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Experience From Both Sides of the Desk: Bringing a balanced perspective to a Workday Student Implementation

We’ve walked a mile in your shoes, is what many consultants say, when they make the transition from working for a higher education institution to Workday consultant. After 11 years in higher education, I made the leap to become certified as a Workday Student consultant. While many of the same character traits and skills are needed in both roles to be effective, the role of internal project leader and the role of the consultant are not the same in a project.

consultants at workFor the client project leader, it’s important they clearly articulate the business needs of the institution and ensure outcomes are achievable for students, staff, and faculty. Enhancing the student experience should be the primary driver of decision-making. On the other side of the equation, the consultant’s primary responsibilities are to understand the business needs of the institution and challenge the lead to consider the end-user experiences for faculty, staff, and students. Improved business processes that align with goals and result in client satisfaction should be the primary drivers of decision-making.

While both the internal project leader and the consultant are working towards the same goal, a successful digital transformation, there are ways in which they differ. Let’s look at each role and five of the most common traits.

Internal Project Leader

Workday Student Consultant

Decisive: Project leaders must be able to evaluate options and make quick decisions using their institutional knowledge to keep the project progressing.

Creative: Consultants must be able to think outside the box to present solutions and new possibilities that may benefit the client.

Curious: Internal leaders must be willing to explore new or different ways of completing tasks and be open to considering options.

Honest: Consultants must be straightforward and perform tasks with the utmost integrity to earn the trust and respect of the client.

Empathetic: Internal leads will be asked why a change was made that directly impacts the work of another. It is important to consider how design decisions affect others and document the decisions to be able to explain them when pushing change out to the greater institutional community.

Compassionate: Decisions ultimately lie with the client, but as consultants we can present options. It is vital that clients feel their consultant is in their corner, understands their position, and supports them in their decision-making based upon known parameters.

Courageous: A Workday Student implementation is a lengthy process. Challenges will present themselves along the way. It is vital to face challenges with determination and finesse.

Enthusiastic: Implementation is challenging work, and consultants that show enthusiasm each day provide the best outcome and can assist in gaining stakeholder buy-in for the project.

Cooperative: Project leaders must communicate openly with their consultants, stakeholders, and subject matter experts to drive decisions and coordinate communication or intervene when needed.

Cooperative: Consultants must maintain open communications and work closely with the client’s functional leads to provide necessary information to project management and ensure the project status is clear. Many areas of configuration have cross- functional impact for an institution, and clients depend upon their consultants to highlight the impact of configuration decisions. Consultants must be cooperative with their teammates and the larger Workday ecosystem by being active on Workday Community to find solutions for complex problems and improve the product for all.


Avaap’s Workday Student team has worked on more than half of all Workday Student Implementations and brings the most experience to higher education institutions implementing Workday Student. We’d love to share the momentum we’re seeing as more institutions look to transform and elevate the student experience.