Saturday, August 4, 2012

PeopleSoft HCM 9.2 RVP - Absence Management feature analysis

We had posted on the release of RVP document for HCM v9.2 in a recent post. In this post, we intent to discuss the new features planned in v9.2 for Absence Management module. 
The RVP document is surprisingly very succint on the enhancements planned for Absence Management. The documented enhancements include:

1. Desktop integration of Absence Management with Microsoft Outlook:
In v9.2, Absence Management self service will be extended to Microsoft Outlook to enable employees and managers to raise/approve absence requests from Outlook, without logging into the PeopleSoft application. Another exciting feature is that the leave status of employees will appear as a calendar event in MS Outlook, providing improved visibility on employee availability. We had discussed this proposed feature in detail here
For enterprise level customers, desktop integration of HCM transactions is as important as mobile extensions and it's great to see this rich feature being delivered by Oracle. We do have questions regarding the overall robustness and use cases covered by this new feature, which we will be able to evaluate only after testing this in a 9.2 instance (that will have to wait!). Overall, a big thumbs up from our side for this feature enhancement!

2. Absence Management workcenter:
One common observation that we made in the RVP of 9.2 is that almost every module in HCM has strongly made use of workcenters, related content and pivot grids. These are functionalities available in 9.1 as well, especially if you are on tools 8.52. 
In v9.2, Oracle proposes to deliver a workcenter for Global Payroll and Absence Management, which can be used by payroll and absence administrators to monitor the statistics and health of a payroll/absence run. It has features to monitor alerts, setup thresholds that should generate alerts, view the status of processing of calendar groups etc.
This is again a very useful addition to the overall solution and will go a long way in enhancing the usability of the application for the back office population and will help reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) by reducing the total cost of maintaining the system. Another thumbs up from our side for this proposed enhancement.

3. HTML Inline Approvals: 
The third and last enhancement we spotted with respect to Absence Management in the RVP for 9.2 is the introduction of HTML inline approvals for Absence Management. This enhancement will allow managers to take an approval action for Absence Management directly from the approval email.
This is indeed a welcome enhancement, though we are not very upbeat about the priority that has been given to this enhancement over other features.

Overall, we have been disappointed with the enhancements for Absence Management, documented in the RVP document. It is difficult for us to believe that a major version release after 3 years does not have more substantial changes and do not address some of the fundamental issues with Absence Management at present. It is indeed interesting to have new features like Outlook integration, but it is equally or more important to weed out some of the core design issues with the module, that leads to customers looking down on this module during product evaluations. We would like to point out some of the top enhancements requested for Absence Management, from our experience with customers:

1. Ability to edit/cancel approved absences: Without doubt, this is the number one lack of fundamental functionality in PeopleSoft Absence Management. The module does not allow employees or managers to change absence requests once it has been approved. This does not fit with the business process of any organisation and we have had to customise this at every implementation.

2. Enhanced balance view: One of the fundamental functionalities of a leave management system is to enable employees and managers view up to date balance of various leave types. In Absence Management, the balance grid in Self Service, displays a balance as of the last finalised payroll calendar (another option is to use the Forecast Balance page, but it is not the ideal option in our opinion). This again does not satisfy the requirements of most customers. Customers want to view up to date balance and also more granular information like absences that have been approved till date, absences applied in the future etc. It goes without saying that a more robust design and framework is required to view the absence balance in PeopleSoft Absence Management.

3. Forecasting does not consider future dated absence requests:
Most customers would want to prevent employees from taking an absence request if there is a policy violation or if there is insufficient balance. This functionality can be achieved using the forecasting utility in Absence Management, to a certain extent. There is a known gap where the forecasting process does not consider future dated absence requests when determining the eligibility. 
This is again a significant drawback for customers during evaluation as well as implementation of the Absence Management product.

4. Tighter integration with Time and Labor:
As rightly mentioned by Jason Averbook here, 'no one cares for modules except software vendors'. Time and Labor and Absence Management is viewed as a single functionality by most customers, though its divided into two modules with PeopleSoft. In this context, the level of integration and reconciliation that happens between T&L and Absence Management in PeopleSoft is not advanced. We would really like to see more work and features delivered in this area.

The above are some of the key deficiencies in the current Absence Management module design, which we hope would be addressed as these affect the product adoption more than any new shining feature!
In conclusion, we believe that the Absence Management product team could have taken more feedback from the user and implementation community to enhance the existing product. Interestingly, our review of the Time and Labor features in 9.2 has shown that the T&L product team has spent considerable time listening to the issues of existing customers to bridge critical product deficiencies. We hope that the lack of functionalities in the RVP for Absence Management can be attributed to some editorial errors and that the actual release notes will give reason for cheer!

For more information on the contents of this post, get in touch with us by mailing to

1 comment:

John Marshall - Editor said...

What does Oracle say when you ask them if they are going to modify AM to allow a user to cancel an absence request? We have the same issue and have modified the PeopleCode to do so but the cliend wants proof the there is no open item at Oracle.