Sunday, January 20, 2013

Accessing PS Queries outside Query Manager and Query Viewer

The PS Query toolset provides the easiest mechanism to create and generate simple reports from PeopleSoft. While PS Queries cannot be used to produce highly formatted and graphical reports, it is very effective in extracting day-to-day enquiry queries which is of interest to employees, managers and administrators. Considering this, it is a bit surprising that most customers deploy this tool only for the use of administrators. One of the main reasons for the restricted use of PS Queries is that most customers are reluctant to let managers run a PS Query using the Query Manager/Viewer pages. Query Manager and Query Viewer are the standard options available in PeopleSoft to run PS Queries and there are indeed usability issues in opening up these pages to the end user community. But, the fact remains that there are easy alternatives to Query Manager and Query viewer in PeopleSoft, which can be effectively used to enable end users utilise PS Query based reporting. In this post, we take a high level tour of the methods that can be used to access PS Queries without using Query Manager or Query Viewer.

(a) Accessing PS Query as a navigation link (content reference): Managers/Employees are most familiar with navigating through the folder structure of PeopleSoft and accessing information in as minimum number of clicks as possible. So, what if your managers/employees could access relevant PS Queries just like any other page in PeopleSoft, just by clicking a navigation link? This can be achieved by creating a PS Query as just another content reference under the navigation structure that you desire. Once you create a query as a content reference, you could very well add that in a navigation collection as well, to improve the usability experience.
Here are the steps to create a PS Query as a content reference:
  • Navigate to Peopletools > Portal > Structure and Content and create a new content reference definition.
  • Select the URL Type as PeopleSoft Generic URL
  • Enter the portal URL as q/?ICAction=ICQryNameURL={Query Name}
  • Save the content reference definition and you are good to go!
By following the above steps, you will be able to expose a PS Query as just another navigation link. On clicking the link, users will directly be shown the query output (if there are no prompts for the query), bypassing query viewer/manager. The traditional query security is also skipped in this method, which is another plus.

(b) Accessing PS Query as a hyperlink on a page: I am sure that most of you have noticed certain pages in PeopleSoft which contains hyperlinks to PS Queries. This is most common in the security configuration side where there are pages with links to queries that display the roles a userid has, the pages that a certain userid can access etc. Accessing PS Query as a hyperlink is another alternative to using Query Manager. On clicking the hyperlink, the query is automatically executed, bypassing query manager and even query security. Implementing this is not as straightforward as the first option, as it will be required to do some simple peoplecoding and application designer changes to achieve this. The steps that can be done to expose a PS Query as a hyperlink is detailed below:
  • Add a hyperlink object in the page where you want the query to be accessed.
  • Put the destination properties of the hyperlink as a dynamic external link.
  • Instantiate the value of the hyperlink to the URL of the relevant PS Query. You can get the URL of a PS Query using the CreateQueryURL peoplecode function.
The above approach is useful when you want users to directly run a PS Query from a transactional page. The downside of this method in comparison to the option of creating PS Query as a content reference is that this method will require some customisation.
(c) Creating PS Query as a Related Content: Related Content is an excellent feature introduced in Peopletools 8.50 which revolutionised the navigational capabilities within PeopleSoft. You can read more of related content and it's capabilities here and here. One of the features offered by the related content framework is that a PS Query can be configured as a related content definition. This means that using the related content framework, a PS Query that is related to a certain transaction page, can be made to appear as a related content definition. This means that your users will see the results of a ps query displayed directly within the context of a related transaction page. Given below is the setup page where a PS Query can be defined as a related content service.
(d) Accessing PS Query results using Feed Framework: Peopletools 8.50 introduced another exciting feature called 'Feed Publishing Framework', which enabled PeopleSoft customers to generate RSS feeds from PeopleSoft datasources. Using this framework, it is possible for users to consume information from PeopleSoft using a traditional Feed Reader/Aggregator or using the My Feeds page in PeopleSoft. This opened up yet another way to consume the results of PS Queries. The Feed Publishing framework allows users to publish a PS Query as an RSS feed, which can be consumed by end users.
From the above alternatives, it is obvious that PeopleSoft presents very rich alternatives to Query Manager/Viewer for accessing and executing PS Queries. These methods can be utilised to present PS Query based reporting to the end user community in a user-friendly manner, with minimal customisation.

