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Loading Photos into PeopleSoft in v9.2 June 17, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleSoft 9.2, TW.
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This is a guest post by Anton de Weger, a highly experienced PeopleSoft Consultant who works for StratusHR in Australia. Anton has been previously featured in the post “I’m Anton de Weger and This is How I Work“.

Introduction

As part of a v8.9 to v9.2 upgrade of PeopleSoft HCM my current client wanted to take the opportunity to load all of their employee photos from their security system into PeopleSoft so that they could take advantage of the photos showing on the Talent Summary and Manager Dashboard, as well as on the name mouse-over in the core pages. I thought this would have been a pretty straight forward process given that this is delivered functionality, but was surprised at the lack of examples on the internet and the difficulty in doing image manipulation through PeopleCode. (more…)

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An Introduction to PeopleTools 8.54 (part 1) June 10, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools 8.54.
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1. Introduction

The next version of PeopleTools is expected to be released in a couple months’ time. Oracle have now made available both the Release Value Proposition and the Pre-Release Notes for PeopleTools 8.54. As no more official documents are expected before the release hits GA (General Availability) now is a good time to pick through the details and highlight the areas that are of most interest.

There is a lot of content to cover so – to prevent this entry becoming too big to read in one sitting – I’ll spread it over several parts. This first part will look at the back-end, infrastructure and System Admin changes, whereas subsequent posts will move up the software stack with integration and reporting, and finishing with the new UI.

2. Supported Platforms

Each new release of PeopleTools adds new supported platforms and retires older versions. PeopleTools 8.54 introduces support for new versions of Oracle Weblogic (12.1.2) and Oracle Tuxedo (12.1.1), and deprecates WebLogic 10.x and Tuxedo 11.x. The version 12 releases are the only supported versions of these technologies.

Also added are some new server OS versions: Windows 2012 and 2012 R2, plus Oracle Linux v6. Deprecated OSes are Windows 2008 R1 (although 2008 R2 should still be supported) and zOS 1.11.

On the database side Oracle 12c is added and 10.2.0.5 and 11.2.0.3 removed (so 11.2.0.4 should still be supported). SQL Server sees MSSQL 2014 added and MSSQL 2008 removed, leaving 2012 and 2014 as the supported versions.

Without doubt the most difficult items to adhere to will be the client browser and OS certifications. Firefox and Chrome are straightforward as they typically auto-update to the latest versions, however for enterprises where the mandated corporate standard is Internet Explorer it gets a little trickier. Support for IE11 has been added and IE8 deprecated with PeopleTools 8.54, leaving IE9, 10 and 11 as the supported versions. If you wish to use the new Fluid UI however, you need to get your users to IE11. Users on IE9 and 10 will get the ‘classic’ UI, which means the look and feel from PeopleTools 8.53.

Finally, you’ll also need to ensure that your clients are on Windows 7 (64-bit) or Windows 8.x. The 32-bit version of Windows 7 is not supported. As with all PeopleTools versions, it is possible to run using an un-certified browser and client OS combination, however there may be some workarounds required for edge-case functionality.

3. Oracle Database Specific Enhancements

This release brings some enhancements specifically for the Oracle RDBMS.

a. Global Temporary Tables

PeopleTools already has temporary tables built-in to the toolset (i.e. if you wish to enable multiple copies of an App Engine to run concurrently you need to build that many instances of the Temporary Tables). With Tools 8.54 you can take advantage of Oracle Global Temporary Tables within the database itself (but only for batch processes, not online page operations). GTTs are working tables that are process specific, so each concurrent process doesn’t have access to the working data from the tables from another version of the same process, and they’re lighter-weight on the database (specifically, they don’t generate redo) so they are more efficient to use.

