How Workday enabled Aon to move to working from home overnight

Webinar reveals how Workday enabled Aon to do financial closures and audits entirely virtually.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced companies across the world to switch to remote working overnight, and it appears as though this new normal is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Some companies were better prepared for working from home than others.

During a webinar hosted by CFO South Africa on mastering virtual finance, on-demand financial management and human capital management software vendor Workday shared how their cloud-based solutions helped insurance company Aon to ace financial closing and audits from home. Aon, like the rest of the world, moved from offices to homes overnight, and for the first time ever, financial closures and audits were handled entirely virtually. Now, further automation is being rolled out across more than 60 countries.

Workday country MD Zuko Mdwaba said, “During this period, the feedback we received from customers, including Aon, was that thanks to the cloud they were able to continue as normal as if nothing had happened.”

Workday’s pre-sales leader, Faizan Siddiqi, said that now more than ever, CFOs are looking to transform. “The office of the CFO is an integral part of every business and the teams themselves are looking to transition from just transactional processing to more of an analytics-focused part of the business,” explained Faizan.

He said the pre-existing challenges across the macro-environment became far more pronounced this year. Businesses have had to shift their focus to survival as opposed to plans and projects they might have had on the books. But on the flip side, it is an opportunity for businesses to diversify and help them gain a competitive advantage as they emerge from challenging times. “They need robust finance systems to help catalyse this vision,” said Faizan.

Aon global finance director, Chicago-based Jeremy Dogadalski said that the company implemented Workday across various different geographies starting from 2016. South Africa was brought on board in phase three.

“We were using an aging PeopleSoft platform, and honestly it was on its last legs. It was very old and archaic,” said Jeremy. Workday, besides being cloud-based, is a fully integrated financial system with all the different financial processes on one platform. He added that because PeopleSoft wasn’t cloud-based, the company wasn’t getting automatic release of new features timeously, and it made the system difficult to manage.

Jeremy also emphasised the importance of getting team backing for a smoother transition. He said often people are comfortable with the older systems and will resist change. It is important to get users the proper training by identifying requirement gaps early on in the implementation.

Workday project manager at Aon, Peter Ricciov then took viewers through the process of how the company switched to remote working in March. His shared screen revealed a blank slide. “This isn’t a mistake,” he said. “The slide is blank for a reason. We stopped working from the office one day, worked from home the next day, and we didn’t have to do anything different. We were able to leverage the Workday platform to tell colleagues to go home, and continue with their daily tasks as if they were in the office the very next day.”

Faizan concluded the webinar by saying that achieving a successful month-end and audits without ever going to the office, is a remarkable achievement. “Irrespective of all the disruption caused to all our lives because of the pandemic, for them to run their business effectively and efficiently, without having to do anything, that is a testament to the solution that underpins this transition.”