Posts Tagged ‘consulting’

Jumping In: Oracle HCM Cloud from a PeopleSoft HCM Consultant’s Perspective

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I decided to take the plunge into Oracle HCM Cloud when I joined MIPRO earlier this year after implementing PeopleSoft HCM for 15 years.

My first step was obvious: I took the Oracle On-Demand training with HCM Global Human Resources. Though Oracle HCM Cloud is built from the ground up, Oracle has taken the best of the functional concepts from PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite and them combined with modern approaches to address HR’s business needs. For instance, the concept of PeopleSoft HCM’s Profile Management is in Oracle HCM Cloud, but it is further extended through the likes of the Content Library which is used across multiple HCM modules.

I felt very comfortable moving to Oracle HCM Cloud as I knew many of these concepts from my long-term implementation experience with PeopleSoft HCM. One of the things I like about Oracle HCM Cloud is every business process has a review page at the end before you submit your changes. This gives a chance to review all the data elements that user has chosen before submission – a small but incredibly convenient feature.

Oracle HCM Cloud had its fledgling issues as any other software product that is evolving, but it is improving with each release (of which there are three per year). For instance, the entire Workflow Business Process engine saw major improvements from Release 7 to Release 8. On the security side, Oracle HCM Cloud has lot of flexibility. You have the ability to attach different data roles to different job roles, whereas in PeopleSoft you can only have only one data role for a user profile with different job roles. And while there are some complexities associated with Security, Oracle has published a roadmap on how they will be simplifying those in ensuring releases.

Oracle HCM Cloud is delivered with BI Publisher for reporting and embedded analytics to support the user in making decisions without needed to click over to different pages to get the needed information. If you are a SaaS customer you may need to change your business processes, as major customizations are not an option, but do you have the flexibility of defining workflow and approvals as well as the ability to add and disable fields and personalize dropdown and prompt lists. The upside for EBS and PeopleSoft customers is that they can adopt the co-existence model. So, if maintaining your current, say, HR and Benefits Administration system is important to you due to the types of customizations required, you can still implement modules such as Compensation and Performance Management in the cloud and maintain an integrated solution.

These are some high-level observations I’ve noticed as I’ve come into the world of Oracle HCM Cloud from a robust PeopleSoft HCM background. And let me tell you, the water’s warmer than some would have you believe. Oracle has done a great job with the rollout and maturation of HCM Cloud.

MIPRO: What We Are, What We Are Not (And Why We Might Not be For Everyone)

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There’s a saying: in business, you have two choices: win by being more regular, more standard and lower cost. Or win by being better, more remarkable, higher quality and more human.

There’s another saying, an adjunct, more a piece of branding reality: you want people to either love or hate your brand. Those in the middle, an area of relative indifference, will not be loyal to your product or service. They will blow with the wind, following discounts and cheaper rates, in no way connected to what your company represents.

At MIPRO, we bill ourselves as passionate about what we do. Because we are: we’ve been in the game since PeopleSoft’s beginning, and we’re an early adopter of Oracle’s HCM Cloud. Experience underpins everything we do.

We are not typically the lowest cost consultancy you’ll find. We are project realists: we don’t believe in proffering a low project quote, only to come to mid-project (once you’re enmeshed with us) and tell you there are scope increases we didn’t anticipate, or that more resources or necessary, or the project timeline is in jeopardy. We are experts in seeing the project in a very pragmatic light, and we price our projects accordingly. Yes, the up-front number can be bigger, but there are no surprises mid-stream, when milestones are looming. The last thing you need at that stage is a scope/budget increase discussion with your consulting firm. (We know how uncomfortable those can be, because we’ve come in and ‘cleaned up’ a project mess more than once.)

We are not for every client. We pride ourselves on telling the client what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. We’ve been praised for this difficult decision many times, but the truth is not everyone wants to operate that way. A great number of times, we’ve been thanked for our candor. But believe us, having that initial discussion isn’t always fun or easy. And that’s okay. We’re paid to do right by our clients, and sometimes, that means having a direct, sometimes difficult talk.

We have made our name in this market by being more human, more realistic and more honest than our competition. In a landscape dominated by cheap labor and questionable results, we aim to rise above that and become something more than your standard consulting firm. As much as we hate the overused and cliché term, we aim to become a partner with you and your team. It’s why we’ve won so many recurring projects with our clients: not because we’re embedded anymore, but because we’re a brand so many in the PeopleSoft community trust.

