Tuesday Jun 30, 2015

Top Technology Initiatives for Today’s Finance Professionals: Survey Results & Strategic PeopleSoft Alignment

Greetings PeopleSoft Strategy Blog Community.

Let’s begin with introductions…my name is Maria Pollieri and I am a bean counter.  I am the newest member of the PeopleSoft ESA Strategy Team, and key strategist for the PeopleSoft Project Costing, Proposal Management, Program Management, and Resource Management suite.  I stumbled my way into PeopleSoft back in the mid 1990s with then, a finance background in external auditing (PWC) and as a former assistant controller at a Swiss watch manufacturer (Movado).   I implemented PeopleSoft FSCM applications for 10 years, and most recently, spent 10 years solutioning PeopleSoft FSCM applications at Oracle.  

I will be blogging to share with you my passion around enabling the finance profession with technology.  Applying technology to streamline business processes for accountants is what I’m all about.  My posts will help finance professionals in articulating the value of a PeopleSoft investment to their executives, their day-to-day users, their technology partners and the entire Finance Ecosystem.  

Where do I begin?  That’s easy…let’s start with this year’s 25th Anniversary Issue of the  Top Technology Initiatives Survey published in  the AICPA’s Information Management and Technology Assurance Section’s annual whitepaper.   As a contributor, I am quite familiar with this whitepaper, and a few times a year, I present the findings to the CPA community as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP).  Thousands of CPA’s are requested to participate in this annual technology survey.  Accounting professionals identified security, managing data, ensuring privacy, and managing IT risks and compliance as their key IT priorities. 

How do the results of this survey relate to the PeopleSoft FSCM Community?  Let’s take a closer look...

Securing the IT Environment 
IT security is a topic that’s ‘bigger than a breadbox’ for CPAs.  It spans the physical realm, and through the layered virtual realm.  In the end, it’s still the finance professional that attests to the integrity of all financial data, and that will not change.  Finance owns the data, right?  
Let’s focus this thread with what I feel is the weakest link, the spreadsheet.  The strategic roadmap at PeopleSoft is focused on key design tenants simplifying employee self-service.    This includes embedded Pivot Grids to allow for native spreadsheet-like slice and dice features, real-time drag and drop operational results, and a layered Pivot Grid security model based upon query security, pivot grid model type security and pivot grid roles.  Why build operational reports by way of static, unsecure, vulnerable and latent spreadsheets?  PeopleSoft Pivot Grid results can be rendered via adaptive user interfaces that are optimized for nearly any mobile device and platform independent, to allow you to keep your data secure at all times.

Managing and Retaining Data
As the PeopleSoft customer community matures, volumes of data increase.  Not a problem.  Why?  The Oracle mantra is Hardware and Software:  Engineered to Work Together.   Built on Oracle Engineered Systems, Oracle PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery correlates structured and unstructured project data to enable organizations to answer complex questions at unprecedented speeds and serves up the insight via interactive dashboards targeted at the needs of project, program, and resource managers and executives.
Furthermore,  we overlaid large volumes of data by introducing  exception processing functionality a few years ago with the PeopleSoft Workcenter, and have been expanding its adoption, and capabilities ever since.  In the ESA/ALM suites, we now have configurable workcenters to manage grants, projects, staffing, contracts, resources, programs, expenses assets and maintenance. Systematic and dynamic query-based rules now alert managers, super-users, accountants and auditors to allow them to monitor unprocessed transaction activity previously requiring many additional steps to resolve.  The dashboard charts and grids allow for immediate visualization of workcenter tasks and work flows.  
To streamline back office processing we introduced the PeopleSoft Business Process Weaver (BPW) to allow for straight through execution in either parallel or in sequence as part of a lights-out business process.  
The PeopleSoft Data Archive Manager supports archiving of records with attachments, and the user interface has undergone a significant revision to make it easier for finance super users to navigate.

Ensuring Privacy
PeopleTools Pluggable Cryptography is an advanced security framework that provides a security model for applications to encrypt credit card data. The system encrypts data using 3DES algorithms and 168-bit encryption keys. Use of PeopleTools Pluggable Cryptography supports compliance with the cardholder data protection requirements of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard and with Visa's Cardholder Information Security Program (CISP).  PeopleSoft Expenses uses this feature to enhance credit card security by encrypting credit card information received into the PeopleSoft Expenses application.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) resides in a secure PeopleSoft HCM application, and is protected at rest and in transit, to be securely leveraged dynamically by the FSCM Approval Workflow Engine to route rules-based configurable approvals throughout all core transaction cycles.  
The PeopleSoft Integration Broker can be leveraged to expose PeopleSoft business logic as a web service to PeopleSoft and third party systems leveraging secure and standards web-based protocols.
Finally, the Oracle ecosystem fully supports PeopleSoft peripherally by way of Oracle Identity Management, Oracle Enterprise Manager, Oracle Database Vault, amongst others as complete solutions with embedded privacy features.

Managing IT Risks and Compliance
Every project is subject to risks that can lead to increased costs, delayed schedules, and increased resource requirements. Failure to manage these risks often arises from the inability to decide what to do, when to do it, and whether enough has been done.  Project Risk Management, a feature of PeopleSoft Program Management, addresses these challenges with the functionality to:
Identify risks that impact projects and document their characteristics.
Develop procedures and techniques to enhance opportunities and reduce threats to the project’s objectives.
Monitor residual risks, identify new risks, execute risk reduction plans, and evaluate their effectiveness throughout the project lifecycle.
Our customers can further reduce IT costs and enterprise-wide risk through increased visibility into the project portfolio by way of the PeopleSoft Program Management robust two-way integration with Oracle’s Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management
Let’s take a step back, and look at the bigger picture around risks and controls, since this topic is a key strategic focus area for PeopleSoft and Oracle at large.   For the past decade (since 9.0) we have been enhancing embedded controls within the PeopleSoft solution with GRC features to dramatically improve the period close, maximize cash / reduce liabilities, and increase control with transaction level security.   Oracle Governance, Risk and Compliance features set the standard for enterprise risk management, regulatory compliance, and effective controls enforcement;  Oracle GRC is also an integrated and key component of the end-to-end PS FSCM solution. The platform integrates documentation and process management, automated controls enforcement, and business intelligence to provide comprehensive capabilities for compliance and risk management requirements.

