Upgrades and travel

Posted: November 20th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, Business, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

As I noted below we went through with a Tools upgrade to our PeopleSoft Portal a week back. As soon as our North American users got to work on Monday morning performance took a severe hit, logins took in excess of 2-4 minutes if you could get in at all. We’ve been running at capacity for a while while additions to the operating environment are put into place. Load testing in advance of the upgrade showed that we would lose about 10% of our capacity thanks to the larger code base of the newer version of the Tools. I don’t yet have a post-mortem analysis of what went wrong, I’ve heard a few things from my technology team but it’s not a final verdict yet.

With that in play, I’ve started my usability tour. On Wednesday I was in the London where I spent time with HRs for the UK and the technology team that runs our EMEA systems. These went well, and the HRs are quite hungry for self-service although not as delivered by PeopleSoft. To hear their management speak of it there are still data quality challenges and integration issues that keep them from giving a go-ahead. I see where Michael has posed a question about data quality on the discussion forum, certainly for us it’s a topic that arouses passions, although I’m not yet close enough to it to speak in an informed manner.

Dinner and a few pints followed with my tech colleagues, and I had a few hours on Thursday morning to run around and visit some of the classics in London: Big Ben, Covent Garden, Parliament, Picadilly.

That evening I met my colleagues from New York in Dusseldorf. Friday was back-to-back meetings. In the morning through lunch I worked a focus group of German employees on a new Intranet prototype. After a hearty lunch I spent time with one of the senior HR people for Germany and one of his staff. Unlike the UK, they see self-service as a farther goal. The main challenges for them are the number of manual processes they still support and the need to complete a project to iumprove data feeds to and from their payroll vendor. They’re looking to rework their country HR Intranet site, and I hope to work with them to get the content under a management system so we can work towards personalized delivery.

My colleagues and I have stayed the weekend, sightseeing and eating. The food is wonderful but shall we say robust. The weather has been cold and misty, but we’re managing fine.

Tomorrow one of us goes home to NY, and I go to Singapore with the other. I’ll update after that.


Posted: November 4th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

My technology team is a week away from moving a Tools upgrade for the PeopleSoft Portal to production. With 300,000 users and 18 integrated applications, it’s been quite a dance. The toughest part is getting a green zone when we can absolutely take the Portal (and most of the integrated apps) down and make the changes, then rouse tech and business people in the middle of the night on a weekend to test and approve. Since we’re global there’s only an hour and a half during per week that is outside of someone’s normal working hours, which of course isn’t enough for this task. But this is Comp season, so lots of people are working weekends. Overall, it’s not pretty.

Next we want to upgrade the application itself from 8.4 to 8.8 or 8.9. I wonder what happens after that – Fusion, I guess – so that could be our last major PeopleSoft upgrade.

User Experience

Posted: October 14th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

We’re deep into self service. I’m now responsible for the user experience. We use many applications – PeopleSoft HRMS, internally developed applications for compensation and talent, other vendor’s products for recruiting, time and attendance and more. There aren’t many standard processes. There are multiple service centers. Is this a headache or a green field?

It looks like I’m going to travel to a number of cities in the UK, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Latin America and the US to run focus groups and usability sessions with HRs, managers and employees. I’d like to hear what you’d like someone like me to ask. What would you like to have changed? What should we fix? What should we never, never do?

Thanks for your input!


Posted: September 21st, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

Connectivity has returned:

This was something of a play day. As part of the Leader’s Circle, networking events took most of the day. Choices during the day were to play golf at Half Moon Bay or baseball at CFS Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. I know less of golf than I do of baseball, so I opted for the latter. It seemed like it would be cool to hang out on the field and the dugout of a major-league stadium.

When I saw that for some guys this would be a bit more serious – at least one fellow brought bats – I decided to participate as a spectator and let them have their glory. There was food and drink, tours of the park including clubrooms, batting and pitching cages, the broadcast booth, etc. and an overall relaxed, genial atmosphere. Had some good conversations and took the first bus back.

I spent about an hour drilling into some detail on the Portal with Rich Manalang and talked with some more of the vendors than yesterday. I had to leave at 4:30 to make a round trip to my hotel to get changed for the evening events.

First I spent somewhat less than an hour at a party hosed by Accenture. I met up with one of my favorite consultants, met his colleagues and was around long enough to see my colleague from Singapore. But I had to leave for the remainder of the Leader’s Circle dinner. I had missed cocktails and the keynote speech which was given by Bob Dole. I’m told he was quite good and gave a self-deprecating humorous talk. I was at a reserved table where I had good conversations with a fellow from an HR services provider. After dinner we had our pictures taken with the senator and I’m back on the BART to call it a night. I’d really like to soak my feet in a hot tub right about now.


