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Posts Tagged ‘enterprise apps’

Don’t Get Lost in the Cloud!

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cloud

Terms like, the cloud, on-premise,co-existence: these are just but a few of the current strategies that most organizations contend with today in determining how they are going to manage their enterprise applications that run their businesses. It can feel like a daunting task, often equal parts confusing and overwhelming. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t have to be. The choices available today by the large ERP software providers are actually giving customers incredible flexibility to map out a strategy on their terms and timeline.

But like the quote in the movie Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Organizations have a tremendous opportunity to build a strong, long-term strategy to help them reduce their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by assessing their various businesses, processes, IT infrastructure, resources and strategic plans (such as acquisitions and divestitures). Organizations that plan their path with regard to which systems belong in the cloud and which systems belong on-premise have a much better chance of getting there in the long-term.

Careful, well-thought out plans with your ERP provider and key consulting services partner can help make this path much easier and manageable. For many, the thought of going to the cloud versus which systems to leave on-premise, at this point, raises more questions than answers. It doesn’t have to be that way. Take this opportunity to do the strategic, up-front planning now so that you are not asking these questions at the wrong time. Considering the financial investment you are making in these systems for the next 5, 10, 20 years, it makes sense to plan wisely.

In doing so, you can save significant dollars on your overall investment in resources, customizations, maintenance and infrastructure costs over the long-term. If you are a CIO, CTO, Director level in IT or the Business side, it really is a great time to have these opportunities to leverage what’s available to you from a technology perspective, whether in the Cloud or On-Premise. These changes taking place hold great promise for the future for companies to run more efficiently and effectively by taking advantage of these great choices in a very competitive, global marketplace.

Planning the future of your strategic apps direction is no time for platform or methodology zealotry. Having a lot of flexibility can sometimes be confusing, but if harnessed and leveraged correctly, you can take advantage of it successfully and save a lot of money that can hit directly to your bottom line.

VIDEO: Interview with Jeff Robbins, Oracle Product Strategy Director, PeopleTools

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Hey everyone!

As I’ve demonstrated in previous video blogs and podcasts, PeopleSoft 9.2 powered by PeopleTools 8.53 changes the user experience drastically with WorkCenters, Activity Guides, Train Stops, Alerts, etc.  Having participated in the User Experience panel at OpenWorld this year, I was able to see some of the upcoming new and exciting capabilities that further enhance the user experience and productivity.  While I’m not privy to talk about those until Oracle is ready to unveil them, here is a video interview of Jeff Robbins, Product Strategy Director, PeopleTools that gives insight to the exciting new features available in 9.2, but also a sneak peek into what is coming in 2014. Take a look.

Thoughts on PeopleSoft, Oracle Fusion and Roadmaps

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I wasn’t able to attend Oracle Open World (OOW) this year, but feedback from my colleagues indicated that there is still concern and confusion about how, why and when PeopleSoft users will need to move to Fusion.  What we heard is that PeopleSoft customers are still thinking they will be forced to move to Fusion.

Having worked at Oracle, I’ve experienced Oracle-speak first hand. While the folks at Oracle certainly mean well, the critical information can get lost in translation — leaving clients confused. Consider me your translator!

So what is a PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) customer to do? How does the Fusion strategy affect their HCM roadmap?  How do you decide whether or not to make the transition to Fusion?  Is Fusion all about SaaS?

The answers are not complex, at least for now.  Oracle is not forcing anyone to go to Fusion.  They would like to gain momentum in the marketplace with Fusion.  They would like to be sure their PeopleSoft customers understand that there are Fusion options that cater to onsite, hosted and SaaS-minded customers when the competition comes knocking on their doors, but by no means are they saying Fusion is for everyone.

From briefings I’ve attended, it is apparent that we are still in an early adopter stage with Fusion for the existing customer base. Customers who want to be on the cutting edge of technology and are willing to make the investment of time and resources, who need the features available in the Fusion applications, whether full suite or one module, should look at Fusion.  Customers who are considering moving to SaaS should look at Fusion, even if it is for only one module, such as compensation or performance management.