Interested in discussing this topic further?  Please reachout via maria.pollieri@oracle.com, or @Maria_Pollieri.  Have a nice day.

Wednesday Feb 04, 2015

Separating Billing and Revenue in Support of the New Revenue Accounting Standard

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) issued new revenue accounting standards in May 2014 with an effective date of 2017. PeopleSoft FSCM Update Image 10 includes enhancements to PeopleSoft Contracts and Project Costing to support customers in their transition to the new accounting standards.

Separating Billing and Revenue

Enhancements provide customers the option of defining prices for revenue separate from prices used for billing. With new Contracts functionality, customers can identify a total contract price for revenue and for billing and then allocate that price across contract line items. The price assigned to a contract line for revenue recognition may be different than the price of the line item for billing. In Project Costing, new revenue rate sets can identify rates and markups for revenue recognition that are different from the rates and markups used for billing and the related contract line limit for revenue recognition may be different from the billing limit. In addition, new attributes were added to the contract enabling customers to identify prime contracts from subcontracts and at the contract line level a new bundling attribute was added allowing customers to group related contract lines.

Exhibit 1: Separating Billing and Revenue on a Contract


The new revenue pricing functionality is additive. At the contract level, customers define if prices for billing and revenue should be maintained separately. Contracts that do not need separating pricing for revenue can continue using a single amount for both billing and revenue. Other PeopleSoft modules with existing automation to create contracts and recognize revenue, such as Pay/Bill Management and Grants, have the option of using the new functionality in the PeopleSoft Contracts and Projects modules.

Exhibit 2: Contract General Page

May Be Applied to Existing Contracts

After applying new functionality, most existing contracts will be identified as not having separate prices for billing and revenue as this was the case under prior versions. However, we expect customers will be reviewing their existing contract base for impact over a period of time and that some existing contracts will need to separately define revenue while others may not. The new functionality allows customers to update existing contracts to take advantage of new pricing functionality as that analysis occurs. Other contracts that are still being analyzed for impact can continue functioning as they did under prior versions until their review is complete.

Exhibit 3: New Revenue Allocation Page

Additional Information

For additional detail on the project and the enhancements included in PeopleSoft FSCM Update Image 10, customers can review the Oracle PeopleSoft Red Paper ‘Separating Revenue from Billing’ under My Oracle Support.

Monday Aug 18, 2014

PeopleSoft Grants & the Federal Agency Letter of Credit Draw Changes

For decades, most, if not all, US Federal agencies that sponsor research allowed grant recipients to request and receive payments using pooled accounts, commonly known as pooled letter of credit (LOC) draws. This enabled organizations, such as universities and hospitals, fast and efficient access to reimbursement of the expenditures they incurred conducting research across a portfolio of grants. To support this business practice, the PeopleSoft Grants solution has delivered an LOC Draw report to provide the total request amount along with all of the supporting invoice details for reconciliation and audit purposes.

Now, in an attempt to provide greater transparency, eliminate fraud, strengthen accountability for grant-related financial transactions, and simplify grant award closeout, many US Federal sponsors are transitioning from the “pooling” letter of credit draw method to requesting on a “grant-by-grant” basis. The National Science Foundation, the second largest issuer of Federal awards, already transitioned to detailed grant draws in 2013. And, in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) directive to HHS-supported Agencies, the largest Federal awards sponsor, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will fully transition to the new HHS subaccount draw method. This will require NIH award recipients to request payments based on actual expenses incurred on an award-by-award basis. NIH is expected to fully transition to this new draw method by the end of Federal fiscal year 2015.  (The NIH had planned to fully transition to this new method by the end of fiscal 2014; however, the impact to institutions was deemed to be significant enough that a reprieve was recently granted.)

In light of these new Federal draw requirements, we have recently released these new features to aid our customers on both PeopleSoft Grants releases 9.1 and 9.2:
1. Federal Award Identification Number on the Proposal and Award Profile
2. Letter of credit fields on contract lines to support award basis draws and comply with Federal close out mandates
3. Process to produce both pro forma and final LOC Draw Reports in BI Publisher report format
4. Subacccount ID field on the LOC Summary and a new BI Publisher version of the LOC Summary report
5. Added Subaccount Field and contract info to be displayed on the LOC summary page
6. Ability to generate by a variety of dimensions pro forma and invoiced draw listings
7. Queries for generation and manipulation of data to upload into sponsor payment request systems and perform payment matching
8. Contracts LOC Close Out query to quickly review final balances prior to initiating final draws and preparing Federal Financial Reports prior to close

The PeopleSoft Development team actively monitors this and other major Federal changes and continues working closely with the Grants Product Advisory Group of the Higher Education User Group to ensure a clear understanding of what our customers need in order to transition to new approaches for doing business with the Federal government.

For more information regarding the enhancements to the PeopleSoft Grants solution, existing customers can login to My Oracle Support and review the Enhancements to Letter of Credit Process (Doc ID 1912692.1) associated with resolution ID 904830. This enhanced LOC functionality is available in both PeopleSoft FSCM 9.1 Bundle #31 and PeopleSoft FSCM 9.2 Update Image 8.

Monday Jun 02, 2014

Cool Tools You Can Use: Validation Templates for PeopleSoft Contracts Processes

This is the first in a series of postings we’ll be making under the heading of Cool Tools You Can Use. Our PeopleSoft product management team identified the need for this series after reflecting on the many conversations we have each year with our PeopleSoft community members. During these conversations, we were discovering that customers and implementation partners were often not aware that solutions exist to the problems they were trying to address and that the solutions were readily available at no additional charge. Thus, the Cool Tools You Can Use series will describe the business challenge we’ve heard, the PeopleSoft solution to the challenge, and how you can learn more about the solution so that everyone can be sure to make full use of what PeopleSoft applications have to offer.

