Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Why Do People Get So Hung Up about SaaS?

As my blog title implies, I work in the Fusion Applications world.  We've done numerous implementations of Fusion HCM now, and all of them have been in the cloud.  We are convinced that cloud services are the future and have staked the bank on it!

I study the various debates about SaaS (or cloud services) and find myself time and time again coming back to this simple view of why people choose a SaaS service over an on-premises application.  Some of the more technical questions like "is it true SaaS?" often don't really mean much to a customer.  If it's not on-premises it's SaaS (see previous blog).

To me the answer's simple... you buy SaaS because the hard work has been done for you by the service provider (like buying the hardware, maintaining the software, data compression, encryption and a whole load of other stuff I don't need to understand etc.).  You buy SaaS because it's simpler than doing it in house, and should be cheaper.

But another argument I see more and more is that if the "Service" you subscribe to doesn't do exactly what you want and you can't "customise" it.   Well, that's a whole different topic (don't get me started) where the SI's value to their customers is about product knowledge - or should be, to maximise the system's capabilities through configuration.

But, back to the topic in hand... when choosing systems we get hung up about the trivial and don't place enough emphasis on the important.  For example, maybe my payroll system calculates everything I need to pay people, but for some reason doesn't have the capability to automatically produce a payslip in the format I want.  Is that a showstopper?  Probably not, because I can extract my data and format it using another tool.  Not perfect, but it works.

OK, so let's look at this in a different way.  Let's think about something which may be more relevant to our daily lives than purchasing subscriptions to cloud services - buying a car.

When we buy a car, we usually do some research, maybe put together some requirements for the vehicle - model, engine size, colour, interior styling, sat. nav., tyre size, A/C etc.  Then we go to the dealer and take a test drive and find out how much it's going to cost us.   Some things will be more important to us than others.  Maybe leather seats are a 'must have', but a 12 speaker surround sound system or a cigarette lighter isn't so important.  But, ultimately we buy the vehicle and it probably doesn't have everything we wanted and it certainly has stuff we don't want in it!  So what!  We just don't use what we don't want.  But we do still pay for it and it's there if maybe one day we might want to use it.

So, why do people get so hung up about the software they purchase (or rather, subscribe to)?  In the car analogy, I get most of what I want in the car, a lot of what I don't want, but ultimately it does the job for me better than any other vehicle within the parameters of my original requirements and my budget.  What's more, it comes with a 3 year warranty so I don't have to worry about anything going wrong.

I think subscribing to a SaaS service should be looked at in the same way as the car purchase.  Go for the best fit to your requirements (I challenge you to name me any system that meets everything you wanted) and don't worry about the extras that you won't use - although they are there if you change your mind later.

Worry about the important things, and don't get hung up about the trivial things that don't really matter - like the cigarette lighter.

Just a thought...  I like keeping it simple.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Fusion HCM Benefits

This week I've been running a training course on the Fusion HCM Benefits module.

I'm based in the UK and it's not a module that is yet in wide use in this region. 

Its functionality is very broad and it allows administrators to design and manage plans, to enrol participants and to manage the transfer of data to benefits suppliers.

There is a workbench for administrators, the Benefits Service Centre, which would be well placed to be used in a shared service centre environment.  It provides a one stop shop for all the main administration processes.

There are features for quickly creating plans and programs which are easy an intuitive to use.

For the self-service users, there is another 'workbench' style page which brings together all the activities the participant may need to do.  For example, viewing existing benefits coverages and contributions, adding and managing dependents and beneficiaries and making the election choice for the benefits plans.

I can see this module become more popular as Fusion HCM takes off.

More on the subject later.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Fusion HCM R8 - New Features - Text Replacement

Having worked for a long time on Fusion Applications, I find that customers really like the ability to use the page composer to change the look and feel of the system.  That's fine until the customer asks "Can I change all the occurrences of the word "Assignment" to "Job" please?".  Up to now, the answer to that question has always been, "Well, we could, but it will take forever, and do you know how many places that text might occur in the system?  It could be thousands".

But now, there is a brilliant new feature which allows you to search for text strings and find all the occurrences of it.  Then you can replace the text with your own.  But, it gets better.  More later.

So, let's step through this process.

First, as long as you have the correct roles, you will find a new entry on the navigator menu.  It's under a group called Customization and the workarea is called User Interface Text.


You must do this work in a sandbox.  If you try to do it outside a sandbox you'll get a warning message.

