Infosys’ blog on industry solutions, trends, business process transformation and global implementation in Oracle.

September 21, 2017

Agile BI - Implementation through continuous process and Best practices

What is Agile BI?

Agile Business Intelligence (BI) is about delivering the bits and pieces of functionality in manageable chunks using shorter development cycles rather than implementing the whole BI functionality at once. Here the focus is on delivering quality product to meet the changing business needs within quick turnaround time.

Agile Sprint Overview

The Agile sprint starts with Planning and ends with Review & Retrospective. A brief stand up meeting called daily scrum is held every day to get an update on the progress.

The Sprint is a continuous process with one cycle followed by the next cycle without end and it includes the below elements of Scrum.

User Story: A User Story describes the business need in brief and it is a clear fine-grained requirement. Every user story gets a unique ID.

Epic: Epic is a large user story and usually span across multiple sprints. The Epic need to be broken into smaller stories before work on them.

Product Backlog: It houses all the stories planned for any sprint and is prepared by the product owner and ordered by priority.

Release Backlog: A release is a time frame within which all the iterations/sprints are completed. A release backlog is a subset of Product backlog which contains the user stories that are planned to be delivered in the coming release. Product owner with help from team and other stakeholders would select some amount of high priority work and move them to the release backlog.

Sprint Planning: The work to be performed in the sprint is planned at the sprint planning and Sprints should be in short iterations with some functionality delivered.

Scrum Meetings: The Daily scrum is a 15-30 min time boxed event for the development team to synchronize activities and plan for next 24 hours.

Sprint Retrospective: Retrospective's main aim is to discuss the results and determine the ways how to improve development process on the next sprint. The Scrum master hosts this and talks about the accomplishment of team in the last sprint and lesson learned.

 

 

 

                                              Fig 1. Sprint release flow

 

 

Scrum Agile Methodology

Scrum is an agile process that enables business requirements to be delivered in the short period of time and it allows the deployment of requirements into production every week or bi - weekly. Scrum projects make progress via series of "sprints". The roles and responsibilities in agile scrum process are -

Product owner: Takes care of the end user's interests and prioritizes the items based on customer usage.

Scrum master: Coordinates the whole scrum process and make sure that Scrum is used in a proper way and also holds the Scrum meetings.

Development Team: Responsible for the creation and delivery of BI solutions. This includes data modeling, ETL developing, data reporting or, testing, and release activities, as well as others.

BI/Data Architecture: Understand BI tools, processes, architecture and deliverables, coordinate any architecture integration, design solutions, and provide problem solving.

BI Testing: Test the reports, dashboard and ETL programs and validate the data sufficiency and accuracy.

 

Best practices for Agile BI Projects

Active participation of stake holders: The Active Stakeholder Participation is an essential practice in Agile BI developments to avoid any gaps and to have the update in business needs if required.

Break the User stories into meaningful and smaller chunks: If a User story is an epic, break them down as

1.      Stories for creating new dimensions, measures

2.      Stories to build the reports combining the dimensions and measures.

Breaking down the deliverable into multiple and manageable stories helps in assessing the effort accurately.

Use incremental and Iterative approach for DW: Propose Stories such that it increases dimensional and fact coverage incrementally and results in incremental Data Warehouse expansion. This would also avoid the rework from story to story.

Use Planning Poker tool for Story pointing: Agile teams use Planning Poker for estimating the user stories.

Planning Poker is a technique for story point estimation using consensus based approach and a deck of cards with values like 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 20 etc., given to each member of the team. Here the value represents story points. The Product Owner/Scrum master reads the description of each user story or theme to be estimated and each agile team member selects a card depending upon the value assigned to it. The process is repeated until team arrives at a single estimate.

Better story point estimation: Definition of "Done" should include both the development and acceptance testing within the same Sprint. This helps in better story point estimations, as we can compare the stories better.

Effective Communication: Agile project's success depends on communication, more so in case of distributed teams. Distributed teams should be provided with facilities such as video conferencing, screen sharing capabilities in addition to traditional messenger and conference bridges for better collaboration.

Team structure: Allocate specific resources of the development team to work on production bugs in order to avoid distractions that would impact the sprint deliverables. This helps the team to stay focused which results in better Sprint progress.

