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Archive for the ‘Business Intelligence’ Category

FLUID – My Service Requests

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Today’s software users expect an intuitive user experience coupled with robust functionality that allows them to work across multiple platforms including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.. And the PeopleSoft Fluid User Interface (PeopleSoft Fluid UI) delivers!

In this short video blog we demonstrate the mobile functionality of My Service Requests which allows users to enter a request for work management via their mobile device. The user can request any work such as painting an office, moving their office, etc., simply by entering the required information from their mobile device. That information is ultimately turned into a work order designed to schedule someone to execute the work inside the core of PeopleSoft.

Be sure to watch this short 6 minute video on My Service Requests:

If you have any questions on My Service Requests or anything PeopleSoft, you can drop me an email anytime.

Work-Life Balance: A Thing of the Past

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mobile inventory

Are you striving for work-life balance or is your company encouraging you to seek work-life balance? If so, you are probably on a mission doomed for failure. There appears to be several reasons why work-life balance is a thing of the past. For most people, the 40-hour work week no longer exists. Technology keeps us connected all of the time; we check emails before & after “normal” working hours and on weekends. And not only are we able to answer these emails from home on our laptops but, with no inconvenience to ourselves, we are able to email from anywhere using our phones. Those super cool tablets & fablets have broadened our abilities to work at a moment’s notice even easier. Let’s not forget the Cloud and all of the information available to us that years ago was only available on the company server, housed at the office. Then throw into the mix that many of us work for global companies, or at least we work with people across the country, so we need to communicate with people on different time zones.

In a great article by Ron Friedman, Work-Life Balance is Dead, he writes that separating work from home is a fantasy; compartmentalizing our work and personal life is just not possible. He talks about allowing employees some degree of control over when and where they work. Studies consistently show this motivates employees to work harder, produce higher quality work and develop greater loyalty to their company. Many companies are offering this kind of control, within guidelines, allowing employees to work when they are most productive. Further, realizing that an employee’s life does not consist of the “work silo” and the “personal silo,” some companies are offering employees the ability to take breaks during the day while still “on the clock” to do things like run personal errands and exercise. It is this new concept of work-life integration that is replacing the antiquated ideal of work-life balance. The workplace has changed… dramatically…and companies need to not only recognize this but change the way they operate.

If you are a business owner reading this thinking, “Why do I care?” Friedman sums it up perfectly, “Ultimately, it is companies that are quickest to realize that it is in their financial interests to care for the entire employee –not just the sliver of them that sits in the office for 40 hours a week — that stand to gain the greatest benefits in the form of stronger loyalty, higher engagement, and top performance.”

PeopleSoft Update Manager (PUM) – New Selective Adoption Model

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Since the release of PeopleSoft 9.2, PeopleSoft Update Manager (PUM) has garnered a lot of attention and generated a lot of discussion. But even though PUM is available and a tremendous tool, for some reason there still seems to be a slow adoption process.

Does your organization need assistance in understanding how PUM can positively affect your business and what you have to do to take full advantage of PUM? Have you upgraded to PeopleSoft 9.2 but do not feel there is a difference in how you apply updates? Are you having trouble identifying all the advantages of the new functionality in PeopleSoft 9.2? If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, MIPRO can help. We offer a 1 day workshop to help you get direction on how your organization needs to change to exploit PUM in order to take full advantage of the functionality. We’ll help you answer questions, such as:

  1. Who in my organization should be in charge of PUM?
  2. Which one of the four recommended update strategies should my organization deploy?
  3. What type of update calendar should we adopt?
  4. What are the three types of patches delivered with PUM? How do all 3 affect my organization?
  5. How do I deal with customizations? What tools are there to support customization analysis?

PUM changes the way your organization adopts PeopleSoft. It’s the new Selective Adoption Model. From Oracle….

The on premise delivery model that PeopleSoft has followed since its beginning has changed. Emerging industry standards such as virtualization and the Cloud have changed perception about the life cycle of enterprise software. Customers expect their business applications to add business value incrementally without requiring a costly upgrade cycle every 3 to 5 years.

To meet this challenge, PeopleSoft has changed the way maintenance and new enhancements are delivered and applied. Customers choose the changes they want, on their schedule, while retaining strategic customizations. New enhancements are made available immediately so customers do not have to wait for the next release and go through an expensive upgrade to improve the value of their applications.

This new Continuous Delivery model does not come without change. PeopleSoft changed and now customers must change to gain the maximum benefit. Line-of-business (LOB) owners and Information Technology (IT) managers must recognize the potential benefits that Continuous Delivery provides and change the way they plan, implement, and roll out change to their users. The organization that embraces this change and realizes the new opportunities LOB and IT have in working together will benefit the most.

Let us help you take advantage of this powerful change in PeopleSoft. For questions, you can reach me here.

Here’s some more information about PUM if you want a snapshot overview.

Why are Work Centers Important?

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We have covered work centers before, namely what they are, and how they are part of end user experience improvements. But how does that really apply in the real world, outside overview blog posts?

Let’s look at the Buyer Work Center.  In order to understand the value, we have to understand what a buyer does and their organizational function.

