What is Workday Extend?
Workday Extend, previously known as Workday Cloud Platforms, was announced at Workday Altitude 2017 as a toolset that enables developers to build, deploy, and share apps that extend core Workday features. With Extend, custom apps run on Workday, render custom pages that follow the Workday UI standards and interact with Workday data and external data sources. Custom apps can store data as unique business objects and contain specialized business processes and security domains. Apps can launch event-driven and automated processes across Workday and third-party systems. Apps can also be external applications that run outside the tenant and directly access Workday data.
Why the Hype around Workday Extend?
There has been a lot of hype around Extend that has been building since the initial announcement. However, you may wonder if it’s a fit for your organization and what the benefits are of building custom apps using Extend versus other technologies.
Workday Extend is the answer to your question, “What more can I achieve with Workday?” Workday has a very powerful core platform, but some of our clients have unique business needs that may fall outside of core functionality. In some cases, these are small extensions to existing foundations in Workday, and in other cases, these can be larger proprietary processes with specific use cases that don’t come “out of the box.”
Before Extend, companies either had to think about moving some of their processes to another application or develop and deploy custom applications in an entirely different platform in the ecosystem. Both solutions have their place, but in certain circumstances, they can negatively impact user experience and introduce operational complexity and cost.
Workday Extend enables companies to build applications within the Workday context – with the same UI users expect and a development process familiar to Workday professionals. Extend also ensures PII and other confidential data are secured with Workday’s existing robust security framework.
The Extend Development Process
Extend app development follows robust SDLC development processes and has guardrails to ensure custom apps aren’t inadvertently introducing security vulnerabilities. The Extend development framework enables developers to develop iteratively and test apps across multiple environments before deploying them in your production environment.
Workday’s Extend methodology follows these steps:
- Build: Create an app that brings your idea to life.
- Test: Test your app and its configurations.
- Verify: Verify that your app works in a production-like environment.
- Release: Release your app to production
Dispatch’s Approach to Extend
At Dispatch, our DIVE methodology is used to align with Workday’s Extend development framework.
We use DIVE as a standard approach to developing workflow automation solutions with all clients. Since we work with our clients in building and supporting automation solutions, we are often asked to help our clients create custom workflows and solutions to their day-to-day challenges. Extend is another tool in the toolbox that we can use to deliver value to our clients.
How Can Workday Extend help your organization?
If you are a Workday customer and are thinking about ways Extend might be a fit for you, we encourage you to think about the following:
Workday, like most SaaS applications, has out-of-the-box workflows that might work for a large percentage of their customer base but may not be ideal if your business has unique operating requirements. Extend can enable you to create workflows that fit your unique needs and maximize your investment in Workday. Some examples of custom workflows built using Extend by Workday’s partners and customers can be found here.
Improving Data Privacy and Security
If you already use other commercial applications to augment or replace the core Workday experience, or if you have developed custom apps using other platforms, you may be able to simplify your app ecosystem by replacing those applications with Extend apps. This can improve your security posture by leveraging the same Workday security architecture for your custom application. Fewer applications in your app ecosystem generally mean a smaller security footprint to manage, especially when databases containing PII may be replicated across multiple applications. Workday applies the same login and security controls to the apps you build, keeping your data safe. Any data changes are audited in real-time, helping you maintain governance.
Consolidating to a Single Application Experience
Employees often struggle with SaaS exhaustion – being asked to log in to multiple applications to perform their day-to-day jobs, with each application having a different user experience and workflow.
Extend apps must adhere to the standard Workday experience, which means users will immediately be familiar with the application and, in many cases, will not recognize that they are interacting with anything other than the core Workday application itself. This has significant benefits for training and user efficiency.
Operating Support Efficiency
Using Workday Extend means your apps’ UI, data, logic, and security remain update-safe from one Workday release to another. There is no need for refactoring or regression testing. Supporting Extend apps can be easier for your HRIS team than supporting apps built on other platforms they may not be familiar with.
When Extend Might Not Be a Fit
Extend is very powerful, and you can easily build extremely sophisticated (and complex) apps. However, with these apps comes additional support requirements for internal teams.
Also, Extend itself is not free, and there are licensing and hosting costs associated with Extend. You will need to engage a Workday partner to build your first app.
While Extend has familiar elements for Workday developers, if your team hasn’t built anything with Extend, there will be a learning curve. Extend utilizes an application development environment that requires skilled architects and developers to ensure you have an enterprise-grade solution.
Before pursuing an Extend strategy, we highly encourage a thorough review of your business strategy gaps and assess Extend as one of several options to close those gaps. It’s important to include an evaluation of processes and alignment to Workday as well as develop a clear picture of business value and costs to maintain a custom app. At Dispatch, we use a framework called DEEP that helps our clients work through their technology strategy to ensure technology solutions (including those built using Extend) are the right ones for their businesses.
Workday Extend is increasing the value of the Workday platform for many Workday customers around the world. It is a powerful extension of Workday’s core system that may be a fit for you. Please reach out if you want to learn how Dispatch can support you as you define and develop custom workflows and solutions across your Workday app ecosystem.