Conduct weekly Design Thinking Sessions: This session helps to resolve any potential design issues for planned user stories in the earlier stages of the Sprint. Design thinking sessions can be planned every week among agile team to review the design of deliverables.

September 19, 2017

Einstein Data Discovery - An impeccable "Data Scientist" from Salesforce


Continue reading " Einstein Data Discovery - An impeccable "Data Scientist" from Salesforce " »

September 15, 2017

Artificial intelligence - the theme for next generation CRM

 

Artificial intelligence (or simply AI) is now everywhere, encompassing our lives all through. In its simplest form, it could be a reminder/alarm waking us up in the morning or auto switching off of lights at a specified time during night.   

Knowingly or unknowingly AI has been simplifying almost everything we do - with machines taking up the intelligence needed to do repetitive/systematic tasks, sometimes in unhuman conditions and at an unhuman pace.

Though there are debates about AI helping the machines to become self-aware posing a threat to the human race, heavy research and investment is being done in this area to augment human efforts and to provide more advanced and pleasant experience to the users.

Gartner predicts, by 2020 AI will be a top five investment priority for more than 30 percent of CIOs.

 

CRM evolution:

CRM products have come a long way from initially being data entry systems to now providing unified 360 degree view of customer for all aspects of customer interactions (marketing , Sales, Servicing) improving the customer experience.

Also, with the rise of SAAS model, the cost of cloud CRMs came in reach of small and medium businesses increasing the overall CRM adoption exponentially.

Gartner predicts the CRM market to be more than $37 billion in 2017.

However CRM products today still rely heavily on intelligence of users in most of the functions and can end up being a database of records if not used correctly.

e.g. During every interaction with a customer, the agent has to manually check previous interactions to understand Customer sentiment, understand what the user is looking for, think about cross sell / upsell opportunities or next best actions etc. - all while the customer is on call (or face to face).

Organizations have been attempting to automate some of these to increase Agent productivity.

 

Next generation CRM:

With the growing interest in AI and the market hype, it is a no-brainer that the next generation CRM products will boast AI as the main theme.


Tech giants are heavily investing in adding AI capabilities to their CRM products.

E.g. Adaptive intelligent Apps by Oracle, Einstein by SalesForce.com, Microsoft's Dynamics 365

 

Several start-ups are also building AI products that can augment CRM products with AI capabilities.

  e.g.

Chorus.io, Cogito, Conversica, TalkIQ etc.

 

 

Let's look at some simple CRM scenarios we can think of leveraging the power of AI.


  • Leads:

One of the toughest challenges in Sales and Marketing is to identify Leads that are highly probable of converting into Opportunity. In several cases, agents invest their efforts in losing Leads instead of concentrating on high probability Leads.

Wouldn't it be great if CRM can apply AI in terms of scientifically proven algorithms* to understand customer sentiment and predict probability of converting the Lead into Opportunity?

 

*The AI algorithms can be thought of as combination of multiple analytics techniques such as: 

Speech analytics - Based on Pitch, tone, pauses in customer voice

Text analytics - Based on email communication with customer

Data mining - Of relevant information shared by customer on public internet (Social media etc.) and the trends

Clickstream analysis - Analysis of user navigation on website pages

 

  • Servicing:

Before an Agent answers a Customer call, wouldn't it be great if CRM can readily display key information about the Customer based on Previous interaction (voice/email), information shared by the Customer on public internet (Social media) or smart alerts generated from Customer's product?

AI augmented CRM can also help Agents with systematic approach to resolve the issue for Customer, leveraging knowledge base created with machine learning.

 

  • Sales:

During the Sales cycle, AI can help Agents with ready information about cross sell / up sell opportunities, proactive product recommendations all based on information gathered for the Customer from public internet (including customer needs and the products Customer already uses).

  

  • Marketing Campaigns:

AI can help targeting most appropriate Customers to ensure successful outcome from Marketing campaigns.


 

So what is in it for the end Customers?


  • Today, in several cases Customers see it as a pain dealing with Service agents - having to repeat the information multiple times and not getting correct resolution in quick time.

            Servicing Capabilities with AI would help improving Customer experience to a new high.

  •       When it comes to Sales and Marketing, AI would help Organizations to proactively reach the Customers to satisfy what the Customer is really looking for and avoid bombarding Customers with suggestions/offers they are not interested in. 