The role of a buyer varies, but includes:

  1. Contract negotiation and management
  2. Price negotiations
  3. Managing vendors or vendor relationships
  4. Vendor selection
  5. Generating purchase orders
  6. Managing purchasing/sourcing issues
  7. Update items

With those in mind, let’s look at the Buyer Dashboard.  Essentially, it’s a one-stop shopping center for the purchasing buyer. As you can see, the majority of the buyer’s tasks can be executed and performed from the work center – or, alternatively, the links and reports required to perform the job function can be found at the work center.  This provides vastly improved navigation and ease of use. From one main location within PeopleSoft, buyers (and other jobs/functions for other work centers) can concentrate their efforts and avoid navigation and search issues. This dramatically saves time and frees up the buyer for more value-add work – in other words, it increases personnel capacity.

So that’s a quick summary.  Work centers focus on a job function and role, consolidate the main tasks and priorities of the job function and vastly improve the business flow. The screencap below helps illustrate these concepts.

work center

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Business Intelligence Requirements Gathering: Ask the Right Questions!

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We have discussed these things before: business intelligence requirements gathering, maintenance management, and even business intelligence for maintenance management. The following example dialog is intended as an easy way to understand how asking the right questions can lead to getting the right answers for your business when it comes to business intelligence requirements gathering. This is a key stage, and that’s where the right information needs to be collected.

For the purpose of this mock discussion, let’s assume the following:

MM Lead:  Leader in the maintenance area who has a requirement to give to the BI team

BI Lead:  Business intelligence leader trying to understand requirements

Example Conversation

MM Lead:  I need a report that tells me how many service requests have not been turned into work orders. That’s all I need, just a report.

BI Lead:  Ok, help me understand a little bit more.  What about this report is important to your business?

MM Lead:  It is an indicator of whether service requests are left open and work possibly being missed.

BI Lead:  Is part of the reason you are asking for this report because you are finding a high number of service requests left open?

MM Lead:  Not a high number, but occasionally I get calls asking about a service request that was entered but no work has started. It takes a lot of my time to investigate.

(more…)

VIDEO: Drilling URLs in BI Publisher (Hint: Easier and Cooler Than It Sounds)

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We have created multiple videos in the past on drilling URLs in PeopleSoft query as well as a few on BI Publisher (XML publisher).  Now, in this video we will demonstrate how easy it is to put that URL on the BI publisher report.

Essentially, whether a BI publisher report is run ad hoc or scheduled, users can click on the URL hyperlink in the BI publisher report and be taken directly to the source page right within PeopleSoft.  Again, this is another way to have a “pencils down” approach to PeopleSoft.  No longer do users have to take the information in their reports, log into PeopleSoft, navigate to the correct menu and then type in the information from the report.  It is a great way to improve efficiency, accuracy and save time. Customers love this, but not many know about it. Hopefully the video below changes some of that.

The Four Degrees of Understanding

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If people are connected by six degrees of separation, then I contend that raw data and true IT wisdom are connected by four degrees of understanding.  Let me explain. (And this won’t involve Kevin Bacon at all. Promise.)

For the past 25 years I have implemented ERP systems that essentially are a historical picture of what transpired.  For most of that time, I have challenged people to make your accounting data predictive, not historical.  I recognize that you must always look back to report your results, but using “data” to predict what is about to happen, and then knowing how to react is a whole new ballgame.  Some would say that is the role of BI.  Maybe it is. At some point, data should do you the favor of becoming information.

So, I explain four degrees of understanding this way:

  1. If you have a set of numbers, but you don’t know what they represent, you have data.  For example 23,000 and 25,000.  They are meaningless until you know what they represent.  Your systems have tons of data, but how do you use it?

  2. The second degree is called information.  If I tell you what those numbers mean, then you have some understanding of what you are looking at.  For example, if I tell you that they are Daily Sales, then you can start to analyze that data to make some judgements.  Sales went up? Maybe.

  3. The third degree of information is knowledge.  Knowing what the data is and knowing what to do with it gives you knowledge.  In this scenario you may ascertain that sales went up, and that might provide meaningful insight.  For example, the “buy one get one free” incentive raised sales for the day is something you might ascertain from that information.  With that knowledge you can make judgments about how effective the program was.

  4. The fourth degree of information is wisdom.  Being able to take that knowledge and predict in a meaningful way how you should react to certain situations is the wisdom that makes many men (and women) respected leaders.  Does it make you visionary?  Maybe.  Does it make you a genius? Sometimes.  Does it earn you the respect of your peers? Usually.

There are thousands of examples every day of how people use the wisdom they have accumulated after years in business to make educated decisions.  Not all of these are accurate decisions, but most are not done “by the seat of your pants.”

I try every day to lead customers to understand how accounting “data” can be used to generate wisdom.  It is never easy, and it usually leads to more questions than answers, but understanding the roadmap to move data to create wisdom is a great place to start.  Having the ability to act on that wisdom and see the results is empowering.  What is holding you back?

