Using “Smart” Reference IDs for Workday Data Conversion

If you’re not already using “smart” reference IDs, you should start. Even though smart reference IDs are a Workday best practice, it’s often overlooked in Workday implementations and data conversion efforts. There’s inherent worth in determining the value of a reference ID to meet both business and technical needs. Reference IDs are one of the most important data conversion items, other than the data value itself, and defining it to be “smart” will increase the likelihood of a successful conversion.

Let’s walk you through what a reference ID is, how to make it smart, and why it’s so important.

So what is a Workday Reference ID?

 A Workday reference ID is the key that identifies an object’s value, and it works much the same way as the primary key would in the relation database. A reference ID is the internal key to the value of a Workday object. It doesn’t change even when the value it represents does. Every value in Workday has a corresponding reference ID. It’s part of the DNA of Workday’s object model and it’s used everywhere. Take, for example, the location “Phoenix” belowThe reference ID created by the Workday system is LOCATION-6-212.

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During the data conversion process, it’s common to let the Workday system define the reference ID for an object’s value. This means that if a reference ID is not provided during the data conversion process, the Workday system will define it for you.  This is an example of what happens in the Workday system when reference IDs are not defined for many values for the same object.

Business Object Instance

Reference ID Type

Reference ID Value

San Francisco

Location_ID

LOCATION-16-192

New York

Location_ID

LOCATION-16-193

Chicago

Location_ID

LOCATION-16-194

Atlanta

Location_ID

LOCATION-16-195

Boston

Location_ID

LOCATION-16-196

As you can see from the table, the reference IDs are indistinguishable to the locations they represent. They will be difficult to use and you will lose control over the data conversion process.

What a Smart Reference ID looks like

Define your smart reference IDs so they provide meaning to the value they represent. Instead of allowing the Workday system to define them for you, you define them to be “smart”.  A smart reference ID is a reference ID that accurately reflects the value it represents. The previous example would look like this:

WDscreenshot2.jpg

Business Object Instance

Reference ID Type

Reference ID Value

Phoenix

Location_ID

LOCATION_PHOENIX

San Francisco

Location_ID

LOCATION_SAN_FRANCISCO

New York

Location_ID

LOCATION_NEW_YORK

Chicago

Location_ID

LOCATION_CHICAGO

Atlanta

Location_ID

LOCATION_ATLANTA

Boston

Location_ID

LOCATION_BOSTON

While this is a simple example, when applied strategically throughout the data conversion process, you will gain efficiencies. You can tie your Workday reference ID value back to its system value legacy data. This makes the data validation process and reconciliation process easier and more effective. You gain control of the data conversion process, consistently applying smart reference ID’s to each tenant build. The same reference ID is used during each of the tenant builds, avoiding “breaking” the connections between objects when each tenant is built during the implementation.  Additionally, making use of smart reference ID’s will significantly decrease the complexity of using Workday’s bulk load import process.The values now reflect the object and value making them much more valuable. 

Here are some of the other strategic benefits to making smart use of reference IDs.

Tenant to Tenant Data Conversions  Calculated Fields Reporting and Analytics
Inbound Integrations Inbound EIBs Map and Connect Legacy Data to the Workday object model
Outbound Integrations Outbound EIBs  

In the next Workday blog in our series, we’ll walk step-by-step through defining smart reference IDs. Check back often or subscribe for more industry news, insights, and how-tos.