These are only few of the common scenarios in CRM world and with AI capabilities in CRM the possibilities are endless.

Surely AI capabilities in CRM will greatly offload human effort increasing the efficiency and productivity while providing modern and pleasant experience to Customers.

 Your views are all welcome.

 

Rolling Forecast, its advantage and its implementation in Hyperion Planning

Overview of Rolling Forecast:

Dynamic business environment and economic challenges has made businesses to re-think their planning strategies. In such scenarios, rolling forecast methodology helps to deal with such uncertainties effectively. The annual budget becomes redundant once the actuals of first month or quarter become available, which makes a re-forecast a necessity. With re-forecast you will have most recent (real time) updated numbers leading to more informed decisions.

Rolling forecast is forward looking method based on the most current data. The granularity of these forecasts is not too high, thus taking shorter time to prepare them. Rolling forecasts can be done both on monthly and quarterly basis. Both have their own pros and cons. While a monthly forecast make require more efforts, a quarterly forecast doesn't give out timely information. Whether a forecast should be done monthly or quarterly should depend on the nature of the business. Businesses thriving in highly dynamic business environment might require a monthly rolling forecast. While a business in fairly static environment and one which follows a cyclical trend can opt for quarterly forecasts.

Traditional forecasting vs Rolling forecast

Traditional forecasting process focuses on current year and takes place monthly or quarterly. The value derived from prior plan, actual or forecast data but is not the most recent one and process also takes 2-3 days. Hence this process is not the accurate one and do not provide quality data to have business decisions.

Rolling forecast is a continuous process focusses on forward movement of data as it looks for next 12-18 months data and hence no annual planning and forecasting is required.

Why Rolling Forecasts?

  • It is forward looking process and hence eliminates need for annual planning/forecasting.
  • This process is ongoing and revised regularly based on most recent data hence you have better picture of what's going on in business to check impacts of previous strategy and make necessary corrections.
  • It is driver based planning and forecasting method so it allows you to have value derived from the other values.
  • It also reduces resource effort and cost and hence increases productivity and profitability.

We can say that rolling forecast is more proactive approach, focuses more on factors and analysis than data gathering, involving more teams/departments and hence providing most recent and accurate data for analysis and decision-making.

Rolling forecast in Hyperion Planning

On the user side, implementing a rolling forecast in Hyperion Planning it would affect the data source (re-forecast of future periods). The application administrator has to provide for functionality that addresses frequent changes to dimension members and create calculation logic to provide for the rolling functionality.

Below changes will be required to implement the rolling forecast in a Hyperion planning application:

  i. Changes in substitution variable

In this first step we are setting the substitution variables for respective scenarios.

A substitution variable becomes very important in a rolling forecast implementation. A substitution variable is a placeholder for members which changes regularly. Most common usage of these variables is for setting periods such as current month or current year. Once the value of these substitution variables change, the update happens in all locations where the particular variable is being used. This saves a lot of effort and makes application maintenance easier.

You can have a MAXL script to set the value for each scenario and every month a new MaxL would be run which changes the value of the substitution variable accordingly.

ii. Changes in planning application/ web forms

As you need to bring in the new scenario in planning application, the layout of the data form also need to update accordingly so that the user can view the new scenarios. Changes in web form includes putting year dimension in Page and put all the twelve months in columns to make it simpler for user to move from one year to another.

For a year-over-year forecast, there will be multiple columns in web form to show the periods which can extend up to multiple years. For example, In case of 12 month rolling forecast, if we forecast in month of Jan then forecast period will be till December of same year while in case of forecasting for other months, it will extend to next year.

iii. Changes in Business Rules/member formula/calculation scripts

Changes in calculations is also required so that it can accommodate the calculation to roll year over year. Usage of substitution variables is consider as best practice and is very helpful for rolling forecast implementation.

Conclusion:

Rolling forecast is an innovate approach used by the business nowadays so as to remove the burden of an annual plan. Although the approach is similar to the tradition method but the logic is completely different. It is ongoing, driver based, forward looking process to allow focus on data which they can control.

Thus looking at the pros concept of Rolling Forecast model we successfully implemented it into our existing system.

Continue reading " Rolling Forecast, its advantage and its implementation in Hyperion Planning " »

September 11, 2017

Get IFRS15, ASC606 Ready - The Easy and Quick Way

 

The accounting standard for recognizing revenue is changing.  For the new comers let me briefly describe the change.

