WorkCyte Updates

WorkCyte News is a series of communications to help faculty and staff in the Division of Academic Affairs learn more about upcoming improvements to software and business processes. For more information on the WorkCyte initiative, visit  


January 2019

Happy New Year! This month, we’re taking a break from Workday and Improved Service Delivery to remind you about Okta, a cloud-based software service that helps keep your and the university’s information out of the hands of cyber criminals, and how to enroll before the March 1 deadline.

A new era of cyber protection for faculty and staff

Okta uses multifactor authentication, which is a fancy way of saying the software verifies you are who you say you are. Like taking both your passport and driver’s license to the airport.It’s a second layer of protection to ensure that, even if a hacker gained access to your log-in information, they would still be locked out of critical systems like AccessPlus, Workday, eData, and other Iowa State systems.

How it works

Let’s say you come to work tomorrow morning, turn on your computer, and enter your NetID and password. In the current system, that’s all you need to access many university systems, including databases that contain protected student and employee information.

Now, let’s say you want to go to AccessPlus and see if you have enough vacation time to take that trip to the Big 12 Basketball Championship in March. Using Okta, you will complete the additional step of approving the request – essentially verifying that it’s YOU who is trying to log into AccessPlus.

After entering your email address and Okta password, you’ll receive a notification on your mobile phone (or other method of your choosing) alerting you that the log-in request has been made. After confirming the request through the Okta Verify app, your computer will proceed to the AccessPlus landing page.

Isn’t that morework on my part?

Yes, and no. Yes, in that there is an initial step required to access university systems. But once you’ve completed the multifactor authentication process for the day, you won’t have to repeat it each time you want to access other university systems. So, in our example with AccessPlus, you can go back to AccessPlus later that morning without having to log-in a second time. So, for most employees, Okta will actually save time.

Keep in mind, however, that better securing your and Iowa State’s information would be well worth the effort, even without any other benefits.

Next step: enroll!

Now that you know what Okta is, and why it’s important for both you and the university, it’s time to enroll. Twenty percent of faculty and staff are already enrolled in Okta, and we’re looking to get to 100 percent by March 1. To get started, visit, choose your preferred authentication mode, and then pat yourself on the back for enhancing cybersecurity at Iowa State.

Enrollment tips

In general, Okta works best with updated operating systems on your mobile devices and computers. When setting up multifactor authentication on a mobile device:

  • Android users will need to switch to the Outlook app for email. The Outlook app can be set up to open Gmail accounts as well as Iowa State email, or users can continue using their normal mail app (Gmail, for example) for personal mail, and Outlook for university business.
  • Apple users will need to reset their Iowa State email profile.

Faculty and staff using Apple laptop and desktop computers will need to upgrade to Mojave prior to enabling multifactor authentication (Outlook users do not need to be upgraded).

The IT Solution Center is always available to answer any questions you have, and to help you through any issues you have getting started. They can even make a house call if you and several colleagues want to set up multifactor authentication at the same time!

For more information …

Look for more information on WorkCyte each month through this newsletter. You can also read more about the initiative in Inside Iowa State, and on the project website:



December 2018

Happy Winter Break! This month’s edition – published a few days earlier than usual due to the holiday – features  a rundown of things we’ll be doing ourselves in Workday. In the meantime, best wishes for a relaxing break, and quality time spent with family and friends.

Employee Self-Service

Employee Self-Service, or ESS, is an umbrella term that captures all the things employees will be able to do themselves in Workday. In some cases, we’ll be moving from paper to online processes. In other cases, the processes will replace those currently available in AccessPlus, with fewer log-ins and easier navigation.

Absence management

Iowa State employees currently ask for time off in a variety of ways, including by email, by calendar request, or even in passing hallway conversations. Workday will streamline the process for time off requests and approvals, bringing it completely online. In the case of sick leave, employees will also be able to make requests remotely through the Workday app, or enter their leave into the system once they return to the office.

Employees can request multiple absences in one “transaction” (all those away football or volleyball games for your kids, for example). The request(s) is then routed to your manager or other “approver,” who can approve or deny it, or send it back for additional information.  

