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UW Finance Transformation

UWFT cutover implementation follows five best practices

April 12, 2023

With just over two months until we fire up the engines to launch Workday® Financials on July 6, UW Finance Transformation (UWFT) is in the crucial time period of cutover planning

Here’s the gist about cutover: it refers to the planning and execution of activities required to successfully transition the University’s finance processes to the new ecosystem in a specific timeframe with minimal disruption of day-to-day operations. 

Key principles and best practices aligned
Last month’s March UWFT newsletter provided some information about our plans for cutover. We’re deep in the process, checking and double-checking all procedures and practices we’ve put in place — those carefully organized steps needed for a successful deployment. That’s why it’s important that we rely on best practices used in enterprise implementation cutovers: have a well-thought-out deployment (or go-live) strategy in place; plan early; be prepared; communicate well; test that plan and practice, practice, practice. These standards align with the key principles we’ve developed for the UWFT cutover:

  • Execution of the plan will be highly orchestrated and coordinated.
  • Conduct with minimal business operation disturbance.
  • Evolve the cutover plan through input collection from all pillars and workstreams. The details of the plan will be communicated to all teams involved.
  • Final cutover plan should be sufficiently documented and broken down to a level that allows progress tracking and execution control.

Five best practices in detail

1. Cutover Period strategy in place 
The UWFT final cutover plan is built out of our strategic approach for the day we go live and the period of time leading up to it, and factors in important considerations, such as potential scheduling impacts from business or technical dependencies or any other external systems, ways we could minimize downtime for all systems and whether certain integrations could be completed ahead of time and kept in “hold” status. It also includes planning for communications to inform users what they need to know about key dates, actions and who to contact for questions. And, it features contingency steps and communication in case the deployment is delayed. In parallel, our cutover day strategy will also include a backup or rollback plan to enable business operations to continue in case the deployment fails for any reason.

2. Plan as early as possible
Cutover planning started before we reached the Deploy stage even though actual cutover occurs during this stage. The reasons are plenty but, in short, a cutover plan mitigates a risky go-live and the chance we’ll miss important steps that could create more downtime once our finance transformation begins. Back during the Test stage, we were busy in the first steps of cutover planning, making sure all the key stakeholders were alerted and creating a detailed plan of necessary tasks for cutover period. Some items on that plan include the last payroll run before go-live, data conversion activities and required changes to user permissions.

3. Be prepared with a comprehensive cutover plan 
Our cutover plan is centrally managed by UWFT’s cutover team, with input from key stakeholders from all pillars, workstreams and units involved in the program. It’s a living document that is updated throughout the cutover period (including post go-live). In addition, all activities are executed and tracked in chronological order. 

In preparation for cutover, activity in current systems needs to be slowed (”frost”) or stopped (“freeze”) in order to transfer and prep data into the new system. This will be carefully orchestrated. 

Planned freeze periods:

  • Late May: FDM freeze begins for Workday values that are not crucial to comply with regulatory requirements (e.g., Gifts or Awards that must be available for spend in FY23). 
  • Mid-June: Reference and Transactional Data freeze. This impacts requisitions/orders, reimbursements, open balances and blanket purchase orders.

When a freeze is not operationally possible, new data added between extraction and go-live will be captured and converted into Workday manually or automatically during a “catchup” period. For certain transaction types, a plan for interim processes will be put into place to document and conduct essential transactions during this time.

If you want to see the details as they play out, check out the Cutover timeline as well as the Cutover Frost/Freeze Dates Tracker. It’s a complete list of system/process freeze/frost dates and associated actions. Also see the end-to-end business process cutover plans and details.

Who’s the cutover team behind all this work, and what's in and out of their purview or scope of work? The image below shows a combination of professionals from Organizational Change Management (OCM), Integrated Service Center (ISC) and the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) and the roles they play in cutover planning. 

4. Communicate well – allow adequate time for units’ data conversion
The audience for an enterprise-wide cutover is usually large, comprised of diverse teams needing specific information. Having dedicated communications support is essential. This support ensures internal program stakeholders, employee end users and external partners get the information they need when they need it. This support also helps to communicate any governing requirements and policies. 

Another important communications task is making sure there is adequate time for business units to get the information they need to perform data conversions in a timely manner. In our case there are two types of data:

  • Reference Data: provides context or information about entities with which we do business
  • Transactional Data: describes an event that takes place when we conduct business

5. Test the cutover plan and practice, practice, practice
To be ready and alert for cutover period, we conduct “dress rehearsals.” Performing a dress rehearsal is like doing a mock cutover to mimic what the final cutover (go-live) activities and requirements are. We do dress rehearsals to uncover any issues and to have time to address them. It’s about mitigating risk. This is an iterative process as we do multiple dress rehearsals. In the UWFT program, we have completed two of three planned dress rehearsals (DR1and DR2). 

Our most recent dress rehearsal (DR2) executed successfully, and we learned valuable lessons that will help us refine and better prepare for DR3 and go-live. The program's intention is to expand the scope of the exercise for DR3 and to include all components of the future-state ecosystem. DR3 is scheduled to take place April 17-21.

So, onward we advance toward the Workday Financials launchpad, a process which requires careful, intricate orchestration. You can read more cutover details on the Change Network, including accessing more resources. If you have questions about the UWFT program, send a note to UWFTask@uw.edu.

Additional Resources:
UWFT Cutover Strategy
UWFT Cutover Terms
UWFT Cutover Timeline
UWFT Cutover Details Compendium
Cutover Frost/Freeze Dates Tracker

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