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Higher Education

4 mins

Texas A&M Implements Workday

The Texas A&M University System needed to update its legacy human capital management system. The organization decided to leverage the Prosci Methodology for the enterprisewide Workday implementation, and to develop a repeatable change management framework for future projects.

Texas A&M Implements Workday

Users move to new Workday system

Year-old payroll system eliminated

University sites integrated


The Texas A&M System depended on a payroll system that they had implemented decades ago. The legacy system was costly to maintain and didn't meet the current needs of the organization.


  • Develop a framework and strategy based on the Prosci ADKAR® Model and Prosci 3-Phase Process for guiding individuals through an important Workday implementation
  • Build a sponsor coalition and change agent network based on Prosci best practices to help drive change across the system's 11 universities
  • Implement change management on the Workday HCM project to reduce operational risk and operating costs, plus boost efficiencies

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Prosci’s ADKAR Model is the best framework to prepare individuals to accept a significant change and thrive in a new way of doing business.

— Leslie W. Lenser, Executive Director, Program and Project Management

Preparing Employees for Shift to Workday

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the United States. It is comprised of 11 universities, seven state agencies, a health science center, and a system administrative office. The university operates with a budget of $9.6 billion per year, affecting 152,000 students, 26,000 faculty and staff, and 10,000 retirees who receive benefits.


Texas AM-Challenge


The A&M System relied on a payroll system that was 35 years old, expensive to maintain, and difficult to adapt. Additionally, this system no longer followed business best practices. The A&M System selected Workday as the right cloud-based software for its new human capital management system. Workday would integrate HR, payroll and other solutions, and would simplify and standardize processes while minimizing overhead.

It was no secret that the university needed to upgrade its legacy payroll system, but several obstacles delayed the decision to replace it:

  • Large stakeholder groups and long review cycles slowed the decision-making process—a characteristic of higher education that impacted the project going forward
  • Stakeholders were not aligned on the right solution for the new system
  • Financial leaders from the A&M System and each university and agency needed to decide how to pay for the new system

Applying change management to the project

The executive director of program and project management used the Prosci Methodology to guide much of her change management work. Because the Workday implementation would impact over 58,000 end users, the project team decided to apply a formal change management approach for the first time at the A&M System. As a result, creating a repeatable template for change management on a project became one of the expected outputs of the implementation.

Using the Prosci 3-Phase Process and Prosci ADKAR Model as guides, a core group focused on change management began outlining a change management plan with the goal of integrating it with the project team’s milestones.


Texas AM-Solution

Stakeholder identification and assessment

The change management team used Prosci tools to identify and assess the readiness of the stakeholders who would be most impacted by the project. This included 331 full-time HR payroll and benefits employees, 2,014 HR department liaisons, and 8,546 people managers. During these assessments, the change management team also completed an initial assessment of the communication and training needs that each impacted group would require.

Proactive resistance management

Following change management best practices, the change management team also assessed change impacts and likely areas of resistance. They tailored special tactics to address the most universally anticipated resistance points. For example, to address resistance to change caused by unfamiliarity with the new software and processes, the change management team ensured that they communicated all major changes before training. They also ensured that the most impacted employees heard about key changes three to five times before going live. In addition, coaches with expertise in Workday’s business processes and security roles met with each member over a 13-week period to review the most common business processes, resistance and questions.

Sponsorship coalition and change network

Another area of resistance that would prove more difficult to mitigate: many employees identified first with their university or agency and second (if at all) with the overarching A&M System. They were, therefore, wary of changes brought in from the System Office and did not respond to sponsorship from this office.

To address this, the team brought together the HR Officer and Chief Financial Officer of each of the system’s 11 universities, seven state agencies, and the health science center to become part of an Executive Advisory Committee (EAC). These representatives provided executive-level buy-in; provided input on all major decisions; and formally accepted the design, prototypes, and system testing results. They became sustaining sponsors of the change throughout the project.

The EAC was supported by local change leaders and agents who, with the EAC, received regular briefings on the project; became the face of the project to their employees; and locally deployed the communications, readiness activities and resources that the project team had developed for them. The EAC and change leaders identified additional influential leaders at each university and agency, along with leaders for key functional areas. They also set up touchpoints between them and project leaders.

Training strategy and plan

Using the Prosci ADKAR Model as a guide, the change management team designed a training curriculum around the new software based on the following ADKAR elements: Awareness and Desire, Knowledge and Ability, and Reinforcement. The primary emphasis of the training plan focused on the 331 full-time HR, payroll and benefits employees, with classroom training scheduled on location at each system member site.

Due to time, budget and geographic constraints, the 2,014 HR liaisons (serving as department admins in their “real” job) participated in virtual classroom training, while all 8,546 managers received eLearning modules. All universities and agencies were given a list of recommended readiness activities to equip their employees for the change. These activities included drop-in learning labs, Q&A sessions, and local communications on which employees should do which work when overlapping security roles allowed more than one employee to do the same work.

Communication strategy and plan

When creating the communications plan, the change management team relied on the EAC and local change leaders as primary deliverers of change messages. Using these representatives embraced the loyalty and identity that employees at each university and agency felt. It also followed best practices by allowing messages to come from preferred senders— people who employees most identified with.

In addition to choosing the correct senders of change messages, all training activities and communications were carefully timed in phases, guided by ADKAR Model milestones. Activities included general and targeted awareness, as well as skill-building.


When evaluating how to gauge project and change management progress, the team decided to formally track:

  • Perception of likelihood of project success, confidence in leadership, and knowledge of
    where to find information about the project
  • Completion and success of the communications plan
  • Completion of recommended readiness and training events

The team tracked these metrics via a series of three surveys, as well as change agent self-reporting and training completion statistics. They recorded all metrics in a readiness tracker, which visually demonstrated progress and challenge areas.

Informal tracking happened through one-on-one conversations with additional influential leaders and project status presentations to influential groups across the A&M System.


Texas AM-Results


Thanks to robust communications and sponsorship plans that began 26 months before go-live, confidence in leadership and perception of the likelihood of project success has remained high through the first two of three surveys. This was a noticeable shift from other system-wide projects. Current project status includes:

  • Over 77% of leadership, managers, staff, and core impacted employees had received recommended communications four months before go-live
  • 70% of leadership, managers, and core impacted employees had completed recommended readiness activities four months before go-live
  • Project is on schedule and on budget to successfully launch on time

In addition, on the first survey (completed 10 months before go-live), surveyed groups overall scored 3.92 on a 5-point Likert-scale that they understood the benefits of the new software, were actively promoting it, and believed that they would receive adequate training on how to use it. The second survey (completed six months before go-live), showed a slight drop to 3.84, indicating that people were really beginning to learn about the change and how it would impact them. The third survey is happening soon.

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