As in many other areas of enterprise IT, cloud is disrupting HR systems, giving rise to a new breed of solutions that have ditched the old on-premises model altogether in favour of the as-a-service delivery mechanism. The last few years have seen the emergence of companies like Bamboo and Ceridian, and particularly Workday, with the more established vendors Oracle and SAP rolling out their own cloud-based solutions in the shape of HCM Cloud and SuccessFactors. But one of the other new entrants is making waves in the market, despite having a comparatively immature product; we have produced this article to help you compare Workday vs Microsoft.

The following contains a sneak peek into some of the findings from Computing Delta’s market research analysis of the HR technology space which was conducted with more than 200 senior IT leaders in the UK and Europe. These IT leaders have purchased, implemented and have deep insight into the workings of these tools. To see the complete findings, please click here to get an online demo of the service.

Workday HCM vs Microsoft Dynamics 365 Talent – the solutions

Microsoft is one of the more surprising entrants into the HR field, at least in the opinion of some of our respondents.

“I didn’t even think Microsoft Dynamics did anything with HR,” said a head of IT in the health sector. “I haven’t come across it with HR, not one on my radar,” added an IT director in legal services.

However, plenty of other respondents had experience with Talent, the HCM application that Microsoft added to its cloud-based Dynamics 365 CRM-ERP suite in 2017. They pointed out that Microsoft has invested heavily in marketing this relatively new offering, but that this messaging was not necessarily directed at the IT department. Talent was the most commonly trialled HR solution of all of those that we asked about in our research study earlier this year, most likely because it is bundled as an option with the Dynamics 365 suite.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Talent has five main areas of functionality: Attract, Onboard, Engage, Learn and Optimise. It includes administrative portals for employees, including records, benefits, absence, worker competence ratings, performance reviews and training services. It also offers employee self-service, so staff can record and update personal information and request leave and absence. Talent is integrated with Office 365 and LinkedIn.

Workday HCM is much better known in the HR arena. Founded in 2005 by ex-PeopleSoft executives and aimed at servicing the needs of large companies, educational institutions and government agencies, the company has grown rapidly ever since, adding analytics and financial applications along the way. With a cloud model, the company can roll out multiple upgrades per year and maintain a unified user experience.

Workday HCM incorporates HR management modules including workforce lifecycle & organisation management, compensation, absence and employee benefits. It also features talent management – comprising goal and performance management, succession planning, and career and development planning.

Important factors in HCM selection

Important factors in HCM selection

Workday HCM vs Microsoft Dynamics 365 Talent – pricing

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Talent is priced from £30.20 per HR user per month for a full user, which includes Attract, Onboard and Core HR. Additional Team Member licences, which give users access to read, write and self-service functions, are £6 each. A Team Member licence will be required for most employees covered by the system.

Workday does not publish pricing for HCM on its website. A subscription is based on the modules licensed, how many employees are in the organisation, and the term length. In addition, there will be a service/maintenance charge and implementation costs. A search of third-party sites suggests a minimum of £100 per employee per year for a three-year term.

Workday offers more bells and whistles than Microsoft, but – anecdotally – we heard more complaints over the price. Microsoft rated higher on Clear benefits/RoI in our research, while the two were neck-and-neck on Absence of hidden costs and Overall costs.

Some voiced fears about Microsoft locking users further into its platform.

Workday vs Microsoft - pricing table

Workday HCM vs Microsoft Dynamics 365 Talent – technical support

Workday offers phone and online support and access to the knowledgebase. Workday Support is a SaaS delivery model available 24/7/365, and the company claims to have “a manager on duty at all times”.

The Workday Customer Center is an online case management system that Named Support Contacts can access to report customer issues. There is also an online community portal for self-service problem solving

Microsoft Dynamics 365 support is available through the website, community portal and customer engagement. Microsoft technical support is available through Lifecycle Services for Dynamics 365 for Retail, Dynamics 365 for Talent, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, and Enterprise-edition applications.

In the view of our respondents, both offered good levels of support, with Workday scoring higher than Microsoft in this regard.

Workday vs Microsoft - in use table

Workday HCM vs Microsoft Dynamics 365 Talent – roadmap

One of the promises of cloud-based software is the constant, seamless rollout of new features. The roadmap, therefore, is an important differentiator in a way that does not apply to on-premises software. Implicit in this is integrations with third-party software and APIs as well as with other products in the vendor’s portfolio. This is where Microsoft is seeking to catch up with its more established competitor. Talent integrates with Office 365 and LinkedIn as well as other products in the Dynamics 365 roster. This may help Microsoft close the gap with Workday in areas where it is considered weak, such as recruitment.

However, Workday is no slouch either, constantly adding new features and integrations to HCM. Currently the company’s main focus is adding analytics and planning functionalities via its 2016 acquisitions of big data vendor Platfora and 2018 purchase of financial planning firm Adaptive Insights. A recent rollout was the machine learning-powered Skills Cloud, designed to identify the unique skills and training needs of individuals and teams.

Delta research respondents rated Workday particularly highly for its roadmap, although Microsoft Dynamics 365 talent also managed a credible score.

Workday vs Microsoft - roadmap table

Workday HCM vs Microsoft Dynamics 365 Talent – conclusion

Workday HCM is undoubtedly the more mature of the two offerings. The company made its name by disrupting the status quo, and its challenge now is to maintain that momentum. Workday HCM is a fully featured modular system with a great reputation throughout the industry.

For one CIO, Workday is very much the future of enterprise HCM. “For me the leader is Workday. There’s one main reason: they are a cloud-based solution. They have been built in the cloud, for the cloud, on the cloud,” they said. However, the solution is less suitable for SMBs and we heard some doubts about RoI.

Under the leadership of Satya Nadella there is seemingly no corner of enterprise IT that Microsoft is not seeking to dominate. Worryingly for its competitors, it generally has the wherewithal to do just that – the usual pattern being bundling a new product in with an existing package to make adoption as easy as possible, then subsequently doing enough to prevent them looking elsewhere.

Currently Talent is neither as fully featured nor as mature as Workday’s offering, but Microsoft is marketing it heavily, and has plenty of assets and expertise in cloud integration and AI to draw upon; it is probably only a matter of time before it catches up. However, at a time when fears about cloud lock-in are increasingly making themselves heard, many will prefer not to be all in with one vendor because of potential lock-in.

More information, including the capability to compare satisfaction ratings with those of other vendors, is available in the HR report. Click here to see a video of Delta in action.


Further reading:


The Market for HR Systems




Microsoft leaps into lead for HR software trials




Microsoft makes a serious foray into the HRIS space – should Workday worry?

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