Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category


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ERP 1If you’re planning on growing your business ERP is the way to go for today…and tomorrow.

There have been many articles written about the pros and cons of each of these options for handling your maintenance and facilities management functions. They range from cost, flexibility, ease of use and complexity. It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you stand on, in today’s fast paced and dollar conscious work environments it’s important to pick the option that will give you both short and long term results.

Why choose an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) over a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) you ask? That’s a very good question, and to be completely transparent here, yes I support an ERP product (PeopleSoft), with a focus on Maintenance Management. I came to this role through a Facilities Management background – I’ve used both and I’ve had success with both but have found more benefits and savings and fewer headaches with an ERP.

First let’s just look at the definitions of the two different types of systems:

ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning:  Business process management software that allows an organization to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources.[1]

CMMS – Computerized Maintenance Management System: A software package that maintains a computer database of information about an organization’s maintenance operations.[2]

For me, the limitations of a CMMS are stated clearly and simply by its name – it’s a single, stand-alone application.

If you aren’t using any portion of an ERP system and your current systems are giving you the reporting and analysis that you need then it may be to your advantage to stick with what you’re using. But having a stand-alone system isn’t like marriage – you’re not committed to it forever. You have choices and as technology improves it’s a good idea to explore an ERP option just to make sure that what you’ve got is the best that you can have for your business today…and tomorrow.

ERP 2If you are integrating multiple systems, you know the headaches this can create. Here is a “simple” view of a multisystem integration map. Just looking at it is mind boggling and combining data for analysis can be as challenging, and frustrating, as reading this map.

On the other hand, if you’re using any module of PeopleSoft ERP today with a stand-alone, non-integrated CMMS you’re not getting the full potential out of either system. You have some data in one application, other data in others – and most of the time that information has to be merged together for accurate reporting and analysis. What system is your source of truth?

In my opinion, one of the primary benefits of an integrated solution is cost savings. Cost savings through the elimination of custom integrations and the time savings achieved through having all of your data in one application. This is especially important when it relates to your maintenance and facilities management – the ability to tie all of your work order costs to an asset to get a true picture of overall performance and costs is invaluable. Imagine having your purchasing, your asset management and your preventive/maintenance management functions all in one application. This alone is well worth the time to explore the advantages of PeopleSoft’s ERP system.

ERP 3Unlike the mind-boggling map above showing integrations of multiple systems, this map of the Maintenance Management module in PeopleSoft displays clean connections with other modules of the application. The integration points that are so critical to analyzing your costs and assets is built in for you. This is your source of truth.

At the end of the day you may be exactly where you need to be and your current solutions are the best choice for you – you’ll never know unless you compare. Remember, you’re not married to your current stand-alone system, so it’s ok to do a little looking around for the right system for you today…and tomorrow all in one application.

If you have any questions about PeopleSoft Maintenance Management 9.2, or any other modules within PeopleSoft please contact Robin Cole or Larry Zagata.



Phil Simms Would Make an Excellent Software Consultant

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NFL Football

On a flight from Chicago to New York my seat just happened to be next to former NFL Quarterback Phil Simms. My first reaction was, “How I am going to hold a conversation with this guy?” He played in the NFL, won a Super Bowl and he is now an NFL broadcaster. I will clearly sound like an amateur if I try to have any football related conversation with Phil at all. What a dilemma!

As we were boarding the plane, I noticed that as Phil approached his seat, he was very friendly with everyone sitting around us. He was very helpful and offered to assist any lady within a couple of rows to put their luggage in the overhead bin. Not that I am a bad traveler – I certainly will assist any lady with their luggage that needs help if they ask. But now my approach is completely different. Instead of always trying to be the efficient business traveler, I take the pace a little slower and I am now a better gentlemen and offer help upfront.

Now towards the end of the flight I did strike up a conversation with Phil. It turns out he was watching the Bear’s game, which he just finished broadcasting. He said he likes to watch the games he broadcasts afterwards so he can see things he might do a little differently. That was great to hear from a consultant’s perspective. Clearly Phil was practicing “lessons learned.” Using that as a further conversation starter, I asked Phil how he plans out his week.

