Friday, April 24, 2009

What is the purpose of a TRC Category in Time and Labor?

Peoplesoft introduced a new definition in Time and Labor 8.9 called Time Reporting Category. A new field was introduced in the TRC Setup page, where a TRC could be mapped to a category. A TRC Category can be used to group functionally similar TRCs together. For example, if your organisation uses three different over time TRCs like OT1, OT2 and OT3 for different rates of overtime - you could create a TRC Category called Over Time and link the above three TRCs to this.
But where exactly is this new definition used?

The primary purpose of this new definition is to populate the newly introduced grid called 'Reported Hours Summary' in the Timesheet page. This grid gives the summary based on the TRC Category reported in the timesheet. This is specifically useful as a single snapshot view of the summary of various categories of time reported in a period. For example, suppose there are three TRC Categories like Regular, Overtime and Absence. In a week an employee has reported 4 hours of Regular time on three days, 2 hours of OT1 TRC on one day, 2 hours of OT2 TRC on one day, 8 hours of Sick Leave on one day and 3 hours of Bereavement Leave on one day. When this is summarised based on the TRC Categories - the viewer very clearly gets the picture that the employee reported a total of 12 hours of Regular Time, 4 hours of Over Time and 11 hours of Absence in the week.

Another potential use of the TRC Category definition is in reports to group TRCs together. Reports based on the TRCs reported, like overtime reports are very common in any implementation. In this case, it will be useful to create a single TRC Category called Over Time and link all the Over Time TRCs to that category and later use the category in the report rather than hard coding the TRC names.

You will also notice that this new definition has a mention in the Time and Labor installation page also, where we can control whether it should appear in the timesheet page. Even though its a very small functionality enhancement, I will advice any implementation that has more than 10 TRCs, to consider the use of well segmented, logical TRC Categories.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Peoplesoft Time and Labor: My wishlist - I

I believe that Peoplesoft has done an awesome job with the Time and Labor product - it's flexibility, features and strong integration capabilities make it a very strong product that caters very well to most business needs. Yet, there are some areas I wish Oracle could improve upon, some features that I sorely miss and so here is my wish list for a future release of Time and Labor.

> Integration with HRMS: It is critical that Time and Labor data is kept in sync with the HRMS data. Most implementations require the development of a process to do this, considering the inevitability of this process, it will be a relief for customers to have this as a delivered process.

> Restore Feature on Timesheet: There should be a feature to restore the timesheet to the last saved state. This will be a usability improvement and a much asked one by many customers I've worked with.

> Online Rules as Validation Messages: There is a delivered feature that allows the users to execute Time and Labor rules on the timesheet, but unfortunately this process just generates exceptions. It would be more meaningful and helpful if these online rules could be thrown up as a validation/error message. Most implementations require varying degree of online validations during time entry - it would be great to have those configured as T&L rules rather than through Peoplecode as T&L rules can be configured from the PIA and will not have to disturb any delivered component.

> Performance Improvement: Performance is a real issue with Time and Labor. Oracle needs to take a good look at both online performance (some of the delivered pagelets perform so poorly that they cannot be used at all!) as well as that of batch jobs like Time Administration.

> Mass Upload time through spreadsheet: It would be a nice to have feature to have a page from where users can directly upload reported time from a spreadsheet. Even though Time and Labor comes with the Rapid Time feature, there is nothing like working directly with an excel worksheet!

> More Delivered Reports: Customers would love to have more delivered reports with the product. Reports on employee schedules, reported time-payable time reconciliation, absence data-reported time reconciliation etc. would be a run away hit amongst the customers.

> T&L Rule Migration Engine: Modelled in a way similar to the Rule Packager utility in Absence Management, Time and Labor should also have a simple engine to aid in the migration of T&L Rules from one environment to another.

> Manager Dashboard: As Time and Labor data talks a lot about employee productivity and discipline, it would be wonderful to have a Manager Dashboard pagelet with analysis on Employee attendance information, Employee punctuality, Overtime and Productivity, Absenteeism etc.

> Delivered Localised Rules: Similar to the country extensions of GP that cater to the local country taxation and payroll rules, it would be a wonderful idea for Oracle to deliver Time and Labor with local rules of countries/cities. Some countries and cities have mandatory time and labor rules which every organisation will have to follow and there is nothing like getting that delivered with the product. The development, testing and maintenance time that this will save is immense for customers to readily lap up this feature.

If Oracle is reading, I am sure that some of these changes will go a long way in making Time and Labor a stronger product and the developer and user community would love to see some of these propping in to future releases.

