Thursday Jan 23, 2014

Mastering the Cost of Higher Education with Oracle Applications

There is a perfect storm going on in the world of Higher Education right now. Over the last few years, the cost of higher education has been outpacing the consumer price index.

Parents are starting to ask how and why this storm is happening. Well, both college endowments and state appropriations are either decreasing or stagnant, while university expenses and enrollments are increasing. Yet universities are being forced to keep tuition costs flat.

So how can Higher Education intuitions better understand and manage these issues?
We realize that Higher Education institutions might have good visibility into total operational costs and total revenue collected, but little or no visibility into individual program, degree and course costs, or the cost per student. Currently, colleges and universities have not implemented activity-based costing which is used in many commercial enterprises. Activity-based costing goes beyond the traditional allocation of overhead and provides institutions with better insight into information needed to make strategic decisions about cost containment and allocation of resources. With governing and regulatory bodies currently recommending (and likely soon requiring) this type of analysis and reporting, it is becoming critical for higher education institutions to have this type of insight for both long term and short term planning and reporting. 

So which institutional processes benefit the most from understanding costs more?
Budget and spending decisions need to be based on data and not assumptions. Financial ERP systems and the current structure of institutions’ charts of accounts are not set up to support the type of analysis needed. Using activity-based cost and revenue modeling enables academic institutions to answer crucial questions and, more importantly, analyze many business scenarios to determine their best courses of action.

However, for this type of process to be successful, collaboration between the academic and administrative teams in institutions is foundational and critical. These two groups need to start the discussion about how, and to what level, costs and revenues are to be allocated and which drivers are going to be used. This is the starting point to begin a good model. It is an iterative process and institutions will build upon this and create additional model scenarios as economic and academic conditions change.

So how can Oracle help?

To survive, Higher Education institutions need to either make programs financial sustainable, or ensure there are other programs that have enough surplus to make up for the deficit of programs.

Oracle can help with:

  • Transparency that enables institutions to ensure resources are aligned correctly based on actual measurable information
  • Understanding the true cost to implement new programs and the ability to make pricing decisions based on those costs
  • A thorough understanding of costs at a more granular level and the root cause of the costs. This information enables institutions to make informed decisions
  • Creating accountability that enables departments to understand the resources they consume as it relates to the revenue that they generating
  • Addressing concerns and questions from various stakeholders, e.g. CFO, Board of Trustees, State and other governing boards and accreditation bodies.
To stave off this perfect storm, it is imperative that our institutions now master the cost of Higher Education.

Friday May 11, 2012

'Workspaces' - A boon for institutions

With a PeopleTools 8.50 license, you are able to install and configure a PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal database to host collaborative services to be integrated with your PeopleSoft applications. Within the PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal you may use Collaborative Workspaces and any functionality that is delivered out of the box within a Collaborative Workspace. Specifically, this entitles you to use:

  • Thirteen workspace modules and associated pagelets: Wiki Content, Welcome, Discussions, Documents, Blogs, Links, Action Item Lists, Calendar, Members, Related Data, Polls, Browse Workspaces, Administration
  • Workspace branding
  • Workspace content as feeds
  • Workspace search
  • Workspace tagging
  • Integration with external email and calendar systems through delivered pagelets
  • Related links from and to PeopleSoft application pages and components
  • Related discussions from PeopleSoft application pages and components
  • Resource Finder within a workspace
  • Task and worklist integration through delivered pagelets

Though a list mentioned above is pretty much, but how does one actually take benefit from it?

So, this is what one of my customer is doing:

  • They have allowed the creation of workspace to faculties and student alike.
  • With this, students can create groups (sharing files and documents). Needless to say, the file size (< 4MB, etc.) and the format (only .doc, .xls, etc.) can be restricted here.
  • Similarly, faculty can create groups (and they have mapped groups to the classes they teach). So, if a faculty is teaching 4 courses in the session, he/she creates 4 workspaces and gives rights to all the student who are enrolled in his/her class. The benefits that are reaped could extend to assignment disbursement, assignment collection, calendar sharing, notices, announcements, alerts, faculty blog, etc. for that specific class/course.
  • The utility has also been extended to the administration/management where they collaborate over a workspaces and capture aspects like minutes of meetings,  policy documents, etc. over one place. A big expensive DMS (Document Management System) can be avoided for such simple needs.

Monday Feb 06, 2012

PeopleSoft Applications Portal 9.1 Feature Pack 1 Now available

Oracle Education Customers in India have always been benefited by PeopleSoft Applications Portal, earlier called PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal. Collaborative tools (blogging, discussion forums, online chat, workspaces), content management tools, and other portal features make this application a complete Portal offering.