So, open a sandbox and then begin by searching for the text you want to change.  My examples in the following screenshots show the replacement of the text "Visa" with "Permit".  But, just imagine the number of hits you'll get on the word "Assignment"!

Press the Search and Replace button...






Then, select the text you want to replace and the replacement text.  You can choose to look for plural versions of the text too, or whether the text case should be used as part of the search criteria...



You can also look for the text in messages.  Now this is really powerful, because you would never be able to find every occurrence hidden away in the myriad messages in the system.

Next, you preview the potential changes.  This is where you see just how many places your text occurs!

Text....


and messages....






At this point, you can review the places the text was found, including the messages it is embedded into.  If you want to, you can select specific occurrences to change and leave the rest untouched, or you can manually change the results if you think they don't read correctly.

When you're happy with the potential changes you can save them.  As you did this in a sandbox, you then have the ability to control their deployment into the mainline system or export them to a sandbox in another environment.

This is a really powerful feature and one I can see we will be using a lot!












Sunday, 6 July 2014

Working in the SaaS World

One of the reasons I haven't had much time to blog this year, is that I've spent a lot of the first 6 months travelling around the EMEA region delivering training to Oracle partners on Fusion HCM and Taleo.

Over that period, I've encountered delegates at our sessions from a wide variety of consultancy companies. 

Two interesting observations have emerged from this, and they are my 'observations' and therefore subjective.

One - a lot of people are having to rethink their view of implementing these types of systems.  SaaS changes the game and should also change the approach to implementation.  Not everyone seems to realise that the approach must change.  In SaaS, you really must understand the full potential of the functional tools the application gives you because these are the only way you can 'tailor' the application.  It is no longer satisfactory just to say "The application doesn't do that, but we can do you a customization (at extra cost)". 

Two - it seems to me that the smaller niche consultancies are the ones who 'get it'.  So, why is it that the larger consultancies still seem to dominate the market?  Answers on a postcard please!


Fusion HCM R8 - New Features - Workforce Modelling

We are working an 4 concurrent Fusion HCM implementations, 3 of them using R8.  So, I thought it was time to write a few thoughts on some of the new features that have come out with R8.

In fact, there's such a lot that's new in this release, I've decided to do one post per feature.

This one's about Workforce Modelling.

Workforce Modelling allows users to create scenarios related to organizational changes, such as hiring new people, moving people around the organization, etc.  The functionality is delivered via some new Duty Roles which are mapped to the Human Resources Specialist and Human Resources Manager job roles and also to the Line Manager abstract role.

Using this tool, you can show what the effect will be of making the changes.  The dashboard used contains a hierarchical display of the proposed reorganization and a running total of the changes and potential costs of those changes.



 Once the changes have been finalised, ALL the changes are sent for one set of approvals.  So, if a change involved a change in salary, position and department, that would be just one approval.

A very powerful and useful piece of functionality and a sensible approach to approvals.

As this product develops, we are beginning to see some very coherent integration of functionality.











Friday, 23 May 2014

Fusion Applications Release 8

My blogging has taken a back seat for the last few months while I've been doing a European Tour delivering bootamp training for Oracle Partners.  I've been to Turkey, Spain, France (several times), UK (OK I live in the UK, but sometimes it's felt like I'm just visiting!), Finland, Poland, Belgium, USA all in the last 3 months.  One of my colleagues kindly took on the trip to Dubai....   The bootcamps have covered Fusion HCM, Fusion Talent Management, Taleo Recruitment and Taleo Transitions.

While I've been away, Fusion Applications Release 8 came out and we are already working with it on a couple of our Fusion HCM projects.

It's a major release in terms of new functionality which has been introduced.  The obvious one is Time and Labour, which is a much needed additional to the scope of the application.  In future blogs, I will explore this in more detail.  The introduction of Time and Labour, also coincides with a rewrite of the Absence processes.

There's also some useful integration between Taleo Recruitment and Fusion HCM.  It's the first step, but looks promising as the two products become more integrated.  Again, more on that in future blogs.

Now, I'm off to Paris and London for more of those bootcamps...


Monday, 7 April 2014

Collaborate 2014

It's been a long while since my last blog post.  I've been doing a tour of Europe delivering some Fusion HCM and Talent Mangement courses for Oracle Alliances and Channels.  Helping to enable all my competitors in Fusion HCM.  Well, I'm pretty sure there will be plenty of business to go round for all of us.

Now I'm in Las Vegas for Collaborate 2014.  I'm giving two Fusion HCM presentations during the week and I'll be trying to add some more posts on anything I find interesting.