Posted: September 21st, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

I lost connectivity at my hotel last night and didn’t have the time to figure out why. I’m posting this with my Blackberry’s browser while I wait for Larry Ellison’s keynote. It seems the Blackberry browser must have a character limit in fields, because when I tried to paste the text I wrote on the BART home last night it errored out. So stay tuned for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s reports.


Posted: September 19th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

So taking the left turn made a big difference this morning. I got to the platform just as the BART pulled in. The ride to Embarcadero went quickly and I was right on time for my breakfast meeting. Then up to the Moscone center for the opening keynote.

The hall is huge, the crowd is overwhelming. We’re talking arena concert proportions. Charles Phillips proceeds with the wonders that are Oracle, then he brings up 2 CIOs to extoll the support excellence in a scripted conversation. Call me cynical, but hearing ten thousand people applaud this schtick rolls my eyes.

Fusion is introduced by first saying that everything’s moving to SOA followed with a story about the evolution of Business Process Management, finishing with the description of the Fusion concept – an architecture based on a ‘unified portal’ atop Oracle’s activity monitoring and BP orchestration tools, atop their service bus and service registry sitting over the infrastructure (configured as a grid) and finally the apps.

The talk segued to Paul Ottelini of Intel who happliy announced that “Tech is back!” Two of the examples of the growth in his opening video were podcasts and blogs…very interesting. But it’s an unvarnished sales pitch and I bail out as he demos virtualization by crashing a virtual instance of NT – no big feat – running under Windows Server without taking out any other running instance. No real info for me here.

Today’s sessions included ‘Building Collaborative Solutions’ and ‘Enterprise Portals, then and now’. I found both to be too fundamental for my purposes. I spent some time on the show floor, and aside from an engaging talk with Rich Manalan, generally known as a guru of the PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal I didn’t really engage with many of the vendors.

I had a meeting with the VP of support which was valuable for the connection made and covering some issues and questions with my colleagues from Latam and Asia who joined us.

I met up with Rich aagain after hours at an informal gathering of folks that participate in a Yahoo group on the Enterprise Portal. There I read a paper on the strategic direction for the Portal. It looks like no further development after version 9, so that’s something to think about. I had to leave after an hour to go to another dinner held for my company. I met up with some of the support folks I met earlier, and as is often the case due to the sheer size of my company, I met some folks who I knew by name but hadn’t met in person before.

My shins and soles ache, and I lost sleep last night so by 8:45 I was back on the BART heading back to my hotel. I intend to soak them once this is posted.

If I sound cynical in this post, I think it comes from a kind of defensiveness I get when I’m at these events. I really don’t usually operate on that level. The real value of the day came from all the one-on-one discussions and meetings I had. The large sessions either get too deep into marketing or are off-point for my particular needs; the work I do is typically on a much larger scale than the usual customer.


Posted: September 19th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

It’s about a 15 minute walk from my hotel to the San Bruno Caltrain station. The fare to “San Francisco” is two dollars, although I’m not sure where I’ll be when I get off. I’m about 15 minutes early. While it’s not too far to walk I’m wondering if I’ll bother tomorrow, I have a meeting at 7 AM near the Moscone center and I can have a car pick me up.

Cool, a double-decker commuter train. Top deck for that low-flying view. Clouds are pouring in over the hills from the west on a strong wind. The ride ends up at the San Francisco Caltrain station,  I walk up Fourth and stop at Moscone North to register for the show, figuring that the lines would be very long tomorrow.

The customer welcome reception is going on at Yerba Buena, and since I’ve eaten very little I swing through to grab a bite and some water. Huge crowds, a jazz combo playing. I walk to the end of Mission street where Oracle is having a dinner for attendees from my company. It was a pleasant, low-key dinner. About 10 or 12 folks from my company about half of whom I know and 5 or 6 Oracle folks. One fellow tells me that due to the large scale of the event – 40,000 attendees – Oracle employees aren’t allowed to attend most of the party events. Hopefully they’ll make their own fun somehow, or go home and rest.

I cabbed back to my hotel in the ‘burbs to find that I had screwed up the hotel’s directions to the train and gone in the opposite direction from the BART. So I’ll give it a try tomorrow as the cab cost over $40.

Oracle World approaches

Posted: September 16th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, HR, Systematic Viewpoints | No Comments »

By way of introduction, I’ve spent some of my professional time as a technology manager around PeopleSoft implementations at a Fortune 500 company – back in 1998 and again from 2002-2004. I’ve been at the same company on other assignments on this year but now I’m back in a business role with responsibility for systems I formerly helped deploy.

This weekend I’m heading to Oracle’s annual meeting in San Francisco. A year ago I attended my first – and last – Peoplesoft event in the same location. I hope to catch up on whatever I’ve missed, and will be certainly be viewing this through a different filter. Time permitting, I’ll post daily impressions. I welcome any comments.