Basically Sunday is the end of his week and Monday is his day off. He told me that his initial preparation for next week’s game starts by watching 3 – 4 football games so that he can keep current. We talked about John Madden and his influence on how NFL broadcasting is handled. Phil’s week also includes visiting with the teams in his upcoming broadcasts to gather further detailed information about each team. That clearly is very good preparation.

All-in-all, I was very impressed with his approach to his work. From a consultant’s perspective, Phil’s week is strategically planned and executed. I know my Project Manager would be impressed! And this goes back to my original thought that with Phil’s dedicated approach to work and travel, Phil Simms would make an excellent consultant, when can we sign him up?

Steven J Brenner
Senior Principal Consultant
MIPRO Consulting


Employee Turnover

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HCM Position Statement

Since our inception in 2005 we have focused on our employee turnover for many reasons:

  • Employees are our most important asset to us and our customers.
  • We embrace and encourage professional, personal, spiritual balance to attract and retain superior talent.
  • Employee turnover is very costly.
  • Employees often leave in groups.

This article is a great perspective of employee turnover. With all of our focus, we still at times fail at keeping good people.  Sometimes it’s for life style change, better opportunities we cannot match, marriage, kids, school, or we flat out dropped the ball.  In business, effort does not always equal success but we still give it everything we can because the loss of good people is one of the hardest things to accept as an owner.

Very good article. Read it today!

U.S. Rigs Are Being Idled, but the Oil Boom Is Not Ending

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 Texas oil rig

For anyone who buys gas, or even just cares about the economy, this is very interesting but not well publicized.

Don’t read this article, US Rigs are Being Idled, But the Oil Boom is Not Ending, unless you have 10 minutes to slowly read it and comprehend what it is saying. Very interesting statistics on U.S. rigs – fewer wells, higher production….Were talking about the US of A!!!

Very nice to see. Long term…very good for the overall price of oil……assuming you want it to be low…which I do.


Stay tuned for our next PeopleSoft post on Tuesday, February 24th.

In the meantime, please be sure to contact Larry Zagata with any questions. MIPRO is your go-to contact for anything PeopleSoft.

The QA Mindset

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quality button

Michael Lopp, writing over at his fantastic blog Rands in Repose:

My first job in technology was a QA internship. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I tested the first release of Paradox for Windows at Borland.

As an intern, I started by following someone else’s QA test plan – dutifully checking each test off the list. After a few weeks, I knew my particular area inside and out. A new build would show up, which I’d install via 3.5-inch floppies, and in ten minutes of usage, I’d have a sense – is this a good or bad build?

In QA, there is a distinct moment. It comes once you’re deeply familiar with your product or product area; it comes when you’re lost in your testing, and it comes in an instant. You find a problem, and because of your strong context about your product, you definitely know: Something is seriously wrong here.

Anyone in the IT/software industry will relate to this. Before MIPRO, I worked in product management and strong QA employees were absolutely invaluable to releasing on time and with full functionality. Sadly, QA is often cut when crunch time rolls around, and in my experience, that’s a gigantic mistake.

My concern is that the absence of QA is the absence of a champion for aspects of software development that everyone agrees are important, but often no one is willing to own. Unit tests, automation, test plans, bug tracking, and quality metrics. The results of which give QA a unique perspective. Traditionally, they are known as the folks who break things, who find bugs, but QA’s role is far more important. It’s not that QA can discover what is wrong, they intimately understand what is right and they unfailingly strive to push the product in that direction.

I believe these are humans you want in the building.

Exactly. A good QA engineer is worth every penny.

HCM Cloud: Oracle Is Listening

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hcm cloud

(Editor’s Note: Todd Rayburn is MIPRO’s HCM Practice Manager.)

I have been in the HCM application space for over 17 years. The first 15 were focused on HCM PeopleSoft implementations. During the last two years I have been a part of multiple Oracle HCM Cloud implementations. While the product had it challenges in the early stages, as all new software does, one thing became very clear with each successive release:

Oracle is listening.

I first noticed this in a compensation implementation on release 5. Much of the feedback our team received around this release was concerning the user interface not being as “user friendly” as other SaaS applications. Oracle answered in kind with the FUSE user interface in release 7 (the next major release). The FUSE UI is an icon-based interface that made manager’s self-service transactions a few simple intuitive clicks — which, as we all know, is essential for manager adoption. Likewise, it’s critical to have one-click icon access to key reports and analytics that allow management to make informed personnel decisions without having to pick up the phone and request the data. Oracle took care of that one too.


