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Posts Tagged ‘enterprise applications’

2012: Do You Know Your PeopleSoft Roadmap?

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2012…what’s in store for you this year?

If Santa didn’t leave you an upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.1 under your tree, nor PeopleTools 8.52 in your stocking Christmas morning, you may need to take control of the situation yourself.  Whether you are losing support for your current PeopleSoft applications or you finally have managed to set aside some of your hard-earned budget, this could be the year you pursue making your PeopleSoft applications work even harder for you, and Oracle has provided more than 200 additional features through 9.1, PeopleTools 8.52, and the subsequent feature packs.

A couple of highlights:

Forms and Approval Builder.  This new feature is part of Common Components 9.1, therefore available for use throughout all of the PeopleSoft HCM and FMS modules.  It provides a business analyst or other non-developer PeopleSoft application expert to create simple forms and establish an approval for the content.

Enhanced Search Capability.  PeopleSoft 9.1 allows users to perform global searches across multiple indexes and return the results organized by dynamic facets (segments), then take action based on search results, without having to navigate the menu to do so.  Additionally, the Last Search Results link allows a user to return to the results of a recent search and perform additional actions or to access additional results.  Keyword Search allows for a global search across multiple components throughout the PeopleSoft application, and can be used to review more than the 300 record restriction applied to traditional field based searches.

Manager Dashboard.  This feature provides an at-a-glance view of important information to help managers know where they need to focus.  PeopleSoft Administrators designate which pages are available for managers and a user can further personalize the content details and layout.  Highlights of the Manager Dashboard include:

  • Alerts and Approvals pagelets indicate what transactions need immediate attention and navigate directly to the transactions through the pagelets.
  • The Direct Line Reports pagelet categorizes data for each employee across a variety areas of interest, including Job Details and Compensation, then drilldown as needed into the application for details.
  • Pivot Grids enable you to easily analyze, filter, and slice relevant organizational data, including switching between various chart types for more productive analysis.
  • Quick Links.  This feature provides easy access to frequently used items without having to navigate the application to access them.

Credit and Collections Workbench.  The new workbench in PeopleSoft 9.1 Receivables provides a one stop shop where receivables users can review action items, analyze customer information, and work to improve their collections-related efficiency by utilizing risk-based scoring.

Approval Framework.  The new Approval Framework, formerly referred to as the Approval Workflow Engine, is available throughout the Financials, Supply Chain, and Human Capital Management applications.  Notification Emails provide links directly into the transactions requiring approval, and approvers have the ability to push transactions back a previous approver, as well as add ad hoc reviewers and approvers as needed.  You can use the Approval Framework as delivered for existing approvals or to build additional approvals needed to support your business needs.

You can find out more about PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.1 applications by logging in to My Oracle Support at support.oracle.com.  For a conversation about mapping out your PeopleSoft applications strategy and roadmap for 2012 and beyond, don’t be afraid to contact us.

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Fusion’s Coming, But PeopleSoft Is Alive and Well

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Contrary to what some backstreets of the ERP rumor mill will say, there’s a strong roadmap ahead for PeopleSoft, including a new current release of HCM and even a major release next year.  Here’s InformationWeek’s Doug Henschen talking about what that means for Fusion and what mindset customers should consider adopting:

…if PeopleSoft’s getting all these upgrades, what’s the purpose of Oracle Fusion, the application suite that’s supposed to blend all the best from Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Siebel? Fusion was finally released June 1, but Oracle hasn’t had a lot to say about it. Expect that to change at this year’s Oracle Open World event in early October.

So at Oracle OpenWorld 2011, Oracle will give us a lot more information about Fusion. Sounds good. But what does that mean for customers who still have requirements to meet, maintenance to pay (or not), and new objectives to fulfill? Short-term, not much. Hence the very strong PeopleSoft roadmap. Here’s Henschen again:

In the meantime, here’s the latest on PeopleSoft upgrades and how customers might choose to coexist with — and someday cut over to — Oracle Fusion Applications.

This week’s feature-pack upgrade to Oracle PeopleSoft 9.1 delivers in four areas: payroll, compensation reporting, time and labor reporting, and online training integration. European customers will benefit from the payroll upgrade, which supports management of payments according to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). This is a fairly new standard that saves time and effort when making payments across European borders.

The feature pack delivers PeopleSoft Total Rewards Statement 9.1 as a way to provide a more holistic view of total compensation, including benefits, allocations, incentives, and bonus pay. This makes it easier for companies to help their employees count their many blessings.