With the first Feature Pack release now available, I thought of putting these to fore for the benefit of the community.

Overview


Oracle/PeopleSoft is happy to announce the first feature pack release of the PeopleSoft Applications Portal. This is the first release in the new continuous release model, which we believe will enable us to make new functionality and features available to customers faster. We also expect that the new features will be easier to uptake in more fine-grained packages. The release continues Oracle’s commitment to protecting and extending the value of PeopleSoft applications. It provides valuable enhancements that improve the productivity of end users, as well as improvements to help reduce the total cost of ownership. While the feature pack contains many enhancements, in this post we'll highlight the major enhancements, including the following:

  • Unified and seamless navigation
  • Content management
  • Collaboration
  • User Experience/PeopleTools uptake

In addition, there are some collaborative capabilities that are provided by the Applications Portal that will also be enhanced. These enhancements will extend beyond the use of the portal.

The English and Multi-Language CD recuts for the PeopleSoft Portal Solutions 9.1 Feature Pack 1 enhancements are now available on the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud (OSDC).  Physical CD shipments will be ready by January 30, 2012. Documentation updates are also complete and available on OSDC and My Oracle Support.

The recertified upgrade scripts are posted to My Oracle Support here:

PeopleSoft Portal Solutions 8.9 to 9.1 Feature Pack 1 Upgrade

PeopleSoft Portal Solutions 9.0 to 9.1 Feature Pack 1 Upgrade

The Feature Pack recut CD is intended for organizations that are implementing PeopleSoft Portal Solutions 9.1 newly, or are upgrading from an earlier release.  Feature pack enhancements and maintenance through PeopleSoft Portal Solutions 9.1 Maintenance Pack 1, and PeopleSoft Portal Solutions Bundle #6 are included in these recuts.

New Release Model


Instead of large Portal releases that occur every two or three years, Oracle-PeopleSoft is moving the Applications Portal to a new release model based on Feature Packs. Feature Packs are a new delivery mechanism supplementing the existing delivery mechanisms of bundles and maintenance packs.

Feature Packs will consist of a roll-up of new features and updates, and in addition, at the delivery of Feature Packs, Oracle will include the roll-up of capabilities and updates previously delivered in bundles and maintenance packs as well as re-certify upgrades and integrations.

Unified Navigation


Setting up the PeopleSoft Applications Portal for use with other PeopleSoft applications has been a manual process prior to Feature Pack 1 (FP1). For example, using Applications Portal to access PeopleSoft HCM and other application pages, an administrator sets up the node and registry entries for each CREF and assigns the security information manually. To automate this process in Applications Portal, we are providing a Workcenter specifically supporting Unified Navigation. The Workcenter will guide administrators through the process, and bring all the necessary pages together to streamline the process.  The Unified Navigation framework federates all PeopleSoft application nodes in one place so everything can be managed from Applications Portal. Unified Navigation supports systems using PeopleTools 8.50 and above.

Content Management


Content management is an important part of Applications Portal, and the following new features make it more useful and powerful:

  • Configurable WorkCenter for delivering and managing content
  • Securable portal content by business data
  • Update Content usage tracking

The content management WorkCenter offers the ability to more easily manage and consume content, and it also provides the ability to capture and display (in related content) additional contextual information such as ratings, tags, and discussions associated with any piece of content. This enriches the user experience by providing users with additional valuable collaborative information about the content they are viewing. The WorkCenter also makes it easier to navigate among published content items.

Collaboration


A few new features are included to facilitate collaboration and other Enterprise 2.0 activities. This includes improvements to Related Attachments and the calendar.

Related Attachments is a new feature provided by Portal’s Related Links service. This service can be used by any application using the Related Content Framework, enabling users to attach files to virtually any PeopleSoft page or component. The Related Links service is context-sensitive, so related attachments can be keyed to specific data on a page.

Calendars in Portal and Collaborative Workspaces will now support aggregating user tasks, worklist tasks, and action items. This brings all relevant time/date dependent events into a user’s calendar, making them easier to manage and act upon. This consolidated calendar streamlines user event management by enabling users to refer to a single calendar to manage their work.

User Experience - PeopleTools Uptake


Some of the enhancements that are extending the value of the PeopleSoft applications to customers include the following:

  • Authorization as a Service
  • Guidance on branding and creating a rich self-service user experience
  • Global Search

Additional and detailed information is available in my.oracle.support:

Configuring a Contemporary User Experience in PeopleSoft Applications Portal Red Paper (Doc ID 1399586.1)

Portal Solutions Cumulative Feature Overview Tool [ID 793160.1

PeopleSoft Applications Portal Solutions 9.1 Documentation Homepage (Doc ID 887960.1)

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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