What's the Change?

For countries using the IFRS standards, it means they now need to account revenue as per "IFRS 15- Revenue from Contracts with Customers" instead of "IAS- 18 - Revenue" standard to recognize the revenue.

For the US based companies needing to report under US GAAP, they now have to account revenue as per new "ASC 606 - Revenue from Contracts with Customers" instead of the old "ASC605 - revenue Recognition".

The old IAS 18 standards (issued by "International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)") and the ASC 605 (issued by "Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)" for the US companies) where having substantial differences. The new standards issued by the IASB, ASC i.e. IFRS15, ASC606 are now synched up.

The new standard outlines the below five logical steps for revenue recognition -

What's the big deal?

So - what the big deal? The accountants will take care - should the rest of you be worried? Accounting changes always keep happening, so what new now?

This is a big because it impacts the most important numbers on your P&L - the top-lines and the bottom lines and many other critical aspects like the taxes to be paid, the annual plans, probably the commissions, bonuses to be paid as well.

This is also big because the change is complex especially if you have bundled deals (like the telecom and hi-tech industry). Not all accounting software can do accounting as per the new standards. Apart from the accounting systems, business processes and maybe business contracts also might need modifications.

So, it is not just the finance guys / accountants - the board, CXO's, auditors, the Information technology folks, the planners, the analysts, sales teams, HR compensation teams - needs to understand the change and plan for the impacts.

Getting this wrong, has a direct impact on all key stake holders - shareholder value, employees (bonuses, commissions), government (taxes).

By when do you need to ready?

That depends on whether you are applying IFRS or US GAAP. For most of the companies the standard has to be adopted from the financial year starting in 2018.

  • For "IFRS15" applying companies
    • The financial year starting "on or after January 1, 2018"

  • For "Public business entities" and "not-for-profit entities that are conduit bond obligators applying US GAAP" -
    • The financial year starting "on or after December 16, 2017"

  • For the other "US GAAP" companies
    • The financial year starting "on or after December 16, 2018"


Are you late in the game? Probably yes, but....

This is where Oracle - Infosys can help you.

The Oracle Revenue Management Cloud Service (RMCS) is tailor made to meet the IFRS15 / ASC606 requirements including the transition requirements. The product has been successfully implemented across industries and is a proven solution for IFRS15 / ASC606 needs.

The "IFRS15 / ASC 606 solution" of Infosys is a complete solution to get IFRS15 / ASC 606 ready - quickly and perfectly. The Infosys solution encompasses program/project management, change management, implementation of RMCS, implementation of Financial Accounting Hub Reporting Cloud, building integration with various middleware. The Infosys solution  creates a robust process with tight integration ensuring automated reconciliation and no revenue leakage / discrepancies.

Considering the need to ready on time, the solution will prioritize requirements, so the MUST-HAVE requirements are developed, tested and ready on time.

Below is the overview of the Infosys Solution

How do we make a difference? How quickly can you be ready?

Infosys has been working on numerous IFRS15 / ASC 606 implementations using Oracle RMCS. While a typical IFRS implementation is done in 6-12 months implementation time depending on the number of integrations, use cases, we are able to cut the implementation time by at least 25% by levering the accelerators repository comprising of

  • Pre-built Use Cases

  • Key Decision Documents

  • Pre-Configured Instances

  • Data conversion templates

  • Configuration templates

  • Key learnings from other project

Apart from the normal implementation, we also offer a rapid implementation which can be completed in 3 month time-frame. A typically rapid implementation assumes not more than 2 integrations, conversions using FBDI templates, 30-40 use cases and 5 custom reports developments. The typical rapid implementation plan would be as below

Sample List of use cases for telecom:

S.No.

Description of the Use Case

1

Billing & Satisfaction: Single Handsets plus Plan

2

Billing & Satisfaction: Contract Termination

3

Billing & Satisfaction: Multiple Handsets Plus Plan

4

Billing & Satisfaction: Multiple Products and Plan

5

Billing & Satisfaction: Contract Modification

6

Billing & Satisfaction: Contract Add on

7

Downward Modification

8

Loyalty points - Termination

9

Family share - Multiple Lines

10

Loyalty points - Redemption

 

Sample List of Issues:

Below is the sample list of problem areas

  1. How to determine the SSP (standalone selling prices)

  2. Significant financing components on the contracts

  3. Managing impacts on cost - both direct and indirect

  4. Managing Discounts

  5. Managing Variable considerations


Get Started now, this is your last chance...