Of course it’s the paycheck that matters most, and PeopleSoft Time and Labor 9.1 now includes more than 40 customizable, rules-based templates for reporting standard hours, overtime hours, holiday hours and more. Pay calculations get complicated, particularly when union-specific rules are applied. The templates are aimed at simplifying matters. Consulting firms have made a pile of money helping organizations figure this stuff out, but Oracle says templates will minimize the need for such support.

So when Fusion does hit the market, where can you expect it to fit in?

Cutting over entirely to Fusion is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. If you’re running PeopleSoft Financial Management (FM) as well as HCM the migration will be even more daunting, as Fusion Financials has more in common with Oracle E-Business than it does PeopleSoft FM. That said, Fusion does adopt PeopleSoft’s Trees metaphor for organizational hierarchies, according to Holincheck.

The bottom line is that Oracle has good reason to keep the PeopleSoft upgrades coming, and it won’t be pushing you to move to Fusion. The coexistence strategy notwithstanding, Fusion seems like a PeopleSoft alternative to be considered like any other competitive app, with cost, breadth and depth of functionality, ease of deployment, and innovation as key reasons to consider replacement.

Takeaway: the notion that Fusion represents a giant red switch that will turn itself on and PeopleSoft off is the farthest thing from the truth.

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Coming in PeopleTools 8.52: Feeds

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The PeopleSoft Technology Blog has another detailed rundown about another popular feature-set coming in PeopleTools 8.52:  flexible, customizable feeds.

Matthew Haavisto writes:

There are some new features coming in PeopleTools 8.52 that will make creating and managing Feeds in PeopleSoft easier and more useful.   This is provided through several enhancements to the Feed Publishing Framework.

Namely, PeopleTools 8.52 will offer:

  • Feed Publishing Wizard
  • Feed Templates
  • Feeds as Managed Objects
  • Feed Personalization

Much more detail here, presented very coherently.  We’ve been covering PeopleTools 8.52 a lot recently, and as you can see, there’s we have plenty of reasons to.  It’s going to be a great upgrade.

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Cloud vs. Cloudburst: Where Cloud Computing Is, Isn’t and Might Be

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Over the past few weeks, several people have asked me about the “cloud” and how I think it will impact the future of ERP.  Well, I’m not an expert in cloud computing, nor do I have a crystal ball.  But what I do have is 20+ years of industry experience.  So, while I can’t give you a definitive answer on the future, I can share with you my observations.

First, people have been talking about the possibility of distributed applications for over a decade.  Remember when Bill Gates said he envisioned a time when people would “rent” Microsoft Office over the web and we all snickered and scoffed?  Well, Mr. Gates, as it turns out, just may have one of those crystal balls.

So the cloud, or distributed processing, has arrived and will more than likely be here for many years.  But even with its many benefits (reduced hardware requirements, limited internal support needs, global availability, etc.), distributed processing has its limitations.  One can argue that distributed processing is great for user-focused applications like CRM, word processing and logistics because these applications reach a broad range of industries with a minimal amount of customization.  It’s much harder to say the same thing, however, about back-office enterprise systems.

In the world of back-office enterprise software, applications must be configured to meet a wide and growing range of business processes.  Trying to herd all business types into “standard” business processes would keep change management companies busy for the next century and remove competitive advantages that some companies have built their infrastructure to support.  And there’s no way a discreet manufacturer would adopt the business processes of a healthcare provider — or vice versa.

So the next alternative is for enterprise software vendors is to utilize distributed applications to provide multiple “versions” of the application for various industries.  Viable?  Probably not — this alone would drive cost and support models out of control.  And I must admit, in my twenty years in the industry, I’ve never seen two companies attempt to configure the software the same way.  Even in similar industries, there are always differences that need to be addressed.

With all that said, I do think that you will begin to see additional applications being moved to and supported in a cloud environment.  Anytime a software vendor can standardize their product it lowers their support cost and appeals to a wider audience.  So look for the trend to continue.  And by all means, don’t confuse a hosted or managed services offering with a SaaS model.  Hosting and managed services are essentially your custom environment running on someone else’s equipment.  SaaS is a distributed software environment.  Lots of confusion, but the gods live in the details. Maybe I can talk more about that next month!

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Observations About Fusion From HUG Attendees

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I recently attended the Oracle Human Resources Group (OHUG) meeting in Orlando. As a consulting partner/vendor I had a chance to talk to a large number customers — both Oracle eBusiness and PeopleSoft HCM– about their current plans and their perception of Fusion.

