Tuesday, April 20, 2010

File layout converting spaces to blanks - UseSpaceForNull

Ran into a peculiar problem while writing to a file using File Layouts today. Fields that had
a space in the database was being converted to null while writing to the file. Did all the obvious
checks like ensuring the Trim Spaces and Strip White Spaces properties of the FileLayout were unchecked.
Then ran into the File Class property - UseSpaceForNull. This property was introduced in Peopletools 8.48 and does the neat job of ensuring that spaces are printed in the output file instead of nulls when attempting to print fields that indeed had a space in database. It is a read-write property and has to be used immediately after instantiating the file layout as shown below:

If &FILE1.IsOpen Then
If &FILE1.SetFileLayout(FileLayout.FL_NAME) Then
&FILE1.UseSpaceForNull = True;

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another use-case for PS-Microsoft Outlook Integration

I was walking towards my workstation when I heard an animated conversation between a manager and her reportees. The manager was instructing her reportees to make an entry in her Outlook calendar when they are on leave, so that she could plan her resources better. That just struck me that this was another potential area where we could use the integration between Peoplesoft and Microsoft Outlook on which I had written about here. That also got me thinking about the need to provide better views of team absences to managers. There are some excellent Calendar Views in Time and Labor, that gives complete information of scheduled hours, reported hours, exceptions etc. It is really imperative that such views are also delivered from the side of Absence Management - so that managers have a holistic view of their team's attendance.

P.S.: It's wonderful that Peoplesoft HCM 9.1 comes with an integration with Microsoft Outlook.
P.P.S: The Calendar views in Time and Labor does show reported absences, but only when the absences are brought to the timesheet.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

PS Query Classification Tool

As the manager of HR Shared Services one of the major initiatives Anand took up was to streamline the auditing processes of each business activity. This was needed as the organisation was growing bigger leading to larger HR transaction volumes, higher employee churning leading to the need to have documented processes to enable business continuity and the need for data accuracy. The biggest factor playing in Anand's mind was Payroll accuracy - given that his company was using Peoplesoft Global Payroll which had multiple feeder systems like Peoplesoft Absence Management, Time and Labor and Benefits - it was a nightmare for his team to ensure data consistency across the various modules. Anand worked closely with Praveen from the IT team to build audits at every stage of the payroll process and overtime the sheer number of audit queries became too large for the team to handle manually. With no tools at his disposal, Anand was forced to maintain the list of audit queries in an excel sheet which again had to be updated everytime a new query was added or retired. Praveen came to realise this constaint while working with Anand's team and thought why he could not develop a simple tool that will help Anand map a PS Query to the appropriate business process and also provide another page which would list all the PS Queries corresponding to a business process and let the users execute the query directly. He immediately got working on the idea and came up with the PS Query Classification Framework which he christened - QBox.
Anand just loved the tool as it helped him manage his audit process much better, his team mates could just access the QBox page and view all the up-to-date queries for a business process, now there was no way anyone would miss running a query and maintaining the query list was as easy as clicking a button!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Absence Leakage Decision Chart

Praveen was visibly frustrated, well not without reason, as the lead Absence Management consultant he was bombarded with multiple calls from the business team - most of them talking about the same issue of users having reported absences but the same not getting paid out in payroll. These issues were serious because it affected the pay of the employees and had to be investigated on priority and it took a good half day to investigate, document and communicate the fix to the users (even though he was an expert in the module!). Couple of months into this routine, Praveen realised that better user training and tools could help HR users to troubleshoot this issue at the first level itself and he decided to prepare a decision chart for the same.
Praveen had long realised that Peoplesoft absence management was a complex module for business users to comprehend and better tools and charts were required to simplify navigation through the module. He conceptualised a simple seven step process to help users identify where the booked absence went missing. The below presentation details the decision chart prepared by Praveen:

As a matter of fact, not even a single call came to the IT team regarding missing absences after introducing this tool and Praveen has been smiling since then!!
Well, even today most customers and users are trying hard to wade through the issues and complexities presented by Peoplesoft Absence Management and does not have any tool or dashboard to see what is actually being paid out and whether any payroll over or underpayments are being made. If you feel you fall under this category of customers and would want better auditing and dashboards to track your Peoplesoft Time and Attendance and Payroll systems, it is time to get in touch with us!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

After a long hiatus - Looking up to 2010!

Time lost is lost forever - true and I've had three full months without any new posts....Personally it's been an exciting period for me - moving out of the lax groove of bachelorhood, being married to the woman I love and finding that the 'life' in 'work-life balance' indeed does exist!
Eventhough it's three months into the new year, let me wish all of you a wonderful year ahead - a year full of new and fruitful experiences and learning!
I am sure that 2010 is going to be more exciting than the last two years which saw companies freezing investment on HR projects eclipsed by the worst recession since 1930s. Things have already started to look up - companies are hiring Peoplesoft consultants in scores and dozens, organisations have lapped up version 9.1 in a big way and HRIT projects seem to be getting favour once again!
So, what is going to be my theme and focus in the year ahead? Undoubtedly it's got to be about finding better ways to give customers a better deal in Peoplesoft Time and Pay implementations. I believe it's time for us to offer specialised and holistic solutions in this space to our customers and look beyond words like 'deployment' or 'implementation'. Undoubtedly, any time and pay HR suite (includes Time and Labor, Absence Management and Payroll solutions) has a direct impact on the company's financials and it's extremely critical to get it right the first time. I am convinced that we have a long way to go in this space - simply implementing certain modules will not work in this case as any time and pay implementation requires extensive integration between the modules as well as with external systems, requires tight audits and most importantly, the real life scenarios are extremely difficult to simulate in a test environment. I will not be exaggerating when I say that there are a number of customers out there who are bleeding thousands of dollars every pay period due to the issues with their time and pay systems - don't they require a better deal? I am convinced that they do and it will be difficult to achieve that with the current approach to Peoplesoft implementation.
My focus over the next few months will be on conceptualising a better framework and approach to time and pay system adoption and this blog will be my mouthpiece!