Wednesday Dec 25, 2013

Oracle PeopleSoft Publishes User Experience Guidelines

PeopleSoft has introduced many new features in recent releases that provide a rich, contemporary, intuitive user experience.  The frameworks for these features are provided in PeopleTools, and PeopleSoft applications teams have delivered many great instances, particularly in 9.2.  Although our applications teams are delivering a great deal, PeopleTools enables customers to modify delivered instances or create their own to support unique requirements of their enterprise.  If customers do that, they will benefit from applying common user experience guidelines to the things they produce. 

To support customers in those efforts, the PeopleSoft Applications User Experience team is excited to announce the release of the PeopleSoft User Experience (UX) Guidelines. The UX Guidelines contain information about the usage of key PeopleSoft components to create highly usable, efficient, and productive experiences for Oracle customers.



Several PeopleSoft customers participated in a survey in December 2012, which helped identify the following topics. These topics are covered in the first release of the guidelines:

  • Dashboard
  • WorkCenter
  • Guided Processes (Activity Guides)
  • Pivot Grids
  • Pagelets
  • Related Content
  • Related Actions
  • Modal and Mouseover Windows
  • Grids

Why do we need UX guidelines?

With PeopleTools 8.53 and the 9.2 PeopleSoft Applications, you will see more modern and visually appealing features delivered by PeopleSoft. With the help of UX guidelines, customers and partners can not only design and tailor their own user experience but also ensure consistency with features designed by PeopleSoft. The UX guidelines explain each topic in detail, display relevant images and provide usage guidelines. 

UX Guidelines Examples

The following is an excerpt from the WorkCenter section:


 

The image below shows part of the Dashboard section:

 



Usage guidelines have been provided for all the other topics as well.  PeopleSoft UX Guidelines will enable customers to design and tailor the ultimate user experience for their organization.  Following the guidelines will ensure consistency across applications. The guidelines would also help in choosing the right pattern for any scenario.  These guidelines will be periodically updated as PeopleSoft introduces new capabilities.

Tuesday Dec 17, 2013

Creating a Launch Pad Experience with the PeopleSoft Interaction Hub and PeopleTools

The PeopleSoft Interaction Hub is especially well suited for aggregating PeopleSoft application content and creating a unified user experience.  The Hub provides users with a contemporary web site-based user experience rather than a segmented experience in which applications are partitioned, and users must navigate around different applications to accomplish their tasks.  Using the Interaction Hub, you can align your PeopleSoft user experience with your business processes. 

A practical and common way to provide this unified user experience is to configure the Interaction Hub to serve as a launch pad for your PeopleSoft applications as well as 3rd party or other Oracle content.  A launch pad experience provides users with relevant information required to perform infrequent tasks like Benefits Enrollment as well as some day-to-day jobs while retaining the context of their homepage/dashboard. The volume of information presented to the user can be reduced, providing pre-defined task flows that help present results with more clarity.  The links on the PeopleSoft homepage/dashboard pagelets can be setup to open in modal windows thereby enabling users to perform various types of actions from within the Homepage context.

Many of the techniques described in these scenarios are explained in the red paper Configuring a Contemporary User Experience in PeopleSoft Interaction Hub.

The following is an example of a Launchpad page.  The Interaction Hub can contain many pages (represented as tabs).  In this case, the ‘My HR’ tab described below has an HR News, Self Service accordion menu, Tag cloud, My Events, Company directory, Announcement and My Job Openings pagelet. These pagelets come from different PeopleSoft systems that have been setup using Unified Navigation.  Homepage/Custom tabs are another way of aggregating content and presenting information to the user in a logical way.  The following scenarios describe common task flows initiated from this Launchpad.


Scenarios

The following scenarios describe a user’s interaction with the system along with the techniques used to achieve the experience.  The techniques described below are supported and delivered by PeopleTools. The recommended versions to create this user experience are Interaction Hub 9.1/FP2 and PeopleTools 8.53.

Scenario 1: Open Enrollment

The user clicks on a news article “Open Enrollment” in the HR news pagelet. The article opens in modal window. The HR News pagelet is sourced from the Interaction Hub. The news publication feature delivered by IH has been used to create the content for this pagelet.  The pagelet has been created using Pagelet Wizard and uses a delivered XSL to open links in a modal.  The “Open Enrollment” news article has a link for the user to enroll in benefits.  The user can use this link to enroll or modify their benefits information.  The user completes the transaction and closes the modal to return to the homepage.  (The way to define a modal link is described in the section A Note On Opening Links in Modal Windows at the end of the Scenarios section.