For the vast majority of PeopleSoft HCM customers, however, we recommend they sit tight.  Upgrade to 9.2 and/or the latest PeopleTools release, both of which have some exceptionally nice features (influenced by Fusion capabilities), and stick to your HCM roadmaps for now.

The future may be Fusion, but as far as Oracle is concerned, there is still a definite future for PeopleSoft.

PeopleSoft 9.1 Feature Highlight: Forms and Approval Builder

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OVERVIEW

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

HOW-TO

Begin with creating the form using the Design Form Wizard.

Navigation:  Main Menu > Enterprise Components > Forms > Design a Form

  1. Basic Information – enter information about the form, including effective date and a description.
  2. Instructions – enter instructions that will be available for users accessing the form.
  3. Form Fields – enter the fields that will be available for users accessing the form.  Fields of a variety of data types are displayed in one or two columns.  You can enter a short and long label, indicate if a field is required, designate a prompt record, and define a prompt control for the field against an existing field and record.
  4. Attachments – indicate if any attachments should be made available to users accessing the form, for example a policy or template document.
  5. Publish to a Menu – designate where the form should be accessed on the PeopleSoft menu.
  6. Approval Process – designate the chain of approval the form should go through, if needed, and if the fields on the form should be locked down after submission, approval, or not at all.

After creating the form, it can be previewed in design mode, prior to activation onto the PeopleSoft menu.  Activate the form to make it available to users on the menu as designated.

When a user accesses a form, three tabs are available.

  1. Form
  2. Instructions – displays the instructions entered during form creation.
  3. Attachments – provides access to any attachments assigned during form creation and allows the user to upload a form as well.

As an added bonus, you can connect data collected on a form to one or more component interfaces in an effort to eliminate redundant data entry.  (Example:  new vendor request form can feed into adding a vendor.)

Note, this feature intended only for the creation of new records through a simple single page front end, not maintaining them.

I hope you have found this introduction to Forms Builder helpful.  I believe this is a powerful, yet simple feature you can leverage to either remove custom pages or automate currently manual processes to stretch your PeopleSoft investment even further. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m always happy to chat.

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The BluePrint Workshop

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blueprint

So you just spent six months creating a Request For Proposal (RFP), distributing that RFP to a list of 15 possible vendors, shortlisting the vendors, conducting oral presentations, selecting your implementation partner, executing weeks of contract negotiations and finally after thousands of person hours invested you are ready to start the implementation.  So, what’s the first thing most organizations do?  Ignore all of the planning they have just put forth and jump right into the details.  Based upon many years of experience, I can tell you that is one of the biggest mistakes you can make before starting your implementation.  Why put all of that up-front investment at risk?

Planning for your implementation actually started prior to putting together the RFP.  You likely had to create cost/TCO/ROI justifications and multiple presentations for various levels of approval.  The most appropriate activity is to continue down that path of planning and preparation.  Let’s bridge the gap between the selection team and the project team.  How? We encourage clients to keep the planning momentum and bridge that gap by executing our BluePrint Project Services workshop [PDF link].

A BluePrint workshop is a joint effort executed by the main members of the project team, typically the project leads and project manager.  Through this facilitated workshop, participants will actively build thecontents of the project charter.  The project charter contains elements such as project objectives, project risk, resources, mission statement and scope.  The workshop builds on the content from the RFP andtranslates it into a charter which can be used to gain project buy-in and executive support.  The project charter is a contract between the project team and the organization’s management team outlining what will be accomplished and what is required to accomplish it.  It binds the project team to achieve certain goals and binds the executive management to support what is required to achieve those goals.

We often say that a project can be on time and on budget but if it does not achieve the objectives of the organization, then it still will be looked upon as a failed project.  The BluePrint workshop helps avoid an unsuccessful project that was executed on time and on budget. You’d be surprised at how often this happens.

I know, it’s hard to take time out to do additional planning after spending six months or more going through the selection process.  Well, it’s generally harder to ask for a timeline extension because the project was not properly planned and mitigated against risks early and often.  We know that it is hard to visualize the benefit of a BluePrint workshop and the benefit of buy in from the project team, but I can tell you from experience that it works and it works well.   Take an example from a recent customer we executed a BluePrint with and use their responses to gauge the effectiveness to support the value:

“Of 11 workshop attendees, 100% would recommend the BluePrint workshop to other projects within the organization.  Eight of 11 gave the Blue Print workshop a 5 out of 5 and three of the 11 a 4 out of 5 rating.”

