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The PeopleSoft Roadshow 2014 – What’s coming next for PeopleSoft? April 7, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools.
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Last week I attended the UKOUG PeopleSoft Roadshow, and it was very interesting for a number of reasons. Here’s what I took away from the event:

Presenters

We’re quite used to hearing Marc Weintraub and Jeff Robbins speak here in the UK. They come over every year for the roadshow, and they’re the sessions that everyone attends for.

Marc’s style was a touch different this time in that he gave us a little more insight into his personality. Finding out who his sports teams are, what he does for fun (running Tough Mudders), what he drives (surprisingly, a Mini Cooper) etc rounded him out more as a person in our eyes – an important change as previously we really only got the professional side of Marc.

Jeff’s style was the same as ever … dry, humorous, and very comfortable and relaxed speaking to a room full of people. At one point he even paused his session so that he could photobomb a pic I was taking of his demo.

photobomb

Strategy

So what did we learn about PeopleSoft from a strategic point of view?

The switch to patching via images every 10 weeks means that customers don’t have to wait for a major release to gain new functionality. This does sound more like the continuous delivery model that has been used with Campus Solutions (where there is no major release) whereby new functionality comes via regular bundles. As a result, the 9.3 applications might just be a roll-up of everything that has been released in the images since v9.2. There are some interesting implications of this, and we’re not sure how a client can truly be sure that they are on 9.3 if they’ve only applied some of each of the patches that comprise it. The 9.3 releases are still looking like appearing in 2017, but it doesn’t have focus within Oracle as continuous delivery is the preferred method of providing new functionality. There is an internal edict not to target functionality for 9.3 as that means you’re not thinking about delivering something now, which does sound a positive message.

Much was made of the fact that PeopleSoft is “the only enterprise application suite that gives you the ability to deploy PERFECT FIT applications, through the use of PeopleTools.” After years of customisation=bad it’s interesting that there is now an admission that often a small amount of judiciously applied changes are needed to fully meet client expectations.

Also, there was another statement which I didn’t realise the signifcance of until letting things percolate down through on the train journey home, but Marc’s statement that PeopleSoft has a “95% retention rate, and the focus is on our existing customers.” is quite important. It’s great that Oracle are focusing on keeping existing customers happy – that’s what the ongoing licence fee is for, after all – and 95% is a good success rate and ongoing investment is designed to add value to existing customers.

EDITED above paragraph on 11th April to correct paraphrased quote.

User Interface

There was a lot that was exciting to see here. The new UI (christened FLuiD) is very contemporary and pleasing to look at. It works across multiple devices (i.e. mobile, tablet and desktop) and is responsive based on the device resolution. Jeff gave a live demo where the items on the screen realigned themselves and changed as he dragged the width of the screen to be smaller.

2014-03-26 11.35.28

Role-based landing pages (eg. for execs, team members, employees). 

It appears to have been very well thought through. The previous changes to the UI have been ‘all or nothing’. If you wanted the Swan UI (Tools 8.50) or the Tangerine UI (Tools 8.53) it was switched on or off as a system side setting. Whether or not the FLuiD UI is shown is based on your preferences and whether your device is capable of displaying it, so one user may get the full FLuiD UI and for another user with an older device PeopleSoft will seamlessly fall back to the ‘Classic UI’ – which I assume means the Tools 8.53 tangerine UI.

Unified UX seems to be a trend at the moment as Fusion R8 has introduced a new UI also. This UI convergence is sensible from a co-existence P.O.V. as users are going to be surprised if you switch them to Taleo and the look-and-feel is different. It’s notable that as Oracle’s applications UIs converge, PeopleSoft is often getting there first – possibly because of the toolset, and possibly as it had a better UI starting point. Often Fusion or EBS or JDE adopt UI elements that PeopleSoft has already adopted.

The FLuiD UI components are new components that run alongside the existing components. Security is inherited however, if you have security for the existing ‘PIA’ component then you’ll be allowed to use the new component. In terms of browser requirements, we’ll need IE9 for the Classic UI and IE11 for the FLuiD UI. You can still use FLuiD on your smartphone and tablet without issues, and you can use Chrome, Firefox or Safari quite happily.

2014-03-26 11.35.43  2014-03-26 11.37.11
Configuring a Landing Page and the Side Nav Menu

2014-03-26 11.38.59 2014-03-26 11.38.52

Components within FLuiD

Technical

Aside from the UI, what else is new in Tools 8.54?