Brand values don’t mean a lot in a world filled with social media quips and headlines purposely worded to evoke a reaction. But we work every day to ensure our brand principles are understood and felt by every client – and that’s far more important than any mission statement ever could be.

MIPRO Consulting Presenting at Oracle OpenWorld 2014

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Join MIPRO Consulting at Oracle OpenWorld 2014 in San Francisco, September 29 – October 2, 2014

Oracle OpenWorld provides an unparalleled opportunity to network with peers, get close to product development teams, and gain valuable insight into the future direction of Oracle technologies. This year’s event will feature more than 1,700 sessions, keynotes from the world’s technology leaders, hands-on labs, several special networking events, and more.

There’s no other conference where you’ll have the opportunity to learn more key information about current (and future) Oracle products and technologies. You’ll have access to experts from around the world: customers, partners, and key Oracle team members.  You’ll be able to join Oracle technology demos run by the experts who helped build the products, and get hands-on in labs where you can dig into the details. Engineering, product management, executive presence – it’s all there.

MIPRO Consulting’s Managing Partner and CFO Bernadette Sprawka will be presenting at Oracle HCM Central.  Her session, ID # CON5542 entitled “MiPro Enterprises’ Transition from Workday to Oracle HCM Cloud” will provide an overview of MiPro Enterprise’s transition to the HCM Cloud, including our vetting process and why we ultimately chose Oracle’s HCM Cloud over other solutions.

We invite you to stop by and meet the MIPRO Team at booth 3554.  We’ll be more than happy to discuss your project – whether your needs be centered on PeopleSoft or Oracle’s suite of Cloud Applications.

Interested in learning more?  Give us a call, follow us on LinkedIn, or visit our blog Unfiltered.  If you’d like to schedule a meeting with the MIPRO team while at OpenWorld, give us a shout.

The event website is here.

We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!

When Experience Tell Us to No-Bid a PeopleSoft Deal

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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.

How to Manage Impossible Clients

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I’ve had this article hanging around my Pinboard (please don’t confuse that with Pinterest, by the way) for a few months now, and it’s time I gave it its due. It’s an excellent piece, as is par for the course with Harvard Business Review’s op-ed content.

Here’s HBR’s John Butman, talking about four often-seen “impossible” client behaviors and the best way to respond:

There is a better way.  Impossible clients can, in fact, be managed; but only if you resist the temptation to fight fire with fire.  Instead, deliver — and let your talent speak for itself.  If you fulfill your end of the bargain, it’s much easier to find positive outcomes when clients behave badly.

Anyone who provides services to clients will be able to relate to this list. Don’t miss it.

The 4 Tenets of Trust

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After 25 years in consulting, one of the foundations of every consulting relationship is the element of trust.  While you may buy software based on features and functionality, or you may buy hardware based on performance metrics, you typically select a consulting relationship based on a level of trust.  Measuring that “sense” is not always easy and is often the first of many challenges for a project team.  How do we select a partner that can best help us to reach our goals?  In my experience, there are four tenets of trust that must be achieved in the relationship.

CREDIBILITY – when you talk to a client, the answers you give are credible.  If I tell a client I can replace their SAP ERP solution in 6 months, that is likely not a credible statement.

BELIEVABILITY – when you talk to a client, the answers you give are believable.  This falls below credible meaning that by default, your answer is not only credible, but also believable.  If I tell a client that I am a start-up consulting firm with 2 consultants, telling them that I can replace their SAP ERP system in 18 months may be credible, but not believable.


How Does ERP in Fiji Sound?

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My flight from L.A. to Detroit via Las Vegas with a non-scheduled fuel stop in Milwaukee took about twice as long as planned. Some people said I could have flown to New York and beyond in that time. I said in another hour and a half I could have been in Fiji if I’d been headed West instead of East.

That got me thinking about the trip my wife and I took to Fiji to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Got me thinking about the possibility of implementing ERP systems in Fiji, just in case I might move there someday. A place where ERP is probably the last thing they need, at least on the outer islands.

ERP in Australia, sure, New Zealand probably, but Fiji? If Fijians had ERP systems they would surely be a non-traditional ERP meaning Extremely Relaxed People that are Enthusiastic, Responsible, and Productive. Why can’t that be the case for all of us? Quite honestly, that’s exactly the attitude and culture at MIRPO that drew me here. From my first interview to my last, MIPRO repeated the same value cornerstones to me: Teamwork. Do what’s right, even if it’s hard. Focus. Be passionate about what you do, because we aim to be the best every day.


