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I’m Simon Wilson and this is how I work February 26, 2014

Posted by Duncan in How I work.

Next up in the ‘How I work‘ series is Simon Wilson, one of my colleagues here at Succeed Consultancy. Simon is an experienced hybrid Technical and Functional Consultant across HCM, Financials, CRM and Portal. As well as sterling on-site consultancy, Simon is the Technical Practice Lead here at Succeed so he looks after all of our Techs. Simon can be found on Twitter here and regularly contributes to the Succeed blog (as well as curating all the other entries).

Simon Wilson 2

Name: Simon Wilson

Occupation: Senior Consultant and Technical Practice Lead at Succeed Consultancy
Location: I live in the historic city of St Albans in the UK, a short drive from Succeed’s Office.
Current computer: I do most of my work on a standard Lenovo laptop supplied by Succeed. For my home computer I recently got tired of the fan noise from my self-built Shuttle-based machine and replaced it with a passively cooled system from Quiet PC. It’s blissfully silent and quite powerful too. Oh yes, and I also have a Raspberry Pi that I play with occasionally.
Current mobile devices: iPhone 5 and 3rd generation iPad.
I work: most happily when I’m learning something new

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I’m becoming very dependent on Dropbox for files that I need to access across different locations and devices. This is a good example of the use of “the Cloud”, which is something that I probably couldn’t live without nowadays. From accessing my files on Dropbox, to using one of the many PeopleSoft environments that Succeed hosts, to viewing my Google calendar, I’m using the Cloud for many hours of every day.

It’s not an understatement to say that using a password manager has changed my working life. I no longer have to remember the usernames, passwords or indeed the URLs that I need in order to access all the different applications and environments I use. I can get the program to generate strong passwords that I don’t ever have to know or even see. All I need to do is remember one strong password and I can ensure I have strong and secure access to everything else I use.

Finally, I think PeopleBooks are an excellent resource, and I find myself referring to them repeatedly every working day.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Phones and tablets are so powerful nowadays that additional gadgets are increasingly being rendered redundant. However, I’m very fond of my new Sonos music system.

What’s your workspace like?
When I’m not on a client’s site or at the Succeed office I’m lucky enough to have a study where I can shut myself away from the rest of the family.


It’s not usually as tidy as shown in the photo. There’s no standing desk, but I tend to find myself on a lot of conference calls, during which I try to stand.

What do you listen to while you work?
I’ve never found it easy to concentrate when there’s music playing, so I tend to work in silence. Sometimes, however, I need to block out a noisy office, in which case I will go for guitar-based instrumental music that I know quite well and will therefore not demand too much of my attention. Examples are the hypnotic rhythms of Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, Ry Cooder’s large catalogue of film soundtracks or the Django-esque virtuosity of Joscho Stephan.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Interaction Hub lately and have found browser developer tools to be fantastically productive for debugging JavaScript and iScript-generated HTML. I prefer to use Chrome, but on some clients’ sites I’m limited to using IE’s usable but inferior alternative. Other than that I don’t need much more than a good text editor such as Notepad++ with a PeopleCode plugin for text highlighting.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
Migrating Pagelet-Wizard pages and Pivot Grids between environments is easy – PeopleSoft provides pages that generate the Export and Import DMS files for you under PeopleTools > Pagelet Wizard > Export/Import Pagelets and Reporting Tools > Pivot Grids > Pivot Grid Admininstration respectively. Admittedly, the pages’ usability could be better, but they do save a lot of time.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
It has to be effective date sub-selects. The %EffDtCheck meta-sql has saved me a lot of time in this regard.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
One that springs to mind is the ability to open more than one class in an Application Package at a time, or at least a better way to navigate the Application Class hierarchy. When investigating errors I’ve lost count of the number times I’ve dived into a class’ parent’s parent only to lose my bearings and have to start back at the original call.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Before joining Succeed I was an independent consultant and during the early part of my PeopleSoft career I spent several years as the only technical resource at one particular client. With nobody else to bounce ideas off I had to become good at coming up with solutions to problems independently. They may not have been the most efficient or elegant ways of doing things, but they generally worked. When you’re close to a deadline and the whole team is working flat out, I have found this ability to be self-sufficient invaluable.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I can still remember being told by my boss during the mid-1990s that I ought to get myself trained on “this new thing called PeopleSoft”.

It’s more of an aphorism than a piece of advice, but I think it’s true that you should embrace change because in the IT industry it’s the only thing that’s constant.
Finally, we have a saying within Succeed that “SQL is your friend”, meaning that you can save yourself a lot of time and get quality answers to your questions if you know the data model and can write SQL to extract the information you want. Increasingly nowadays this is being morphed to “Google is your friend”, because someone somewhere in the world is likely to have experienced a similar issue to you and have blogged or raised a question about it.

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