Workdays Challenge Product Development and Growth

By Ed Frauenheim

Mar. 13, 2008

Wrkday’s main challenge at the moment is following through on its product development plan and handling the company’s growth.

   Workday’s headcount grew from less than 100 in February of 2007 to about 220 in February 2008. Workday booked $26 million in revenue last year, and expects bookings to more than double this year.

   So far, about 80 percent of Workday’s employees are former PeopleSoft people. That’s a testament, in part, to PeopleSoft and Workday founder Dave Duffield’s legacy. His reputation is that of a salt-of-the-earth type who succeeded in an industry with more than its share of inflated egos and sell-at-any-cost personalities. And he remains a not-so-secret weapon for Workday.

   Duffield, 67, serves as both Workday’s CEO and “chief customer advocate”—a title that might seem phony in some quarters. But Workday stands out for its customer service, says Wes Bertch of Life Time Fitness, a Workday client.

   “We call, and they actually pick up the phone,” Bertch says. Life Time Fitness’s Michelle Bertch adds that Duffield is “a real person. He’s someone you actually want to talk to.”

   Duffield’s good-guy rep helped Workday win the business of H.B. Fuller Co., a Minnesota-based maker of adhesives used in cardboard boxes and other products.

   Steven John, director of global information technology for H.B. Fuller, said he usually doesn’t blaze the trail in adopting new technologies. But he made an exception with Workday.

   “Dave is a big piece of it,” John says.

   John calls himself a “second-generation” chief information officer, and his father’s experience with Duffield helped seal the Workday deal. “He worked with Dave Duffield and trusted him,” John says.

   Modest as he may be, Duffield has set an ambitious goal at Workday: He wants to reshape the business software industry, effectively repeating his history at PeopleSoft.

   IDC analyst Lisa Rowan says it’s hard to predict whether Duffield will succeed given today’s economic uncertainty. But, she said, “He’s a good bet.”

Ed Frauenheim is a former Associate Editorial Director at Human Capital Media and currently works as Senior Director of Content at Great Place to Work. He is a co-author of A Great Place to Work For All.

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