Ahead of rollout, teamwork and innovation drive WorkCyte

WorkCyte team at testing kickoff on April 6

WorkCyte team members at an early April meeting to discuss testing and training for the WorkCyte Phase II: Student Information and Receivables project. Photos by Carly Hanson.

The first of six rollouts for the WorkCyte Phase II: Student Information and Receivables project is coming soon. Slated for June to September, this rollout will transition key admissions and curricular processes to the Workday Student software.

Geoff Janes, one of the team leads for the WorkCyte program, said the ball will start rolling on June 15 when the application opens for undergraduate admission. The first rollout will impact external processes for incoming students and the employees -- primarily in admissions and financial aid -- who help them get started at Iowa State.

Applications for new students coming to Iowa State in fall 2024 will be the first processed in Workday Student. Current and incoming students for fall 2023, spring 2024 and summer 2024 will continue to be managed in the legacy systems that will be replaced by Workday Student in early 2024.

Janes said they've tried to make the transition as seamless as possible for students and employees alike even as the team members and campus community grapple with the scale of the project.

What is Workday? 

Workday is a software product. Iowa State implemented Workday Human Capital Management and Finance software on July 1, 2019. Beginning in June 2023 and concluding Dec. 2024, the university will transition to using Workday Student and Receivables software for most student information needs, as well as modernizing the receivables process. 

What is WorkCyte? 

WorkCyte is the Iowa State program to modernize university-wide systems and software. There are more than 260 members on the team. Members of various campus units participate in the WorkCyte program, including university human resources, division of operations and finance, enrollment management and information technology services. 

"Today, staff are logging into ADIN, Access Plus, DocFinity and other software to do things. The biggest win with Workday is that it's one system," said Janes. "We will still have integrations with Canvas, EAB Navigate and other tools but we're creating a path to use fewer, more modern systems so employees can do their jobs more effectively."

Rollout details

The first rollout also adds the ability to view experimental courses in the catalog, evaluate graduate program applicants and calculate financial aid in Workday, though the federal government's delay in releasing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from October to December may impact the Workday financial aid implementation timeline. The second rollout, which includes curriculum management and student financials, is scheduled to begin in October.

Janes and Crystal Johnson, another team lead for WorkCyte, commended the university community and WorkCyte project teams as they continue to bring Workday Student to life.

"Change is hard and we have to remind people that we feel it too," said Johnson. "We're one Iowa State University. We are here to support people and that's what will get us through -- the reminder that we aren't doing this alone."

Training will be provided in stages aligned with the implementation of the rollouts and will include knowledge base articles, video courses in Workday Learning and in-person and virtual instructor-led sessions. Units will be contacted when it's time for training.

Information about Workday Student and Receivables can be found on the WorkCyte website. Employees can subscribe to WorkCyte Digest, a monthly newsletter with program updates and information about upcoming training opportunities.

Phased implementation

Steven Moore at the WorkCyte April kickoff

Team lead Steven Moore (r) says the team is currently working on testing for the second move to production in 2024 and estimates that they will exceed 12,000 scenarios due to the increased scope of this phase.

Johnson says everyone who does business at Iowa State eventually will be impacted by the Workday implementation project. With the phased implementation approach of Phase II, the WorkCyte teams hope to ease the university community and partners into the change.

"We've heard from colleagues about how the Phase I transition was a challenge for some areas of campus. As we go into Phase II, we are focusing on the importance of delivering training materials and acknowledging different methods of support to serve campus and our customers through this change," Johnson said.

Preparing for the rollouts and creating training materials requires testing -- and a lot of it. Janes said the teams ran through more than 11,500 scenarios during the planning  process ahead of the June rollout. Scenarios explore the process of matriculation to degree conferral for hypothetical students -- for instance, a student from an Iowa high school majoring in engineering -- and help the teams set up milestones in the system that will guide employees with date controls and other parameters to make managing student processes more efficient.

Johnson said the teams behind the testing work as a think tank. As they craft scenarios, each person contributes their expertise, informed by their knowledge of the student life cycle and understanding of the needs of different campus units.

"The teams are spending hours building for the future of ISU," said Johnson. "We've spent a lot of time in the last two years meeting with campus partners asking how we can streamline so employees don't need to be technology experts to use the system."

Ongoing innovation

The WorkCyte program was established at the university in 2017. Janes noted that the last comparable enterprise software project was in the 1970s when ADIN was released, but the scale of the WorkCyte program far exceeds it. When Phase II wraps up, updates from Workday -- scheduled to be released twice a year -- will keep the university on the cutting edge.

"The one thing Iowa State has always done well and will continue to do is constantly improve," said Johnson. "Whenever I go to conferences, everyone wants to hear from Iowa State and know what we are doing."

In addition to being a much-needed upgrade, Janes said the implementation of Workday Student will create more transparency for students and employees.

"For a student, there will be much more visibility into their degree progess, making it easier to plan for future semesters," he said. "For employees, reporting will be better because data and information will be more accessible."