If you have still not started on the IFRS15 / ASC606 journey - you need to start now. With Oracle RMCS and Infosys experience in implementing the same, you now have the chance to be ready on time.

 

Meet our experts at @ Booth 1602, Oracle Open World 2017, to see a demo of the solution.

 

 


Continue reading " Get IFRS15, ASC606 Ready - The Easy and Quick Way " »

September 8, 2017

Features that really matters to Project accountants

Oracle has strengthened the already proven Projects track in Fusion Cloud. There are key features introduced in Fusion cloud project costing and billing that I would like to highlight and that makes this application as the winner and would help project accountants in efficiently closing books and reporting on projects.

Fusion Cloud Project Billing: -

·         One of the key feature in Fusion cloud projects is the flexibility in maintaining billing rules separately from setting of projects. Billing rules can be updated even after the project is created and cost collection has already started. This functionality has been really needed in scenarios when there is need to collect business development cost or pre-contract cost before the contract is finally negotiated with the client.

·         Fusion cloud billing allows to create manual Invoice from Projects module and therefore allows flexibility in picking which lines should be billed from the eligible transactions rather than system picking all eligible billing expenditures/events.

·         Performa/Draft invoice can be previewed using default templates provided in Fusion before interfacing to AR. Custom templates can also be developed in BI publisher based on the client requirement.

·         Invoicing can now be done on the transactions in T&M projects even without waiting for the cost transactions to be accounted.

·         Billing offset functionality has been provided to streamline the deferred revenue and unbilled receivables balances.

       Fusion Cloud Project Costing: -

·         Fusion cloud projects costing has now the most advanced cost collection process. Instead of running the cost import, distributing the cost, the project accountants can now import & distribute the cost in one go.

·         Manual project sub ledger journals can be created directly from projects by project accountants reducing the dependency on GL team. These journals can be used to capture accruals or pre-payments.

·         Cascading option of project dates to task dates is a new feature that allows project managers whether to update the task start date or finish date or no update on dates.

·         Excel based uploads of project creation, assets, costs & budgets has provided the fast upload of transactions and has greatly provided the much needed efficiency in these processes.

·         Exception based reporting helps project accountants to resolve month end issues rather than relying on running exceptions reports during month end or depending on the support team. Exceptions or warning messages in different programs are self-explanatory and provide the actions required to resolve the exception.

OTBI reporting particularly project cost reconciliation or accounting analysis report provide the accurate real time reporting to project accountants

September 7, 2017

Analytics and the APP!

Introduction:


Mobile devices have brought about a giant leap in the modern world, providing myriad combinations of services to be leveraged by users depending upon their need, or more so, creating opportunities for different needs. While stamping their presence in most avenues of daily life, there are still some areas where their application is recognized but has yet to catch up to their full potential. One such area of opportunity, especially in the world of IT, would be the use of analytics on mobile devices. The following scenarios are discussed to study this prospect in further detail.



Mobile Analytics dashboard (Kronos & Oracle)


Case Study 1:

Scenario - The client is a leading global sports gear and apparel manufacturer and among the first to keep up with latest trends in technology and business. Apart from adopting new technology, the organization is also keen to pilot cool initiatives and gauge customer responses towards the same.

Background - The organization uses Kronos - a leading Workforce management product to capture time and attendance and also drive forecast and schedules of its workforce. With the introduction of Kronos Tablet they have also planned for a pilot rollout to select stores. Salient modules in use on the tablet include basic employee time and attendance, scheduling and forecasting along with advanced analytics.

Problem Statement - The client needed to explore the analytics app offered by Kronos for their store managers to leverage the real time trend update functionality offered by the same.

POC details - The tablet version (iPad only) app for analytics was tested and deployed as a pilot to select doors across the US region. The app was shared with both senior management and store level users. Being a retail domain the primary metrics on the app included volume drivers such as consumer traffic, sales amounts and employee demographics like coverage, shift effectiveness, etc. Focus groups were setup with pre-built dashboards to monitor various trends and daily heads up on metrics. Dashboards had roll-up, roll down functionality, real-time update of data and trend-analysis algorithms enabled using back end ETL (Extract Transform Load) jobs. The real time metrics would be updated on a preset frequency through the day as and when a threshold data point was reached. App used on the tablet was a readily downloadable app from the Apple store, developed by Kronos and integrated with the on premise application.

