Archive for June, 2007

Taskflow Node Sequence = Button Number; OHUG Plug

Thursday, June 28th, 2007 by

When creating a People Management Template, the sequence number of the taskflow nodes (buttons) should correspond to the button number. Not doing so will return the following error:

No such item:CTL_HRNAV.NAV_BUTTON
Therefore, when defining Taskflow Nodes to be used by a People Management Template, the Sequence Numbers of each node should be 1,2,.. instead of, say, 10,20,..

So as far as Taskflows for Templates goes, sequence numbers are not only for sequence - 1,2.. actually corresponds to Button1,Button2,..

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OHUG 2007: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA September 24th - 27th

I have been selected to present at this year’s OHUG in Las Vegas. The presentation will be on creating custom PTO Accrual formulas - which I have discussed in this blog. I see more and more companies having problems with PTO formulas that are customized versions of the seeded formulas. A “built from scratch” formula not only addresses their current issues with the seeded demons but provides more flexibility for company-specific functionality. Plus, it’s so much easier to maintain.

In this case, what happens in Vegas hopefully does not stay in Vegas. See you there!

Is Having Your Oracle Apps Hosted a Smart Strategy?

Thursday, June 28th, 2007 by

“Get all of the benefits and eliminate the headaches by outsourcing Oracle apps” is the compelling argument made by many hosting companies and ASPs.

It’s an enticing proposition to trade the headache of managing DBAs, hardware administrators, etc. and replacing it with a fixed monthly charge.  Why have the corresponding overhead when your assets can be focused on projects that improve competitive position and profitability?  Let the experts manage the effort – they do it for hundreds of other clients so they can quickly and efficiently resolve any problem which may arise.

If the benefits are so great, why don’t all companies adopt this outsourcing strategy?   There are many reasons why companies are less than enthusiastic about having their Oracle Apps hosted:  concerns about data security, fear of longevity of the providers, doubt that another firm could understand their business and customizations, and all of the other issues related to outsourcing.

Having implemented several projects where a hosting strategy was used by the client, typically large well known hosting firms, and briefly contracting with a hosting firm, there are some factors that lead to a successful hosting relationship. 

Quality service is at the top of the list.   There is no substitute for timely response by knowledgeable practitioners.  This is particularly true during the implementation phase where minutes can become precious.  It is also true for system down problems after go live.   The voice at the other end of the line needs to be able to command a team of people to quickly diagnose and take the needed actions to correct problems.

At this point, the perception of the value of the hosting company will be made.  Typically it won’t be based on facts like response time and time to close issues.  Or even better, a comparison to the actual resolution time to that specified in the agreement.  Instead, it will be based on a comparison of the in-house staff that used to support Oracle Apps who typically knew the business and system configuration very well.

In many cases, the hosting company is labeled with a reputation of not being knowledgeable or responsive enough after comparison to in-house staff.  It is hard for many people to be objective when they compare the new way of doing things to the old.  There are many facets involved with arriving at this conclusion including the emotional ties to the team members that may have been made redundant.

Other factors must be considered too when evaluating a hosting firm.  Some of these include the design of the hardware architecture, breadth of services offered by the hosting company, quality of the network, strength of the service level commitment, reputation with current customer base, overall cost benefit, etc.,  It is not a simple decision to make.

Is having your Oracle apps hosted a smart strategy?  It depends.  Does the hosting firm offer the services that are needed?  Is the team available technically strong enough and abundant enough to resolve tough problems in a timely manner?  Does the overall level of service provided meet the expectations as they are written in the agreement?  Are the constraints to customizations acceptable?  Does it make financial sense?  Can you live with the perception of lower quality of service?

Each company needs to answer these questions honestly and weigh the importance of each question appropriately when determining if Oracle apps should be hosted and who the vendor will be.

How would you rate your experience implementing Oracle apps in a hosted environment?  Please share your insights into the pros, cons and helpful tips that you may have.

-Dean

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. - Sir Winston Churchill

Shuffle Up - I’m too important to be a Project Manager!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 by

I recall a well-known blue-chip client around 10 years ago (successfully) identifying that a method to reduce staff turnover was to rename every role in the company, the theory being that workers cared about their job titles. So, one bright Monday morning, all of the employees (50,000+) arrived at work and discovered that they had been “promoted” - although there were no pay rises! Those that were team leaders the previous week were now managers, managers had become senior managers, senior managers had become directors and directors had become vice presidents.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised to arrive on site as a Project Manager only to be advised that there had been a re-think by the client and that the internal Project Manager would like to be called the Programme Manager in future. I would remain as the Project Manager with various Team Leads reporting to me.