The first cool tool we’ll look at is the Validation Template for PeopleSoft Contracts Process Requests, which was first released in December 2013 as part of PeopleSoft Contracts 9.2 Update Image 4.

The business issue our customers highlighted to us is the need to tightly control but easily configure and manage the scope of data that any user can process when initiating a process. Control of each user’s span of impact is essential to reducing billing reconciliation issues, passing span of authority audits, and reducing (or even eliminating) the frequency of unexpected process results. 

Setting Up the Validation Template for a PeopleSoft Contracts Process

With the validation template, organizations can easily and quickly ensure the software restricts the scope of transactions a user can affect and gives organizations the confidence to know that business processes are being governed effectively. Additionally, this control of PeopleSoft Contracts process requests can be applied and easily maintained and adjusted from a web browser thereby enabling analysts to administer the rules without having to engage software developers to customize the software.

During the field validation template setup, an analyst specifies the combinations of fields that must contain values when a user tries to setup a run control and initiate a PeopleSoft Contracts process from a process request page. For example, for the Process Limits component, an organization could require that users enter a valid combination of values for the business unit, contract, and contract type fields or a value in the contract administrator field. Until the user enters a valid combination of entries on the process request page, he cannot launch the process.

With the validation template activated for process request pages, organizations can be confident that PeopleSoft Contracts users will not accidentally begin generating invoices or triggering other revenue management processes for transactions beyond their scope of authority.

To learn more about the Validation Template, please review the Defining Validation Templates section of the PeopleSoft Contracts PeopleBooks. 

Wednesday Mar 26, 2014

Can PeopleSoft Projects' Funds Distribution Capabilities Help Your Organization?

In the past four months, several Public Sector entities have asked us whether the PeopleSoft Projects (ESA) applications can help them in this age of increased accountability and scrutiny. As we conversed about the challenges of tracking money provided by multiple appropriations, it very quickly became apparent that many of these Public Sector customers and prospective customers were not aware of the vast PeopleSoft fund management capabilities they either already owned and had not yet deployed or could implement as part of their PeopleSoft Financials solution.

If you work for an entity that taps multiple sources of funding for its projects, please keep reading to learn whether the PeopleSoft Projects suite's Multiple Funds Distribution (MFD) can help you accomplish more.

Who needs MFD?  Organizations that invoice and receive payment from one or more other entities to fund their projects are likely to benefit from MFD. Some examples of organizations that use MFD are metro area transit agencies and state highway departments of transportation, which typically pay for their capital projects with funds from Federal agencies (e.g., the Federal Highway Administration), state agency appropriations, and their own capital budgets. Beyond transportation-oriented organizations, MFD can be utilized by public school districts, hospitals and medical schools affiliated with public universities, non-profit agencies, and any other type of organization that has its mission funded by one or more appropriations. (Even a commercial enterprise that has its projects funded by multiple customers can benefit from MFD.)

What is Multiple Funds Distribution?  MFD is a major feature contained in the PeopleSoft Project Costing application. In short, the MFD feature contains a framework for you to setup rules that will dictate how a project is going to pay for each transaction it incurs and a process that applies those rules to incoming transactions. As your organization executes the project, the MFD feature works with other major functions in PeopleSoft Project Costing, such as Pricing Engine, Limits Processor, Accounting Rules, and more, to ensure that each cost booked to the project is distributed to the proper funding source. There is a great deal of flexibility in MFD's rules enabling you to effective date them, set thresholds after which the participation rates change, copy rules from one project activity to another, and simplify the accounting required for projects with complex funding agreements.

Why is MFD in the PeopleSoft suite?  We built this feature, because a large percentage of our PeopleSoft Financials applications customers are Public Sector entities, such as state and local governments and agencies, universities, and healthcare providers, whose mission is funded by multiple external parties.

When was MFD released?  We made MFD generally available in the 9.1 release of PeopleSoft Financials Supply Chain Management, and since its initial release, we have enhanced it to simplify the administration of rules based on feedback from customers who have implemented and use MFD.

Where and how can I find this feature?  If you implement or upgrade to either the 9.1 or 9.2 release of PeopleSoft Financials Supply Chain Management, you will have the ability to activate the MFD feature in PeopleSoft Project Costing.

Monday Sep 23, 2013

PeopleSoft Mobile Time Entry now available in FSCM

Oracle is pleased to announce the release of PeopleSoft Mobile Time Entry, part of the PeopleSoft Expenses application, which is now generally available in PeopleSoft FSCM 9.1.

PeopleSoft Mobile Time Entry provides the ability to enter time sheets quickly and easily for project-based resources on the go. The contemporary, streamlined user interface is optimized for mobile devices (that support HTML5), such as tablets and smartphones. It provides a simple-to-use tool for capturing and submitting both project-based time and non-project time, such as vacation and training. Time reporters can even adjust their timesheets for prior periods, managers can approve timesheets, and more.

Now your project resources, whether they are traveling consultants, field technicians, or anyone else booking time to projects and activities, can enter time right from their phone. Giving users the ability to record time when and where they are actually expending their effort can not only increase the accuracy of the time reports, but also accelerate the process of converting time into cash for your enterprise. The faster and more accurately time is captured, the sooner your organization can account for it and invoice for it, and that can lead to better cash flow, more up-to-date information on project progress, and better decision making.

Combining PeopleSoft Mobile Time Entry with PeopleSoft Mobile Expenses and Mobile Approvals, the PeopleSoft Mobile Applications suite expands its ability to accelerate time and expense capture and increase data accuracy. With the new Mobile capabilities, travelers can increase efficiency by recording their time and expense when they are incurred rather than waiting until arriving back home or to the office.

For more information, please watch the PeopleSoft Mobile Time Entry Video Feature Overview (VFO) available on YouTube or contact your application sales representative.

The PeopleSoft Mobile Time Entry 9.1 documentation update is available under MOS Document ID 1583166.1.

Tuesday Aug 27, 2013

Announcing the General Availability of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery – The Key to Tapping the Potential of Unstructured Data

We recently launched a new analytical application focused on enabling project-driven organizations to answer complex questions that until now were all but impossible to address even with the latest business intelligence tools and technologies.