Pilot & Feedback - As a pilot, the app was made available to senior management and leadership in select stores. A preview of the analytics functionality, comprising a dashboard customized to the look and feel of the retailer's other existing apps, was highly successful. The core functionality and use case scenarios were also well received. This was followed by the rollout of the real time option, which again was very successful and instantly popular.

  • At a store leadership level this provided unprecedented control and rapid decision making ability.

  • For example, if in a large store area there is a shortage of employees in a section OR if there is a dip in forecasted sales in a department then the stakeholders can immediately get to the problem zone and plan alternatives with the aid of mobile analytics.

  • Frequent back office planning meetings were eliminated.

  • With access to all the necessary inputs in the tablet and with tools like heat maps and trend-analysis charts, they are able to simulate the next available options and also validate its success criteria immediately on the shop floor.

Taking a realistic scenario, during peak hours like Thanksgiving or Christmas, these actions save tremendous amount of time, not to mention an exponential increase in productivity/flexibility during day-to-day operations.


End of part 1... in parts 2 and 3 we will see more case studies and inferences.

Continue reading " Analytics and the APP! " »

August 30, 2017

Instance Planning/deployment options for migrating Oracle E-Business Suite and other packaged applications on to Oracle Cloud (IaaS and PaaS)


Continue reading " Instance Planning/deployment options for migrating Oracle E-Business Suite and other packaged applications on to Oracle Cloud (IaaS and PaaS) " »

Projects Planning in EPBCS - What you need to know before you kick start.

What you need to know before you start off with Projects Planning in EPBCS.

It's not uncommon for SME's to drastically underestimate the Projects Planning module and commence playing without the full pack! This struck me and as work demanded, thought I should write a diary entry on Projects Planning Module and hot from the Oven it is going to be from EPBCS Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service. May sound like I am jumping on the bandwagon, but it is not any less an exercitation! Project-based Planning is Everywhere!

Well, to benefit the first time readers I am bound to give a flashback of the basics, so bear with me until I swim it thru and guess I will make it before your first yawn ;)

EPBCS looks at Projects classification or types as below:

Internal Projects: As the name stands, related to company's internal projects like research and development, IT projects, marketing projects etc. This also deals with prioritization of the same, approval process, stage-gating or phase gating (this actually means a decision point to promote or not the project to the next stage) etc

Capital Projects: Companies prime investments, heavy investments like machineries, basically build up cost, capitalization and expended cost related, single or multiple asset creation related areas. Also envisions Opex vs Capex derivatives.

Contract Projects: Related to customers who are in IT services, that typically bill for their services that makes revenue out of projects. If they want to plan such contractual projects, this is the place.

Below are the typical Project Planning Process groups, might not be fully future ready but apparently comes with the promise to permit customization based on customer needs in one or all of these areas.

So the grouping goes as..

1. Summary: Anything to do with what you want to provide as information of the project. Even information like start date and end date of the project. Can also have different level like any custom dimensions, like vendor and stage dimensions.

2. Expense: This piece is quite similar to Financial Planning module. We can do driver based model, high level planning or even very detailed level of project planning at labor-cost etc. It also houses simple direct input planning. The cloud only feature is for internal projects where we can provide benefits (financial and non-financial) of a particular project. I sure bet this would have eased the whole song of justification, which on the on premise world planners might keep it at bay considering the manual documentation and work involved.            

3. Revenue: 3 basic revenue models are available -Time & Material, Cost Plus and Direct Revenue. Enhanced Revenue recognition parameter to meet IFRS standards. Interesting as it may sound the showcasing of revenue recognized based on performance obligation, completion. A whole lot of KPI's, measures comes OOTB.

If Freshers attack the Projects planning module in EPBCS with this background information, they are lucky not to find any strange language to deal with.

Now for those On-Premise Planning Experts, below is the birds eye view of the comparison between on premise and cloud version of projects planning module.