Also arriving is the Mobile Application Platform (MAP). This is a standalone app – i.e. it’ll be native to your device, and can retain credentials etc. Applications for MAP will come in a PUM image after Tools 8.54, but there was no comment about how quickly after Tools 8.54 this will come, and maybe not until Tools 8.55 (Oracle aim to release a new version of PeopleTools every 15 months approx).

2014-03-26 15.47.37

There are also lots of changes for analytics and reporting. Pivot Grids are getting a lot of new functionality – and they’re already better and more dynamic than much of the competition offers. It was stressed that Pivot grids aren’t static images pasted onto pages, or from data taken into other systems, but live and dynamic analytics over your data. You’ll also be able to add multiple pivot grid views on top of a pivot grid model from 8.54.

Jeff also demoed functionality where a component search page was replaced by a pivot grid, allowing you to select segments of the grid to refine the search results. This was a very slick upgrade to the search facets that we’ve previously seen.

2014-03-26 16.03.48

Filter search results by facet

PeopleSoft Test Framework in 8.54 has improved around management of test cases and delivery of pre-supplied test cases will apparently come in later tools versions.

Graham Smith

As well as the Oracle guys, Graham Smith from Oxfam also gave a session on their Financials upgrade from 8.9/8.50 to 9.2/8.53.

Graham was particularly enthusiastic about the new PeopleSoft Images and the PUM update process. Although he did concede that the PUM process is difficult to get the hang of initially – and that they ended up doing some things more than once – however it works very well for them now. Upskilling the team in advance was very important. The Oxfam approach is to divide up the improvements, allocate them to team members and give everyone time to research their topics and then report back to the team – which seems a very good way of improving the team quickly.

It has added a new requirement however, as it doesn’t replace the DMO environment (we need DMO to contain the vanilla versions of just the patches that we’ve applied), whereas the PUM image contains all modules and patches that have been released. We previously used Oracle Support as the repository of all patches and bundles.

Oxfam have also used Performance Monitor to gather intelligence on how their users are using the system. It’s really interesting to gather stats on which areas of the system are used the most (both ‘Most popular components by number hits’ and ‘most popular components by the number of users’). This allows the team to invest time in the components that are used the most, or are used by the most users – thereby targetting the effort at the areas which will give the most impact.

Other tips from Graham included:
– The Merge page functionality in App Designer is really useful during upgrades when comparing updated pages with customised ones.
– Reapply customisations in module order (as this helps the testers) instead of object type order.
– When applying custom code, aim for empty events if you can, as the cost of upgrading is less (as there’ll be no code to compare).

Graham also spoke about SES which they’ve found to be very fast and doesn’t need particularly beefy hardware. They have needed to spend some time looking at indexing, but in the main it’s a positive experience.

Summary

In conclusion, this was a very strong event with lots of great content. The next versions of PeopleSoft are going to bring a lot of exciting changes, and we can’t wait to read the Release Value Proposition when it is released.

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UKOUG PeopleSoft Roadshow 2013 April 30, 2013

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools.
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Last week – along with others from Succeed – I attended the UKOUG PeopleSoft Roadshow. Although it’s just a single day event (where the Apps Conference is spread over two days) it does have the benefit of Senior Oracle US speakers – Jeff Robbins and Marc Weintraub.

As we have for a few years now, Succeed sponsored the event/the post event drinks.

succeed_sponsors

john and I

We also took out a stand, here’s John and I attempting to charm some delegates:

There’s many reasons why I enjoy attending these events. It’s great to catch up with friends I’ve worked with previously, it’s great to meet new people who we might be able to help in some way, and it’s always a treat to hear what innovations are coming down the line in recently released and future versions of PeopleSoft and PeopleTools.

So, other than the exhibition, what did we learn?

From Jeff, (other than what we’ve previously discussed on Tools 8.53) we found out:

– the release frequency of PeopleTools is now around every 12-18 months, so Tools 8.54 would be mid-2014.

– Tools 8.54 is fully defined scope-wise and the developers are almost done with it. About half of the scope for 8.55 is done.

