Can Workday Student can win loyalty of future business leaders Image credit Niewiadomski
Can Workday Student can win loyalty of future business leaders

Workday is gathering a momentum of success in the education sector. It has just announced new wins at Vassar College, Washington University in St. Louis, and Wellesley College. This adds to the announcement after the successful end of year results of the win at The Ohio State University. These successes combine both the finance and human resources Workday applications and in the case of at least Vassar College, Washington University in St Louis and the Ohio State University sees the demise of Banner ERP from Ellucian.

Is Vassar burning Banner?

According to a presentation by Elizabeth Hayes, Deputy CIO at Vassar college the Banner contract, which begun in 1996, runs until 2020 and is therefore older than many of its students. It appears that for the time being Workday will run alongside Banner and the data will be integrated continuously using Snaplogic. Hayes commenting in the SnapLogic press release said: “We need to move and manage large amounts of data from our existing financial and human resources systems into Workday, and we are also looking to add new cloud applications as we continue to optimize our IT strategy and architecture.

Beth Hayes, Deputy CIO at Vassar College (Source linkedIn)
Beth Hayes, Deputy CIO at Vassar College

“After evaluating many options in the market, we chose SnapLogic because it was built for the cloud, supports hybrid cloud application and data integration, gives us the ability to scale by building and managing integrations more quickly, and offers a user interface that is easy to use.”

Hayes estimates that the project will last around 30-38 weeks and the plan is to go live with a parallel run in October 2016. What will be interesting is whether they will look to end the Banner contract early, something other education establishments will look on with interest as they look to recoup money from their legacy solution. Interestingly this is not a Workday managed implementation but one delivered by Meteorix the Workday consultancy that IBM announced their acquisition of last year at Workday rising.

Hayes goes on in her presentation to explain the change management involved and how the new project will be able to look at best practice in various business processes. The aim of this will be to create efficiency across the organisation and reduce the manual processes that still exist.

Workday Student now, Enterprise later

The announcement did not specifically state how many of these academic centres have chosen to implement Workday Student. For Vassar College they will be implementing HCM, then Finance and finally Workday student, which seems the logical progression. For Workday this is a clever and farsighted move. In delivering a look and feel to students with Workday, they are effectively making their software familiar to future business leaders. This is a long term strategy but if done well reaps huge benefits as the loyalty of current workers to Microsoft Office will attest.

These new wins add to institutions such as Brown University and Louisiana State University that have already selected and implemented Workday within their organisations. Workday is continuing to expand within the public sector often at the expense of Oracle and SAP but these recent wins seem to be against Banner. Ellucian boasts a total of 1,400 institutions that use their ERP solution and this looks to be a rich target for Workday and it will be interesting to see how Ellucian respond.

Workday for delivers advantages to private and public sector.

While this announcement revolves around the public sector, the benefits that these organisations gain is the same as those in the private sector. Workday stressed the benefits of increased accountability and transparency, something that is important for organisations that receive donations from members of the public and need to track where and how those funds are spent. The in memory database that holds the Workday data allows administrators to rapidly drill down in real time onto vast data sets that are integrated across the organisation, without the need to run reports.

For students, Workday meets their demands for mobile applications. The students of today are becoming the workforce of tomorrow and Workday ensures that whether student, faculty or administrator the user base has access to the information they need at the right point in time and place. The final though not the last benefit that Workday alludes to over its legacy software competition is the single code base that allows it to update implementations rapidly.

Phil Wilmington,Co-President at Workday (Source linkedIn)
Phil Wilmington,Co-President at Workday

The last major update took only a few hours to apply. As companies and organisations look to implement the born in the cloud solution they no longer need to budget so highly for software updates. Features such as the long awaited personalisation due in Workday 26 can be implemented within hours of its launch.

Phil Wilmington, co-president, Workday commented: “Education, government, and nonprofit organisations are under constant pressure to adapt to an increasingly complex, and regulated environment. In order to drive success today while preparing for future opportunities and challenges, it’s critical they have access to real-time data and insights across their organisation.

“With one system that offers visibility into people, operations, and financials as well as the flexibility to adapt to new market demands and regulations, Workday customers can better serve their communities and constituents.”


Workday continues to build momentum and while the start of the year has seemed slow in terms of customer wins, this latest raft of announcements sees Workday back on track. Its wins are often substantial and with the user base of universities running into the thousands they are often both substantial and as complex as any organisation. As companies and organisations look to replace their ERP solutions over the next few years it will be interesting to see whether the legacy solutions can start to combat the new born-in-the-cloud companies such as NetSuite, Workday and Salesforce. Each works in only slightly overlapping areas at the moment but they all look at the heartland of SAP and Oracle.

Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, The Ohio State University (Source Twitter)
Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, The Ohio State University

There are also legacy companies such as Ellucian, with their Banner ERP that may be the early casualties if they cannot start winning the battle for the cloud. What is interesting about Workday’s approach to having a student application is this long term look at the hearts and minds of students. If the future business leaders look back as fondly on Workday then these successes could cement the long term future of the company and make it a lot harder for their competitors to shift them out in the future.

For the institutions themselves they are seeing rapid benefits from the implementations as Geoff Chatas, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, Ohio State University explains: “This is not simply about choosing a new technology solution, we are putting more business insights in the hands of our analysts and leaders so that we can be more agile in how we use financial data to inform decisions.


  1. Thanks for the great blog Steve. We can confirm that Workday is doing a great job replacing Ellucian Banner in private, not-for-profit institutions. Workday is also being selected to replace other legacy solutions. Our research shows that Workday has won at least 25 new higher education accounts so far in 2016. Their momentum is strong. Vicki Tambellini


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here