How to perfect Workday release management

Woman and Man discuss Workday Release Management

In this blog, we look at Workday release management and the key steps to doing it well.

Keeping your iPhone up to date with the latest iOS couldn’t be simpler. 

Apple pushes the update to your handset, and as long as you’ve got enough battery, you can sit back and watch that black bar progress across your screen until it’s complete.

That’s it. 


Within a few minutes, you’re on the latest code and benefitting from Apple’s newest features.

Like your iPhone, Workday is also in the Cloud and receives periodic updates. 

But the update process isn’t quite as simple.

Types of Workday releases 

Workday release changes through a series of weekly service updates and bi-annual feature releases.

Weekly Service Updates

These are mainly bug fixes and off-cycle enhancements to your existing Workday functionality, released within a weekend maintenance window. They don’t impact your configuration, and, therefore, don’t need regression testing.

Examples include modifications to the user interface such as font sizing, background colours, reporting components and web service updates.

Bi-Annual Feature Releases

More significant changes to features and functionality are delivered every six months. Some changes will be automatically available, whereas you will need to set up others. Workday gives you five weeks to plan, test and communicate upcoming changes.

Examples include enhancements to existing functionality, new web services, bug fixes and brand-new products.

How to manage feature releases

Customers who don’t have the internal resource to understand, test and deploy Workday releases face the harsh reality of missing out on functionality that they continue to pay via their subscription. In a worst-case scenario, they can even become non-compliant.

Workday recommends treating feature releases as mini-projects and suggests assigning an Update Manager to own the planning and execution of a Test Plan.

Test Plans for effective Workday release management

Prepare Test Plan

Just because some of the feature release updates are labelled as ‘no setup required’, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can disregard testing. 

It’s essential the Update Manager can determine if there are any configuration changes required to accommodate the new automatically available features.

Incidentally, while a Feature Release will often introduce new functionality, it may also retire old features. So it’s vital that you understand the implications of losing Workday configuration you may depend on.

While Workday provides material for each Feature Release, there’s a lot of it – and it’s not always easy to understand. 

Feature Release GuidebooksWhat’s New in Workday and Feature Considerations are some of the literature available, and your Workday team will need to have the skills to interpret the information correctly.

You will also need to plan your Tenant Strategy – something which can vary depending on the scope and timelines of the release. Preparing a plan which details how testing is managed between Sandbox, Sandbox Preview, Implementation and Implementation Preview tenants is key to ensuring features are tested and migrated to Production error-free within the intended release window.

Carefully consider the timing of the releases. You may choose to delay the release of certain opt-in features to allow a smoother change management process. Again, this feeds into your Tenant Strategy.

Finally, there are non-technical aspects to consider, such as change and communications. The Feature Release may impact end-users and therefore require change management. Leveraging Workday Announcements for communicating changes and updates to job aides are common tasks included in the Test Plan.

Execute Test Plan

Due to Workday’s limited preview window, you will need a well-prepared Test Plan you can execute efficiently.

The Test Plan should detail all Workday components in scope for test execution. This isn’t a simple task, and requires in-depth knowledge of the existing functional, integration and data elements in your Workday instance.


Investing in Workday and deploying a configuration that works for your organisation at that time is, of course, important. However, the initial deployment of Workday is just the first step in your HRIS journey.

Organisations evolve, their system needs evolve, and Workday’s features evolve. So it’s equally important that you invest in effective Workday Release Management to ensure you keep on top of the releases, and continue to get the most out of your Workday solution.

Contact us to find out how Preos can help.

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