Some clients have already made use of this, including one major retailer here in the UK – with the assistance of a DB tuning guru – however now it’ll be built into the PeopleTools toolset rather than requiring customisation.

b. Materialised Views

For the uninitiated, a materialised view is a special database object where the results of the view SQL is stored as a data table. They’re especially useful for migrations, integration, reporting and data warehouses as they save repeated queries against the same data. Complex SQL can be used in a Materialised View so that it is performed once, and then any subsequent queries for the same data can use the data stored as the view output rather than running the query again.

c. Multi-tenant Database Support

Oracle’s 12c database comes with the ability to store ‘pluggable databases’ within a ‘container database’. This reduces overheads by saving on disk space, CPU and memory, but also by enabling database patching to be performed once. PeopleTools 8.54 includes support for the pluggable databases within the Oracle 12c database platform.

d. Partitioning Support

Many clients use partitioning on their tables, particularly with PeopleSoft Global Payroll and large numbers of employees. It was possible to partially configure this from Tools 8.51, however partitioning can now be completed entirely within App Designer with Tools 8.54.

4. Developer Tools

What functionality has changed for developers in Tools 8.54? For a start, the developer tools are now 64-bit, which – aside from the performance benefit – will make developer client machine administration easier. This includes not only App Designer, but Data Mover, Change Assistant, App Engine etc.

The other major improvement – and it’ll be a much welcomed one – is code completion in App Designer. Many other IDEs have had this functionality for a while so I’m grateful that we’re going to be seeing this in PeopleTools. App Designer will auto-complete after the developer uses a ‘.’ for constants, system variables, functions and app classes – not just showing the method but the parameter details also.

5. Automated Configuration Manager

An intriguing item in both of the Oracle documents is the ‘Automated Configuration Manager’. Neither document gives a great amount of detail, but it sounds like an improvement or twist to the Automated Environment Configuration tool that Hakan Biroglu blogged about. As a sys-admin this is particularly exciting as it’s moving PeopleSoft towards the ‘dev-ops’ holy grail of automated configuration management popularised by tools such as Chef and Puppet. Any tool that makes the creation of new environments quicker, or reduces the changes of configuration getting out of sync will be very welcome.

6. Conclusion

The next version of PeopleTools is bringing many improvements. Much is being made of the new User Interface – and rightly so – however there are other improvements that we will improve our workflow by making it both simpler and more efficient.

 

PeopleSoft and Heartbleed April 22, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools, TW.
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Oracle have released a post detailing exactly whichheartbleed products are vulnerable to Heartbleed, which have fixes available and which aren’t vulnerable at all.

If you aren’t aware of what Heartbleed is, here’s a primer:

http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/12/heartbleed-explained/

There’s also an excellent web-comic here that explains quickly how the exploit works:

http://xkcd.com/1354/

Here is Oracle’s list:

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/security/opensslheartbleedcve-2014-0160-2188454.html

Happily, PeopleSoft is on the ‘not vulnerable’ list.

This doesn’t mean that you’re completely safe of course. You may well be using other components in your system that were impacted. At Succeed, for example, we use Amazon’s Elastic Load Balancer that was vulnerable but has now been patched.

Interacting client-side JavaScript with server-side PeopleCode April 16, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools.
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This week we have a guest-post from Richard Yip. Richard is a PeopleSoft HCM & Payroll Technical Consultant at Santander Bank here in the UK. He is a long-term PeopleSoft techie and a regular at the UKOUG conferences.  I’m delighted to be able to give him a conduit through which to share some of his good work.

Richard Yip: How to interact client-side Javascript with server-side PeopleCode

(using getElementById.focus(), getElementById.submit(), submitAction_win0(this.form,this.name) and window.showModalDialog)

This example shows a custom built payroll results calendar which allows the user to display multiple sets of payroll results information on a single page, without needing to navigate out of the page as is currently delivered.

Additionally, it allows the display of related information such as payslip and 12 Months Fiscal Summary (pivoted summary results).

Note: results have been “desensitized” .

Something that looks like this:

Example 1
Click for bigger

The App Designer page, PeopleCode, SQL, JavaScript, CSS and HTML are shown below. The HTML/CSS were initially prototyped using Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer.