I have to admit, I was surprised by what I perceived to be a general lack of enthusiasm for Fusion.  The conference had a good number of sessions devoted to the Fusion HCM products, but I found out from Oracle that those sessions were not attended as well as expected.  Most attendees were focused on their current environment or getting to a supported release of their product set.  I even met with a gentleman who was literally in a panic that Oracle was going to force Fusion on him and he didn’t want it. He just wanted to keep his PeopleSoft HRMS.

Obviously, the vast majority of customers are not early adopters — especially when cost-conservatism is still the rule of the day and new technology for new technology’s sake is a no-no. Still, I anticipated there would be more enthusiasm about the fact that Fusion was finally a reality and that the Fusion applications could be considered as part of one’s HCM Roadmap.  But most people seemed to be confused as to what the message was about Fusion and in many cases just what Fusion is.

Oracle has been consistent in its messaging to the HCM customers.  But what I perceive is that Oracle is saying blah, blah, blah and the customers are hearing exactly that: blah, blah, blah. Messaging is either not crisp or being articulated properly.  It is fear from the customers that psychologically blocks the message?  Does cost + change equal job anxiety?  Is it the belief they will have to surrender their investment in their current system and step into the Wild West with a new platform ?Is the message too marketing-oriented?

Oracle predicts that by OpenWorld there will be a good number of Oracle HCM Fusion early adopters to showcase the success of Fusion. I personally have every reason to believe them, but it won’t happen unless Oracle can figure out how to get the message across in a simplified fashion that makes people feel more comfortable.

Just some observations from where I sit.  What is your take?

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New: Search Function for PeopleSoft Applications

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Let’s do a quick follow up on last week’s post that announced the arrival of the PeopleTools 8.52 Release Value Proposition.

An easy, comprehensive search function within PeopleSoft apps has been oft-requested, and lo and behold, Matthew Haavisto of The PeopleSoft Technology Blog has the good news:

As you may have seen from the PeopleTools 8.52 Release Value Proposition, PeopleTools intends to introduce a new search capability in release 8.52. We believe this feature will not only improve the ability of users to find content, but will fundamentally change the way people navigate around the PeopleSoft ecosystem. PeopleSoft applications will be delivering this new search in coming releases and feature packs.

PeopleSoft Application Search is actually a framework—a group of features that provides an improved means of searching for a variety of content across PeopleSoft applications. From a user experience perspective, the new search offers a powerful, keyword-based search presented in a familiar, intuitive user experience.

And we can’t ignore this bit:

The new search will be available at any point in an application and can be configured to span multiple PeopleSoft applications. It enables users to initiate transactions or navigate to key information without using the PeopleSoft application menus.

Fantastic news.  Back when PeopleTools 8.5 was announced we saw a nice spike in interest for our PeopleTools Upgrade Packaged Service [PDF], and we suspect 8.52 will drive the same — if not greater — level of interest.  A modern, multi-app search has been something users (and admins) have been wanting for a long time.

Finally, screenshots?  Here are a few, again courtesy of The PeopleSoft Technology Blog (click to enlarge images):

And:

If you have any questions about this new version of PeopleTools or its value to your organization and current application portfolio, please drop us an email and we’ll get back to you.  We’d love to hear whether this new search is something you and your team has been waiting for.

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PeopleTools 8.52 Sneak Peek

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NEWS: the PeopleTools 8.52 Release Value Proposition has been posted on My Oracle Support. (Login required.)

Major areas of focus for the 8.52 release include but are not limited to:

  • Increasing user productivity
  • Improving system navigation (big area of enhancement requests)
  • Lowering TCO (total cost of ownership)

The PeopleSoft Technology Blog has the official statement:

The PeopleSoft PeopleTools 8.52 release continues Oracle’s commitment to protect and extend the value of PeopleSoft applications by providing additional technology options and enhancements that reduce ongoing operating costs, as well as improve the end user’s experience. […]

The scope for the PeopleTools 8.52 release continues the practice of including accumulated bug fixes as well as enhancements based upon customer feedback. In addition, features are being added to improve the application user’s experience, introduce a new paradigm of navigation and page interaction, and improve the cost-effectiveness of PeopleSoft applications by certifying new versions of platform components.

The PeopleTools momentum just keeps chugging along.  Be sure to hit up the My Oracle Support link (above) to see all the details.

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PeopleTools 8.51 Now Generally Available (GA)

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Even though this is about a week old, it’s important nonetheless.  From The PeopleSoft Technology Blog:

PeopleTools 8.51 is important to Oracle and for PeopleSoft customers because it continues to provide significant end-user value and demonstrates Oracle’s commitment to the PeopleSoft product family. The great new PeopleTools features and enhancements in this and our previous release have created more customer excitement than we have seen in years. SmartNavigation, the PeopleSoft Test Framework and the new Usage Monitor are exciting new capabilities that have seen considerable interest from customers in early discussions.