Topping the list is the Benefits section -Financial, Non-financial and Qualitative. This new feature, as it is being upgraded in the roadmap ahead might turn out to be a good eye catcher for the module as a whole. The "Project Stages" now becomes a new dimension in Cloud and I would believe with this, stage gating can be a cake walk altogether. Next i should mention the "Incremental Enablement" in EPBCS Framework, as it flows to Projects module as well as in the others. Especially for projects it should fall in the must-use list as it not only comes bundled with the list of uses and flexibility but also the ease of use. Yet another capability in Cloud is the ability for planning multiple assets for a single project. While in on premise we can only plan one asset per project, in EPBCS as much as the real world projects planning operates, it allows. Guess this would have been in the wish list of the on premise projects planning users and granted in EPBCS. Last but not the least that is worth mentioning in my list is the Built in Integration with other modules as in Workforce, Capex and Financials. I initially wondered why would we fall for this tight an integration leaving us little room for life time maintenance related enhancements or upgradations (well, IT brain thinking operational) or business process changes or complete ramp over or need to use different codes be it job or labor. But the answer for obvious with the amount of benefit it gives to Business and single source of Truth and the company's full view of the performance management reporting. Imagine the Labor information from workforce flows into projects planning module and you can just pick and assign to projects and the numbers you work out of the projects talk back to financials. Also what if the capital projects from Project module can talk to Capital module and Bingo you are all set! Final icing is the feature that also lets you run Projects Planning stand-alone. Despite the fact that you have enabled Workforce, Capital modules and you are building the Projects module, you can still keep this little brother separate and run him on his own shoes! Now this feature, with this height of flexibility is going to speed straight to my love list of best innovations (for today!) in this module of EPBCS.

Now finally here is what that did not make it into the list to first version of as-is Cloud and Why??

The answer to why may be because of the challenges of adoption or not enough justifiable as I heard from the horse's mouth and/or real time customers not exploiting this feature or less useful/famous in on premise. Why sell something that people don't buy. Good idea to let-go at this stage but while you are questioning if Oracle would have provided options to set it up by customer need basis, Of course the product team proved that they not only do for you but also think for you.

Ranking and Scoring is out with respect to all the OOTB features, rules, logics, but there is parameter set to play with. Few other out-goers are the Intercompany project charging and funding request capabilities. Another surprising OMG moment is the kill of the Primavera integration. Why? Your guess is as good as mine and I will leave it for the future upgrades planned in the roadmap for Project Planning module in EPBCS when they answer Why not cloud integration to P6?

Heading to hit the hay now and will return with another write up with details of all you need to know to get equipped for Projects Planning implementation in EPBCS as I am heading to get my hands dirty in the coming weeks! Can't wait and Lucky Me!

Adios!

Emerging Trend in SSHR_PART1

Self Service applications has been around for long time in the HCM products.  The latest trend in the market is to maximize the number of transactions that can be enabled via self-service and Mobile. Here, we aim to analyze:-

1. Where Self-Service stands today

2. HR without Self-Service

3. Key Features of Self-Service

4. Latest trends in Self Service technology

5. Key Benefits with the latest edition tool

6. Key Players in Self-Service

Introduction (Self Service Today)

As consumers have expanded their use of desktops, laptops, smartphones and slates at home, they have come to expect the same consistent self-service access to corporate services from wherever they are, on whatever device they're using. Be it a Laptop, mobile, tab, or any device, employees are looking forward to  flexibility in processing their request, seeing their useful information, etc. in their own way.

There are a number of mobile, physical and virtual technologies that are required to support user productivity. IT currently is struggling to adopt, manage and secure these technologies without increasing operational costs or administration complexity. In order  to do so, IT has already started preparing  for a fundamental shift from a static, infrastructure-based IT to a user-centric model that orchestrates services around users and their requirements at any point in time. One of the key examples is web-based, 'Self-service application system' which gives enough flexibility to employees to access applications irrespective of where they are & what device they are using.

Self-service application in integration with Oracle e-business Suite HRMS system is a standardized and simplified platform which has given a uniform flow of information throughout the enterprise.

HR Without Self Service Application

In the absence of self- service, when a HR department in an organization is asked for some employee's information or report, they are actually reactive to this. They will have their own SLA's & can deliver as per those timelines. Also, only a few managers or executives will have access to the valuable information that may be required.  However, this real challenge is turned up using Oracle SSHR application. The information is actively pushed to the manager with clear indications that if thresholds are breached then immediate attention is required. This information is in turn available to the employees as needed.