User Group Report: Hot Topics Among PeopleSoft Users

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I recently attended the Midwest Regional User Group (MW RUG) meeting in Chicago. There were a number of PeopleSoft customers/users in attendance and breakout meetings were held to discuss current hot topics. Below is a collection of things I noticed — a pulse of the conversations, at it were.

Needless to say, everyone is interested in Fusion as a potential future option in some of their application areas.  However, by and large, the reality for most of organizations is that they are still focusing on taking advantage of their current systems investments.  With PeopleSoft v9.2 slated for availability the end of this month, a breakout group I attended shared their company’s view and plan relative to upgrading.

The fact is that the customer base is varied relative to the version of products that they are running.  Some are planning on upgrading as soon as v9.2 is available.  Some are still considering upgrading to a previous version (9.1).  Some will wait and see and plan on upgrading later in 2013.

My observation is that the PeopleSoft customer base is hungry for information and is being pushed and pulled in different directions.  Some say move to Fusion, some say upgrade your current (stable) platform, some say upgrade and expand that stable platform with add-on solutions, Business Intelligence (analytics) and Mobility solutions.  And naturally, competitors to PeopleSoft/Oracle say “come to our solution.”

While there is no one right answer for everyone, the vast majority seem to be leaning toward protecting and expanding their investments in their current PeopleSoft solutions.  It is stable, it is supported and it makes financial sense.

This is where a lot of folks stand right now. What will the landscape look like in 2014? 2015?

Sometimes, We All Need an Economics 101 Refresher

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Some days we are so deep in what we are doing that we lose sight of the basics.

I was recently engaged in a conversation with the President of a consulting company who reminded me of one of the most basic tenets of Finance.  He took time to remind me that for every dollar you increase revenue, only 20-30 cents makes it to the bottom line (depending on your margins), yet if you reduce your expenses by that same dollar, the WHOLE dollar drops straight to the bottom line.  It’s so basic, yet such a great reminder.

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Imagine all of the discussions in office meeting rooms as well as the corporate kitchen, or even the smoking court, about how to increase sales.  We all do it.  We all want to sell more, grow the business, and be the best.  Yet, the real key to becoming more profitable is likely driving all unnecessary costs out of your business.

Few of us sit around and envision what we can cut to save the company money, yet the true value is that saving just one dollar is likely 3-4 times more powerful than an equivalent dollar gained on the revenue side.

As I talk to CIOs and others about their PeopleSoft solutions, I often lose sight of the simple value.  I am a techie who too often gets hung up in “the cool,” talking about features and functionality.  “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could {fill in the blank with whatever you think it would be cool if your software did}? “ And frankly, that question can drive some pretty interesting discussions.  At the same time, it is easy to lose focus on the true value that can come from it.

Integration can be such a ubiquitous word.  It sounds good because you are told it should be good.  But can it drive costs out of your company?  Absolutely.  Mobile?  It’s a hot topic, but most of the talk is about the user experience and centers on increasing sales.  But who is embarking on a serious discussion of the potential cost savings?  What about Business Intelligence (BI)?  No doubt there.  People are clamoring for information.  Right now we spend a lot of time gathering data.  The real question is can you convert that data to information and that information into knowledge and then use that knowledge to drive costs out of your business?  Or are you just chasing more revenue?

Today, thanks to this overlooked aspect of value, I have a new perspective on how I might be able to help my customers.  And, while I am not ready to give up talking about the cool stuff, or the latest app that I downloaded, I am fully prepared to change my perspective on just one way that I can make my customers more successful.

How to Get a Free Trial Version of Oracle BI Publisher

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I believe a big part of the value of our blogs is sharing information in a community that sometimes doesn’t always have a great venue for the sharing.  Sometimes we demo or share our opinions, but we try to always share real information.

In fact, there is so much information out there about PeopleSoft and business intelligence, that unless you live it and breathe it and use it to solve daily problems, it is impossible to know all of the content that’s available.  To that end, I want to share where you can get a free demo version of Oracle BI Publisher for trial purposes. You can download the content and it comes pre-delivered with data models, reports, dashboard and a fully functional version of BI publisher.  You can even upload your own data content to practice creating reports and dashboard with your own data which has value and means something specifically to you.

The download is quite simple — go here (you’ll need your Oracle user name and password).  Read and accept the license agreement (read and accept with your company’s permission of course),  and select the appropriate version to download.  From there, once downloaded, simply follow the instructions.  Everything is pre-configured and ready for use.  You do not have to figure out web servers, etc. in order to make this fully functional.  There are of course install guides and quick start guides and tutorials for your reference.

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Once installed you will have icons on your desktop, like this:

Simply double-click Start BI Publisher, let the window open and the processes start up and once they are started, double-click the Sign Into BI Publisher icon and it will launch your web browser for sign-on.  Simply launch Stop BI Publisher when you are finished.  Once within the application, you will be able to run existing reports/dashboards, modify existing reports/dashboards and create new.  Soon you will understand the capabilities of Oracle BI Publisher. This is a great way to get a feel for the application without jumping in with both feet. I recommend it highly.

Enjoy!

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