Sunday, April 7, 2013

PeopleSoft 9.2 feature review - T&L WorkCenter - A high impact feature

The Time and Labor WorkCenter introduced in PeopleSoft 9.2, is probably one of the top features of the module in the new release. WorkCenters themselves have been part of previous Peopletools releases and one could argue that customers on an application release prior to 9.2 could easily create new workcenters for Time and Labor without having to move to 9.2. This is a valid argument, but from a practical perspective, I believe that a delivered workcenter for a module like Time and Labor will greatly help drive down the total cost of ownership and benefit a larger number of PeopleSoft T&L customers.
To truly understand the value of a workcenter in T&L, I think it is imperative to look at the tasks carried out by someone managing employees using Time and Labor in PeopleSoft. Given below is a generic list of period-end activities that a T&L manager would have to carry out in PeopleSoft:

1. Check if there is time and absence pending  approval.
2. Check if there are exceptions requiring attention and clear them.
3. Manipulate the timesheet of employees on an on-demand basis - correcting missing punches, incorrect punch order errors etc.
5. Make changes to work schedules as required.
4. Run certain time consolidation and audit reports to ensure that there are no discrepancies in the time generated for the pay period.

There are two important characteristics about the above tasks that have to be highlighted:
  • The above tasks have to be ideally carried out in a specific order.
  • The above tasks have to be repeated, every pay period.
When sequential tasks have to be carried out repetitively, it is important that:
  • The steps to do the tasks are kept to a minimum.
  • The sequence of steps to be carried out are clearly articulated.
  • The marginal investment on new user training is kept to a minimum.
Page navigation design plays a very important role in helping organisations meet the above goals. The navigation structure in PeopleSoft has traditionally been limited to individual transaction pages, with hyperlinks in a page leading to other pages related to the current page. A good example of such a navigation design is the Time and Labor launchpad. True to it's name, the Time and Labor launchpad provides a common entry-page for employees and managers and contains links to related T&L pages.
Given below is an example of a Time and Labor launchpad for a Manager, with links to different transactions.

While the above design helps to collate related links, it is rarely helpful in guiding the users through an end-to-end business process they have to carry out.

The T&L WorkCenter is designed to specifically address the above needs. The T&L WorkCenter can be utilised as the 'go-to' page within T&L (and even Absence Management, as the workcenter definition can be easily extended through configuration) for Managers and Administrators to carry out their routine tasks. It integrates most of the navigations used within the module, displays pending work items (like approvals, alerts etc.), gives a list of links with sequential activities, provides a list of reports/queries to run etc. In summary, it brings together most of the information and pages that a T&L Manager or Administrator would require. A sample of the Time and Labor WorkCenter is given below:

The delivered Time and Labor WorkCenter page contains a new landing page that summarises most of the commonly used pages with T&L for a manager or administrator. The tabs and pages within each tab can be easily configured using the 'Manage Tabs' functionality that has been newly introduced in the Setup of Time and Labor. One could say that this is pretty similar to the related content functionality - but I think that from a navigation perspective, this layout is superior to that offered by  related content framework.
The WorkCenter utilises the standard WorkCenter pagelets like 'My Work', 'Links', 'Reports/Processes' and 'Queries'. These pagelets are highly configurable and can be modified from: Enterprise Components > WorkCenter/Dashboards > Configure Pagelets
The 'My Work' pagelet (this is a Peopletools feature per se and is common to the WorkCenter framework and not specific to Time and Labor) is conceptualised really well as it gives a snapshot of pending approvals and alerts for a certain user.
Note: There is also an 'Approval Pagelet' that is delivered as part of the 'Manager Dashboard' functionality introduced in PeopleSoft HCM9.1 Feature Pack 2. The Approval Pagelet and the My Work pagelet are similar in functionality - both of them are designed to display pending approvals to a user. I would suggest to evaluate both these pagelets during your implementation/upgrade and deploy the pagelet that is most appropriate for your use (my personal preference is the My Work pagelet as it is more elegant and flexible that the Approval Pagelet).
The 'Reports/Processes' pagelet provides an effective way to enable end-users (especially managers) to run PS Queries and other reports without the need to access a tool like Query Manager. This is important from a Time and Attendance point of view as typically there will be audit and time/absence analysis reports that will need to be executed by those managing time of employees.

Overall, I opine that the Time and Labor WorkCenter can be utilised as the 'landing page' for all Time and Labor transactions for a T&L Manager or Administrator. The simplification that this brings to the overall navigational requirements, training and communication is immense. Imagine telling your managers to just go to one single page to do everything related to T&L, rather than training them to remember individual page navigation. The T&L WorkCenter functionality should be thoroughly examined and rolled-out in any upgrade or implementation involving Time and Labor 9.2 - the operational improvements that this feature can bring in is immense.

For more in-depth review of PeopleSoft T&L 9.2 features, click here.
If you want to discuss more on the new features in PeopleSoft 9.2 or want an in-depth system demonstration, write into

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