Moreover, it has always been noticed that employee information largely stays bottled up in the HRMS system & with HR executives. Oracle Self-Service application has uncorked this HRMS bottle and has provided the employees & managers with flexibility to let the information flow freely.

 

In the absence of self -service application system, all professional HR users work mainly as keepers of data, manually entering and updating employees' data from forms & menus in the system. However this emerging trend has prompted the development of self-service application, that helps them in becoming administrators for ensuring data-integrity. This development should happen across the organization which will enable employees within their individual realms of expertise, with systems that are integrated across the firm. With managers and employees empowered to update and maintain their own information, HR professionals are moving now from being transaction processors to being consultative partners.

Key Features of HR Self Service tool


Data Security and Integrity

Making sure that sensitive employee data can only be accessed by those who are authorized is always a priority. However, regulating employee data access is a constantly changing and often complex procedure. In most cases who a user sees is based on the latest status of the employees, in terms of whom they report to, in what organization they reside, what type of job they hold, or other dynamic information.

 

Using Oracle HRMS Self-service application integrated with core HRMS system has definitely eased this process where we will have complete information about employees' basic details, assignment details (including organization, salary, payroll, job, grade, position, etc.) & hence the information flow becomes easier. In a standard system, we can easily control the functions access to be given to employees using Self-service application by defining Menus & functions. This can also be controlled at a level whether employees should have only view data access or editable data in system or delete access should be given. In an ideal situation,  an enterprise gives view only access to employees for certain details like Disciplinary details and  editable access to themanager and HR can have view, update and delete access.

 

Within an enterprise, it is very conjoint situation where they have an administrator role person who would like to access certain functions on behalf of employees mostly in cases where employee is not available for any reason. Also, the administrator needs restricted access for employees related to a particular sub-set of a large enterprise group. As an example, an administrator should access all employees related to particular division, business unit, store, etc. Using Self-service application integrated with core Oracle HRMS system we can define Security Profiles and easily control these type of requirements in an enterprise giving them a secured way of data access.

 

2.    Ease in Information Access

When using the the traditional Oracle Apps HRMS system, only HR professionals were able to access al information, whereas the employees and other business users struggled to view any required information.For eg- If a female employee is married recently & would like to update her marital status &  last name in system, she has to approach the HR professionals. However, updating marital status is necessary as it will have impact on the benefits that the employee is currently enrolled into. Having acself- service application, it gives enough flexibility to employees to update their Personal information like Viewing & updating Basic Details (First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, DOB, Marital Status, Nationality, etc.), Updating Addresses (Local Address, Main Address, etc.), Updating Phone numbers (office, home, mobile, pager, etc.) Dependents details along with relationship & also updating emergency contacts. The system gives enough flexibility to employees to control their data which in turn will be reflected in the Core HR system used by HR users. From a security perspective, it is always controlled such that an employee can have access only to their own data by using Self-service application however they have the flexibility to keep information up-to-date without HR intervention.


Managing Multiple Requests

There are multiple requests access which is given to Employees/Managers using Oracle Self -service application. Employees can easily initiate Absence Request, Training Request, etc without any HR involvement which can be configured further for any kind of approval like Line Manager Approval, etc. and further will be automatically updated in HRMS system. On the other side, Managers can initiate Transfer, Separation of an employee easily irrespective of where he is & what device he is using.

 

As per the latest trend in market, some domain experts condition their employees' related expenses to be paid through Payroll but not through Finance system. The reason is to pay an employee from Finance system in oracle EBS, we need to define all employees as suppliers however Retail domain industries will have different perception for suppliers & they want employees to be distinguished completely from it. As an example, Employee expenses like Business expenses, Company mobile/blackberry reimbursements, HRA loan, Salary advance, these are the components related to employees & should be paid using Payroll. To accomplish this requirement, we can configure these components in Self-service using SIT/EIT feature of HRMS & access should be provided to restricted users where they can fill-in information which is further processed in Payroll & finally paid to employee.

 

In the next blog, we will discuss in detail the latest trends in self service technology and how it will be beneficial to the business.

Subscribe to this blog's feed

Follow us on

Blogger Profiles

Infosys on Twitter