The other benefit is that you will no longer need to fill out a form at the end of each month to report how much vacation or sick leave you have used. Current accruals and balances will be tracked automatically in Workday.

The same process can be used to request leaves of absence, which are longer in duration, and may not have a definitive return date (returning to work after a pregnancy, for example). When use of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is required for time off, those hours will also be tracked online, replacing the Microsoft Excel spreadsheets you’re currently using. University Human Resources will continue to manage leaves of absence, including the use of FMLA.

Updating personal and payroll information

Workday also makes it easy to update your contact and other personal information, including:

  • Changing your preferred name (“Elizabeth” to “Beth,” for example)
  • Changing your legal name due to a life event (this will also require you to upload the appropriate legal documentation, such as a marriage license)
  • Editing emergency contact information, such as non-ISU phone numbers, or email and home addresses
  • Changing federal or state withholding
  • Changing banks/accounts for direct deposit

Look for more information on WorkCyte each month through this newsletter. You can also read more about the initiative in Inside Iowa State, and on the project website: New on the website in recent weeks are graphicsthat highlight which legacy systems will be sunset after Workday goes live in July.


November 2018

This month’s edition features a rundown of things we’ll be doing differently in Workday, including things that we’ll stop doing, so we can maintain our focus on Iowa State’s mission.

Business process update

As we mentioned briefly in the September issue of WorkCyte News, the transition to Workday will help improve Iowa State’s business processes. Hundreds of common processes have been analyzed over the last two years to see how they “map,” or fit with Workday. In most cases, Workday allows us to redesign and streamline these processes, saving time and effort for faculty and staff.

A few examples from the Human Capital Management (HCM) module:

  • The time to create a new position will be reduced from four weeks to one day. The recruit-to-hire cycle will also be enhanced with real-time tracking of candidates through the process.
  • Job changes will be completed entirely online, with fewer approvals needed.
  • Lump sum payments for activities such as teaching an extra class will be streamlined, increasing not only greater efficiency, but also greater standardization and transparency.
  • Tracking employee absences through the Family and Medical Leave Act will be significantly easier, and the use of Excel spreadsheets will be eliminated.

And a few more from Finance and Research Administration:

  • Funding approval for major purchases will occur before requisitions are released, eliminating the need for multiple approvals, and ensuring allowability and accuracy.
  • Effort reporting (think EASE forms) will be completed in Workday, eliminating paper reports, and dramatically reducing the number of employees who need to certify their effort.
  • Data on externally funded grants and contracts will be available on a Workday dashboard.

These may seem like small changes but – added together – they will free up our time to work on projects that more directly impact Iowa State’s mission, whether it’s teaching, advising or supporting students; conducting research that addresses local and global challenges; and sharing our knowledge across the Iowa’s 99 counties.

Improved Service Delivery: How it looks in practice

In case you missed it, the November 8 edition of Inside Iowa Stateincluded a great articleon efforts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to create specialists in HR and finance consistent with the principles of Improved Service Delivery.


October 2018


Improved Service Delivery update


The biggest WorkCyte development in the last month has been the unveiling and discussion of proposed Improved Service Delivery models for human resources and finance. Feedback on the proposed models, gathered from open forums and comments submitted on the WorkCyte website, will be considered as the university makes a final decision in the coming weeks.


One frequent question we hear is, “Do we really need to do this?” Answer: yes. Improved Service Delivery, as the name implies, will improve HR and finance services across campus. The new structure makes the best use of talented employees to serve Iowa State’s mission by:


  • Moving from generalists to specialists;
  • Implementing common policies and procedures, which will generate more consistency across units, colleges, and departments;
  • Providing advanced training in Workday to improve the speed and accuracy of our work;
  • And cross-training to better manage workloads at peak times, and provide back-up to employees for vacations, conferences, and other times away from the office.  


The transition to Workday is a big part of the equation. Workday will help us work more efficiently and effectively, in ways that have not been possible before, due to the limitations of our current IT systems. For example, the assignment of “security roles” within Workday integrates well with the goals of Improved Service Delivery – addressing who performs HR and finance actions and streamlining these processes so that fewer touchpoints are needed.