Some Advice from Jeff Bezos

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jeff bezos

Jason Fried over at the popular Signal v. Noise blog has a fantastic post about Jeff Bezos stopping by the Basecamp offices to talk product strategy with the Basecamp team. The floor was opened up to a 45-minute Q&A session, in which Bezos shared an interesting opinion:

He said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

I’m no Jeff Bezos, but I have been noticing the same thing.

The world is not black and white, and there are very few absolutes, especially in discussions about complex systems or proposals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an idea, strongly held, that eventually withers away into a new idea in the face of new evidence or more nuanced information. This is why I’ve learned to become a big fan of brainstorming and ideation meetings: even if you reject 80% of what comes up during these discussions, the other 20% modifies (often dramatically) the opinions you held before the meeting began.

When I meet someone who holds stringently to an idea and is not willing to consider other points of view, I see someone who’s only interested in one narrative. The truth, while interesting, represents a cost that will somehow be unaffordable to his or her personal bias or ideology.

To me, growing personally and professionally means understanding that absolute views aren’t ideal, and opening your mind to perspectives that you might not consider agreeable. I see this phenom a lot in politics or the fitness world, where polemics are the norm: people clinging to one side of the debate or the other, like a tribal chant, 100% unwilling to consider, even for one second, information or discussion coming from “outside” their camp.

Fantastic, thought-provoking advice from Bezos.

When Experience Tell Us to No-Bid a PeopleSoft Deal

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no bid

I’m assuming you’ve heard this cliché at least once or twice before: “Trust me, this is going to hurt me more than you, but it’s for your own good.”

This is exactly what went through my mind when I had to send a “no-bid” notice to a prospective new PeopleSoft deal.  As a seasoned sales executive, I can honestly say the toughest thing for me to do isn’t prospecting (although, that ain’t easy or fun), but rather it’s walking away from a potential opportunity.  While this most recent one wasn’t my first nor will it be my last, it still stings.  I suppose that’s why I’m writing this blog post now – it’s allowing me to think out loud.

So, why in the world would we no-bid a PeopleSoft opportunity?  Here are a few reasons.

  • We just don’t have enough information about the customer.  It helps us to help you if we know your strategic initiatives, what you are trying to achieve, what would happen to your productivity or efficiencies if you don’t do this?  A solid value proposition is important, and if we don’t have one, it’s hard to walk into a bid situation with your objectives in mind.
  • What is your culture?  Does the company rally around new initiatives and is Change Management a key element of success?  Do you typically do projects internally and this a new endeavor with consulting? What’s your appetite for consulting?
  • Does your culture match the consulting company culture?  This might sound foo-foo, but it’s very important, because it determines the intangible ‘fit factor.’ The product is the product, but people are, well… unique. Common values and culture are important keys to success.
  • Philosophical alignment between consulting company and customer.  There are situations where we may not believe the approach you want will achieve the results you desire.  This is a tough one, because this is where, if we engage, we will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear.

You are probably saying to yourself, “Well, if you have a good business relationship with a customer, you should know all those things.” And you are correct.

Yet, sometimes we are recommended by a third party, or we met initially at a RUG or other conference and haven’t had the chance to get to know you very well.  We sometimes refer to this as a ‘Blind RFP’ or proposal.  Customers sometimes don’t like to have salespeople call on them, or meet with them until there is an opportunity. But as you can see, there really is value in investing a few hours getting to know each other so when that RFP is released, everyone is ready to rock and roll.

No-bidding a project is tough, but we do it in the same vein that we refuse to tell customers what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. We’d rather avoid being part of a problem we see coming downstream, or entering into an arrangement whose inherent demeanor will mean difficulty down the road for the project’s success or our relationship with the customer.

We’d rather take a pass on an opportunity than walk into a landscape where we know, from our experience, there’s likely to be problems that compromise the entire equation.

This doesn’t happen very often (thankfully!), but when it does, it makes you reflect on why we just don’t rush into everything, guns blazing, and go for whatever we can.

Because that’s not how we built our company and reputation. It’s not what our experience has taught us. Frankly, it’s not what we consider right.

A no-bid is a true bummer, but not nearly as much of a bummer as a relationship set ablaze by miscommunicated objectives or uncertain strategic direction.

