Workday Learning Q and A

On December 20, 2016, in HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

2016 sumser john photo hrexaminer 200px.jpg

Principal Analyst at HRExaminer and CEO of TwoColorHat

Over the past 90 days or so, I’ve been marveling at Workday’s latest important release: the Learning Module. My sense is that it provides revolutionary capabilities that make it possible to radically reimagine many of the Talent Management functions by positioning them as learning. Because the Learning module is not primarily a Learning Mnagement System (LMS) some of the normal learning story doesn’t quite work here.

The Workday Learning module provides the means to create, deliver and track learning material that is intimately coupled with workflow. Each employee can receive just the right amount of content just exactly where it is needed.

I engaged the workday team in a lengthy Q&A process. It’s worth a read.

Sumser: I am particularly interested in understanding how easy it is to design a unique workflow that includes Learning. For example, Onboarding could easily include a variety of orientation materials delivered as learning content. This is probably the simplest case.

Workday: Absolutely – Learning can be configured as part of the onboarding workflow. We also have a really useful “Campaign” feature that enables customers to drip onboarding content to a new employee. Suggested (or required) training is automatically sent to new employees when a previous lesson or course is completed. Think about how e-mail marketing campaigns work in the consumer world: You’ll get a welcome email, an email about how to use whatever service or product you just purchased, a reminder email if you don’t activate your account after a certain amount of time, etc. In other words, you are encouraged along a certain path. With Workday Learning, whether it’s onboarding for a new hire or training for a first-time manager, the Campaigns feature lets you guide employees along a learning path.

Sumser: The next level case involves making peer to peer sharing of content that is somehow instructive. i.e. “I’ve discovered a new way to sharpen a pencil and I thought you should see it, Gabriella. Here’s the video” would be the first order of sharing

Workday: Peer-to-peer sharing is available today—users can tag other workers (as long as they’re in Workday) in a comment on an existing course. In the case of a pencil sharpening video, which would fall under user-generated content, the employee would create it, upload it, and it would then go through the approval workflows that have been defined by the organization. Depending on customer preferences, this could be nothing at all (and the video goes straight to all employees), or it could require approval from a manager, an admin in the learning department, or others—whatever makes the most sense for the business.

Sumser: The second order of sharing might be to introduce the pencil sharpening video into the catalog of context relevant material so that if the system understood me to need pencil sharpening tips, I’d get it at a point in my workflow when pencils need to be sharpened. This may be related to a specific workflow.

Workday: The Campaigns framework can trigger the delivery of content following a specific action within Workday. For instance, a new manager might submit their first ever job requisition—this could trigger a video on hiring tips for first-time managers, or an overview of the hiring process at the company and next steps. Also, employees can set their preferences to ensure that they receive relevant content based on their interests. If a person indicates interest in leadership development, relevant courses and content will be recommended to him or her.

Sumser: The third order of sharing might be a presentation of that material to all members of a certain class. This would have to be approved by either learning or the department head i.e. All people in analyst relations should see the pencil sharpening material. This may be related to position in the org and not a specific workflow.

Workday: This could be accomplished in a few different ways. One is to just expose the pencil sharpening lesson to anyone in a certain class—such as job level, geography, or department. The other way to do it (the cool way) is to create a campaign directed at all of the people in analyst relations (for example). The campaign notification could go to email and/or their Workday Inbox with a deep link directly to the video. It will also show up as a banner on their Learning landing page.

Sumser: The fourth order of sharing would be to mandate that all members of a class (or users of a workflow) MUST witness the material and demonstrate competence (pass a test).

Workday: This would fall under required learning. The administrator or manager would assign the course to the users, along with a due date. The required course would appear in the top banner space on the Workday Learning homepage, and could also appear in one of the scrollable carousels. Configurable notifications would remind learners of upcoming due dates and a visual indicator on the homepage would also show the number of outstanding required courses. Part of the course could be an assessment, which would need to be passed in order for the course to show as complete.

Sumser: Given the breadth of implementation and use case possibilities, what is the process for figuring out how much ‘ooompf’ to give a specific customer.

Workday: We take our customers through a deployment planning project to understand their strategies, requirements, and plans, then configure their Workday Learning instance to address those needs. We also offer a learning transformation service to help customers strategically move from the centrally-driven, hierarchical world of the traditional LMS to the more organic model that Workday Learning supports. The “ooompf” is really up to the customer, and to a certain degree, the content. Onboarding for new sales associates at a fast-fashion retailer needs to be snappy and cool to keep the younger generation’s attention. Whereas, learning content in a more highly regulated or conservative industry should probably be fairly straightforward—but straightforward doesn’t need to mean boring or unimaginative.

Sumser: Are you developing specific Learning implementation capabilities in the ecosystem?

Workday:Because Workday Learning is unified with Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) and built upon the same flexible and powerful framework, the possibilities are quite literally endless. In many cases, we really push the boundaries of what can traditionally be achieved within a learning system.

Workday: Deployment isn’t just a case of configuring—it’s also an opportunity to rethink an organization’s learning strategy, bringing enablement and engagement to the fore. People want to learn—we’re hardwired for curiosity—and we’re trying to make learning in the workplace enjoyable again. Our implementation partners for Workday Learning will be working closely with customers on a transformational vision for learning, and working with them to thoughtfully deploy the application and features.

Sumser: Do you imagine starting a training academy for users of Learning? It seems to me that a single user group would end up not being useful to either the beginners or the most experienced players.

Workday: Currently, we have a peer learning course that helps guide our customers on the peer learning journey and also instructs their employees on best practices in creating content. We also have the Workday Community, where the Early Adopter and Fast Follower customers are already collaborating heavily to share approaches and best practices.

Sumser: How does accounting and tracking of modules, their ongoing updates, and which version which student has mastered work? Are there natural thresholds that the system uses to identify required updates (for material or for students)?

Workday: Workday automatically creates an easy-to-follow audit trail. Currently, course completion is tracked by version. For example, if I completed version 1 of the course in August and you completed version 2 in September, we would have that record in the system.

Sumser: At a conceptual level, are there min and max configurations? In other words, it seems like some customers would want a thin slice of the cake and others want thick. Maybe the low end is like an LMS on steroids and the high end is a vision of a continuously learning organization.

Workday: We serve a wide variety of customers—from organizations in highly-regulated industries, to manufacturing, to areas with more of a focus on knowledge work. We recognize that different customers have different learning needs, and therefore have designed the system to be highly configurable, for example, by using the same business process framework as the rest of Workday. With this infrastructure, customers can start with the basics and easily shift towards their vision of social and user-driven learning.

Sumser: It seems to me that grassroots content will always be evolving towards formality. Clever things from the shop floor will be improved and aggregated into larger learning constructs. Does Workday Learning have a way to manage and encourage this?

Workday: Empowering every employee, from the shop floor to the boardroom, to share what they know is a core part of our vision. We have created a recommendation system that allows the best content to rise to the top, and for the best content creators to be recognized across the company. These high-quality pieces of employee-created content can then be integrated into more formal courses, or sent out via a Learning Campaign to ensure wider viewership. This will give our customers a great pipeline of learning content that is relevant to their business and engaging to their people.


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