Workday has made substantial progress on its EAP (Enterprise Application Platform) recently, so time to dig into the new capabilities and approach.
What is an EAP?
An EAP is the underlying platform of an ERP vendor, which enables the three universal use cases of all EAPs; Extend, Integrate and Build. You can think of them as the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) of the ERP player. EAPs evolved over time to their current capabilities:
- It all started with Extend. Even the earliest ERP applications, running as automation islands, needed the ability for customers to extend them. Change of labels, new fields, new screen names and menus were the popular use cases.
- Integrate became a necessity. As ERP applications progressed from being automation islands, enterprises needed the ability to integrate them with the rest of their automation portfolio.
- Build – the latest use case. The current era of business best practice uncertainty has triggered the need for ERP vendors to enable enterprises to build their own automation, not just to extend existing capabilities.
Why the build use case is critical
The availability of the ‘infinite compute’ from the cloud has created the era of business best practice uncertainty, where suddenly technology can do more than what current best practices demand. The consequence is that ERP vendors cannot simply talk to their users to understand how the want to run finance, HCM, and manufacturing etc. They often do not know themselves. And when they know, they do not want to tell their ERP vendor anymore (as in the era of standard software), because they think they can achieve a differentiation in the markets or with their people, making them digital transformation winners. Nobody wants to give away their secrets.
Workday Extend – a modern EAP
Workday Extend and Workday Integration Cloud form the core EAP capabilities of the Workday Enterprise Management Cloud Platform. Workday Extend plays a critical role for EAP use cases, because it supports both the Build and Extend generic use cases of an EAP.
An in depth look at Workday Extend
More specifically, Workday Extend has the following capabilities:
- Is fully native to the Workday Cloud. For EAP processes, it is critical to be seamlessly integrated with the rest of an ERP vendor’s platform. Workday Extend achieves this and delivers on the resulting advantages – a frictionless and native experience that enables enterprises to execute their EAP projects.
- Ensures a consistent UI. It is critical to avoid ‘fasten your seatbelts’ experiences for new EAP artifacts. The last thing enterprises want to do is to build EAP-based automation and then find their people struggling to use the newly built artifacts. With the same UX between Workday-native apps and Workday Extend created apps, enterprises do not have to face this dilemma.
- Provides access to Workday data. Workday has a sophisticated, proprietary way to store data in memory. Thanks to Workday Extend being a Workday offering, it has direct access to Workday’s data and thus makes it easy to access the data needed for building EAP applications.
- Runs a security model identical to Workday’s existing model. EAP artifacts need to have an enterprise-grade security model. Ideally one that is not a separate security model requiring double setup of data and maintenance but one that, as in the case of Workday Extend, directly extends Workday’s existing security model. This makes single user setup and administration across Workday and EAP apps possible, adding not only operational efficiencies but also a more secure operational model.
- Supports app lifecycle and monitoring. EAP artifacts and applications need to support a full lifecycle of creation, operation, and retirement as well as their monitoring across those lifecycle stages. Workday provides both in Workday Extend.
- Powers extension of the data object model. Workday has a complex data model, and extending it is not trivial if done manually, so it is good to see that Workday Extend allows an easy, tool-based approach for extending the Workday data model.
- Orchestrates processes. Processes need to be managed inside ERP systems but also in EAP systems. Workday Extend enables the creation, operation, and monitoring of these processes in an efficient way.
How Workday Extend adds value to Workday Apps
Workday Orchestrate is where integration happens
Integrating ERP systems can be a challenging, tedious task that is critical for application success. When integrations cannot be built easily and quickly and/or if they fail and break, the success of ERP projects can be jeopardized.
Therefore, it is critical for an EAP to solve the generic EAP use case of ‘Integrate’ in a powerful way that is also efficient and easy to accomplish. To address this, Workday provides Workday Orchestrate, which is included in the Workday Extend subscription.
Workday Orchestrate enables the creation, operation and monitoring of processes inside and outside of Workday; in short, it does what its name indicates: the orchestration of processes. It does that in a visual way, making creation and monitoring easier and thus opening the user base for Workday Orchestrate to not only pro-code and integration developers but also to low-code and IT users.
Workday Orchestrate at Work
After a slow start into the EAP phase of ERP, Workday has now fully caught up with other ERP vendor offerings when it comes to EAP capabilities. Today, Workday Extend is the best (and probably only) way to build new applications inside of the Workday platform, benefiting from the same UX, user administration, data access and more. The flow and visual capabilities of Workday Orchestrate make integration easier as well and with a rich library of adapters, Workday is now easier to integrate into other enterprise automation offerings then ever. CxOs of enterprises that use Workday should take a good look at Workday’s EAP portfolio and familiarize their teams with the tools. More capabilities from Workday will follow, so mastering and using the platform sooner rather than later will deliver long term benefits for Workday customers.