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Exclusive: Amazon’s companywide deal to use Workday’s HR software ended after about 3 years

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy.

  • Amazon back in 2017 announced plans to roll out Workday’s human-resources software companywide.
  • The failure to do so shows the challenges in deploying cloud software across such a large company.
  • Senior engineers warned about migration issues before the deal was announced, Insider has learned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon halted a plan to roll out Workday’s human-resources software across the e-commerce company last year, roughly three years after announcing the partnership, according to people familiar with the matter.

The failure follows years of costly migration work from PeopleSoft to Workday, one of the people said. The deal, announced in 2017, struggled because the database behind Workday’s software didn’t scale as planned to fully support Amazon’s rapidly growing workforce, this person said.

The episode shows the challenges of implementing cloud software across a company as big and complex as Amazon. Amazon still uses Oracle’s PeopleSoft for the most part, according to people familiar with the company’s HR team, though some business units, including its Twitch subsidiary, are using Workday’s HR solution.

In an email to Insider, a Workday representative confirmed the deal was no longer in place, adding that more than 45% of Fortune 500 companies were still its customers. “The partnership between the two companies remains strong, with the possibility of revisiting the deployment in the future,” the person said in a statement.

An Amazon representative declined to address the specific deal with Workday, saying only that some teams within the company used Workday’s solution. “A number of significant teams within Amazon continue to use Workday,” the Amazon representative said. “The partnership between the two companies remains strong.”

Some of the most senior engineers at Amazon foresaw the technical difficulties in migrating to Workday at the time, one of the people familiar with the deal told Insider. The technical recommendation to then-CEO Jeff Bezos and his “S-team” of senior decision-makers was that switching to Workday would be expensive and unlikely to succeed.

But Bezos and the S-team did not heed the warnings, resulting in years of costly work. Even nonengineers at Amazon, like HR professionals, saw their work go to waste, as the Workday migration was a big priority at the time and HR teams had to make detailed plans around how they would transition to the new cloud software, this person said. The people who spoke with Insider asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.

For Workday, the termination is a major loss, as Amazon is one of the largest employers in the world. As part of the 2017 deal, Amazon agreed to purchase Workday’s main human-capital-management software, including Workday Payroll, and had committed to deploy the service companywide. Additionally, Workday announced a few months before the deal that it would start hosting its suite of applications in the public cloud through Amazon Web Services. That partnership still appears to be in place.

Do you work at Amazon? Contact the reporter Eugene Kim via the encrypted-messaging apps Signal and Telegram (+1-650-942-3061) or email ([email protected]).

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