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UW Finance Transformation

Workday® Finance launch is a pivotal milestone, and the start of a new journey

President, University of Washington

July 20, 2023

It was with great excitement — and yes, a little trepidation! — that we marked a significant milestone two weeks ago: after years of planning, preparation and enormous effort, Workday® Finance went live on July 6. 

We created the UW Finance Transformation (UWFT) program five years ago, with the mission of designing a new, modern finance and supply chain infrastructure This gargantuan undertaking included retiring or consolidating more than 850 side systems and redesigning our finance-related policies and processes across the enterprise. 

But while the go-live date marked a pivotal moment in the financial transformation process, it’s far from the end of the story. For the next six months, we’ll be in a stabilization and transition period that will culminate in the dismantling of the UWFT program and the transfer of operations responsibility for Workday Finance to existing teams and units within the UW. As our technology and financial landscapes continue to evolve, we’ll keep making improvements because Workday Finance is designed to remain a work in progress.

But for now, we are seeing encouraging signs from the early data from Workday Finance usage. Since go-live, we’ve already seen a large number of transactions successfully processed, including 12,016 requisitions, 3,530 expense reports and 11,228 new purchase orders*. And we greatly appreciate the many early adopters across our large, complex organization who are learning, using and training others on the new system for tasks like purchasing, hiring vendors and receiving payments — routine work that is nevertheless essential to the fulfillment of our public mission. We’re also seeing efficiency gains in the critical processes that enable faculty to procure grant funding, the lifeblood of discovery. 

I also recognize that, as with any project of this size, there have been and will continue to be some issues, but I’m confident we have the collaboration and know-how to work through them. Despite some inevitable frustrations, I thank you all for your patience and compassion as the kinks are worked out of the system. The program team, along with representatives from Shared Environments on the UW Academy side and shared services on the UW Medicine side, are dedicated to helping all of us navigate the learning curve, for which I thank them as well. 

As hard as it can be to adjust to change on such a large scale, I’m so grateful to everyone who is doing their part to help us reach an integrated “One Workday” experience, which will combine Workday Financials and Workday® Adaptive Planning with Workday Human Capital Management (which the UW has been using since 2017). 

Having a single financial system of record for all of UW is not just more efficient; it will improve the transparency and accuracy of our financial reporting, making us better stewards of the University and public resources entrusted to us and increasing our capacity to deliver on our public mission of education, discovery, community service and patient care. 

I thank the UWFT team who have guided us through this implementation for their excellent work, as well as all the UW employees who provided input and training, often above and beyond their normal responsibilities. I also thank former Provost Mark Richards, the Board of Regents and the University leadership for their support and investment in this ambitious and critical upgrade.

Thanks to the dedication, excellence and collaboration that is the hallmark of our professional community, we’re well-positioned to keep serving our public mission with incredible scale, complexity and effectiveness, together.

*as of 7/18/23

Editor’s Note: For further information, you can reference key topics such as Customer SupportHypercare, Stabilization and Sustainment, along with others, on the Change Network. For help with Workday Finance, contact your UWA Shared Environment, UWM shared services or go to the UW Connect Finance portal.

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