The new application, called PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery, is a true example of an Oracle Engineered System in that we have architected a business solution that takes advantage of the latest Oracle Middleware and Hardware to accomplish something that would otherwise be too complex, expensive, and risky for almost any other organization to attempt to build on its own. By leveraging Oracle’s Endeca Information Discovery business intelligence technology and Oracle’s Exalytics hardware for high-performance analysis, we have built a dashboard-focused interface over the PeopleSoft Projects suite to give project-oriented executives and managers the ability to correlate structured project and resource data with associated unstructured data. Okay, I know: that sounds rather mundane. So, to illustrate why this is “much more than just another BI dashboard,” let’s take a look at an example.

Imagine that you are the Vice President of facilities at a multi-campus university, and you read in the morning news that one of the subcontractors performing work for the school has been charged with defrauding customers by installing defective fire suppression systems. You know there have been a number of these systems installed throughout the university’s buildings, but unless you have your staff manually read through every project-related contract entered during the past three years, you literally have no way of knowing which projects might have exposure to these defective systems, how much was spent on these systems, and when they were installed. This situation leaves your university exposed to significant legal, financial, and safety risks every day until it is remediated. The inability to relate unstructured data (such as clauses in your contracts, text in your contract attachments, and so on) to volumes of structured data (such as project locations, project financial figures, purchase orders, and so on) is the barrier to eliminating these risks.

Untapped Potential...Unstructured Project and Resource Data

Figure 1. The Untapped Potential:  Correlating Unstructured Project and Resource Data with Structured, Transaction Data

With the power of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery, however, you can mine project artifacts and deliver answers to your complex problem in seconds. By typing a few keywords into PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery, you can learn where the defective systems were implemented and eliminate the costs that the university would otherwise incur for staff or temporary workers to pore over text related to your projects and could immediately mitigate the legal, financial, and safety risks associated with the subcontractor’s work. You could identify for the university all of the exposure to the defective fire suppression systems, draw up and institute remediation plans within hours, and immediately begin implementation of the plans to eliminate the risks. Pretty remarkable, wouldn’t you say? (Note that this scenario is just one example of what the application can do. There are many other high-impact scenarios to which you can apply the tool, such as using it to drive more profitable staffing decisions in a professional services organization. The whitepaper listed below can help you learn more about other scenarios.)

You can think of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery as a tool that enables you to unlock the value trapped in unstructured project and resource data, visualize that project and resource data as actionable information, and tighten your project financial controls at unprecedented speeds. It offers the ability to analyze project and resource transaction data based on data stored in related documents and other unstructured formats. A user types keywords, and the application immediately treats those keywords it finds in documents as reporting dimensions by which you can filter your project and resource information. The application also provides you the ability to view project and resource metrics changing in real-time as structured and unstructured data filters are applied and you close in on the answers you need to make informed decisions. The PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery dashboards come with pre-configured alerts (which you can personalize) for key exceptions, such as budget overages, to draw your attention to important issues before they become problems and enables you to save sets of filters which you may want to apply to your data on a recurring basis.

A View of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery's Project Financial Dashboard

Figure 2. PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery to Correlate Your Unstructured Projects Content with Your Project Transaction Data 

As of today, PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery taps into data residing in PeopleSoft Project Costing, PeopleSoft Resource Management, and PeopleSoft Program Management. If you’d like to learn more about the application and how it can not only help you answer perplexing questions but also give you a strategic advantage to drive more profitable operations, please take a look at the whitepaper, video feature overview, press release, and datasheet; contact your Oracle Application Sales Manager; or contact us by emailing Roxanne.Johnson@oracle.com or Mark.Rosenberg@oracle.com.

Monday Apr 29, 2013

10 Innovations in PeopleSoft 9.2 - #6 Industry-Focused Analytics & Tools for PeopleSoft Projects (ESA)

PeopleSoft ESA delivers unique industry support for staffing, higher education, healthcare, research grants, public sector appropriations, professional services, government contracting, and more. Release 9.2 re-confirms our commitment to the industries that rely on our products.

Many of the key 9.2 features have been built through hands-on collaboration with customers. For a number of these highly complex features, we even sent our developers to customer sites to work through requirements, designs, development, and testing. In addition, participation in customer and partner testing was exceptional, resulting in delivery of deep use case coverage that was rigorously vetted by your industry peers. Adopting features designed in this manner can dramatically reduce your deployment challenges and risks, because people like you, who work with these features every day, aggressively exercised the functionality before it was released.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of what you can get out of PeopleSoft Projects 9.2.

For Higher Education, Research, Healthcare and Public Sector, users gain a number of new tools and enhanced accounting processes to easily view and manage budgets, spending, and adjustments for both sponsored and non-sponsored projects.  Based on configurable security parameters and enhancements to the Principal Investigator (PI) Grants Portal; PIs, researchers, and accounting staff can acquire immediate insight into key financial information at a granular level in order to make informed spending and project staffing decisions. Staff can quickly access important details, such as all of a PI’s related awards and projects, credits, rebills, adjustment period transactions, and project transfers, and they can improve their ability to manage their fiscal responsibilities. To support legislative, regulatory, and institutional analysis and reporting needs, institutions can configure (without having to customize) industry-specific data fields by utilizing the PeopleSoft Supplemental Data Framework which has been extended to awards and projects. Also, requesters, buyers, and accounting staff can reduce the administrative effort required to track and capitalize equipment costs. They can take advantage of the new Procurement Group feature, which enables grouping of requisition and purchase order lines that correspond to a single asset. And, PeopleSoft 9.2 also offers the ability to control how to allocate credit vouchers across assets that may have been purchased as a group. These new accounting-related features offer a simplified process for tracking capital projects that is very common among these industries.