For more information about our BluePrint Project Services workshop, see here [PDF link] and here [web link].  Naturally, if you have any questions, please don’t be afraid to email me.

Something to Consider: Multiple PeopleTools Upgrade Options

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I recently engaged a new prospective customer who is interested in upgrading PeopleTools to version 8.5.  One of the primary reasons for this client to undertake the PeopleTools upgrade is to preempt an inevitable upgrade to HCM v9.1, as they are currently on v 9.0 MP3.  What’s motivating them to upgrade HCM?  It’s a story we’ve all heard (and maybe told): their current version won’t be supported by Oracle past the end of next year.

With this in mind, it’s obvious that the client is starting to look at their overall PeopleSoft environment on a global scale, the implications associated with an upgrade,  and is giving serious consideration to long-term approach from an implementation standpoint.

This view was the catalyst for me to present flexible options for the PeopleTools upgrade.  Without knowing how the client might respond, I recommended the possibility of using a “lab” approach to complete the project.  In other words, an off-site implementation methodology where they might realize some cost savings as opposed to an in-house development effort.

It turns out that the client used this approach the last time they upgraded and responded that they would like to see this as an option in the proposal.  More importantly however, the client views this method as a “knowledge transfer project that will help us gain the skills to better augment the next upgrade project.”  And it’s not the first time I’ve heard that, especially as it relates to PeopleTools and companies not having the resource bandwidth or expertise to do a PeopleTools upgrade internally.  In fact, it’s why we offer an affordable, high-value PeopleTools upgrade packaged service [PDF] that has been a success with quite a few clients.

Regardless, more and more folks are looking at upgrading PeopleTools, usually as a sub-consideration for a larger PeopleSoft upgrade project.  If this sort of thing is on your roadmap and you want to talk about it, don’t hesitate to drop me an email.  I’d be happy to chat.

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The Future of IT Jobs Lie in Three Types of Roles

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Interesting take on the future landscape of IT jobs, as seen by Jason Hiner over at ZDNet’s Between the Lines.  Hiner says:

More and more of traditional software has moved to the web, or at least to internal servers and served through a web browser. Many technophobic Baby Boomers have left the workforce and been replaced by Millennials who not only don’t need as much tech support, but often want to choose their own equipment and view the IT department as an obstacle to productivity. In other words, today’s users don’t need as much help as they used to. Cynical IT pros will argue this until they are blue in the face, but it’s true. Most workers have now been using technology for a decade or more and have become more proficient than they were a decade ago. Plus, the software itself has gotten better. It’s still horribly imperfect, but it’s better.

So where does that leave today’s IT professionals? Where will the IT jobs of the future be?

His take is interesting and fairly difficult to argue, especially in light of the emerging trends of the last 7-10 years.  Hiner sees the following roles moving taking the IT limelight in the future:

  • Consultants
  • Project Managers
  • Developers

Hiner’s entire piece is worth reading, and you should.  But independent of that, over the course of our daily conversations, we find very much the same changes, challenges and trends.

It ain’t your daddy’s IT department anymore.

What’s your take?

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For Oracle, ‘Choice’ Is Key Message

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Vinnie Mirchandani (@dealarchitect on Twitter) with a nice synopsis of Oracle’s new ‘choice’ messaging.  Given Oracle’s incredibly wide (and premium) stable of offerings, combined with its recent cloud-facing announcements, this is smart, solid positioning:

He emphasized choice in other ways as he discussed Fusion apps – more choice in portfolio of ERP apps versus competitive narrow, CRM, HR and other SaaS category offerings. He talked about choices in co-existence scenarios with current PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and Oracle EBS products. He threw out names of a choice of SIs which were working with around 50 early adopter Fusion implementations – Price Waterhouse, IBM, Accenture, Deloitte.

Later when I met with Steve I asked him if the SIs were influencing the choices – given they were “traditional” firms, were they nudging customers towards private cloud implementations? He said he did not see it – they were being smart in going along with customer desire/direction.

