paying for Workday for one integrated system, we are saving $1 million," said Cole, who was in charge of the Workday implementation. "That does not even count any labor savings from the efficiencies we are getting from one system."

PeopleSoft scrapped for financial management tools

Ensono replaced Oracle's PeopleSoft HR and financials, which carried substantial maintenance costs, he said. Workday also supplanted SAP-owned Concur for business travel and expense management; some functions of Microsoft SharePoint; Clarity, a product of Computer Associates, for time reporting and project management; and BMC Remedy IT service management software for approval processes for certain capital expenses.

PeopleSoft financial management tools required a lot of manual work. PeopleSoft took 7 to 10 days to close the books, which for Ensono includes profits and losses and the balance sheet, he said.

Workday automates much of the monthly closing process. That allows Ensono to reduce by about half the time it takes to close the books, or transfer temporary account balances to permanent accounts and finalize the general ledger in Workday ERP for the next accounting period.

With the new integrated financial system, Ensono closes the books by the fourth business day.

"We use business day five to review our expenses and our revenues compared to our forecast to make sure we have not missed anything. We hit the button and we are final."

Workday Composite Reporting more complex, requires more training

Ensono uses Microsoft Excel to develop the forecast and budget, which it then enters into Workday to compare to actual results on a monthly basis. The company may purchase Workday Planning next year to move the creation of the forecast and budget into Workday.

Ensono just began developing more complex reports via Composite Reporting, a financial reporting tool in Workday unveiled in September 2014. Composite Reporting works well when combining data from different sources within Workday, but it is not easy for integrating data from external sources, he said.

"We believe the new planning module, which has the ability to load data via spreadsheet, may resolve this issue," he said. "From a user perspective, non-Composite Reporting is relatively easy to use, with some minimal training, whereas Composite Reporting today is more complex, requires more training and is normally configured by someone from my internal Workday support team."

Ensono's system includes Workday core HR, recruiting, benefits, succession planning, compensation, absence management, time tracking, talent management, performance management, banking and settlement, budgets, business-asset accounting and tracking, customer and customer accounts, customer contacts, cash management, expenses, financial accounting, procurement software, projects, suppliers and supplier accounts.

Controller cites challenge with Workday mobile app

Ensono, which recently went live with Workday Financial Management, felt a couple of pain points along the way.

Alan Cole, vice president and controller at Ensono, who began using the Workday mobile application about four months ago, said it does not provide some important details for accounting purposes.

In a certain journal entry, for example, he said when using his phone, he cannot see the debits and credits to assure they are specified to the correct account. A desktop computer would provide those details. Because he travels and his approval is often needed for entries, he needs to see the details with his phone, he said.

Also, in November 2015, Workday rolled out a change to its accounting application to correct a certain problem for a separate company in the multi-tenant cloud-based subscription, he said.

In correcting the problem for the separate company, Workday created a bug, which meant when Ensono depreciated a new capital item, it multiplied the monthly depreciation on the item by four times, he said.

Workday quickly responded and resolved the matter by the following month, Cole said.

On the mobile capabilities, Workday spokeswoman Nina Oestlien said in an email that the vendor is "always expanding the breadth and depth of our mobile experience based on customer feedback like Alan's."

In the next feature release, for example, Workday will deliver functions that make it easier for customers to approve in Workday Financial Management via a mobile device, she said.

Controller amazed at smooth launch of Workday

Cole said the Workday system experienced no problems the day it went live with Ensono. He was astonished at the smooth launch because he has worked on other software projects and, usually, there is some kind of issue on the first day.

Cole attributed the error-free Workday launch partly to Ensono's experienced implementation partner, Deloitte Consulting, a detailed implementation plan with tasks for each of the functional areas and comprehensive testing before rolling into production.

"We went up live from start to finish in two months; we had no issues at all," he said. "That was amazing."

The implementation was complex. For example, it involved writing 64 interfaces to third-party service providers, such as benefits providers and banks.

The Workday system went live about two months after Acxiom agreed to sell its IT infrastructure management business to Charlesbank Capital Partners and M/C Partners in May 2015. After it was sold, the business later was rebranded Ensono.

Workday inbox is user-friendly

Ensono also bought Attenda in September, a U.K.-based provider of managed IT services with about 300 employees. Attenda will also be integrated into the Workday system and will discontinue many manual processes, including taping receipts to blank sheets of paper for filing business expenses.

Following implementation, Workday overall has been easy to use for employees at Ensono, largely because of the software's inbox, he said.

The inbox includes a tab that shows all of the actions that people need to complete, and it retains items until they are complete. It also has a tab that includes certain items received by employees and another tab that displays the status of items still in progress or having been completed.

All 750 U.S. employees at Ensono use the Workday system, including performance management and self-service for HR, such as updating beneficiaries and dependent information, changing Federal W-4 withholding elections or adding and editing direct deposit payment elections.

Cole said the Workday inbox is especially convenient for him and others during the process for seeking approval of expenses or other items.

Workday boosts approval process

"There are no manual approvals anymore. Everything flows through the system. You can click and see all the details, and you can decide whether to approve it or not approve it, or you can ask more questions," he said.

"You can also attach documents. During the capital approval process, you can attach a document that shows the present value of the project and the expected return on investment if it is revenue related. "

"You can set up all the levels of approval within Workday. If a capital item is up to a half a million dollars, I can approve it, for example. And if it is over a half a million, it goes to the CFO."

With PeopleSoft, the company manually routed approvals for capital items and purchase requisitions. The company also used Remedy for approving some items and SharePoint for others, meaning employees would receive emails directing them to different computing systems.

All of that is now consolidated in Workday.

"Even though capital approvals might run through a slightly different Workday module than purchase requisitions, they are all integrated and they all flow through the same system," Cole said. "It makes it easier for our teams to do their job."

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