According to Rebekah Jackson, Vice President of PeopleSoft Product Management at Oracle, “these days when we interact with customers, the vast majority are on our 9.2 release. That’s great news for many reasons, in large part because it means those customers have knowledge and experience to share with the rest of our PeopleSoft community.”
Quest recently hosted a conversation with Shane Pitman of Griffith University, Chamanthi Weerasinghe of Presence of IT, and Rebekah, to discuss some of the details of the University’s recent PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) 9.2 upgrade and how they are using the software to deliver value at Griffith University.
- When upgrading to the latest release, taking a thorough and aggressive look at eliminating customizations, lowering your organization’s total cost of ownership
- Upgrading to the latest release allows your organization to remain on the latest support level from Oracle
- The newer release offers many technology performance and usability enhancements—such as fluid user interface—that will increase the overall efficiency of your business processes and your application
About Griffith University
Griffith University was established in 1971 and was created to be a new kind of university in Australia—one with students at its core, teaching progressive degrees across a range of disciplines, focused on sustainability and deeply connected with the Asia–Pacific region.
Griffith has flourished into a comprehensive, research-intensive university ranked in the top 3% of tertiary institutions worldwide, teaching in all study areas across five campuses in South East Queensland. Their vision is to be one of the most influential universities in Australia and the Asia–Pacific region.
Griffith University has been using PeopleSoft across HCM, Campus Solutions, and Financial Management since 2001. The University was on 7.6 before they upgraded to 9.0, and they have recently upgraded to HCM 9.2. Each of these upgrades was done in partnership with Presence of IT, a leading consultancy in Human Capital Management solutions with whom Griffith has a long and successful relationship.
What were the drivers for Griffith University’s HCM 9.2 upgrade?
Shane (Griffith University):
The main driver was to ensure that Griffith was running on a supported version. Based on the Oracle roadmap, we knew we needed to upgrade to 9.2 at some point. We started with HCM, as we wanted to make sure that if we had any system issues or bugs that needed to be fixed we would be up to date. However, it was also an opportunity to review, change and remove legacy customizations–such as Australian tax rules–as well as consider new modules within the system. As such, Griffith implemented the recruitment and ePerformance modules as well as Fluid, all as part of the HCM 9.2 upgrade.
What was the presence of its role in the upgrade?
Presence of IT worked in partnership with Griffith University, particularly in the technical and development space, design and configuration of new functionalities across HR (in particular Fluid), Time & Labor, and Payroll to upgrade and implement HCM 9.2 and to implement new modules such as Recruiting Solutions and ePerformance Management.
The partnership with Presence of IT started long before I was at Griffith. We worked with them on HCM upgrades back in 2007.
Chamanthi (presence of it):
We came upon Griffith University via a recommendation from Oracle as a Specialist HCM Partner to assist with Griffith’s v7.6 upgrade to v9.0. Since then, we have been involved in various projects, support and training activities including an upgrade to v9.2.
Presence of IT has had a long-standing working relationship with Griffith and they know our business processes. Presence of IT can tell us things we did back in 2008 while there are many staff members at Griffith who were not around then. During the HCM 9.2 upgrade, having Presence of IT provided a deeper understanding of what was required from a technical standpoint.
How did the 9.2 upgrade compare to previous upgrades?
Previous upgrades were perhaps more technical in nature and continued legacy customizations and functionality which were not optimal for Griffith’s operations. The upgrade to 9.2 was very much an opportunity and conscious move to review decisions and functionality of the past, decide whether to reinstall existing customizations or remove them, create new customizations where required and implement new functionality in the process.
The outcome of this upgrade was very much focused on business value and realizing business benefits and not a technology refresh. So a key focus area was to de-customize where possible to optimize standard functionality, and look at new functionality available. We worked as a team working with the Oracle upgrade lab to run the upgrade script and create the actual instances; Griffith University IT and Business staff and Presence of IT’s consultants across Functional and Technical workstreams.
The upgrade took 18 months, which was longer than anticipated. One reason for the length of the project was that we had to split Campus Solutions from HCM before moving HCM to 9.2, a process which took about 6 months. We also wanted to document our business processes for the modules we were using and make decisions around our recruitment application because we were using another provider at that time. Our approach to examining previous customizations also took longer than expected, lengthening the process. Further, as we got closer to the scheduled delivery, we realized some of the timing of the upgrade did not coincide with change management timing of the overall university
You were able to reduce your customizations in HCM by 35 – 40%? What enabled this?
Policies, processes, and requirements change over time. Customizations that were relevant in the past, and in some cases previous decisions made, were no longer required as part of Griffith University’s evolvement and changes in the way it does business.
More specifically, we were able to retire a customized bolt-on for time sheeting, we removed many of the previous customizations and we worked primarily with the delivered product. Because we had been using a different provider in the recruitment space, we had a workbench which was a large customization that was completely removed as well.