Scenario 2:  Locating Useful Information

Our user now wants to review the company’s policy handbook.  He uses the Tag Cloud pagelet and clicks on the policy tag.  This opens the tag browser page in a modal window. It displays the search results for the content having the tag “policy”.  He clicks on the search result, the modal closes and he is taken to the transaction page displaying the content. After reviewing the content he can get back to the home page by clicking on the ‘Home’ link or on the tab link. The tag cloud pagelet is delivered with the Interaction Hub.

Scenario 3:  Updating Dependent Information

The user now wants to review and update his dependents information.  He clicks on the Dependent/Beneficiary info link in the self service pagelet.  This is an HCM pagelet that uses custom XSL to display an accordion menu.  The Dependents link opens a modal.


The user reviews the information and updates the information for one of his children.


He completes the transaction and closes the modal to return to the homepage.

Scenario 4:  Getting Help

The user now has a question on benefits for dependents. He clicks on the HR Help Desk link in the help pagelet, whose source is the CRM application.  It opens a modal with the Help Desk search page. He enters the keyword “dependent” and gets the search results.


He selects the desired search result, reads, and then closes the modal to get back to the home page.


The “HR help desk” pagelet is an HTML based Pagelet Wizard pagelet.

Scenario 5:  Quick Navigation Using Related Actions and Embedded Analytics

The user would now like to review the Job opening and closing trends in his organization.  The “My Job openings” pagelet has related actions to display this information. Related actions can be configured using the PeopleTools Related Content framework.


He clicks on the Job Opening Open and Close Trend related action. It opens a modal displaying the pivot grid chart.


The user clicks on the ‘Age Band’ bar to see the related actions menu. He then clicks on the Detailed View related action to get the details of the job openings.


He reviews the information and closes the modal to return to the homepage.

A Note On Opening Links in Modal Windows

In scenarios 1, 3, and 4, we have described user flows where PeopleSoft content is opened in modal windows.  To achieve this, customers can use third party Java Script libraries such as the jQuery-based ThickBox to open PeopleSoft content pages (PSC) inside a modal window.  PSC refers to PeopleSoft URLs that use the portal content servlet to render the content.  When displayed in a modal, the content will be rendered without the header information.  The figure below shows the Personal Information Summary page rendered as a PSC. The URL will take a form like this: http://<<server address>>/psc/hrms/EMPLOYEE/HRMS/c/ROLE_EMPLOYEE.HR_EE_PERS_INFO.GBL

The same Personal Information Summary page when rendered as a PSP (PeopleSoft Portal page) is shown below. The URL will take a form like this:  http://<<server address>>/psp/hrms/EMPLOYEE/HRMS/c/ROLE_EMPLOYEE.HR_EE_PERS_INFO.GBL

 

We do not recommend using modals for displaying content such as WorkCenters, Dashboards, PeopleSoft Portal pages, pages using a template that is different from the default template, or Collaborative Workspaces.

 

Most techniques allow modals to be styled using CSS. For example, ThickBox uses its own style sheet on top of the jQuery user interface style sheet, which is the case for most types of plug-ins.  We suggest using modals for simple pages.  Don't use modal with nested modals or nested pages and complex interactions like related actions or related content from the modal window.  Simple pages are more effective as a user interface technique and cleaner from a technology perspective. The customer is responsible for licensing the third party software. Also, note that this is considered a customization and the customer is responsible for development and testing.

Other Mechanisms for Creating a Single Pane Experience

WorkCenters, Dashboards, and Activity Guides can be used with the Interaction Hub in a complimentary way.  They can appear as tabs in the Hub, thus enabling the user to use the Hub for its proper purpose, and these other features for their intended purpose.  After doing the typical HR Self-Service tasks, the user wants to get down to daily work, and uses WorkCenters and Dashboards for that.  He navigates to these pages using the tabs.

WorkCenters

WorkCenter framework is a feature that was delivered in PeopleTools 8.51. WorkCenter pages are a type of configurable PeopleSoft page that enable you to offer access to related transactions, analytics data, query results, and other PeopleSoft resources from one central location. You can organize the elements on WorkCenter pages based on processes, roles, or other business requirements that are specific to your organization. When carefully designed, WorkCenter pages bring together the PeopleSoft elements that your users access most when performing the tasks that comprise their primary responsibilities. As a result, WorkCenter pages promote productivity by minimizing the time users spend navigating between tasks. When users access WorkCenter pages, they are presented with pagelets, which contain links to components, analytics, query results, and other PeopleSoft resources. 