The Periphery of Project Success

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After 25 years of implementing ERP solutions, I have had countless discussions about the successes and failures of various projects.  Each project has unique characteristics, so no two are ever alike, but there are many common themes for both success and failure.

When talking about success, the common themes are planning, communication, realistic expectations, a great project team, and of course the executive level support needed to make the project a reality.  When talking about failures, the lack of each of those comes up often along with things like changing priorities, lack of a committed team, insufficient budget and even something as simple as poor management.

We can all relate to those and very likely provide specific examples from our own experience.  I recently read an article over at HBR that talks more about the elements on the periphery of every project that can impact your success or failure.  In other words, there is a lot more to it than simple time and budget constraints.  Team dynamics, for instance, play an important part and I talk to my customers often about carefully choosing the best project team.  Here at MIPRO, we often talk often about the dynamics of “who” the project manager is and what it means to the company and project.  Internally, we take a significant amount of time to talk about the desired outcomes and how to measure those outcomes before the project begins.  It reminds me of a saying from my father: “Measure once, cut twice – measure twice, cut once.”

There are times when wandering aimlessly across the country with little or no thought about where you are going is relaxing (my father used to say, “Get in the car because we’re going for a ride”).  Your six-figure ERP project is not one of those places.  The previously-linked article by Gretchen Gavett is a must read if you are about to start a project.  The insights she brings may just separate your project from many of the stories we have all read before.

Remember the periphery — a lot of stuff happens there. Or, as the old saying goes, the gods live in the details.


Why Nuances Matter: How Company Culture Can Be Felt Everywhere, Even Remotely

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(Editor’s Note: Jim Prokes is the CEO, President and co-founder of MIPRO.) 

It’s hard to differentiate a consulting company. Our product is human skillsets delivered in a service model, and those aren’t mass marketable like iPhones or HDTVs. Since we started MIPRO back in 2005, every time we sit down to articulate what makes us different, it comes down to passion and focus.

Sexy? Not really. I bet every consulting firm you speak to would say the same thing.

Sometimes, though, the nuanced nature of things like passion and focus makes itself known. Sometimes clients notice. Sometimes, however, the contractors we hire to work on client engagements notice. And that’s really interesting to me, because we hire top-shelf veterans, and these folks have seen the ins and outs of many consulting firms. They know the game. Every inch of it.

To be recognized by industry veterans means a lot.

Recently, we’ve had two more of our contractors tell us how MIPRO is different from other consulting companies. It’s amazing feedback to get, because these folks aren’t employees, they don’t necessarily toe a company line: they’re hired professional knowledge workers, and they can speak with a degree of objectivity that many employees would find difficult.

Here’s what one of our contractors recently told me over dinner:

“I hope we work together for a long while. You have great organization to be part of and I appreciate the relationship I have with MIPRO. It is hard to connect with quality domestic staffing firms with a foundation in the PeopleSoft space.”

Or there’s what another one of our star contractors said to me:

“Working with MIPRO has been the best experience of all the firms I’ve worked with since I started consulting.”

We talk all the time about culture, and we argue about whether the company culture we foster here at MIPRO HQ can be ‘felt’ when we have folks working remotely at client sites. We do everything we can to make this happen, and sometimes we wonder if our efforts are noticed. I’m proud to say at times it does get noticed.

Choosing a consulting firm has its concrete vectors: price, experience, the talent proffered for a given engagement. But I’ve always believed that the nuances matter, the things that live below the RFP response really help make our company what it is.

Here, on a gray Thursday, I wish to acknowledge entire MIPRO team for helping us take our message well beyond strategy meetings and into our culture – for both clients and the professional consultants we hire.

Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 3/2/12

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Can a Consulting Company Have Soul?

If most people’s experience is any indication, you’d think such a notion is totally bananas. In a lot of ways, consulting has become a bad word, synonymous with expensive, often mediocre talent, political finger-pointing and projects that might finish on time and within budget, but don’t meet the organization’s goals. Selecting a consulting firm is too-often a price-driven endeavor, a mechanical gyration used by CIOs and IT Directors to get help on a project that can’t be approached with internal resources alone.

The game is typically a grinding selection process on which many people stake their names and, sometimes, reputations. It’s getting 120-page RFP responses from a dozen vendors, not having the time to really read any of them, and creating a decision matrix from your vendors’ pricing tables and resumes at 10 PM the night before orals invites. Sure, every vendor hopes you read the RFP responses cover-to-cover, as if they were as entertaining as a new Stieg Laarson book, but we know that doesn’t happen. It can’t happen. Who has time to read thousands of pages?