Professional Services and Government Contracting firms will find powerful new pricing and expense management features to be very useful in addressing the complexities of global contracts, provisional rates, and enforcement of travel and expense policies across a disparate workforce. The new Custom Rates capability enables pricing administrators to dynamically configure contract and project rate sheets by up to 5 dimensions of their choosing. For instance, you could identify cost and bill rates by source type and vendor; jobcode and department; or fund, role, department, and region and know that the software will price, bill, and recognize revenue accordingly. Financial analysts and contract administrators can apply retroactive rate adjustments, account for finalization of provisional rates, and correct rate errors quickly and easily with Variance Pricing. What used to be a complex recalculation requiring a great deal of attention from accountants is now an intuitive online mass update that can process tremendous volumes of changes rapidly and thereby ensure timely, accurate project financials. On the expense management side, finance departments can configure global per diem business rules to handle the unique reimbursement methodologies and deductions found around the world, and every user can power through expense report entry faster with a new, streamlined expense reporting page.

For the Staffing Industry, branch teams and individual recruiters can manage their clients, candidates, orders, and assignments through a client-specific, fully integrated on-boarding process. Whether you are a manager, a team member, or an individual recruiter, you can proactively manage critical accounts, orders, and high-value candidates and address the need for speed with actionable, user-configurable dashboards, alerts, and analytics. You can drive business processes faster, increase revenue, and offer an unparalleled level of customer satisfaction by seeing the data you need to see, the way you want to see it and take action on it immediately from a single location. It has never been easier to drive profitability with rapid, high-quality order fulfillment.

As you can see, a rich feature set targeted for the unique demands of our customers’ industries is available with PeopleSoft ESA 9.2. Beyond what we have described here, there are many other new capabilities for other industries, and regardless of your industry, you will find that we have exploited the latest PeopleTools technologies, such as WorkCenters, Pivot Grids, and Related Actions, to help simplify every user’s experience when interacting with the applications.  With PeopleSoft Projects 9.2, you can see what you need to see, the way you need to see it, when you need it. Take a look at 9.2…we think you’ll like it.

Monday Dec 10, 2012

Quantifying the Value Derived from Your PeopleSoft Implementation

As product strategists, we often receive the question, "What's the value of implementing your PeopleSoft software?" Prospective customers and existing customers alike are compelled to justify the cost of new tools, business process changes, and the business impact associated with adopting the new tools.

In response to this question, we have been working with many of our customers and implementation partners during the past year to obtain metrics that demonstrate the value obtained from an investment in PeopleSoft applications. The great news is that as a result of our quest to identify value achieved, many of our customers began to monitor their businesses differently and more aggressively than in the past, and a number of them informed us that they have some great achievements to share.

For this month, I'll start by pointing out that we have collaborated with one of our implementation partners, Huron Consulting Group, Inc., to articulate the levers for extracting value from implementing the PeopleSoft Grants solution. Typically, education and research institutions, healthcare organizations, and non-profit organizations are the types of enterprises that seek to facilitate and automate research administration business processes with the PeopleSoft Grants solution. If you are interested in understanding the ways in which you can look for value from an implementation, please consider registering for the webcast scheduled for Friday, December 14th at 1pm Central Time in which you'll get to see and hear from our team, Huron Consulting, and one of our leading customers.

In the months ahead, we'll plan to post more information about the value customers have measured and reported to us from their implementations and upgrades.

If you have a great story about return on investment and want to share it, please contact either Roxanne.Johnson@oracle.com  or Mark.Rosenberg@oracle.com. We'd love to hear from you.

Monday Oct 29, 2012

Oracle Consulting North America is now live on PeopleSoft Services Procurement and PeopleSoft Resource Management

Last month, Oracle's own internal consulting group (OCS North America) went live on PeopleSoft Services Procurement and PeopleSoft Resource Management to manage all aspects of identifying, recruiting, and deploying billable subcontractors on North America Applications customer consulting projects. The primary goals were to enhance the subcontractor staffing process, improve operational and informational processes, and improve collaboration between the Oracle NA Consulting Subcontractor Program and subcontractor suppliers.

Over 200 registered external suppliers access the tool, review open needs and competitively bid their resources to work on NA Applications projects.

This implementation highlights the usage of Oracle’s own solutions to streamline and enhance business operations, as the PeopleSoft 9.1 applications (Services Procurement and Resource Management) were deployed using Sun hardware, Oracle Enterprise Linux, and Oracle Virtual Machines.

For more information, please navigate to the following web pages:

Thursday Jun 14, 2012

PeopleSoft Upgrades, Fusion, & BI for Leading European PeopleSoft Applications Customers

With so many industry-leading services firms around the globe managing their businesses with PeopleSoft, it’s always an adventure setting up times and meetings for us to keep in touch with them, especially those outside of North America who often do not get to join us at Oracle OpenWorld. Fortunately, during the first two weeks of May, Nigel Woodland (Oracle’s Service Industries Director for the EMEA region) and I successfully blocked off our calendars to visit seven different customers spanning four countries in Western Europe. We met executives and leaders at four Staffing industry firms, two Professional Services firms that engage in consulting and auditing, and a Financial Services firm.

As we shared the latest information regarding product capabilities and plans, we also gained valuable insight into the hot technology topics facing these businesses. What we heard was both informative and inspiring, and I suspect other Oracle PeopleSoft applications customers can benefit from one or more of the following observations from our trip.

Great IT Plans Get Executed When You Respect the Users

Each of our visits followed roughly the same pattern. After introductions, Nigel outlined Oracle’s product and technology strategy, including a discussion of how we at Oracle invest in each layer of the “technology stack” to provide customers with unprecedented business management capabilities and choice. Then, I provided the specifics of the PeopleSoft product line’s investment strategy, detailing the dramatic number of rich usability and functionality enhancements added to release 9.1 since its general availability in 2009 and the game-changing capabilities slated for 9.2.

What was most exciting about each of these discussions was that shortly after my talking about what customers can do with release 9.1 right now to drive up user productivity and satisfaction, I saw the wheels turning in the minds of our audiences. Business analyst and end user-configurable tools and technologies, such as WorkCenters and the Related Action Framework, that provide the ability to tailor a “central command center” to the exact needs of each recruiter, biller, and every other role in the organization were exactly what each of our customers had been looking for. Every one of our audiences agreed that these tools which demonstrate a respect for the user would finally help IT pole vault over the wall of resistance that users had often raised in the past. With these new user-focused capabilities, IT is positioned to definitively partner with the business, instead of drag the business along, to unlock the value of their investment in PeopleSoft.