– the way PeopleTools handles mobile devices is changing, allowing it to be much more responsive to the resolution of the requesting browser based on templates (so a page would have different templates, a large and graphically rich one for PCs on the LAN, a smaller resolution graphically leaner template for mobiles etc).

– the new Update Manager Tool isn’t that new. It’s something that Oracle/PeopleSoft have been using internally for a decade, so it should be stable and mature already.

– there’s a new ‘Mastering PeopleTools’ scheme that is starting, enabling everyone easier access to Best Practice and to make sure that customers aren’t just upgrading to stay supported, but gain genuine value from the new functionality

Jeff also flashed up some brief glimpses of something that his team are trying with Tools 8.54. They’re changing the UI a little more – and it’s a tile-based layout (more akin to Windows 8 or Pinterest, I guess). This is the landing page:

2013-04-24 15.25.11

 

Also, to access the menu you’d hit the orange button on the right:

2013-04-24 15.27.16

Finally, there were a host of other ‘coming soon’ areas, like In Memory Processing, TimesTen for nVision and a ‘TCO lower than SaaS’ which will be really interesting to see how it’s done. Jeff actually said PeopleSoft will have the lowest TCO in the market, bar none, which we’ll all really look forward to.

One of the most interesting take-aways for me wasn’t something that was said, but was more of a general feeling. A couple of years ago when Oracle said “we’re still investing in PeopleSoft” I don’t think many people believed them – I was certainly sceptical. However with the content in the latest Tools and App releases their claim is much more credible. There were certainly a lot of customers that I spoke to who were either planning a 9.2 upgrade or had it on their roadmap.

The first two photos are from the UKOUG Facebook page which contains many more photos of the event.

A quick shortcut for 3-tier access March 4, 2013

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I’m not sure how long you’ve been able to do this, it may have been in the product for a while, however I’ve only just discovered it.

Normally, when I need 3-tier access in App Designer I go through the process of setting up a profile in Config Manager. I believed this to be the one and only way of getting it to connect.  There is a shortcut, however:

3-tier

This isn’t a strangely named profile chosen from the dropdown. I’ve just specified the App Server IP (or hostname) and the WSL port and it will connect. This also gets around having to know the Domain Connection password (which you’d need to enter if setting up a Config Manager profile.

Off topic – The Pebble Watch February 28, 2013

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This post is nothing whatsover to do with PeopleSoft but I’m hoping that some of you will find it interesting nonetheless.

You may have heard of Kickstarter. It’s a web-site where enterprising inventors/creative types can post an idea, a promotional video and a funding target. Users can browse the site and if they spot a project that they like they can pledge money towards it. There are typically different levels of pledge amounts, and each level has an appropriate reward.

One of the higher profile projects was the ‘Pebble Watch’, a bluetooth smartwatch that integrates with your smartphone (iPhone or Android). They posted their project with a $100,000 funding target that they raised within the first 2 hours(!) and hit $10.2m in the month-long period that it was open. I was one of the 69,000 that pledged to support the project, and in return they promised each of us one of the watches. Mine arrived this afternoon!

This is what it looks like:

2013-02-28 21.17.48

There are a range of different watch faces, including standard analogue designs and variations on digital clocks. The chief benefit though is that it communicates with your phone via bluetooth. Any time you receive an email, text or incoming call the watch vibrates and displays what is happening on the screen. For texts or emails it displays the contents, enabling you to scroll up and down to read the message. For incoming calls it displays the caller, and gives the option to answer or decline the call. You can also do things like control the music on your phone remotely.2013-02-28 22.20.52

When I was out for a meal with the family earlier this evening I was able to subtly screen emails and texts, and even decline an incoming call (sorry boss!) without taking my phone from my pocket or my wife even noticing (a real plus!). I imagine that it’ll be far more discreet in meetings than glancing at mobile phone screens to see if the interruption is important.

A further point to note is that Pebble allow you to create your own Apps for the device. Even at this early stage there are already apps for adding additional notifications, and a RunKeeper app and an IFTTT channel are on the way.

If anyone is intrigued, there are more details and a video here.

Disabling paste on an input field February 14, 2013

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A colleague of mine recently had a requirement to place an email address field on a page, and then just below it a ‘confirm email address’ – however the user should not be permitted to copy and paste from the first field to the second, they should retype their email address.

We didn’t think that there was a way of disabling paste via PeopleCode, so resorted to JavaScript. The solution was actually quite straightforward in the end:

1) Place the two input fields on the page and connect them to the records you wish to save to, as usual.