The truth of the matter is from where Oracle sits, the choices they offer customers is mind-boggling — in a good way.  The challenge of the ‘choice’ message is that its analogous to the ‘open’ message in that it’s very fragile.  (Look at how much heat Google is taking when it announced that it would take tighter control of its Android OS — the cries of ‘But you said it was open!’ were deafening.)  If Oracle is truly offering choice, does that include, say, cloud technologies that lie outside its own product/service portfolio?  Does that include the use of SIs who might have their own technologies and methodologies that are in direct competition, to some extent, with Oracle’s own?

I suspect the ‘choice’ message’s permanence will rest on how Oracle manages its own offerings versus other directions customers may lean.

Nonetheless, Oracle’s doing all the right things when it comes to addressing the market (pay special attention to the progress of Fusion as evidenced by Principal and certain units of Easton and Alcoa).  Hopefully, it continues through the sales cycle and into implementation.  As Mirchandani says, “Time will tell.”

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Running PeopleSoft Portal 8.8? Now Is a Good Time to Upgrade

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Extended support for PeopleSoft Portal Solutions has ended, according to the PeopleSoft Technology Blog.  What does this mean?

Extended support for PeopleSoft Portal Solutions 8.8 will end in March 2011. This means that Oracle is not obliged to provide development support in the form of new features and fixes to Portal Solutions customers running 8.8 after that time. If you are on an older version, you should consider moving to our current release–9.1. Not only will you continue to receive complete support, but you will benefit from the many enhancements of the new release, including all the Enterprise 2.0 capabilities.

If you are on Oracle’s Sustaining Support, here’s what that level of support entitles you to:

Sustaining Support puts you in control of your upgrade strategy. When Premier Support expires, if you choose not to purchase Extended Support, or when Extended Support expires, Sustaining Support will be available for as long as you license your Oracle products. With Sustaining Support, you receive technical support, including access to our online support tools, knowledge bases, and technical support experts.

You benefit from:
• Major product and technology releases
• Technical support
• Access to My Oracle Support and Silver Creek Systems Support Portal
• Fixes, updates, and critical patch updates created during the Premier Support stage
• Upgrade scripts created during the Premier Support stage

Sustaining Support does not include:
• New updates, fixes, security alerts, data fixes, and critical patch updates
• New tax, legal, and regulatory updates
• New upgrade scripts
• Certification with new third-party products/versions
• Certification with new Oracle products

For more details on Oracle’s various support levels, see Oracle’s Technical Support Policies.

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‘PeopleSoft Is Still Going Gangbusters’

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Back in January of this year Chris Kanaracus of IDG observed that PeopleSoft is still going gangbusters.  As we continue into 2011, we’ve seen a similar trend.

Kanaracus notes that the current 9.1 release of PeopleSoft is being adopted at a rate four times faster than any other edition.  Pretty impressive for an application that has been around for 20 years.

My personal observation is that there are a number of reasons for this.  First is that in 2005, when Oracle acquired PeopleSoft, it froze the market.  Many statements were made in the months prior to the acquisition and customers were not sure what direction Oracle was going to take with respect to the PeopleSoft application, so many companies took a “wait and see” approach.

Then the probable replacement for PeopleSoft, Fusion, was to be out just a year or two after the acquisition.  So that added to customers not making any moves, in order to see what Fusion had to offer.

Once it was clear that Oracle was in fact not only going to support PeopleSoft, but also enhance the entire suite, in combination with the news that Fusion was going to take a little longer to bake before it was ready, the economic crisis took hold.  Funding for any and every project dried up.

So here we are in 2011.  Companies have put off upgrades and enhancements to their backoffice solutions for way too long.  And now as the economy slowly rebounds, many of them are starting to make investments in their PeopleSoft solution that they have put off since 2005. Since 2005. It’s time.  No one wants to be caught flat-footed as their competitor captures market share because they were more prepared and willing to invest for the recovery.

So while there is still cautiousness in the air, companies are embracing PeopleSoft 9.1 as well as putting into service software they’ve owned but have not yet utilized.

Going gangbusters is a lot more fun than frozen.  Just sayin’.

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