This topic of respecting the user emerged during our very first visit, which was at Vital Services Group at their Head Office “The Mill” in Manchester, England. (If you are a student of architecture and are ever in Manchester, you should stop in to see this amazingly renovated old mill building.) I had just finished explaining our PeopleSoft 9.2 roadmap, and Mike Code, PeopleSoft Systems Manager for this innovative staffing company, said, “Mark, the new features you’ve shown us in 9.1/9.2 are very relevant to our business. As we forge ahead with the 9.1 upgrade, the ability to configure a targeted user interface with WorkCenters, Related Actions, Pivot Grids, and Alerts will enable us to satisfy the business that this upgrade is for them and will deliver tangible benefits. In fact, you’ve highlighted that we need to start talking to the business to keep up the momentum to start reviewing the 9.2 upgrade after we get to 9.1, because as much as 9.1 and PeopleTools 8.52 offers, what you’ve shown us for 9.2 is what we’ve envisioned was ultimately possible with our investment in PeopleSoft applications.”

We also received valuable feedback about our investment for the Staffing industry when we visited with Hans Wanders, CIO of Randstad (the second largest Staffing company in the world) in the Netherlands. After our visit, Hans noted, “It was very interesting to see how the PeopleSoft applications have developed. I was truly impressed by many of the new developments.”

Hans and Mike, sincere thanks for the validation that our team’s hard work and dedication to “respecting the users” is worth the effort!

Co-existence of PeopleSoft and Fusion Applications Just Makes Sense

As a “product person,” one of the most rewarding things about visiting customers is that they actually want to talk to me. Sometimes, they want to discuss a product area that we need to enhance; other times, they are interested in learning how to extract more value from their applications; and still others, they want to tell me how they are using the applications to drive real value for the business.

During this trip, I was very pleased to hear that several of our customers not only thought the co-existence of Fusion applications alongside PeopleSoft applications made sense in theory, but also that they were aggressively looking at how to deploy one or more Fusion applications alongside their PeopleSoft HCM and FSCM applications.

The most common deployment plan in the works by three of the organizations is to upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.1 or 9.2, and then adopt one of the new Fusion HCM applications, such as Fusion Performance Management or the full suite of  Fusion Talent Management. For example, during an applications upgrade planning discussion with the staffing company Hays plc., Mark Thomas, who is Hays’ UK IT Director, commented, “We are very excited about where we can go with the latest versions of the PeopleSoft applications in conjunction with Fusion Talent Management.”

Needless to say, this news was very encouraging, because it reiterated that our applications investment strategy makes good business sense for our customers.

Next Generation Business Intelligence Is the Key to the Future

The third, and perhaps most exciting, lesson I learned during this journey is that our audiences already know that the latest generation of Business Intelligence technologies will be the “secret sauce” for organizations to transform business in radical ways.

While a number of the organizations we visited on the trip have deployed or are deploying Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition and the associated analytics applications to provide dashboards of easy-to-understand, user-configurable metrics that help optimize business performance according to current operating procedures, what’s most exciting to them is being able to use Business Intelligence to change the way an organization does business, grows revenue, and makes a profit. In particular, several executives we met asked whether we can help them minimize the need to have perfectly structured data and at the same time generate analytics that improve order fulfillment decision-making. To them, the path to future growth lies in having the ability to analyze unstructured data rapidly and intuitively and leveraging technology’s ability to detect patterns that a human cannot reasonably be expected to see.

For illustrative purposes, here is a good example of a business problem where analyzing a combination of structured and unstructured data can produce better results. If you have a resource manager trying to decide which person would be the best fit for an assignment in terms of ensuring (a) client satisfaction, (b) the individual’s satisfaction with the work, (c) least travel distance, and (d) highest margin, you traditionally compare resource qualifications to assignment needs, calculate margins on past work with the client, and measure distances. To perform these comparisons, you are likely to need the organization to have profiles setup, people ranked against profiles, margin targets setup, margins measured, distances setup, distances measured, and more. As you can imagine, this requires organizations to plan and implement data setup, capture, and quality management initiatives to ensure that dependable information is available to support resourcing analysis and decisions.

In the fast-paced, tight-budget world in which most organizations operate today, the effort and discipline required to maintain high-quality, structured data like those described in the above example are certainly not desirable and in some cases are not feasible.

You can imagine how intrigued our audiences were when I informed them that we are ready to help them analyze volumes of unstructured data, detect trends, and produce recommendations. Our discussions delved into examples of how the firms could leverage Oracle’s Secure Enterprise Search and Endeca technologies to keyword search against, compare, and learn from unstructured resource and assignment data. We also considered examples of how they could employ Oracle Real-Time Decisions to generate statistically significant recommendations based on similar resourcing scenarios that have produced the desired satisfaction and profit margin results.


Although I had almost no time for sight-seeing during this trip to Europe, I have to say that it may have been one of the most energizing and engaging trips of my career. Showing these dedicated customers how they can give every user a uniquely tailored set of tools and address business problems in ways that have to date been impossible made the journey across the Atlantic more than worth it. If any of these three topics intrigue you, I’d recommend you contact your Oracle applications representative to arrange for more detailed discussions with the appropriate members of our organization.

Saturday Apr 14, 2012

The Next Wave of PeopleSoft Capabilities for the Staffing Industry Is Here

With the release of PeopleSoft Financials and Supply Chain Management 9.1 Feature Pack 2 in January this year, we introduced substantial new capabilities for our Staffing Industry customers. Through a co-development project with Infosys Limited, we have enriched Oracle's PeopleSoft Staffing Solution with new tools aimed at accelerating and improving the quality of job order fulfillment, increasing branch recruiter productivity, and driving profitable growth.

Staffing industry firms succeed based on their ability to rapidly, cost-effectively, and continually fill their pipelines with new clients and job orders, recruit the best talent, and match orders with talent. Pressure to execute in each of these functional areas is even more acute on staffing firms as contingent labor becomes a more substantial and permanent part of the workforce mix. In an industry that creates value through speedy execution, there is little room for manual, inefficient processes and brittle, custom integrations, which throttle profitability and growth. The latest wave of investment in the PeopleSoft Staffing Solution focuses on generating efficiency and flexibility for our customers.


