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.

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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.

Monday Nov 07, 2011

Using PeopleSoft Analytics to Maximize Workforce Effectiveness

I recently attended a session at the 2011 HR Technology Conference with Laurie Bassi and Jac Fitz-enz discussing the fact that HCM is now emerging as one of the sustainable sources of competitive advantage. I continue to be amazed that, after talking about the value of Human Capital for over 30 years, we – as an industry – are still struggling to “quantify” that value. The adoption of HCM analytics has also been slow to be adopted, but we are now seeing momentum in this area as well.

Dr. Jac Fitz-enz has written dozen of books on the subject (he’s published 11 books and over 290 articles, reports and book chapters on measurement and strategic management since the 1970’s) and Laurie Bassie, an industry thought leader in her own right, has just released a new book titled Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era. Much of the discussion and case studies in this session not only suggest, but actually prove that companies with good HR practices and exceptional treatment of employees, outperform companies that don’t follow these documented principals by as much as 50%.

At PeopleSoft, at least for my almost 20 years here, we have been talking about using analytics to help prove the fact that “people” are a leading indicator of company success. Even with early versions of PeopleSoft HCM, we delivered tools to help extract and analyze HR data. Later, we delivered pre-packaged analytic KPI’s (key performance indicators) in our HCM analytics product called Workforce Analytics.

PeopleSoft has long valued input from our customer base and in listening to input from customer meetings and advisory boards and as technology innovations have escalated, we have continued to enhance our HCM product line with more comprehensive analytics capabilities to help companies evaluate the value of Human Capital. In addition, since our acquisition by Oracle, we have been able to exploit additional tools and technologies to compliment our HCM applications such as the innovative HR Analytics product and the new Fusion HCM products.

Several years ago, I defined 5 Levels of metrics that matter. These levels of analytics, listed in order from least impact/complexity to most impact/complexity, include:

  1. Information Distribution (standard reports)
  2. Metrics Delivery (dashboards)
  3. Contextual Embedded Analytics
  4. Correlated Analytics
  5. Predictive Modeling

We can turn the clock back to see a quick history of PeopleSoft and Oracle’s HCM analytics capabilities:

Level 1:  Delivery of standard reports – headcount reports, turnover reports, time to fill position, and so on – from Release 1.


Level 2:  Delivery of scorecards and dashboards, typically through HCM Analytics or Enterprise Performance Management capabilities from Release 7.

Level 3:  Delivery of embedded contextual analytics – analytics are a part of a business process, not an after thought, one off report since Release 8.

Level  4:  Delivery of correlated analytics – analytics that pull information from multiple sources to provide not only quantitative data, but qualitative indices as well – Release 9 and beyond.

Level 5:  Delivery of predictive analytics – through the use of data mining and data patterns – we are now able to look at the vast amount of HCM data to help predict future trends. Release 9.1 and beyond as well as in the Fusion HCM product line.


Now – with the delivery of PeopleSoft HCM 9.1, we are able to address all 5 Levels of analytics within our products and tools.

We will continue to put robust analytics in the hands of end users when we deliver the new Pivot Grid feature, coming soon in PeopleTools 8.52. The pivot grid is a new analytic capability that gives users the ability to quickly and easily pivot and filter data within PeopleSoft applications without having to export data to Microsoft Excel. Data for pivot grids is generated by PS Query and can be rendered in charts or analytical grids. Users can add pivot grids to application pages or pagelets. The capability to create new pivot grids in PeopleSoft HCM is enabled by PeopleTools 8.52, and we have plans to deliver pivot grids in the next release of HCM. Going forward, managers will be able to quickly view and analyze relevant critical information deployed to their home pages or dashboards.

Example of a pivot grid (with data displayed as a bar chart) created with PeopleTools 8.52 and deployed to a manager’s dashboard:

As we look at the future roadmap for PeopleSoft, HCM analytics will continue to play an increased role in how the Human Resources organization provides value to their company by delivering targeted information to not only evaluate how current talent is performing, but to actually predict the value of that talent into the future. Who are our top performers? Who are we at risk of losing? What skills will we need in the future and who are the potential candidates to fill those roles? Are we doing what we need as managers to engage that segment of the workforce? These are just a few examples of the many ways we need to use the vast amount of information on our employees to drive future success of our businesses. Our job at PeopleSoft is to deliver that information to you in an easy and seamless way to continue to show the economic value of your most valuable asset – your employees.

For more information go to our Virtual Briefing Center for HR Executives here.

About

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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