Screen shots

Main page after selecting an employee from a search page. Example 2

 

The menu bar above is created by HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_CAL_PIVOT_SQL_HDR

The following codes are used: –

PeopleCode :
DERIVED_RY_GP10.HTMLAREA2.RowInit
SQL:   HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_CAL_PIVOT_SQL
HTML:  HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_CAL_PIVOT_SQL_HDR
HTML:  HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_CAL_PIVOT_SQL_DTL

Displaying the results calendar

When ‘Show Calendar’ is clicked, the payroll results for this calendar are now visible. See function Show_Calendar() and Hide_Calendar() in Javascript collection in HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_CUSTOM_JS.

Example 3
Click for bigger

Displaying the payroll results information

When then user clicks on any Calendar ID, highlighted in red, the PeopleCode is invoked via client side JavaScript.

To invoke PeopleCode, I used the javascript DOM method – see function do_calid(obj) in GetHTMLText(HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_CUSTOM_JS)

document.getElementById("DERIVED_RY_GP10_DETAIL_BUTTON").focus();
document.getElementById("DERIVED_RY_GP10_DETAIL_BUTTON").click();

Screen shot below show 3 different calendar group/calendar id clicked by the user using the results calendar above.

Example 4
Click for bigger

The Clear Data  button will remove the specific payroll result. Basically, each calendar results in contained in a <DIV> tag with an ID. The following line takes the id of the <div> tag, for example BOX1 and passes it to the field DERIVED_RY_GP10.ID_LBL and then automatically clicks the field DERIVED_RY_GP10_CLEAR_BUTTON. This is similar to the DOM click() function previously mention. See HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_SEG_HDR

<div id='%Bind(:12)' class="result_container">
<input class='calendar_container' id="DERIVED_RY_GP10_CLEAR_BUTTON" title="ID" style="WIDTH: 72px" onclick="this.form.DERIVED_RY_GP10_ID_LBL.value='%Bind(:12)';submitAction_win0(this.form,this.name);" type="button" value="Clear Data" name="DERIVED_RY_GP10_CLEAR_BUTTON">

The Copy to Excel  button will download the information to Excel. This uses the ActiveXObject(“Excel.Application”) function. See HTML.RY_GP_RSLT_HDR

Display the 12 Months Fiscal Summary

Using the window.showModalDialog function to display the 12 Months Fiscal Summary. See Get_Summary() in RY_GP_RSLT_CUSTOM_JS . Also see Get_Payslip().
Other method may include <iframe>

Example 5
Click for bigger

Summary/Design consideration

Strong knowledge of html, Javascript, CSS and  SQL in addition to PeopleCode.

Using a HTML editor facilitates prototype stage.

In this example, it’s all about presentation as getting the data from the database via SQL is fairly easier.

I have used the SQL XMLElement function to inject some html, albeit with a bit of trickery.

Page Field Name and Enable as Page Anchor gives the developer control over how the field is referenced in html

Code Listing

How to interact client side Javascript with server side PeopleCode

 

PeopleSoft Roadshow / What’s next for PeopleSoft … a Correction April 11, 2014

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools.
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Thanks for all your feedback on the roadshow / what’s next for PeopleSoft write-up. It’s wonderful that there’s such a large and active PeopleSoft community out there that’s so positive about the new functionality that Oracle is adding to the product.

After I posted the article Marc Weintraub got in touch and has marc weintraubasked me to correct an inconsistency in one of the sections. I had included a paraphrased quote which gave the impression that net-new PeopleSoft opportunities are not important, and this was misleading. I’m happy to concede that about a week elapsed between his session and when I posted it here and my memory might not have been as fresh as if I’d live-blogged it.

I’ve updated the article, and the paragraph in question now reads:

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.

Marc also added “The 95% retention rate of existing PeopleSoft customers is accurate. The point I wished to convey is that our future investments are more aligned to meeting the needs of our existing customers. Oracle still does secure net-new customers for PeopleSoft at a rate significant rate.”

This last point is something that we can testify to as Succeed have implemented at least one greenfield PeopleSoft implementation every year for the last 5 years.

Apologies if this has caused any confusion and I’m happy to set the record straight.