To operate profitably and continue growing, a Staffing enterprise needs its client management, recruiting, order fulfillment, and other processes to function in harmony. Most importantly, they need to be simple for recruiters, branch managers, and applicants to access and understand. The latest PeopleSoft Staffing Solution set of enhancements includes numerous automated defaulting mechanisms and information-rich dashboard pagelets that even a new employee can learn quickly. Pending Applicant, Agenda management, Search, and other pagelets are just a few of the newest, easy-to-use tools that not only aggregate and summarize information, but also provide instant access to applicants, tasks, and key reports for branch staff.


The leading firms in the Staffing industry are those that can more efficiently orchestrate large numbers of candidates, clients, and orders than their competitors can. PeopleSoft Financials and Supply Chain Management 9.1 Feature Pack 2 delivers productivity boosters that Staffing firms can leverage to streamline tasks and processes for competitive advantage. For example, we enhanced the Recruiting Funnel, which manages the candidate on-boarding process, with a highly interactive user interface. It integrates disparate Staffing business processes and exploits new PeopleTools technologies to offer a superior on-boarding user experience. Automated creation of agenda items and assignment tasks for each candidate minimizes setup and organizes assignment steps for the on-boarding process. Mass updates of tasks and instant access to the candidate overview page (which we also expanded), candidate event status, event counts, and other key data enable recruiters to better serve clients and candidates.

Lower TCO

Constructing and maintaining an efficient yet flexible labor supply chain can be complicated, let alone expensive. Traditionally, Staffing firms have been challenged in controlling their technology cost of ownership because connecting candidate and client-facing tools involved building and integrating custom applications and technologies and managing staff turnover, placing heavy demands on IT and support staff. With PeopleSoft Financials and Supply Chain Management 9.1 Feature Pack 2, there are two major enhancements that aggressively tackle these challenges. First, we added another integration framework to enable cost-effective linking of the Staffing firm’s PeopleSoft applications and its job board distributors. (The first PeopleSoft 9.1 Feature Pack released in March 2011 delivered an integration framework to connect to resume parsing providers.) Second, we introduced the teaming concept to enable work to be partitioned to groups, as well as individuals. These two capabilities, combined with a host of others, position Staffing firms to configure and grow their businesses without growing their IT and overhead expenditures.

For our Staffing Industry customers, PeopleSoft Financials and Supply Chain Management 9.1 Feature Pack 2 is loaded with high-value tools aimed at enabling and sustaining a flexible labor supply chain. For more information, contact Howard.Shaw@oracle.com or Mark.Rosenberg@oracle.com.

Monday Feb 06, 2012

New Workbench to Simplify Revenue Contract Management

Easy access to a wide variety of contract elements is essential when trying to handle the complexities inherent in managing revenue contracts. A contract administrator needs to keep a watchful eye on contract terms, billing plans, revenue recognition plans, project progress, team members, limits, withholdings, budgets, lots and lots of dates, and numerous other details in order to ensure good governance of an organization’s revenue. To ease the burden of the weary contract administrator, we recently added the Contracts Workbench to the PeopleSoft Contracts application in the PeopleSoft ESA 9.1 Bundle #16.

Designed based on requirements from several industries, the Contracts Workbench acts as a window into information from the PeopleSoft Contracts, Grants, and Project Costing applications. The data users see is dependent on which applications are installed, meaning that an organization can take advantage of the Contracts Workbench even if it is not using all three of the applications. Additionally, business analysts and users can configure sections of the Contracts Workbench to display only the award, contract, and project information relevant to the way their organization does business. Contract administrators and accountants can view and access information to identify instantly the need for adjustments, and they can quickly update contract lines, projects, bill plans, and so on.

Because it provides a great deal of contextual information, the Contracts Workbench can be a powerful tool for administrators and accountants in their quest to make more informed decisions when working a contract. With the context and the configurable aggregation of data offered by the Contracts Workbench, users can reduce the time they spend navigating software and comparing data and increase the time they dedicate to preventing revenue leakage, negotiating with customers, and performing other activities that protect and grow the all-important revenue stream.

Sunday Jan 22, 2012

New Features Added to PeopleSoft Expenses 9.1 Aid Usability and Compliance

We have just added two important new features to PeopleSoft Expenses 9.1 to simplify the user experience, as well as improve the capture of supporting documentation that may be required for reimbursement of expenses.

Embedded Help

PeopleTools 8.51 provides new capabilities for Embedded Help, which enables PeopleSoft Expenses to provide additional assistance to users entering expense reports, managing credit card feed and Oracle iReceipts transactions in My Wallet, and more.

Embedded Help question mark icons will be placed strategically throughout the user interface and are dynamically linked to popup windows that provide additional guidance directly related to the task the user is trying to perform.

New Embedded Help assistive text is delivered within the PeopleSoft Message Catalog, which means customers can tailor the content easily and quickly, without having to customize the software. As an example, a customer may change the Embedded Help text to inform employees of organizational expense policies.

File Attachments

Transaction receipt files can be attached (at both the header and line levels) directly within the expense report. This capability leverages standard PeopleTools file attachment functionality, allowing users to scan receipts and attach the images directly to their reports for manager and/or auditor review.

Whether users will be allowed to attach receipts (or any other files) at the expense report header, line level, or both, is configurable. Some organizations may choose to utilize only header-level attachments so that all receipts can be uploaded at once. Others may want to require the attachment of receipts at the expense report line level and thereby make it easier for managers to correlate a receipt to a given expense report line item. Optionally, organizations can permit attachments at both the expense report header and line level for maximum flexibility.

The attachment of the receipts can also be configured to trigger the “Receipts Received” status flags, further assisting the automation of the receipts verification process.

