BDO Canada moves to enterprise cloud, hoping to become the “firm of the future”

Las Vegas – Since it was founded in 1921, BDO Canada, has grown from an accounting firm to a professional services firm that offers everything from legal, tax, assurance and advisory services and as it continues to grow its betting on cloud-based enterprise technology to help it become the “firm of the future.”

BDO Canada (BDO), the Canadian arm of global professional services firm Binder Dijker Otte, is working with California-based Workday, implementing almost a full suite of tools from the financial management and human capital management (HCM) software vendor to help further grow its business internally and externally.

“[BDO] had a 20 year-old piece of software that was developed for one specific piece of our business,” Joe Dobson, director of finance at BDO Canada told, noting that the company needed to become more “agile” to keep up with its growing list of services, as well as mergers and acquisitions.

Moving from a legacy to cloud system

To do that, at the beginning of January, BDO, (which previously used a combination of its own “homegrown” software and Microsoft Dynamics GP), updated its financial management and payroll systems to Workday’s cloud-based services as well as implemented the HCM software.

Lindsay Watt, senior manager of corporate affairs at BDO Canada told that BDO updated “the engine of the organization first” and now is working on upgrading its “customer facing systems.”

The company is currently working on implementing Workday’s Professional Services Automation (PSA) software and Workday’s first platform-as-a-service (PaaS) tool, Workday Cloud Platform as soon as January 1st, 2019.

Choosing a solution for customers and employees

When asked why BDO chose to upgrade from its legacy enterprise systems to Workday software, over competitors like Oracle and SAP, Watt said, “If we’re looking to be the firm of the future, we wanted to make sure that we partnered with a best-in-class solution as well.” She noted that its important for the company’s internal infrastructure and tools to support customers but also employees.

“We want [people] to build their careers at BDO and Workday is a business enablement tool that helps us build our brand by showing that we’re investing in the right areas in order to support our employees success as well,” she said. “We ask [our employees] to face our customers, bring products to them and help them with success. We then have to turn around and help [our employees] by providing them with the tools in order to be successful.”

She said there were two things that differentiated the California-based company from its competitors; that its a business driven tool and not an IT driven tool, and also its collaboration site ‘Workday Community’ that allows users to interact, ask questions and share information.

The fact that that software doesn’t require a large IT team is important Watt said, because most organizations such as BDO have “light” IT teams as they move to the cloud, and Workday makes it easier for BDO to develop and use its software without a tech-heavy background. She also noted that she has never experienced a community quite like Workday, “different organizations anywhere in the world [can] have a common conversation and you can help each other out, no matter where you are in your process and its easy because everybody’s using the same tool. Everybody wants to see each other be successful and Workday gives that platform, making a large scale solution feel very homey.”

BDO’s digital transformation

“One of our strategies, is going digital within the firm,” Dobson told, noting that BDO Canada is also working on using a new global customer portal, which has been launched in other countries already, with plans to bring to Canada in the near future, creating a one-stop-shop for customers as well as the company’s many internationally-based firms.

In terms of its Workday development BDO is one of the first Canadian companies, working on launching PSA and also one of only 34 companies globally helping to beta test Workday Cloud Platform, before it becomes generally available to the rest of Workday customers in fall 2019.

Cloud Platform is a new tool that allows companies like BDO Canada to create applications and extensions using the Workday services but modifying to meet specific business needs. David Clarke, Workday’s SVP of technology development said they are deliberately keeping the beta test small and only working with companies that have unique and interesting use-cases.

For example BDO is testing out the Cloud Platform by developing its own customer billing and invoice as well as project management applications. “Some of our volumes are just so high that we needed to make it a little bit easier, not be bogged down with some administrative work,” said Dobson.

By working to digitally transforming its business both with Workday and its own software, BDO Canada is setting an example for the rest of its global member firms said Watt. “Every single one of them is watching what we are doing,” she said, noting that firms around the world have even asked for BDO Canada’s help with their own software implementations.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Meagan Simpson
Meagan Simpson
Meagan Simpson is a staff writer for IT World Canada. A graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program, she loves sports, travelling, reading and photography, and when not covering tech news she can be found cuddled up on the couch with her cat and a good book.

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