Workday Integration, simplified & improved!

By David Honan in Product Updates Posted Feb 11, 2019

Looking at the 2018 market share of the top 5 Human Capital Management (HCM) players, Workday is now in the #2 spot just behind SAP, and ahead of ADP, Oracle, and Microsoft (via Linkedin). Thus, it is no surprise that requests to add Workday integration support into the Cloud Elements ecosystem drastically increased in 2018 (50+ requests), with requests continuing into this new year.

So, we listened to our customers and we are happy to announce that phase 1 of the Workday Element is now available in our public catalog as part of our ERP hub!

“Is Workday one of the most requested Elements by customers and prospects?”

“Is Workday really that difficult to integrate to?”

The answer to both these questions is yes, but like with every API, “difficult” is relative.

Let me explain.

First, if you have ever had to integrate using the SOAP protocol, then you already know that it can be cumbersome to use when compared to using lighter frameworks like REST. Workday’s API is SOAP. Thus, as is the case with all of the Elements in our ecosystem, the Cloud Elements Workday integration converts and normalizes Workday’s native SOAP API to our uniform REST standards. When using the Element, your developers or integration partners don’t need to learn all the intricacies of Workday’s SOAP API!

Second, Workday’s native SOAP API specification does not support bulk (a.k.a. batch) data. So, if your use case requires that data is moved in bulk - say to seed an employee database - you will need to build out a full bulk support framework or write extensive code to move data objects one record at a time. If you’ve not done that before, take our word for it, it is not as easy as it sounds. There is a lot that you have to account for, including endpoint API request limits, file chunking, error handling, asynchronous processing, callbacks, and so forth. However, every Element in the Cloud Elements catalog has a built-in bulk framework, and our Workday Element is no exception. The integration accommodates for Workday’s missing bulk API support by providing bulk resources out-of-the-box.


Third, the Workday API specification is massive, with over 2000+ resources! So, for our first release of the Workday Element, we’ve selected the subset of resources that were the most requested from our customers and prospects. This first release supports the high value procure-to-pay workflow - with order-to-cash and hire-to-retire coming soon.

Don’t want to wait for next Workday release? No problem, we’ve got you. Every Element in the Cloud Elements ecosystem is editable and extendable. So, if you are familiar with Workday’s SOAP API, you can use our Element Builder to add in what you need. For example, you can easily modify the GET /supplier-classifications resource using our platform's built-in tooling:

But, there's an easier way using the Workday Element’s discovery resources.

Our Elements are all standardized to a common set of features, including the ability to programmatically (or manually via our UI) query the endpoint and determine what objects and associated object metadata are supported by the endpoint’s API. These discovery resources are found via the /objects resources built into the Workday Element.

By having built-in discovery API resources in the Element, you now have access to every one of Workday’s 2000+ native resources. You can use the discovery API resources to determine what is available and then build your own on the fly using the Element’s “create your own” resources capability. Just use the GET /objects resource, grab the object that you need, and substitute for objectName.
This is no small feat, given that Workday does not provide out-of-the-box functionality via their SOAP API to query for this information. Our super smart Workday Element automatically scrapes Workday’s API documentation website to dynamically support the Element’s discovery resources! Way cool.

Having access to all of Workday’s APIs provides amazing flexibility and quicker time to value for our customers - no wonder they would rather use our Workday Element versus writing directly to Workday’s complex SOAP API.

A note regarding getting access to Workday’s service. They do not currently offer a sandbox that you can use to test as they tightly control who has access, and rightly so as it is HCM after all. Thus, regardless of whether you decide to integrate directly to Workday’s SOAP API or leverage our Workday Element, you will need to contact Workday or work with your Workday customers for integration options.

Want to learn more about best practices for API integration, whether you're integrating to an HCM like Workday or a complex ERP? Get the Definitive Guide to API integration.

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