Interview with R2R Sponsors Diana Dutton, Leigh Yetter and Marc Denoncourt

McGill is preparing for the summer 2020 launch of new state-of-the-art integrated human resources and payroll software

In the summer of 2020, McGill will launch Workday, a cloud-based software system that will support HR and Academic personnel management across McGill’s campuses. Selected through the R2R (Recruitment to Retirement) program, Workday will replace McGill’s Banner Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and Minerva HR for user self-service, Payroll One-time Payment System (POPS) and Purely HR to provide all McGill employees with a single source of accurate real-time information relevant to their own employment situation.

Workday will allow Managers and other HR professionals to access customizable reports, and dashboards to enable data-driven decision-making.

In preparation for the launch, R2R Sponsors Diana Dutton, Associate Vice-Principal Human Resources; and Leigh Yetter, Senior Director, Strategy and Operations, Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) have completed a series of Managers’ Awareness Meetings with over 700 administrative Managers during the fall.

We spoke with them and Marc Denoncourt, CIO and R2R Sponsor, to provide an update on the program and to reiterate which key messages delivered during these sessions.

Why did you hold these Managers’ Awareness Meetings?

Diana Dutton (DD): We met with administrative Managers to ensure they are properly equipped to share this information with their staff and to answer any questions they may have had.

How are we doing in terms of R2R’s implementation timeline?

Leigh Yetter (LY): Up to this point, we have successfully reached all of our milestones.

At present, we have loaded 95 per cent of all data. R2R Teams have started end-to-end testing to ensure the design of the processes work for our needs.

After the next prototype, the system configuration will be frozen and we will focus on payroll parallel testing – literally running Workday pay versus Banner pay.

We are on track to retire Banner HR in the summer of 2020 and go live with Workday in July 2020.

We keep hearing that Workday is a cloud solution. What does that mean exactly?

Marc Denoncourt (MD): Going with the Cloud means that we do not have to make a massive investment in a system that we have to maintain ourselves. Instead, we pay an annual fee that covers the system itself as well as its maintenance.

It also includes a number of other services that we have to maintain ourselves when we own a solution. This means we will not have to:

  • buy and maintain the underlying hardware infrastructure
  • invest in and maintain the proper IT security protection
  • invest in a backup infrastructure and perform regular backup operations
  • install and test yearly regulatory updates (such as T4 & R1 tax forms)
  • develop and test new features

Going with the Cloud also means that we will benefit from HR best practices around the world. In a Cloud setting, you benefit from frequent improvements to the software and additional functionalities as the provider releases them.

Can you remind us why McGill has chosen Workday?

MD: Workday is a leading software company for HR systems and it has a proven track record within the Higher Education sector and similar research-intensive institutions.

The product is intuitive and user-friendly, which is optimal nowadays as employees want access to more information and to be able to accomplish more tasks themselves in a streamlined way. In this regard, compared to Banner, Workday offers more self-service functions all in one place, not only for employees but also for Managers.

Finally, Workday is designed to evolve, with timely upgrades being released twice a year. Not only will we avoid what can be very expensive software upgrades, we also will not need to manage these upgrades internally.

How do we make sure that the system and new processes are tailored to McGill needs?

DD: The R2R Program is composed of teams with dedicated members who are knowledgeable about both Workday and McGill’s processes. Their job is to merge the two as seamlessly as possible.

For example, the Workday Functional Team is responsible for configuration and is made up of Experts drawn from HR and the Academic Personnel Office, together with Experts with faculty-based knowledge. It is supported by full-time Functional Business Analysts and Deloitte counterparts, as well as Subject Matter Experts drawn from across the community (e.g. from Faculties, Finance, HR, Student Life and Learning). [See list of Experts, Functional Business Analysts and Subject Matter Experts.]

The R2R program also includes the Data Management Team and the Integration Team. The Data Management Team ensures that Banner data is properly converted into Workday data. It is responsible for creating the new EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse) which will house the HR Data from Workday.

As you know, Banner HR feeds several downstream systems. The Integration Team ensures that important integrations are configured between Workday and our remaining systems.

How do you plan to communicate on R2R in the coming months?

LY: We are engaging with the community through a Change Network involving some 150 Champions and Change Agents representing all Faculties and units.

We met all Administrative Managers in late September and October. We encouraged them to learn more about the R2R program, Workday and the process of re-thinking the way we work.

This past December, we began showing live demonstrations of Workday to R2R Champions and Change Agents as well as administrative Managers. This will continue in January.

In the spring, there will be demonstrations for a larger audience across the University, as well as more news in the McGill Reporter and communications sessions with us.

You met Administrative Managers last Fall. What about the Academic leaders?

LY: We began to meet with Academic leaders in December and will continue to do so in January.

Workday will be a useful tool for Deans, Chairs and other academic administrators, providing visibility into their Faculties and Departments (as appropriate) in support of strategic planning activities. Workday will likewise support in the management of the academic lifecycle, from the recruitment of new academic staff, to processes supporting reappointment, tenure, sabbatical, and other milestones. Workflows will be linear and approval paths will be visible. At the same time, academic staff will have direct access to their own information – for example, years accumulated toward sabbatical, or where an application for tenure or promotion sits in the review process.

What type of training will be offered?

DD: Training will begin in May 2020. Training opportunities will be customized to the frequency that users will interact with Workday for their day-to-day jobs. There with be in-class training for frequent users, as well as, live aids, webinars, comprehensive training package documentation for others.

Users will also receive ongoing support after Workday is live.

Where can we find more information on R2R?

LY: Everyone can consult the R2R website for detailed information on the program including a “Frequently Asked Questions” section. Employees can also reach out to their Champions or Change Agents (Champion List), or communicate directly with the R2R program team ( Lastly, employees can watch the Workday Introduction video that was presented during the Managers’ Awareness Meetings, and remains available to all on the R2R website.