Six benefits of unifying HR and financial management in the cloud
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Six Top Benefits of Unifying HR with Financial Management in the Cloud

By Al Perlman

Organizations of all sizes are discovering that they can achieve significant benefits by breaking down long-standing barriers between the finance and HR departments -- in particular, by managing these typically separated silos under the same cloud-based architecture. Among the myriad benefits: Lower costs, streamlined operations, increased productivity, and major improvements in managing the talent within their organizations.

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The benefits of taking a unified approach to managing HR and finance

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Want proof? Here are six benefits of unifying HR with financial management, as shared by successful organizations that have already taken the plunge:

Improved collaboration: Since combining HR and finance under one unified system, Brown University is seeing unprecedented levels of collaboration. “We’ve experienced some interesting and positive changes in our culture as a result of this deployment,” says Roberta Gordon, Workday project manager at Brown University. “Our HR, payroll, and accounting teams are now partnering and collaborating much more closely than ever before. A unified system makes our teams better aligned, so we can better understand our costs across the university, identify redundancies, improve the overall efficiency of how we operate, and be more strategic.”

Simplified processes: “Simplification of our vast number of legacy systems was absolutely key,” says John Hugo, vice president and corporate controller of Life Time Fitness. “Our HR manager calculated that about 2.3 million sheets of paper a year could be eliminated by going to a paperless HR system.” In combining HR with finance, Life Time Fitness has been able to reduce the amount of time it takes to process payrolls from 48 hours to less than an hour.

Speed wins: At TripAdvisor, the premises-based ERP financial system was not allowing the company to live up to its “speed wins” philosophy. “Reporting would take a while. Analytics would take a while. And waiting was a hindrance to helping us move our business forward,” says TripAdvisor CFO Julie Bradley. Moving to the cloud and combining HR and finance under one system changed everything. “Our payroll is now processed out of our HR department, and all of that is seamlessly added to the financial system. So there are no messy integrations from having disparate systems. It’s consistent reporting.  We went live on Workday April 1 and closed the second quarter as a public company on the Workday system, financials integrated with HR. We were able to get an early flash of the numbers. We were able to do deeper analytics -- less wait time and more thinking time. My team was really able to understand the numbers and we could give that information back to (analysts) and our business.”

A single system of record:  “We’re able to streamline business processes, provide greater transparency, and more easily access data for planning, reporting, and analysis,” says Brown’s Gordon. “That means one system of record for this information with no disparity in data, making it possible to align our strategies and resources campus-wide with the right information for decision making. Think about the industry-standard alternative for operational insight and analysis, which is to pull data residing in disparate systems and combine it for analysis in a separate data warehouse. That approach just isn’t feasible for universities and the budget pressures we all face in today’s economic environment.”

More analysis, less accounting: “We wanted to spend less time getting data into the reporting systems and more time analyzing the output,” says Hugo of Life Time Fitness. “Workday has a business assets module that will manage the $2 billion in net property, plant and equipment we have on our books. And when you’re managing $2 billion in net assets, you want to have a very efficient system.”

A better user experience: At Brown, Gordon saw immediate benefits when the finance system went live with the HR system, which had already been in place. “Most significant is the increased speed of expenses, procurement and supplier invoice functions from start to completion. Faculty and staff are very pleased with the turnaround time on reimbursement of their expenses, and the ability to track where a request lies in the process. They can scan receipts and documents from their mobile devices into Workday alongside their expense reports and view the progress of expenses throughout the approval process.”

What to look for in cloud-based financial management systemsLearn More

Want more proof of the benefits of combining HR and finance under one cloud platform? Check out these resources:

Product Preview: Enterprise Cloud for HR and Finance

Workday and Lifetime Fitness: A Unified Platform Ideal for Business Growth

Five Lessons Learned From Deploying Workday Financial Management

Workday and TripAdvisor: Traveling to the Cloud on a Unified Suite of Applications