Workday, ISD made shift to remote work easier

The hard work of launching Workday in 2019 is paying off in 2020, project leaders told the Professional and Scientific Council at its May 7 meeting. 

The cloud-based enterprise software for managing Iowa State's financial and human resources transaction went live July 1, 2019, as did improved service delivery, a related project that created centralized service teams of human resources and finance specialists. The teams receive, address and track requests for assistance with another platform new to ISU in 2019, ServiceNow, an email-based ticketing system also used by information technology services. Numerous aging software programs and paper-based processes were eliminated in the shift.

Those changes have allowed effective remote work by HR and finance specialists during the coronavirus crisis, said Dwaine Heppler, associate vice president for HR services and strategy.

"If we were in this situation a year ago, without the tools we have in place, we would not have been nearly as successful in continuing to do the work our teams are doing," he said.

Interim vice president and chief information officer Kristen Constant said she's grateful for the timing of the project.

"We can't imagine how we would have handled these things even just last year, much less five years ago. As painful as the transition has been, we have already seen much of the payoff from that investment," she said.

Service team stats

Heppler and Heather Paris, associate vice president for finance and support services, gave the council an update on some key performance indicators for the service teams during the third quarter, January through March.

During those three months, finance service teams responded to 16,686 incidents, about 185 per day. The average request was resolved in 1.3 days. HR service teams saw 1,781 incidents, about 43 per day, which were resolved in 1.6 days, on average.

Employees seem to appreciate the level of service they're getting, based on responses to surveys offered after each ServiceNow ticket is closed. In the third quarter, 85% of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their interaction with a finance service team, 97% said it was helpful and 95% said their question was addressed. For HR requests, 84% were satisfied, 91% found the service helpful and 97% said their question was addressed.

Both service areas identified areas for improvement. Finance teams are working on simplifying financial reporting for faculty, especially on grants, Paris said. HR teams are looking at how to improve local support for student and graduate assistant hiring and oversight to take some burden off faculty and unit leaders, Heppler said.

Fall planning

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert and vice president for extension and outreach John Lawrence talked to the council about planning to welcome students back in the fall for in-person courses and the other learning opportunities a residential campus provides.

"It may be the biggest challenge the university has ever had," Wickert said.

Wickert said one of the highest priorities will be planning instruction in courses that will meet face-to-face, including labs and studios. All possible options are being explored, including physical distancing, cloth face coverings, enhanced cleaning, use of larger rooms and alternative schedules such as extending teaching hours into evenings and weekends.

Lawrence is chairing a committee leading the planning work, which is in its early stages. The committee meets daily. He encouraged employees to send suggestions and comments to

"Innovations are going to come from people who engage with students as their core mission," Lawrence said.

Council member Chris Myers, Biology 211 lab coordinator, asked about the best way to share specific ideas he has for mitigating risk in his course. Wickert recommended meeting with the college's associate dean, perhaps along with lab coordinators from other departments.

"We're going to do this together, and we need every good idea. You know best what that lab is like and what that lab needs," Wickert said.