An example of using the WorkCenter to provide a single pane guided process is the Life events Activity Guide (displayed in a WorkCenter) in the HCM 9.2 application:


Here the user launches the WorkCenter by selecting the “Life Events” link in the HCM Benefits menu. The registration for a life event such as marriage, birth, adoption, or divorce consists of a number of steps that the user must perform. These steps are encapsulated in an Activity Guide pagelet available in the left frame of the WorkCenter. The user clicks on the links on the pagelet or uses the navigation bar at the top of the transaction area to access and complete the various steps in the process.  The links in the Activity guide pagelet open in the target frame on the right hand side.  The PeopleTools Activity Guide feature can be used to create and publish an Activity Guide pagelet.  The WorkCenter can be configured to have multiple pagelets on the left frame that open the links in the right target frame.

By using the WorkCenter the user...

  • Is able to retain the context of the Life event process
  • Is able to see the status of the various tasks

The WorkCenter left frame can contain any type of pagelet such as a Navigation Collection or PS Query based pagelet.

An example of a WorkCenter with a navigation collection pagelet is the “My Learning” WorkCenter that is available from ELM. In this WorkCenter,clicking on the links in the pagelet will open them in the target pane.


WorkCenter Dashboard

A WorkCenter dashboard is an extension of the WorkCenter, where the starting page is a dashboard that can be used to display pagelets containing key decision support information that is relevant to the tasks performed when using the WorkCenter.  An example is the Contracts WorkCenter Dashboard delivered by PeopleSoft FSCM.


The PeopleSoft 9.2 Contracts WorkCenter gives contract administrators a tool to help them understand, prioritize, and execute their work significantly faster than ever before. The WorkCenter enables users to access various pages and keep multiple windows open while doing their daily work.

The Contracts dashboard is a collection of information summaries that enable users to monitor different objects and data. Multiple grids display various data, such as Top Five Contracts, Most Recent Contracts, and metrics. Users can select and edit required contracts from the Dashboard.

Wednesday Jan 25, 2012

Campus Solutions Tools Adoption Policy

We understand in release pattern of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, termed as 'Continuous Delivery Model' under which two functionality-rich packs are released each year - called Feature Packs.

Though functionalities will arrive on scheduled times, what about technology? How and when do one upgrade?

Lets talk of Campus Solutions Tools Adoption Policy:

Overview


PeopleTools releases occur approximately every twelve (12) months. Standard Support starts with “General Availability” (GA) and is in effect for each release until 12 months following the next release of PeopleTools, followed by an additional 12 months of Critical Patch Support; this means that each Tools release is supported for approximately 36 months.

Traditionally, PeopleSoft applications required customers to upgrade their PeopleTools (PT) version as part of a major application upgrade. In response to customer demand, Oracle made two significant changes:



  1. PeopleTools releases became backwards compatible to enable previous application releases to take advantage of new features and functions delivered with each new versions of PeopleTools.

  2. Campus Solutions (CS) adopted a “Continuous Delivery” model, built upon the 9.0 release, that delivers enhancements and new products without requiring the traditional major release upgrade.


You may want to have a look at Knowledge Document ID [1348959.1] for more information on PeopleTools Support Policy.

Campus Solutions continuous delivery model releases 2 bundles each year. Without major CS application releases forcing a common PeopleTools upgrade and baseline, CS Application Development needed to determine a point in time to start delivering enhancements to customers using new PT features.

Working with the HEUG Technical Advisory Group (TAG), the PeopleTools and Campus Solutions development teams have defined a PeopleTools adoption policy that provides reasonable options for customers to stay current on PT, while adopting new features in CS.


This new policy builds upon the Tools 8.50 minimum requirement for Campus Solutions that was instituted in July 2011. The policy basically states that Campus Solutions customers will need to proceed with a Tools upgrade no later than 24 months after a specific Tools release becomes generally available. This approach has some built in flexibility for customers, but also allows the CS product to incorporate, over time, new capabilities that are delivered in PeopleTools releases.

About

Mohit Satraj Phogat
Author: Mohit Phogat

This site focuses on Oracle's offerings to higher education in the Indian region. It intends to cover news, reviews, guides, how-to articles, descriptive videos, and podcasts on the trends which should be helpful to customers, prospects and developer community alike.

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