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April 5, 2013
On March 18, 2013, Oracle announced the general availability of PeopleSoft 9.2, which included more than 1,000 new features, functions, and enhancements for Human Capital Management, Financials, Supply Chain Management, Projects, and Assets applications. Building on the technical foundation of the newly available PeopleTools 8.53 (made available in February 2013), the PeopleSoft 9.2 release includes an updated user experience for both casual and professional users, Oracle Secure Enterprise Search, and specific capabilities intended to reduce the total cost of ownership. In our opinion, there’s a lot to like in PeopleSoft 9.2. The following particularly caught our attention:
- WorkCenters. Central to the redesign of the PeopleSoft user experience are WorkCenters for the professional user (e.g., the human resources manager, the CFO, the procurement team). The WorkCenters are configurable by each user, so my WorkCenter works the way I do and not the way IT decides to work. It brings together my reports, assigned tasks, alerts, and more into an easy-to-use dashboard. For example, an accounts payable manager can easily see what he needs to do (e.g., incomplete vouchers, incomplete transactions) and links to the places in the system where he needs to work (e.g., voucher mass maintenance, match workbench). These are pulled together in the corresponding work space to see where match exceptions exist and quickly get them resolved.
- Activity Guides and Train Stops for casual users. Using the Related Actions Framework delivered in PeopleTools 8.53, the PeopleSoft 9.2 release became easy for the casual user (i.e., the sales representative who just became a new parent and needs to update her benefit choices). Activity Guides provide step-by-step processes to help process this transaction, while Train Stops visually lay out the steps of the process and make it easier for the casual user to complete it correctly.
- Global, free text search. We’ve all become used to searching the internet by entering a few words and getting back a string of results. The PeopleSoft 9.2 release incorporates Oracle’s Secure Enterprise Search to search across the applications. So now it’s possible to search for that health insurance benefit plan or the requisition for a new printer and find the associated activity.
- Private Cloud Deployments (aka synthetic SaaS). If it is priced like SaaS and looks like SaaS, does the end user care if it is SaaS or not? There’s a lot of activity in the software-as-a-service market — lots of new start-up companies with attractive pricing and seemingly easy-to-use software. But SaaS is not a solution for all customers. For example, a highly regulated industry may require an on-premise solution but still want the benefits of SaaS. Oracle’s private cloud deployments, leveraging offerings from Oracle Cloud Services (formerly known as Oracle OnDemand) and Oracle Financing, plus PeopleTools 8.53, offer a SaaS experience within a private cloud.
- PeopleSoft Update Manager. Enterprise applications are complex and the implementation can sometimes be difficult. Plus, just when you get everything working the way you want it, along comes a new release of software that contains some things you want and others your organization really doesn’t need. The PeopleSoft Update Manager enables the customer to add the new mobile HCM applications included in the new release, while choosing not to disrupt the General Ledger applications until they are ready to do so.
- Projects and Assets working together. About seven years ago, the PeopleSoft Projects team at Oracle saw that a number of their customers in asset and facility-intensive businesses were still struggling to manage the life cycle of assets. These customers may spend $2 billion on a capital asset such as a hospital and then need to spend billions more maintaining that asset. These customers want to manage not only the construction projects to build the asset but also the work orders for maintaining the asset during its life. So the PeopleSoft team leveraged some of the intellectual property of one of their siblings — JD Edwards — and rewrote the application into PeopleSoft. While this effort isn’t new with the 9.2 release (although there is plenty of new functionality included in the new release), our awareness of it is. This is an excellent example of Oracle’s ability to leverage acquired products and create industry-specific solutions.
In addition to the technical advancements discussed previously, there are a number of functional enhancements that further improve usability while also modernizing process methods specifically in PeopleSoft HCM 9.2. These enhancements include deeper employee and manager self-service, easy-to-use paycheck modeling, faceted search, and embedded and ad hoc analytics enabled by the new native pivot grid capability. Pivot grids are user configurable and work off of real-time operational data and complement the multisource data warehouse enabled by Oracle OBI. In addition, Oracle is delivering HTML5 mobile solutions for managers today with employee-centric processes planned. The release is rounded out by a number of updates to PeopleSoft talent modules while also supporting clients’ choice to deploy Oracle Talent Cloud.
It’s been eight years since Oracle acquired PeopleSoft, and to their credit, they did not de-emphasize a competitive suite of applications but instead have continued to invest and develop innovative applications. While the last major PeopleSoft release, 9.1, was delivered in late 2009, Oracle has continued to provide new functionality, including mobile applications, in an ongoing series of feature packs. Now, with the 9.2 release out and a planned road map of more feature packs and releases, Oracle continues to demonstrate its commitment to the PeopleSoft applications and earn the loyalty of its existing customer base, as well as new customers who are choosing PeopleSoft for the first time.
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