Another question we hear often goes something like this: “Does ImprovedService Delivery mean we’re notdoing a good job today?” And that answer is a resounding “NO.” Just because we can be more effective in the future doesn’t mean we aren’t effective today. There is always room for improvement in every aspect of Iowa State’s mission. A few examples from Academic Affairs:


Faculty continually review their courses to improve student outcomes. A recent redesign of pre-calculus courses by the Math department cut the DFW rate (the percentage of students who earn a D or F, or who drop the course) from 65% to 17% in five years, a 73% reduction.


We also do projects with companies who help us streamline our processes. A recent collaboration between Boeing and the Graduate College reduced the program of study approval process from 82 steps to 18, and from 252 days to only 26.


Boeing is also helping the university redesign the onboarding process for new students, and Vermeer Corporation is working with the Office of the Vice President for Research to streamline the pre-award grant process.


For colleagues who currently have HR and/or finance as part of their job duties, it’s only natural to feel anxious about Improved Service Delivery, and how it might affect your role on campus. Please keep in mind that the approval of a new model is only the first step in the process – there will be much more information to come – including individual conversations with staff impacted by the initiative – and we will keep you up to date as decisions are made. 


For more information …


An additional open forum to discuss Improved Service Delivery will be held Thursday, October 25, from 9:30-11 a.m., at the Lee Liu Auditorium in Howe Hall. The event will feature Pam Cain, interim senior vice president for University Services and chief financial officer; and Kristi Darr, interim vice president for University Human Resources; discussing the finance and HR proposals in greater detail.


Look for more information on WorkCyte each month through this newsletter. You can also read more about the initiative in Inside Iowa State, and on the project website:


September 2018


Nine months. That’s how much time is left before Workday, Iowa State’s new cloud-based software system, is launched on July 1, 2019.


Just what is ‘Workday,’ anyway?


In software jargon, Workday is known as an enterprise resource management program, but it might be easier to define Workday by what it replaces: ADIN, Kuali, and Access Plus for HR, payroll and finance processes. (A second Workday product will replace Iowa State’s student information systems in the coming years.)


The transition to Workday is also part of a larger effort, known as WorkCyte, that will both modernize our software systems and redesign the way we do business. WorkCyte also includes Okta, a multi-factor authentication system that provides better protection to accounts and information; and Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) system being used by Admissions for student recruitment; and Improved Service Delivery to, as the name implies, improve how we support colleges and units in areas such as HR and financial transactions. You can find more information on the WorkCyte initiative at


What’s so bad about our current systems?


One of the ways that Iowa State has kept costs down is by continuing to patch the software systems that we have been using for the last 40 years – in some cases, since the days when computers became widespread across campus. Continuing to patch our existing systems is no longer feasible. Workday allows us to take advantage of latest technology, including features like self-service and compatibility with mobile phones that we have come to expect from our banks, online shopping outlets, and social media.


The WorkCyte program will also improve and create more standardization around, Iowa State’s business processes. Some of these changes are enabled by Workday (i.e., we couldn’t do it without the software), but in other cases we’re simply taking the time to align our processes with best practices in higher education and industry.


For example, today we request time off in any number of ways, depending on where we work on campus. Workday will standardize this process – getting rid of the paper forms many of us use today – and also allow us to see our vacation and sick leave balances in the same location. 


We’ll talk about business process changes in more detail as we get closer to the launch date.


Workday is also a cultural change


The transition to Workday also brings with it two cultural changes in how we do our jobs. The first is a shift to position management, which will be reflected in many of our HR processes. Position management is focused on the relationship between positions, employees, and the organizational structure, and allows us to better track filled, vacant and closed positions. Most of this happens behind the scenes, but fundamentally, it’s creating an organizational structure that matches people with the work that needs to be done in support of Iowa State’s mission.


The second shift is in how finance professionals account for the university’s resources. We’re moving to an accrual accountingmodel that recognizes revenue when it’s earned, instead of when it is actually received, and captures expenses when they are committed, regardless of when the cash changes hands. Again, this is a change primarily for our finance pros, but shifting to accrual accounting will provide a more accurate and complete financial picture, making it easier to manage our resources in real time.