Monday, March 26, 2012

Design Flaw in PeopleSoft Work Schedule Defaults and design in Oracle Fusion HCM

For a Human Resources ERP suite, PeopleSoft HCM has excellent Time and Attendance features. One area that is highly under-appreciated (but lauded by customers when they see the complete potential!) is the Schedule Management features in PeopleSoft Time and Labor and Absence Management. Some of the features, like the ability to define flexible work schedules, ability to create work schedules on the fly, integrated Time Calendar views with Time, Absence and Training information etc. are very exciting and useful. In this post, I want to highlight a glaring flaw in the design of the work schedule defaulting feature in PeopleSoft. A Work Schedule can be attached at multiple levels in PeopleSoft HCM, for eg:
a. At the employee level in the Assign Work Schedule page (underlying datastructure is SCH_ASSIGN)
b. At the Absence Management/Global Payroll Paygroup level
c. At the Payroll for North America Paygroup level
d. At the Time and Labor workgroup level

If a work schedule is not directly attached to an employee, PeopleSoft follows a specific hierarchy to resolve the work schedule that has to be assigned. In this hierarchy, Absence Management/Global Payroll paygroup takes precedence over Payroll for North America paygroup, which takes precedence over Time and Labor workgroup.
In our opinion, it is not a good practice to default a work schedule from a Paygroup or Workgroup. The primary purpose of a Paygroup/Workgroup is to group employees with similar pay/absence/time characteristics together and is not to group employees working similar schedules. The fact that Absence Management/Global Payroll paygroups take precedence over other definitions makes the case more rigid in our opinion. This is because, the Global Payroll/Absence Management organisational and processing frameworks are extremely flexible. It is possible to define very generic paygroups and then drive application of specific rules to concerned group of employees through the use of conditional processing elements or even payee level overrides. An optimal design of Absence Management/Global Payroll frameworks should make use of this inherent product flexibility and design simple,lean and flat frameworks. The simpler the configuration, the more generic will be the assignment of paygroups, i.e. most employees will share the same paygroup. But, most often it is required to have more specific groupings for the purpose of work schedule defaults. So a simplistic Absence Management/Global Payroll framework design will not help in proper defaulting of work schedules. We have seen many legacy Time and Attendance applications (applications from which the client moved to PeopleSoft Time and Attendance) where the time processing rules were tightly tied to the work schedule of employees. This is our mind is similar to the concept of tying a work schedule to a paygroup/workgroup. But, all these systems suffered from the complexity introduced by the tight coupling of rule processing groups and schedules and the same deficiency exists in PeopleSoft as well.
My suggestion to the PeopleSoft Time and Labor/Absence Management product managers would be to take a relook at the schedule default options in PeopleSoft and provide a mechanism to default work schedules from a data definition that is more attuned with the actual business process of wok schedule assignments. In our opinion, Jobcodes and especially Positions are excellent candidates for this. From an operational point of view, employees in a certain jobcode or position have more probability of sharing a work schedule that those in the same paygroup (ofcourse the challenge of global implementations and shared jobcodes/positions do come in here, but we believe that these definitions are better candidates for work schedule defaults than a paygroup).

In this context, we want to introduce the work schedule defaulting features available in Oracle Fusion HCM. In Fusion HCM, the hierarchy of work schedule resolution is given below:
  1. Primary assignment of the worker
  2. Position
  3. Job
  4. Department
  5. Location
  6. Legal Employer
  7. Enterprise
It's excellent to see that Oracle Fusion HCM offers a more flexible and elaborate work schedule assignment mechanism, which in our opinion is more in tune with the business requirements. We do hope that the PeopleSoft design team takes a cue from the Oracle Fusion HCM design and provides a more flexible work schedule defaulting design.

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