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

Posted by Duncan in PeopleTools.
Tags: , , , ,
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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.

I’m Jim Marion and this is how I work March 25, 2014

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Next up in the ‘How I work‘ series is Jim Marion. I suspect that for most reading this Jim will need no introduction, however as I’ve given everyone else a mini-biog I shall do the same for Jim.

Jim is Oracle’s most publicly-facing techie, and I suspect one of it’s most senior technical brains. Jim’s blog – Jim’s PeopleSoft Journal – is one of the (if not ‘the’) most useful and forward thinking PeopleSoft blog(s), and probably the one that gets the most traffic. Jim is a frequent speaker on the US conference circuit where his ‘PeopleTools Tips & Techniques’ sessions are the first ones in many peoples’ agenda planners. Jim is also a published author, with both PeopleTools Tips & Techniques and PeopleTools Data Management and Upgrade Handbook to his name. To top it off, Jim is also a wonderful mix of unfailingly helpful and pretty much always correct.

IMG_8183_150

Name: Jim Marion

Occupation: PeopleSoft Technology Consultant
Location: Home office, Washington State, USA
Current computer: Dell E6420 (OEL 6.4, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)
Current mobile devices: HTC Incredible 2, iPad 2, Verizon Fivespot Wireless Hotspot
I work: even when I’m not working

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
My phone and some sort of internet connection are both very important. As a remote worker, if I have internet and a dial tone, I can work from just about anywhere. When traveling, I really enjoy having a few books in my Safari Books Online iPad book bag. As far as productivity apps, here is a list of what I use daily: vim, gedit, VirtualBox, KRDC (remote desktop), jEdit, SQLDeveloper, AppDesigner, JDeveloper, Eclipse, Fiddler, Wireshark, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Skype, Vonage, and most of all: Google search.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
My phone and laptop are the two most important. My iPad really helps me keep up with book reading. My Verizon 4g hotspot keeps me connected when hotel or airport WIFI are not very good.

What’s your workspace like?
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time working from Marriott hotel desks that look very much like this:

IMAG0379

What do you listen to while you work?
Very occasionally I listen to a playlist on GrooveShark (Toby Mac, Matt Redman, Switchfoot), a message from Andy Stanley, or some instructional presentation by John Resig or another JavaScript icon. Most of the time, however, I find that attempting to listen to something while working is a waste of bandwidth because I am so focused on my work that I don’t seem to hear anything around me.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
For development, I use Application Designer, SQLDeveloper, jEdit, and JSLint. I also spend a lot of time in discovery and analysis. For this portion of my work, I use Fiddler, Firebug, and SoapUI.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
If you use the PeopleSoft database cache option instead of file system cache, you may already know that you can strategically clear segments of the cache. Unfortunately, with database cache, performing a full database cache purge with psadmin can take a very, very long time. Here is the tip: truncate psobjcache before clearing cache with psadmin.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
I write a lot of SQL against the portal registry and security tables.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Code assistance in AppDesigner’s PeopleCode editor: auto fill, auto complete, auto… I spend a lot of time in the PeopleCode Language and API reference verifying syntax. It would be really, really beneficial if App Designer just displayed that information like other integrated suites.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Problem identity and resolution. I have an eye for things that are out of place.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25.

Ideas vs Execution March 18, 2014

Posted by Duncan in Look and Feel.
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I received a sobering lesson today in the value of good ideas, versus the execution of these ideas.

Four years ago I read a great post on status boards, and on the train the next day I mulled over the possibility of building something similar in PeopleSoft. This is the image that started my thoughts racing:

This was around the time that PeopleTools 8.50 came out, and I believed that a similar looking status board could be easily created using some query pagelets, some styling and a custom portal. Failing that, I could just knock the whole thing up in iScripts. It’d take probably about a week’s work to build. This status board could then be displayed on a big screen mounted on the wall in whichever department had commissioned it (be it HR, Payroll, Recruitment etc). Not homepage dashboards, but a department-wide dashboard that continually updated.