PeopleTools 8.51 is available for all of the recent PeopleSoft applications (eg. 8.8, 8.9, 9.0 and 9.1) as a straightforward Tools-only Upgrade, so we are looking forward to rapid and enthusiastic adoption of this release.

Trust us: this is a substantial release and one everyone should move to as soon as possible.  If this upgrade isn’t on your project radar, we offer a quick-hit, budget-friendly packaged service to perform your PeopleTools upgrade for you.  Here’s some information [PDF] about it if you’re interested.

Along related lines, here is Oracle’s PeopleTools 8.51 documentation home page.  (It’s on Oracle Support, so a login is required.)

And finally, here are Oracle’s PeopleTools 8.51 Hosted PeopleBooks.  There’s a ton of material here.

Any questions about this, our PeopleTools upgrade service, or why this release is worth the upgrade effort?  Please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

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A Smart IT Investment Could Help Ease Budgetary Challenges for K-12 Education

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It might not be the first thing on your mental checklist, but enterprise software consulting firms play a key role in the overall return on investment for K-12 education by implementing applications –  in our case Oracle and PeopleSoft, which enable significant organizational efficiencies.

In today’s economic climate, K-12 education administrators must be especially mindful of the repercussions of funding capital projects.  While job one is to provide the best possible educational experience for students and retain quality teachers and administrators, K-12 organizations can realize cost savings though wise investments in IT infrastructure.   An  example of this is might be to enable the  improvement of business processes and decision making, thereby enabling management to provide the district with accountability of financial oversight, compliance, and planning/management of assets.

Facing Facts: Public Attitudes and Fiscal Realities in Five Stressed States, a new report by the Pew Center on the States and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) points to an interesting trend on how residents view their states’ budget problems and a possible solution for K-12 funding woes.  The research compiled survey results from five states:  AZ, CA, FL, IL and NY, and concludes  that more that 6 out of 10 respondents indicated that they would be willing to pay higher taxes to maintain current funding for K-12 education (2010 poll). Respondents from all five states underscore their commitment to K-12 education.

Based on this information, I submit that the desire among US taxpayers to maintain (and improve) quality K-12 education translates to an opportunity for District IT organizations to invest in efficiency-enhancing  enterprise software solutions.

If you are interested in generating your own reports using the survey data from the five states, visit the PPIC website.

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Enterprise Software Usage Hits Record High

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Joe McKendrick, writing for ZDNet’s Service Oriented:

Although its been a challenge to wring benefits out of bottomless pit investments in enterprise software, the study says things are drifting slowly in the right direction. 2010 marked the first year that organizations collectively achieved an average effective usage rate greater than 50%, the survey finds — hitting the 54% mark even.  In 2008, the effective usage rate averaged about 43%, and hit 49% in 2009.

Trend is certainly in the right direction.  But if you’re like many, you’re probably asking, “So what’s the reason for the uptick?”

Tight economic conditions probably have something to do with it — the mandate handed down to IT has been do more with less, make the most of what you already have, and make it stick to the business. Nothing clarifies a project more than when it’s on the chopping block. Getting smarter may also have something to do with it.  There are methodologies and better tools available to measure adoption and progress of software installations (as I know the study’s sponsors will gladly point out).

Still, putting money into enterprise software projects is an uncharted walk into the wilderness. Fewer than 10% of organizations can measure the impact of IT on business productivity, the study also finds.

From where we sit, it’s a matter of focus.

Over the past few years, IT departments have had to make do with less, and in many cases, foster improvement over their own baselines.  It hasn’t been easy.

When budgets are tight and every project could be axed, it brings a level of scrutiny to the project’s goals and returns that might otherwise get overlooked or taken for granted.  This scrutiny leads to a renewed focus on the project, and a rehearsal of the question that will undoubtedly come from the C-suite: What’s this really going to do for the business?

IT departments have not only had to become smarter about what they do chase, project-wise, but also how they use the software they implement and roll into production. Results still need to be had, even without new app implementations.

We hear stories every day about clients using software in more expansive ways than they have before, and what McKendrick writes jibes with what we hear everyday.  They’ve had to do more with what they have, so they got smarter and more creative.  Simple as that.

If you have had to make do with less, and you’ve achieved results using a wider array of software functionality from apps you already had on the shelf (or even deployed), we’d love to hear about it.  The smartest companies we work with have come out of the recession leaner, smarter and more efficient than before.  It’s not easy to do, but more organizations than you may think have done exactly that.

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