Direct Reports UI and Peoplecode Transfer Function

The Transfer function is used in Peoplecode to move the users to a desired page within the same component or another component. A syntax for the function is as shown below(source Peoplebooks 8.48 - Peoplecode Language Reference) :


As shown above, the Menuname, Barname, Itemname and Page name of the target page has to be passed in this function. Rather than hard coding these values in the code, it will be a good practice if the above parameters are derived from a PIA page. Take a look at the page where we set up the Direct Reports Utility (Setup HRMS --> Common Definitions --> Direct Reports for Managers --> Direct Reports Setup).

The delivered Direct Reports Utility is designed to show the same employee selection page to the manager in various components and then is designed to redirect the manager to the appropriate page using the Transfer function. This functionality can be adopted for any custom requirement also. The parameters for the transfer function can be configured on this page and later retrieved Peoplecode by passing the component and market details (Use %Component and %Market as best practis). The only disadvantage I see is that if there are multiple transfer functions being used in the same custom component, then this is not a feasible solution. The elegance of the solution lies in the fact that nothing will have to be hardcoded in the transfer function code and is a completely maintainable and scalable solution.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Which city has the maximum Peoplesoft projects?

I installed Google Analytics on this blog last month - it is really fascinating to see the amount of data the tool provides free of cost. The metrics provided include - number of visits per day, source of visitors, key words used to search for the site, language, browser, time spent by a user on the site, navigation pattern etc. Out of all the metrics, one that really interests me is one called 'map overlay' - this gives the geographical location of the visitors. Now, I've been thinking whether I could look at the data on the map overlay metrics to arrive at the places around the globe where maximum Peoplesoft activity (read projects) happens. Here is how the metrics look as of today -
The number of visits are directly proportional to the darkness of the green on the map. So undoubtedly the USA is the place to be as far as Peoplesoft is concerned - within the US, California sent in maximum visitors followed by New York. India, Canada and the UK follow suite. There was considerable activity from South American countries like Brazil, Chile and Columbia as well as from Asian countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore. These countries represent a viable alternative to traditional outsourcing centres like India and the South American activity is especially significant in this regard. The geographical proximity to the US and the growing Hispanic population in US should make South American countries an attractive 'near-shoring' alternative. It will be really interesting if other Peoplesoft bloggers and especially the ivy league PS bloggers like Grey Sparling and Jim Marion could share the visitor profiles on their site as it would give a more realistic view of Peoplesoft activity from across the globe. But in the mean time, keep those clicks coming!

Time and Labor 9.1 - Integration with Oracle Workforce Scheduler

One of the biggest challenges that we face in designing a time and attendance system for a retail business is the ability to accurately forecast and capture the work schedule of employees. One aspect of the problem is arriving at the work schedule itself - how does a retail store manager decide upon the schedule of the employees? A number of factors go into this - the size of the store, the sales demand forecast for a period, the availability of the workforce, employees on planned absences, legal work rules etc. Given the multitude of parameters involved, drawing up the work schedules is a complex, difficult and practically inaccurate task for the store managers. The second aspect is about keeping the time and attendance system (Peoplesoft in our case) updated with the actual work schedule details. It has been our common experience that though manager verbally communicate the work schedule details to the store employees, a manual updation of the same in the system does not take place. The third dimension of the problem is the importance of having the correct schedule data in Peoplesoft. Modules like Absence Management and Time and Labor (and ultimately Payroll as these two modules feed data to the Payroll module/system) heavily relies on having the correct scheduling data for proper processing and calculations.
This is where a Workforce Scheduling system comes into play. A Workforce Scheduler is a system that will generate the schedules for your organisation based on various rules like sales forecast, demand, labour availability, time studies for tasks etc. From an enterprise perspective - there will be a bi-directional integration between a Workforce Scheduling System and the Time and Attendance system. The Time and Attendance (or HRMS) System will send the employee and absence details to the Scheduling System and the Scheduling System in turn will send the work schedule details back to the Time and Attendance System. We have been piloting the use of such a Workforce Scheduler in TESCO and work on it's integration with Peoplesoft Time and Labor is on.
With this background, it came as a pleasant surprise for me to read that Oracle is planning on delivering an integration between Peoplesoft Time and Labor and Oracle Workforce Scheduler in it's 9.1 release.

For a retail organisation, where work schedule of employees is dynamic and dependant on a number of external factors like sales demand - having a workforce scheduling system is of strategic importance. Having a system that will accurately generate schedules and keep the schedule data in sync with the Time and Attendance System will result in huge time and cost savings. In this context, this is a brilliant service offering from Oracle and will further bolster it's Peoplesoft strategy and customer base.