I pitched my idea around at work but lacked the tenacity to drive it through. In short, I didn’t execute and the idea withered.

Fast forward 4 years to today and I’ve just read an interview on the Zapier blog with the founder of Geckoboard. He read exactly the same blog post as me and had a similar idea, however he executed on it and built a thriving company on the back of his efforts.

The value of the idea was trivial, compared to having the conviction to execute on it. A sobering lesson indeed.

I’m Anton de Weger and this is how I work March 4, 2014

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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Next up in the ‘How I work‘ series is Anton de Weger, my first boss in the PeopleSoft world. Anton ran Congruent UK, the consultancy I worked at for 7 great years and I owe much of what I’ve learnt to him. Congruent was – for it’s no longer in existence – full of great consultants, not only in their technical or functional ability, but in a desire to behave ethically for the client – something that came from Anton at the top.

Not only is Anton a great leader, but he’s brilliant technically too. He possesses a ‘Steve Jobs like’ reality distortion field, where all technical tasks somehow seem easier when he’s around. He’s still the only person I’ve ever seen – when there was a network outage – fire up a blank notepad session and write an SQR from scratch.

Anton has since returned to Australia where he’s currently working on a 9.2 upgrade.

anton

Name: Anton de Weger

Occupation: PeopleSoft Consultant / Project Manager
Location: Melbourne Australia
Current computer: Metabox (Win7, 16GB RAM, SSD, Radeon 6900M) third in a line of luggable powerhouses that can warm my lunch as well as run a PeopleSoft VM or two.
Current mobile devices: iPhone 5s
I work: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with PeopleSoft these days.  I’ve been trying to get away from the application for a while, but it still keeps pulling me back in.  I dislike the lack of development and focus on PeopleSoft from Oracle, and I feel this is limiting the potential for new blood and enthusiasm in the market.  Also, is it just me or are PeopleSoft implementations getting harder? My personal view is that the off-shoring and out-sourcing of the project teams are counteracting the benefits and efficiency of projects. However, in the end I love PeopleTools as a corporate computing platform and I think its flexibility and structure are underappreciated.  I’m driven by solving problems and feeling like I’m making a difference to my customers and if I can link that up with an occasional good technical challenge and a good team then I’m happy.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Snag-It: There is always a need for screen shots, whether you are doing Technical, Functional or Project Management work.
Podcasts: For the commute into work, either educational or humorous.
Notepad++: moving to this as a general text editor from previous preferences for UltraEdit and TextPad.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Now that I’m getting a bit older, I’m not as tied to having the latest gadget and I am quite enjoying challenging myself outside the technology field. This Christmas I was disappointed when I was able to get mobile coverage at our remote hobby farm (home to 13 beef cattle and 220 acres of grass and trees), where I like to go to escape the world.

What’s your workspace like?
Wherever the client wants me, which being a consultant is normally in the corner, or wherever they can find space. At home it looks like this.

anton_desk

What do you listen to while you work?
It depends on my mood, but industrial/gothic is high on the list, as is a bit of Electronica to help speed things along.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
Notepad++, Toad, PeopleBooks, Google Search and 20 years of previous projects, documents and notes pretty much covers me for most eventualities. The Oracle Virtual Machine PeopleSoft installs are also pretty cool, but only rarely used when onsite.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
PeopleSoft Directory, allows you to connect to Active Directory and the PeopleCode behind the Test page can be used to build an Active Directory interface using the Business Interlink.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Always the effective date/effective sequence joins to JOB.  I really need to sort out a macro for that.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
A bit better vision from Oracle, so that customers didn’t have to beg to get PeopleSoft sold to them.  Preconfigured Global Payroll templates for countries.  OK, that’s two items, but the first is just a gripe.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
At one stage I think I had the largest SQR delivered by PeopleSoft…  I knew it was the largest, as to add an extra line of code, you had to remove one from somewhere else.  I’d probably say I’m reasonably good at working between tech teams, functional teams and the business.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I.T. is not about the software, it’s about the people.  If projects were about the software, you would press a button and it would be done.

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

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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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.

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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.