With these simple, but powerful additions to PeopleSoft Expenses, organizations can improve the quality and timeliness of their expense reports. Streamlining the reporting and processing of expenses means an organization can reduce the time employees, managers, and auditors spend on low-value administrative tasks; and from our own experience, we’re pretty sure no one will complain about spending less time working on expense reports.

Tuesday Jan 03, 2012

Extend Business Processes with New PeopleSoft Forms and Approval Builder Capabilities

Released in early 2011, PeopleSoft Forms and Approval Builder is a tool for business analysts to develop and deploy electronic forms that facilitate and extend organizations’ business processes. Forms and Approval Builder enables the replacement of paper and email-based forms with auditable, electronically approvable transactions that look and act like a PeopleSoft application page. In PeopleSoft Enterprise Components 9.1 Bundle #2 2011, you will find several new Forms and Approval Builder capabilities that help you quickly and inexpensively tailor business processes.

Copy Form Data to an Existing PeopleSoft Transaction via the Component Interface Field Mapper

To seamlessly copy data from a form to an existing PeopleSoft transaction and thereby eliminate dual data entry, Forms and Approval Builder now offers you the option to map fields within a form to PeopleSoft Component Interface Properties. This feature is designed to streamline and tailor transaction flows. For example, you could use this feature to provide salespeople a form for submitting essential new deal information to the contract administration team. After receiving a completed form from the sales team, a contract administrator could review the form and push a button to automatically populate data fields in the existing PeopleSoft Contracts contract entry component with values from the form. In most organizations there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other opportunities to extend business processes with the Forms and Approval Builder.

Taking advantage of this new capability simply requires an analyst, who has some familiarity with PeopleSoft Component Interfaces, to use the new facility in Forms and Approval Builder to map a form’s fields to fields in one or more existing Component Interfaces.

Insert Form Section Rules, Headers, and Images.

Form usability is further enhanced with the new Section field Use Type, which provides you with an HTML editor to enable the creation of form section rules, section headers, and images. You can now guide your users through completing each section of the form by entering inline headers and instructions.

Simplifying Navigation of a Form with the use of Form Headers and Form Sections

Utilize the new Dynamic Prompting Capabilities.

When people enter appropriate data on a form, everyone’s life is easier. Improving the quality of what people enter often involves being able to limit the options for a prompt field based upon a selection made in a previous field. Well, Forms and Approval Builder has been enhanced with support for dynamic prompting, which allows you to control the data that appears in a prompt based upon the selection of other text, code, or prompt field values.

For example, if a user selects a business unit from a prompt on one of your custom forms, you can limit the Project IDs shown in the next prompt to only those within the selected Business Unit. Then, you can limit the Activity IDs shown in the Activity ID prompt to only those belonging to the selected Project ID and Business Unit. This new functionality makes your custom forms behave like a real application, not like a static paper form.

Lockdown the Form after Submission or Approval

Enhanced security is provided by giving you the option to lockdown the data in a form either after it has been submitted, after it has been approved, or not at all. This security gives you the flexibility to tightly manage processes that require it and offer more interactive collaboration for forms where control is not a priority.

Start Using It Today

Since there is no additional cost for Forms and Approval Builder, it could make a lot of sense for your organization to start using it in your PeopleSoft HCM and/or FSCM 9.1 environments today.

Thursday Dec 08, 2011

PeopleSoft Projects 9.1 Integration to Primavera P6 EPPM R8.1 Is Generally Available

We are excited to announce that the integration between PeopleSoft Program Management 9.1 and Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM) R8.1 is now available! This version of the integration adds a number of new features to those already available in the PeopleSoft 9.0 integration to Primavera P6 EPPM and is available in PeopleSoft FMS ESA 9.1 Bundle #16, which can be downloaded from MyOracle Support.

With version 9.1, organizations can export project budgets from PeopleSoft to Primavera P6. Combining this with the ability to export actual costs and commitments from PeopleSoft to Primavera P6, which is available in the PeopleSoft Projects 9.0 integration, project managers can now see how much money has been officially allotted to the project budget and compare this against the planned total costs in Primavera P6. Furthermore, as actual costs and commitments sync to Primavera P6 during the project, project managers can determine right in Primavera P6 how much financial resource remains available for the project. This integration helps eliminate excuses for overrunning budgets.

Furthering support for professional services industry and capital projects use cases, project team members can record hours worked not only in PeopleSoft (as they can in the existing PeopleSoft Projects 9.0 integration), but also in Primavera P6 Progress Reporter. This integration supports the import of timesheets from Primavera P6 Progress Reporter either

  1. directly into PeopleSoft Project Costing,
  2. into PeopleSoft Expenses’ time entry, or
  3. into PeopleSoft Time and Labor (via PeopleSoft Expenses’ integration with PeopleSoft Time and Labor).

With the new time entry integration, two major benefits become available. First, organizations can eliminate the cost, errors, and reconciliation effort associated with duplicate time capture tools. Second, a faster timesheet process enables organizations to invoice, capitalize, and analyze project costs faster, and that can mean improved cash flow, quality of accounting, and reporting.

To further support the needs of professional services industry project management, the integration now enables the assignment of resources to a project team within PeopleSoft and the export of that team to Primavera P6 so that project managers can schedule those authorized resources to project activities. This capability can facilitate better resource utilization and aid in eliminating scheduling conflicts.

Finally, there is now the ability to support integration to multiple Primavera P6 instances. If there is a business unit that needs to operate in a different currency, for example, it can now point to its own instance of Primavera P6.

As with the PeopleSoft Projects 9.0 integration, the release 9.1 integration is a part of the PeopleSoft Program Management module. (PeopleSoft Program Management works in conjunction with and requires PeopleSoft Project Costing.) The integration utilizes the PeopleTools Integration Broker and web services; it does not require additional middleware.

Further information can been found in this datasheet or via an Oracle application sales manager.

This blog is dedicated to topics focused on PeopleSoft Applications, including Human Capital Management, Financials, Enterprise Service Automation, Asset Lifecycle Management, Procurement, Supply Chain and Customer Relationship Management.

For information about legislative updates to our PeopleSoft Applications see the PeopleSoft Legislative Updates Blog.

For information about PeopleTools see the PeopleSoft Technology Blog.


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