Written by Ryan Massie, President

Be Curious, Not Judgmental: The RIGHT Questions to Ask Your Workday Support

With so many new Workday support partner options out there, it has become increasingly hard to discern which organization is going to deliver the results you need. Who’s been tested? Who’s making promises they can’t fulfill? How do I discern the right “fit”?

When in doubt, look no further than Walt Whitman via a Ted Lasso scene for inspiration: “Be Curious, Not Judgmental”. In this scene, Lasso continues on about those in his past quick to judgment (paraphrasing), “…They had everything figured out, they had everyONE figured out, but if they were curious, they would have asked questions…”

But what are the RIGHT questions to ask?

I am reminded of this scene many times while engaging prospective Syssero clients myself. There will come a time for conclusion, but only after we’ve exhausted the pertinent questions within our arsenal. I fill that first call full of questions. I receive many questions in return and regardless of our answers…are they the RIGHT questions?

So here are a few (non-traditional) questions you should be asking Workday support partners that will satisfy your curiosity, placing you in a position of clear, resolute conviction – I’ve found my Workday support vendor. 

1. What does your organization DO better than your competitors. What’s that differentiator you need me to consider in our selection process?

A solid organization should know where they stand in comparison to their vendor counterparts. They should have considered how to differentiate themselves, investing in what they DO well, laying a foundation for their market image. Their response should be specific: process, people, or product oriented.

Furthermore, their response should correspond with what’s most important to you. Be careful of generalities such as “we care about results more than others” or “we have the best talent in comparison” or “we’re invested in mutual success” because there’s no test to any of those statements. They sound powerful and empirical… but they require subjective input to come to that conclusion. They may also use this opportunity to pull other vendors down – to judge at a distance, instead of exalting the specific actions/items that make them different and trusting your discernment.

2. Say we were to work together and in a month’s time you get an email from me saying, “I have a problem with your service that we need to discuss”….what does your gut and experience tell you my problem would be? What would you do about it?

This scenario will give you a glimpse at how they resolve conflict, how they view their responsibility in such a scenario, and how often that escalation occurs. Their response should be something specific and something you’re willing to work through together…if not…they’re either hiding something or their sales team is detached past deal closure, not invested in the service assurances they’re trying to sell you. That disconnect between sales and services is sadly common and problematic everytime. You want to have relationships you can lean on in a time of crisis, regardless of who is at fault. They’re trying to establish this relationship with you now, but beyond closed won business, will they be there for you? The best predictor of the future is the past, trust it.

3. How does your organization address failure?

As leaders we love to pontificate on how failure is a prerequisite for excellence, but as customers, we wish to mitigate or avoid all-together shortcomings in delivery. Furthermore, failure produces success only if the organization tracks its occurrence, holds people accountable, investigates the why, learns from those mistakes, remedies the initial failure to your liking, and ensures it won’t happen again. You’re going to want to hear examples without asking for them directly. This will show you that failure is being tracked internally, communicated openly within the organization, and the resolution they share should fit your expectation if you were on the other end of that failure. Finally, that particular failure example shouldn’t be something that raises an essential red-flag for you, because the risk of recurrence may be too great for you to bear. 

4. May I review the resumes of the people you intend to staff on my account? Can I talk with them?

Many Workday support partners will be quick to show you examples of their workforce, but that’s often a curated list of their best Architects, not always reflective of the talent they’ll assign to your account. Important context to keep in mind, many vendors need your opportunity to be at an appropriate sales fulfillment stage to assign the resource/s internally. If they can’t produce those resumes early and quickly, don’t be alarmed. The timing of your decision/start date and viability of opportunity will affect this.

However, if you’re within a 2-3 week window of activating these resources, you need to know their services department is planning in detail the workforce element. Not everyone they share with you will be on your account, but get them to commit to a conversation with the resource/s prior to contract activation. At the end of the day, vendors provide expertise to solve your problems…you should, at minimum, be able to review their background on paper and talk to one of these experts before you make your selection. 

5. Does your organization have a min or max threshold of new clients they are taking on each quarter?

Controversial one here….does this Workday support partner favor quality control or increasing market share? The vendor sales team will surely have minimum numbers to express, because it correlates to their quota … .but do they limit the maximum flow of new work coming in to ensure their consultants’ success on your assignment? I’ve heard too many horror stories from talent at larger vendors transitioning to Syssero, that they were working 20+ clients at a time and putting in 70+ hour weeks to meet the minimum threshold of acceptable client deliverables. No one is doing good work at that pitch.

As a business owner, I certainly see how that billable utilization would serve me…but at the cost of you. The number of “max” new clients should correspond with their consulting workforce headcount, so it’s definitely a sliding scale and open to interpretation … .but it has to “math” to you. If it doesn’t “math”, then the vendor is either overloading their workforce which means you’ll have rotating resources OR they have a significant amount of client churn that necessitates quick new client activation to replace failed assignments/departures OR they’re brand new to the ecosystem and haven’t been tested yet. None of these scenarios are ideal. 

6. Where is your organization headed and how does this partnership help you get there?

Successful organizations, in any field, have a compelling present identity and a clear future vision. Their people are in alignment with the goals/aspirations of the larger whole, can articulate them, AND they participate meaningfully in the protection of the present + future-state realization. The vendor’s mission should resonate with you and have a parallel with your opportunity. Your work must mean something more to them than market share momentum or revenue. A success story from you should help them get to where they want to be. When vendors lean heavily on past success stories, referencing the volume and status of the past, it’s an indicator that their future is uncertain or lacks intentionality – is that a partnership you’re going to feel comfortable leaning on for the important work to be done?

7. What’s the biggest challenge your organization faces today?

Every organization has challenges, there’s a reason you’re contacting the vendor in the first place. There’s an obstacle in your way that must be overcome. Vendors have challenges too, you just want to know that their biggest challenge doesn’t conflict with your intent in contracting their services (i.e. retention issues, or excessive demand in the market). Additionally, if there is deflection in their answer, they’re either hiding something or they’re disconnected from the outcomes they purport to deliver you. This is an opportunity for transparency and empathy between organizations – don’t skip this.

So, go ahead: get curious!

From my point of view and experience these are the most pressing questions you need answered, inclusive of all industries, Workday adoption phase, and organizational size. Of course you’ll want to ask basic qualifying questions such as; how long have you been providing Workday services, how many clients do you have in the Workday space, how many Workday consultants do you have on staff, are all areas of Workday covered by your consulting population, etc.

Standby for my next post where I’ll answer these curiosities from Syssero’s perspective.

If you are interested in talking with our Sales team,  fill out the form below!