The Feed: This Week in Tech News and Commentary

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The Feed will be a new weekly feature here on MIPRO Unfiltered. What is it? News and micro-commentary from this week in the tech industry that you were probably too busy to catch. We’ve all been there – trying to stay in the know, but real life has a way of interrupting. We hope this lets you catch up on a few things you might have missed.

  1. Apple has given a minor refresh to its MacBook Pro Retina models. Nutshell: new CPUs (still not Haswell, though – for that you’ll have to wait until 2015), 16 GB standard in high-end models, pricing adjusted down a little. Nice inter-macrocycle refresh, just in time for school. Link.
  2. Facebook is now requiring users to use its Facebook Messenger app if you want to send a message to another Facebook user. People are outraged by this (for some reason), but in the mega-competitive messaging space (think SnapChat, WhatsApp, etc.) your app has to be standalone and feature rich, not a bolt-on to your main service. Messaging is huge. (Side note: remember Tim Cook said ‘Messages’ is the most-used iOS app.) Link.
  3. Hilton goes high-tech: the company is investing $550 million to make sure you don’t need to visit the front desk to check in. You just go to your room, hit a button on your smartphone, and you’re in. Hilton would like to see this complete on a worldwide scale by 2016. Link.
  4. Microsoft’s Siri competitor, Cortana, now has the ability to use Foursquare location and local recommendation data. This makes sense, as MSFT invested $15M in Foursquare earlier this year. Link.
  5. In a bizarre twist of anti-piracy antics, London’s Police Department is buying ads on piracy websites telling users that stealing movies is illegal. I wonder if the London PD understands their money is funding the piracy sites. Link.
  6. Free wifi is great, right? Not so fast. If you want to scare yourself silly by learning just how easy it is for people and companies to track you (literally) and gather information about you and your habits, this is for you. 6 minutes well-invested, in my opinion. If it appears too good to be true, it probably is comes to mind. Link.
  7. Amazon now has a section of their store that has about 200 items that are 3D printed on-demand when you buy them. The future is getting closer everyday. Link.
  8. Automattic, the company behind the mega-popular CMS engine WordPress, has created an app that more or less clones Instagram, called Selfies. Available on Android only, I guess the only remaining question is why, everyone has been going crazy and getting instant Instagram followers since then. Link.

Thanks for reading this week, everyone. See you Monday.

A Brief Dissection of Apple’s New ‘Stickers’ MacBook Air TV Ad

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This is ‘Stickers’, the new TV ad for Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s interesting on several levels. Watch:

I watch and dissect all Apple ads, and this one jumped at me. Why?

  1. It breaks from their traditional style. Most Apple ads show what you can do with the product, not 30 seconds of the product itself from largely one angle.
  2. It shows Apple products in a modified state. This almost never happens. (Well, in ‘Powerful’ they showed the device in steadicam rigs and attached to instruments, but that’s not the same.) Here, modified means user-modified, which implies an affection for the product, a sense of personalization, a sense of use. One would only bother putting stickers on a product of which they were proud, or used every day to perform their daily work. You customize your car; you don’t customize your extra gas generator sitting in your garage.
  3. If you look at the MacBook Airs you see flashing through the ad, you’ll notice blemishes, scratches, maybe even minor dents – again, this implies use and a sense that the machine is an extension of someone, not just a product on a pedestal. Apple is in the business of creating experiences, not just devices. This is what makes Apple products appeal (or not) to certain people. (I’d even go out on a limb and say that the machines you see in ‘Stickers’ are actual, real-world user machines, but I’m just riffing here.)
  4. Showing stickers all over Apple’s vaunted industrial design is actually a bit self-deprecating: it shows Apple isn’t taking its naked design as the canonical style. There’s a bit of jauntiness here, a sense that Apple isn’t taking itself so seriously. This is a good thing.
  5. What’s the key value of a laptop computer? The screen. This ad shows not a single shot of the screen. Again, this isn’t about how the device gets used – everyone knows that by now.
  6. Finally, the iconic six-color Apple logo makes a brief, staccato appearance in the ad’s final frames. Great touch, and nice to see.

This entire ad is about self-expression, not a product. It’s almost as if the Beats marketing team created it, and I don’t think it’s any accident it’s airing alongside Apple’s back to school promo.

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Have a good weekend, everyone.