Fine - I could just get on with the job.

The trouble was that the “Programme Manager” had spotted another opportunity for self promotion and re-assigned herself as the Programme Director. I would therefore be re-classified as the Programme Manager and the Team Leads would be re-classified as Project Managers.

And so the empire was created.

Although I found all of this internal politics mildly amusing I continued with the role that I had been contracted to provide - to implement a new CRM solution for the call centre.

But there was more trouble ahead; the Emperess, sorry the Programme Director, had decided that as we were now running a Programme we should manage the activities in accordance with relevant Programme Management techniques.

It took considerable effort and stretched my diplomacy skills to their limits to convince her that we were actually running a relatively straightforward project and not a programme.

The key differences between the two being:

  • we had a dedicated group of resources devoted to the implementation who would be disbanded once the system was live
  • there were no other “pieces” of work occuring which could be integrated with our activities
  • the focus was on delivering the tasks in the project, there was no consideration of corporate objectives or strategic goals

I’m aware that there is a lot of confusion around the definition of programme management. Those of you who have attended the OGC’s Managing Successful Programmes course will be familiar with their definition “…the co-ordinated organisation, direction and implementation of a portfolio of projects and activities that together achieve outcomes and realise benefits that are of strategic importance…(it) is the delivery of change in the form of outcomes, and thus benefits”.

The explanation that appeals to me is this - “projects end, programmes don’t”.

Now I know that there are certain situations where a programme will end but in our world of Oracle, implementing software is likely to be a project. There may well be an associated programme that focuses on the organisation’s strategic goals but I will continue to run my implementations as projects until someone can convince me that I need to redefine them as programmes.

I wonder if I can get a better rate as a Programme Manager !

OracleContractors.com opens a new office in Munich

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 by

We are very pleased to announce the addition to our Global Oracle Contractors Network of a new office in Munich Germany.

This venture is  headed up by Jensen Merx and Martin Dvorak.

Both Jensen and Martin are highly experienced Oracle Financials Functional Specialists with well over 10 years of European Implementation experience, with many global blue chip organisations.

Both are multi lingual.

Jensen can be contacted by email at jensen.merx@oraclecontractors.com or telephone on +49 1 766 218 6856

Martin can be contacted by email at martin.dvorak@oraclecontractors.com or telephone on +41 792 382 989

We wish OracleContractors.com Germany all the very best in this venture.

OracleContractors.com Blog excerpts to be a regular feature in Oracle Scene Magazine

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 by Kirsten Campbell

The Editorial Group for the Oracle Scene Magazine, that is published by the UKOUG (U.K. Oracle User Group) has asked us to run a regular feature on the OracleContractors.com Blog in the quarterly publication. Oracle Scene is distributed to tens of thousands of people all over Europe.

Each issue will highlight at least two entries and will include details of the author. The two chosen thus far for the next issue are:

“The Coffee Machine and the DBA” by Peter Stewart

“Order Management: The power of Workflows in Controlling Sales Orders - Part I” by Dilip Nagarkar

The OracleContractors.com Blog is now read by thousands of visitors each month and in a relatively short time has reached the level of being one of the highest profile Oracle Blogs in ‘cyber space’.

Our mission is to be the marketing and sales arm for Oracle Apps Contractors worldwide and our vision of creating a Global Oracle Contractors Network is turning into a reality through collaboration with Oracle Contractors such as your self - so please keep Blogging or join our Blogging team!

Also if you are interested in running a ’series’ of Blogs that then can be turned into a White Paper or writing a White Paper that can then be staged released as Blogs - We would be very interested in hearing from you.

These White Papers are marketed globally via our website, our Blog, by our 11 worldwide offices; through email and voice campaigns, and at all the Oracle Conferences where OracleContractors.com exhibit. This past 12 months we have been at various SIGs, had stands at; the OAUG Collaborate 07 in Las Vegas, UKOUG 06 Conference Birmingham and over the next six months will be at the AUSOUG 07 in Melbourne and UKOUG 07 in Birmingham.

Please contact Rebecca Bragg by phone +44 (0) 1932 796062 or via email at rebecca.bragg@oraclecontractors.com for more details.


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