Post Note: The above is not a complete list of the alternatives presented in PeopleSoft for running PS Queries. There are certain options which are more appropriate for administrator type users, which have not been documented above.
  • The first among the options is Reporting Console (Main Menu > Reporting Tools > Reporting Console). Reporting Console is an excellent utility to organise various reports and processes based on functionality and is a must have for the administrator community.
  • Another interesting alternative is the use of XMLLink registry function to access PS Queries directly from a MS Excel workbook. This is documented in detail here and goes a step further to improve the usability experience of the administrator community.
  •  It is possible for external applications to create or invoke a PS Query in PeopleSoft using web services. The Query Access Service toolset provides a number of service operations that can be utilised by third parties to create or execute PS Queries.
  • I had developed a bolt-on framework to organise and run PS Queries by functionality and designed to work outside the Query Manager/Viewer tools. This was developed to address the need to classify specific PS Queries that were routinely run to audit payroll results every bi-week. More details are documented here.
 If there are other methods to access PS Queries that you are aware of, please feel free to leave a comment and I will update this post accordingly.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012: When HR Technology vendors went on a shopping spree

2012 was a monumental year for HR Technology. Late 2011 and 2012 saw massive consolidation of the market, with clear signs of a tectonic shift from on-premise to cloud, social. mobile and analytics based products. Almost all major HR technology vendors, including Oracle and SAP made significant acquisitions during this period to bolster offerings and customers in the SaaS HCM market. The M&A activities were not restricted to product companies alone, niche consulting firms were also snapped up by larger HR/Management/Technology consulting companies, signalling a shift in the skills valued by the industry as well.
In this post, we try to summarise the important acquisitions that were announced in the HR technology space from December 2011 to Janauary 2013. We hope that this compilation will be an informative read for you.
  • Oracle acquired Taleo for around 1.9 billion USD in February, 2012. This was seen as a counter to SAP's acquisition of SuccessFactors for 3.4 billion USD in December 2011.
  • Following up on the acquisition of Taleo and signalling the company's focus on cloud and social based HR applications, Oracle snapped up SelectMinds in September 2012. SelectMinds provides social recruiting and alumni management services, has an impressive list of customers and has pre-built integration with Taleo.
  • IBM announced it's intentions to foray into HR Technology and analytics space by acquiring Kenexa for 1.3 billion USD in August 2012. Founded in 1987, Kenexa is a major player in the recruitment processing outsourcing (RPO), end to end recruitment technology, candidate assessment, strategic HR research and talent/learning management. There is an excellent assessment by Josh Bersin on the details of this acquisition, which can be read here.
  • Kenexa extended it's Talent Management offerings by adding Learning Management capabilities, through it's acquisition of  Outstart in February, 2012. Here is another detailed analysis by Josh Bersin on the Kenexa-Outstart acquisition.
  • Ceridian, a leader in the payroll, benefits and expenses processing space (#2 in the US after ADP and #1 in the UK) forayed into SaaS HCM solutions by acquiring Toronto based Dayforce, in February 2012. The association of Ceridian and Dayforce goes back to early 2011, when the former invested in Dayforce to bring the Ceridian Inview Workforce Management product to market. The full acquisition of Dayforce by Ceridian will bring out a unified SaaS HCM product called Ceridian Dayforce HCM, lead by David Ossip, founder of Dayforce and Workbrain (which was acquired by Infor in 2007). It will be interesting to see the evolution of a core HCM/Talent Management application from a company traditionally focussed on payroll/time and attendance and workforce management.
  •  Peoplefluent, which in itself is the product of a merger of Peopleclick and Authoria, acquired Canadian LMS company Strategia in January. In May, Bedford Funding, the private equity firm that owns Peoplefluent, announced investment in Socialtext, a company facilitating enterprise collaboration with products like enterprise blogs, wikis etc.
  • Cloud Talent Management company, Cornerstone OnDemand acquired New Zealand based Talent Management firm, Sonar6 in March. The Sonar6 product has now been rebranded to CSB and will cater to small enterprises.
  • LMS and Talent Management major, Saba acquired HumanConcepts in March. HumanConcepts provides solutions in the organisation visualisation and org. chart space. The product line of Saba really looks to be shaping up well!
  • In April, European online job board major, StepStone acquired TotalJobs group, the largest online recruitment player in the UK market.
  • LinkedIn with the largest network of professionals, has made impressive inroads into the recruitment space (LinkedIn's recruitment division has reported growth in excess of 130%) and is being touted to disrupt the recruitment space. Considering this, we need to include LinkedIn very much as a player in the HCM space. LinkedIn snapped up the Youtube of presentations, Slideshare in May.
  • 2012 also saw M&A action in the consulting/service space. In October, cloud technology consulting firm Appirio acquired Jason Averbook's top HR consulting firm, Knowledge Infusion.
  • Staying on in the consulting space, Deloitte acquired Workday consulting firm, Aggressor in March. At the time of acquisition, Aggressor had the largest number of Workday certified consultants as well as a significant share in overall Workday implementations.
  • In early January 2013, Deloitte further strengthened it's HCM consulting practise by acquiring the leading research and consulting firm in HR Technology, Bersin and Associates. This acquisition should turn out extremely valuable for Deloitte in the HCM consulting space, considering the expertise, brand value and intellectual property brought in by Josh Bersin's firm.
  • Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a member based senior management advisory firm snapped up the leading employee assessment firm, SHL, in July. With over 10,000 customers, an enviable library of 1000+ assessment tests and significant talent related data, SHL was  an excellent buy by CEB and should bolster it's talent analytics practise.
  • Hirevue is a company that we follow with great interest due to it's innovative on-demand video interviewing platform. To complement it's candidate evaluation/screening offerings, Hirevue acquired Codeeval in August 2012. Codeeval was a player in the automated evaluation and assessment of a candidate's programming skills. There are a number of companies that have come up in this space (screening solutions), which should see further consolidation in 2013.
  • In December 2011, acquired social performance management firm Rypple. Rypple has been rebranded as salesforce and represented the foray of into the HR Technology space.
  • In September 2012, Careerbuilder announced the acquisition of EMSI (Economic Modelling Specialists International). Considering the challenges faced by jobboards in the wake of competition from sites like LinkedIn, we consider this to be an interesting move by Careerbuilder. There is indeed tremendous value in being able to offer candidates insights into career paths, suggested trainings etc. and it needs to be seen how Careerbuilder can integrate this into their service offerings.
  • Much has been said about the challenges of managing a global, remote workforce and of using personal computing devices at the workplace (BYOD). Considering these challenges, we believe that the acquisition of BYOD security management firm Meraki by Cisco in November 2012, is interesting for the HR Technology space. Meraki is a cloud based computer networking startup that claims to be the first and only solution that provides device based security policies, built-in NAC, and built-in mobile device management for enterprise customers.
We are sure that the ripples caused by the market consolidation waves of 2012, will continue well into 2013 as the HR Technology industry undergoes significant changes. Interesting times to be in the HR Technology market!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quick notes on Workday's Payroll capabilities