2) Place an HTML Area on the page, making sure it’s beneath the other fields (both on this screen and the order tab).

3) Make the HTML Area contents static, and paste in the following:

<SCRIPT language=JavaScript>
var message = "Paste disabled. Please re-key.";
 
function disablepaste(){
alert(message);
return false;
}
 
document.getElementById('DERIVED_TEST_TEXT2')
.onpaste=disablepaste;
</SCRIPT>

4) Swap DERIVED_TEST_TEXT2 in the above code snippet for you Record/Field name (i.e. it’s the record name, then an underscore, then the fieldname. Look in View Source or Chrome Dev Tools/Firebug if you’re not sure.)

5) You might also want to make the alert message a little more user friendly too.

Jim Marion’s new book February 5, 2013

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I’ve been meaning to read Jim Marion’s new book ‘PeopleTools Data Management and Upgrade Handbook’ for a while, and last month it finally got to the top of my reading pile. This time he has co-authored with Paula Dean who also has a strong past in the PeopleSoft world.

Here’s a link to it on Amazon.com.

And here’s a link on Amazon UK.

Those are direct links, not affiliate links.

I also wrote a review of the book on Amazon.com. Here’s what I said:

The ‘Data Management and Upgrade Handbook’ fills a large gap in the PeopleSoft book marketplace. We have Jim’s first book which caters for genuine hard-core PeopleCode developers. We also have David Kurtz’s book which caters for DBAs. For a long time we’ve been missing a book for those of us that sit in between, maybe we do some development, but we also perform some system administration activities too (like migrating code between environments, using data mover, applying the odd patch or bundle etc). This book is aimed squarely at these ‘DevOps’ staff – and there are a lot of us.Jim Marions New Book

In the first part of the book (Data and Change Management) Jim and Paula take us methodically through each of the tools that you’re going to need to use as part of your day job (like Change Assistant and Data Mover) and introduces those that you might not ‘have’ to use, but should make your life easier (like Data Archive Manager and Version Control).

In the second part (Upgrades) they walk us through a typical upgrade, covering the factors that govern the time and manpower required, through project teams and activities, and onto the tools that smooth the process (like PeopleSoft Test Framework and automated test suites).

It’s just over 300 pages, so it’s short enough to read through cover-to-cover when you’re trying to upskill someone with a few years experience, but it’s also detailed enough to keep around as a reference manual. There’s not a single customer that couldn’t benefit from having a copy or two of this in the project office.

PeopleSoft Weekly Stats January 11, 2013

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After showing some stats for this blog yesterday, I thought I’d show some for the PeopleSoft Weekly newsletter too. As most of you will know, the PeopleSoft Weekly is a newsletter that we started back in August to give people an alternative mechanism for receiving news and opinions to RSS Feed Readers, with the added bonus that it’s curated so you should miss most of the spam and re-blogged content.

So, 5 months in, this is where we are:

PSW_Stats

The blue bars are the subscriber numbers, which are mounting up nicely. We’ve just passed 350 and are adding 15-20 readers a week. As this is an opt-in newsletter it’s unlikely to ever rocket up, so we’re very happy with how it’s going.

The red columns are the ‘unique opens’, or how many people actually read the newsletter. This is also increasing, however a little slower than sign-ups. Ideally I’d like this to be increasing at the same rate, however we still have over 50% of those that receive the email who open it which is much better than the industry average of 17%.

The most clicked on articles across all issues are these:

  1. PeopleSoft Video Feature Overviews for 9.1 Feature Packs and 9.2
  2. The Oracle OpenWorld content catalog
  3. Oracle Sues Yet Another Partner Over Support Services
  4. User Experience Highlights in PeopleSoft: Direct from Jeff Robbins
  5. Paco Aubrejuan’s letter to Customers attending OpenWorld
  6. Jeff Kemp’s Top 10 Confusing Things in Oracle
  7. How to check if a user has access to a Content Reference
  8. Jim Marion’s Query for Component and/or CREF Navigation Take II
  9. PeopleSoft Business Process Maps
  10. I’m Duncan Davies and this is how I work
  11. Create appealing Dashboards with PeopleTools 8.52
  12. Oracle OpenWorld Day 0 (Larry’s Keynote)
  13. Workday files IPO as Oracle Fusion Builds Momentum
  14. I’m David Kurtz and this is how I work
  15. Chris Malek’s Some Options for Sending Emails in PeopleTools
  16. Derek Tomei’s The PIA Explained
  17. PeopleSoft CRM 9.2 Release Value Proposition
  18. PeopleSoft HCM 9.2 Prerelease Notes
  19. Chris Malek’s Running a PeopleSoft Query with Ruby over HTTP
  20. The scariest chart in the history of computing (for one company at least)

If there are any good sources that we miss, or suggestions for improvement please let me know in the comments. Thanks.