Rather than having certain employee groups in the time sheeting bolt-on, we brought them back into the PeopleSoft Time and Labor standard functionality and extended them by having additional workgroups in there, getting more value from their existing investment in standard PeopleSoft Time & Labor module.
Also, as a result of implementing Recruiting Solutions, as Shane mentioned, we removed a workbench for transferring applicants from the third party system into the HR module within PeopleSoft without duplicate data entry.
Griffith’s success in reducing customizations is great to hear. PeopleSoft has delivered a lot of functionality through the years, including on 9.2 with continuous delivery of new enhancements. This often means that customers find they have capabilities in existing products that they haven’t been leveraging. That coupled with the increasing trend to focus on vanilla, out of the box functionality and a willingness to change business processes to leverage delivered best practice, means that many customers can retire a large number of customizations, as Griffith University did. That can save a lot of money and make it easier to maintain the system and take new features in the future
Speaking of new capabilities, Griffith University is using fluid. Where and how are you using it?
We are using Fluid wherever it is available in PeopleSoft HCM 9.2, from the staff homepage when logging into PeopleSoft, right through to each module where Fluid has been deployed.
When we started the upgrade, we were on PI#9 and we went live on PI#13. Currently, we are taking up additional features from PI#18 on PT8.55 that is scheduled to go live in November. Some of the key functionalities that we are in the middle of looking at are primarily in the Recruiting Solutions, fluid attachments, and guided self-service, and we are waiting for more releases from Oracle!
What was your experience in deploying fluid? What did you learn that other customers could benefit from?
Fluid was not originally part of the upgrade as it was released after the scoping phase, but as the project progressed, Fluid began to make more sense. It really just evolved over time.
Fluid is a natural progression in technology similar to that of other systems that we use in our daily lives like banking transactions on mobile devices. It is a simple look and feel for customers to use and removes some of the noise of having to understand the system, but rather just enjoy the experience and simplicity of using the system.
You mentioned that Griffith University deployed PeopleSoft recruiting solutions and eperformance, at the same time that you did your 9.2 upgrade. Why did you add these new modules to your PeopleSoft implementation?
It didn’t make financial sense to pay for an Oracle license and associated modules that Griffith wasn’t using. PeopleSoft Recruiting Solutions didn’t meet our needs five years ago. It has come a long way since then—with still some way to go—and improved the integration points between recruitment and global payroll which we didn’t have with another provider. ePerformance was, therefore, a natural progression in terms of the employee life cycle, and using PeopleSoft as our ERP solution across recruitment, payment, benefits, and performance made sense.
Griffith University is a great example of what we are seeing with a number of PeopleSoft customers, expanding their PeopleSoft solution footprint. In some cases, it’s a matter of rolling out a product that is already owned but not in use, as Griffith University did with Recruiting Solutions. In other cases, because of the integration and the benefits of leveraging PeopleSoft across a business process and the capabilities of the modules themselves, customers are purchasing new modules and expanding their PeopleSoft product footprint.
How involved with a user group was Griffith University during the upgrade process?
Engagement with Oracle from an HR business perspective has been lacking over the years as our IT colleagues have been the main contact point. This is now changing and HR has a keen interest in developing further relationships with Oracle, Quest and other User Groups. I want to continue to explore other user groups outside Australia and New Zealand to see what they are doing, particularly in the university space.
Does Griffith university participate in focus groups for the PeopleSoft products? If so, what benefit does this have?
Griffith University has been involved in a number of focus groups with PeopleSoft products, including recruitment, onboarding and offboarding, and ePerformance. We are keen to be more involved, the challenge is always the time difference between Australia and the U.S. when forums are held.
One benefit of focus groups is the opportunity to connect with others who have similar pain points. If we have an obstacle, others are likely to experience it as well. It’s also an opportunity to get first-hand some of the roadmaps and to influence what that roadmap looks like from a business point of view before it is set in stone.
We love having customers interact with us and take advantage of our Focus Groups the way Griffith University has. The PeopleSoft community has always been so strong and willing to collaborate, with us and with each other. It’s a great win-win, we get really helpful, concrete input on the functionality we are developing, while Griffith and the rest of the customers get to influence the direction of the product and have deep insight into what we are working on.
Where do you want to take Griffith University’s HRIS solution in the next two to three years?
Personally, I would like to see Griffith University fully embrace Fluid technology when released. I want to encourage Oracle to release Fluid interface and modules sooner rather than later. We have had a taste and are looking for more. Since Griffith University uses PeopleSoft for HCM, Campus Solutions and Finance, there are real opportunities for Fluid to be embraced across all three platforms which will improve the user experience of students, staff or a combination of both.
Funding prevailing I would also like to see Griffith invest in ELM and continue to develop the Recruiting Solutions product as it doesn’t fully meet our organizational needs at this point in time.
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