Here are some quick notes from a webcast on Workday Payroll that I attended:

1. Workday Payroll provides country extensions for USA and Canada, at present.
2. For non-US and Canada countries, Workday provides a configurable cloud connector that can be used to integrate with country specific payroll providers.
3. Workday also has local payroll partners like Northgate Arinso, Cloudpay etc. who provide native integration with Workday HCM.
4. The Workday Payroll, HCM and Time Tracking work as an integrated unit rather than being individual silos/modules which are integrated (a plus in comparison to PeopleSoft architecture).
5. The presenter gave a quick demo of Workday Time Tracking (similar to PeopleSoft's Time and Labor) which was released in Workday 17. Except for the advanced mobile time tracking features, I was not floored by what was demonstrated. In terms of the depth of time tracking functionalities, I believe PeopleSoft would be very much up there.
6. The product seemed to be designed around the business process of executing and administering a payroll, rather than around running a payroll engine, which is a real positive. There are a number of audits, alerts, reports and drill down charts that are provided as part of the product and most of these are executed automatically as each phase of the payroll cycle completes.
7. A lot of calculations, especially around time rules and absence balances seemed to be real time, rather than depending on a process to be run. It was pretty interesting to see the calculated payable time being displayed immediately on saving the timesheet! I should mention here that generation of payable time on submitting the timesheet is a feature that has been announced in PeopleSoft v9.2.
8. The presenter mentioned that the largest Workday Payroll customer has a headcount of 40,000 employees and that half of Workday's 400+ customers use Workday Payroll.

I do not want to delve into comparing the Workday solution with that of PeopleSoft - a one hour session is too short to make any meaningful conclusion. But, it seemed to me that usability, analytics, ease of payroll processing and a business process oriented approach are obvious plus points of Workday payroll (this is to be expected given the generational difference in technology used in the two products!). Given the tools provided and the process oriented design of the module, payroll processing should be faster and less error prone in Workday payroll in comparison to PeopleSoft. But, for Time and Attendance and Payroll processes, depth of functionality and configurability matter more than great usability. It is also obvious that payroll is not the focus area for Workday as they offer country extensions for just USA and Canada (already Oracle Fusion provides payroll extensions for more countries, including China, UK and Saudi Arabia) and have a partnership model as their global payroll strategy.
Considering the relative lack of focus of Workday Payroll outside USA/Canada, risks and effort involved in a typical payroll migration project and the proven capabilities of PeopleSoft Global Payroll, makes Workday payroll less of a direct threat to the installed base of PeopleSoft Global Payroll in the short term. Here is where I think that the co-existence model offered by Oracle Fusion is better suited to help PeopleSoft Global Payroll customers transition to a SaaS based solution (Fusion) for core HCM and Talent Management while utilising the HR2HR integration to retain PeopleSoft Global Payroll. This option gives customers the time to phase out their HR and Payroll system transformation roadmap with lesser disruptions.

Update on 17/01/2013: There is an interesting discussion in the Workday HCM group in LinkedIn on Workday payroll and comments from customers who are already live on the product.
You can follow it here.

And here are some screenshots depicting Workday's Global Payroll model and partners:

Payroll partners of Workday with integration to Workday HCM/Time Tracking:

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you a very fulfilling year ahead.
Thank you for your support and visits to this blog in 2012 and I hope to have an engaging year of sharing knowledge and collaboration, in 2013. Keep those visits coming!