Blog stats for 2012 January 10, 2013

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At the turn of every year WordPress (who host this blog) send out a ‘your year in blogging’ email which triggered my interest enough to spend 15 mins looking back at the posts and the stats on this blog, to see what went down well and what didn’t.

Over the course of the year, this blog was viewed approx 120,000 times. Here’s a graph of the views over the last few years:
2012 Stats 1

You can see the general trend is slowly up, but it really varies between months – none more so than every December when there’s a huge dip. Most visitors are from the US, followed by India and Canada.

Apart from Google and Twitter, the top referring sites in 2012 were:

The PeopleSoft Wiki
IT Toolbox forums
Jim Marion’s Blog
The PeopleSoft Customizer.com

Thanks guys!

Those that have commented the most on posts are Jim Marion, Jeremy Radwan, Graham Smith and Nicolas Gasparotto. I’m grateful for all of your corrections 🙂

When people have arrived at this blog from a search engine WordPress logs the search terms. Most of the top 20 from last year are fairly predictable, however these caught my eye (they’re either a term that people don’t already have enough info on, or are common yet confusing errors):

tmboot: cmdtux_cat:827: error: fatal error encountered; initiating user error handler
ren server
peoplesoft erd
peopletools 8.53 release date
peoplesoft cloud

The most popular posts since I started (in 2007) tend to be those that have been around the longest, so SQL Developer tips, PeopleSoft ERDs, what’s coming in PeopleTools 8.50 etc all feature highly. Excluding the ‘How I work’ posts, the most popular new entries from last year are these:

Highlights from the PeopleTools 8.53 RVP
Oracle OpenWorld Day 0 (Larry’s Keynote)
Deleting old User Profiles
Monitoring/Automating PeopleSoft with Open Source Tools
PeopleSoft App Store
PeopleSoft and IE9 redux

The value of Oracle OpenWorld September 30, 2012

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Where else would you get to meet this many PeopleSoft experts?

From L-R: me, Jim Marion (Jim’s PeopleSoft Journal), Graham Smith (Graham’s PeopleSoft Blog), Steve Elcock (Succeed Blog), Mark Hoernemann (Oracle’s PeopleTools Blog), Hakan Biroglu (Blogging about Oracle Applications)

Photo kindly taken by Jim’s beautiful wife Sarah.

 

An update on the PeopleSoft Weekly September 24, 2012

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I posted a short while ago about the launch of the PeopleSoft Weekly, our free PeopleSoft-related weekly news bulletin. For those that are interested, I thought I’d give a quick update on its progress.

We started with some ‘internal beta’ dry-runs and our first public issue was 8th August.  In those 6 weeks the subscriber base has grown to more than 150 people. From that list just under half is from North America, 28% from Europe, 11% from Asia and 3% from Australia (plus some unknowns from gmail, hotmail, yahoo etc).

Looking at the domains in the email addresses it’s about 75% end clients, with the remainder being partners or Oracle employees themselves.

The software we’re using tells us that the industry average ‘open rate’ for newsletters is 15.4%, however the PeopleSoft Weekly has maintained an open rate of between 60% and 65% which is a good sign as it means that most of you are interested enough in our industry to read the newsletter. The ‘click rate’ averages about 50% also (industry average of 2.6%) so over half of you find something worth reading further.

In the most recent newsletter I can see that the most popular story was Oracle’s paper on the Interaction Hub and PeopleTools, followed by Logica’s hackathon and the Google Spanner database. Previous newsletters show that the subjects of User Interface, Fusion and most technical posts get good click figures. Topics that aren’t so hot are Workday and mobile related.

If you have any feedback I’d be happy to receive it. Please feel free to subscribe and pass it on to any interested colleagues.