How to prepare for a Workday Update Release

The twice-yearly Workday Update Release in March and September, is a key activity in your annual Workday calendar, bringing new functionalities and improvements to the user experience.

To take advantage of these releases it is essential to have a methodical approach to Workday Release Management. This includes ensuring the relevant people in your organisation are aware of the expected changes.

As you probably heard repeatedly during the Workday sales cycle, Workday encourages customers to raise items they would like to see developed in the Workday Community. If sufficient clients ask for, or support, a specific improvement or feature, it is added to the Roadmap. So, if there is something your organisation wants, then add a brainstorm to the community detailing the potential enhancement. Ask other Workday users to vote for it too.

Familiarise yourself with tools that explain new features.

Typically, a Release Centre is set up in the Workday community eight to ten weeks before each update release. This works as a preparation centre, containing all you need to know about what to expect in the update.

New releases often add functionality, fix bugs, and improve customer experience. However, sometimes elements such as data fields may be removed. You need to be aware that some fields you rely on for capturing data, reporting, or integrations might be lost. Generally, you will get a heads up that fields are due to be deleted a couple of releases in advance.

Another important resource is the Feature Release Guidebook which you can also find in the Release Centre. It brings together tools that may be useful in planning release management, such as timelines, release schedules, FAQs, etc. This is a good starting point for clients who are implementing a release on their own for the first time. Although it is often very generic, it gives you a basic understanding of the key considerations to manage your releases.

You can also find the What’s New in Workday Report in the Release Centre. This report lists features that have been released into production tenants and are available for you to use. It is also available in tenants that have the new release available, giving you an overview of additional functionality that is readily available for you to switch on.

The Adoption Tool Kit is an interactive report that allows you to assess new features, add them to a release plan, allocate ownership to a user, and track its status. Together with the What’s New In Workday Report, it will help you plan, manage and track areas of interest and determine which changes are useful for your organisation.

Schedule Workday update release important dates

Check the Maintenance Calendar and plan around it. You can find the calendar on the homepage of the Release Centre. Note that when Workday updates, it will shut down and will be unavailable for a short period, usually between three to twelve hours.

These updates happen during the weekend maintenance window. The calendar will always state the expected outage time. The Maintenance Calendar will tell you when functionality will be available in the preview tenant, the expected production date, and when you can start implementing it.

Test the Workday update release

To test new functionality and regression test existing functionality, you need to:

  • Switch on or set up (in the preview tenant) all the functionality you intend to adopt with the release.
  • Configure the functionality as required.
  • Test the new functionalities you have switched on / set up.
  • Test any new functionalities that are coming in automatically.
  • Regression test to ensure that all existing functionalities continues to work.

Generally, organisations have a regression test set that covers their most frequently used processes, most popular reports, any key dashboards and all their integrations. It is important to test with different roles to ensure good test coverage. This allows you to check the impact of any changes and to avoid any surprises in day-to-day operations.

Have a clear tenant management strategy

Normally when you make a change to your tenant you would make the change in the sandbox and test before you move it to production. This is good practice to ensure a safe path to production for your changes.

With a Workday update release you should make the change in the preview tenant. Once the release is put into production, you can make any configuration or set up changes in production.

If you want to refresh your preview tenant at any stage during the six weeks preceding the release, a named support contact can request this. The process is similar to the way in which you would request a sandbox exemption, via the Workday Customer Center. Sandbox and implementation tenants get updated with the new release the same time as the production tenant.

Plan or schedule time to manage the release

Set aside time to review the functionality that is being released. Get to understand the impact, test the new functionality and regression test the old. Send notifications to any of your affected users.

This all takes time. Don’t underestimate how long you should spend on releases to ensure you get maximum benefit from your Workday subscription.

Do not forget to tell your users about the changes

If there are changes that end users will notice, then a quick note to those impacted is worthwhile. You don’t want to be the person who fails to tell users that the look and feel of Workday is changing and then spends the next week fielding calls from users wondering if they are in the right system, or if they have accidentally changed the settings.

If you would like to discuss how Preos could help you with Workday Release Management, please get in touch.

Photo (c) Shutterstock / SFIO CRACHO

Workday Update Releases Calendar

Feature Release NameStart of Release Preparation WindowFeature Release Delivery
Workday 2021 Release 1February 6, 2021March 13, 2021
Workday 2021 Release 2August 7, 2021September 11, 2021
Workday 2022 Release 1February 5, 2022March 12, 2022
Workday 2022 Release 2August 6, 2022September 10, 2022