Monday, October 22, 2018

Listen To The Music - OOW 2018

Don't you feeling it growin', day by day
People gettin' ready for the new
Some are happy, some are sad
Oh, we got to let the music play
          - From The Doobie Brothers "Listen To The Music"

So it's Oracle OpenWorld time again.,, can you hear the music playing?  It really kicked off last Thursday, but the event really starts peaking today (Oct. 22nd) through Thursday.  Gazillions of people descending on downtown San Francisco to hear the latest about Oracle products and services.  It's a massive event, with lots of people and venues scattered through the downtown area.  It's tough to take it all in.

In the Cloud Applications or SaaS segment, you should pay special attention to a few specific themes:

  1. Oracle's progress in shifting from a products-focused company to a product-as-a-service company.  We've made some notable progress over the past year.  Is it enough?  Personally, I'm too caught up in the trees to evaluate the forest without bias.  So the story will get told and y'all get to make the evaluation.
  2. The positive disruption coming from customers moving to SaaS.  In all honesty, we've been more than a little surprised here.  It's bigger than I personally anticipated.  You'll hear some open and frank stories on this front.
  3. We've built quite a bit of AI capability into the Cloud Applications.  You'll hear quite a bit on how that effort is playing out in the market.
  4. Specific to HCM Cloud Applications, you'll hear quite a few customer experiences around Newsfeed UX (aka Mobile Responsive).  We've had a large group of customers uptake this new UX during the 18B update and expect quite a few more to make the move in 18C (which comes out shortly after OOW).  From my own perspective, this is one of the coolest innovations to hit the enterprise applications market ever.  I'm looking forward to hearing what people think of it after hearing the stories we'll present at OOW.
For those of you attending OOW, or those of you not attending but paying attention, I'd really like to hear your thoughts and impressions about the conference.  After listening to the music, find the comments and share what you think.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Ya Gotta Water The Garden

With his love
And his carin'
He puts his life
Into beauty sharin'
And his children
Are his flowers
There to give us peace
In quiet hours

And I'll do anything I got to do
Cut my hair and shine my shoes
And keep on singin' the blues
If I can stay here in Johnny's garden

                         - From "Johnny's Garden" by Stephen Stills

We're getting down into the weeds today...

Every gardener knows; once you plant a garden, you need to invest time in energy in maintenance so that your garden will flourish.  Weeding, fertilizing, watering, trimming, amending the soil... it takes carefully planned time and effort.

It's the same concept when you start to extend and customize packaged software.  It's not building the extension or customization that represents the big investment.  It's the maintenance as new versions and updates of that packaged software roll out.

I'm living this right now.  As many of you readers already know, the Oracle HCM Cloud team rolled out the latest update (18B) last weekend to the first wave of customers in their stage pods.  And I've been spending most of my energy this week helping many of those customers work through issues that relate to custom security roles.  We give users the ability to create custom security roles.  And many customers take advantage of this functionality.  But what I often find is that maintenance is a substantial stumbling block.  This mostly crops up like "I can't count the number of fuzzy navels in my workforce anymore.  I could before last weekend, but it's been broken since the update was applied."  I ask if it works when using an account with a seeded security role rather than a custom security role.  And, more often than not, the answer is "yes".  Which takes us back to the idea that those custom security roles need maintenance.
Very often, when we roll out updates to Oracle HCM Cloud applications, the updates include new functionality.  And part of offering that new functionality is securing it, so that only those authorized to use the functionality and see the data have access.  And this often shows up in the form of new security privileges of some type.  And, because the architecture is very intertwined, existing functionality is also affected.  

When we introduce new security privileges, we typically add those new privileges to the seeded roles as appropriate (new Payroll security privileges get applied to the Payroll Manager role... that sort of thing).  But what we can't do, because we can't anticipate every custom role every user might create, is match and add these new security privileges to custom roles.  So users have to add these new privileges to the custom roles on their own.  It's part of maintaining custom roles.  Just like maintaining a garden, custom security roles (much like all extensions and customizations) need maintenance in order to continue working effectively.

Maintaining those custom security roles can become important when we role out a bushel basket of new privileges necessary to secure new functionality.  And that's definitely the case as we've moved from R12 to R13 in the HCM Cloud.  Lots of new stuff, which in turn means lots of new security.  So there has been a significant bit of maintenance for custom security roles as we've progressed through 17D, 18A and now 18B.  Which means customers need to plan their security maintenance and execute on that plan.  Fortunately, Oracle has a guide to help customers plan out and execute that maintenance.  

Most gardeners have some type of reference book they rely on:  The Farmer's Almanac, a regional gardening guide, or something similar.  And we offer something similar for customers maintaining custom security roles.  Oracle Support Document ID 2023523.1, "Upgrading Applications Security in Oracle HCM Cloud" includes an R13 Upgrade Security Guide that walks you through all the new security privileges, what they do, and which seeded role includes each new privilege as part of the update (which give readers a clue on how to apply the new privileges to their custom roles).  It even includes a set of appendices showing the reader how to do what needs to be done.  Highly recommended reading.

So today's message:  just like maintaining a flourishing garden, so must HCM Cloud customers maintain their extensions and customizations.  Security roles are just one example, although a pertinent one because I've been dealing with it all week.  

Maintenance is easy when you do it consistently.  And it keeps the garden in good shape.  Read the gardening book and do what it says when it says to do it.  Read the Security Upgrade Guide and do what it says when it says to do it.  And your garden will flourish.

Something to share on this topic?  Plant your seeds in the comments.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Sneak Preview of Newsfeed UX

I've recently have a chance to get deeply involved with a new User Experience ("UX") rolling out in Oracle HCM Cloud 18B, due out later this year.  We're rolling out some pretty cool work.  I like it for a few reasons:

  1. A fully responsive user interface - one code line that responds that provides the optimal UI for laptop/desktop, tablet and phone.
  2. More emphasis on Quick Actions, giving users shortcuts directly to transactional pages rather than compelling them to navigate through an application
  3. Redesigned self-service pages with full transactions being completed on a single page - no multi-click drill downs, no moving to another page via a hyperlink, no nothing.  Combining this with Quick Actions, navigation to a transaction is a single click...period.
In fact, I like this UX so much that I want to let's take a sneak preview at what's coming by  sharing some screenshots.  When we started this effort within Oracle, the project was called "Mobile First".  So it only makes sense to show the mobile screen first:

And let's go to the desktop/laptop browser rendering next:

Now let's check out the redesigned Self-Service pages:

Note that the upper left shows some notes about the page design, the lower left depicts the rendering on a phone, and the right shows the appearance in a browser on a laptop/desktop.

So that's a quick taste of the Newsfeed UX coming out in HCM Cloud 18B.  Want to learn more?  Check out the briefing here.  Or hit me up on Twitter (@fteter) and we'll make some arrangements.  In fact if you're going to the OHUG 2018 conference, we can meet up there for a "live drive" demo.  Or you can always get to me by leaving a comment.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

OHUG Solutions Central - Come See The Experts

Don't try to describe the ocean if you've never seen it
Don't ever forget that you just may wind up being wrong

                                     -  From MaƱana by Jimmy Buffet

Having been in the enterprise software business for longer than I really care to admit, I've witnessed an awful lot of smoke blown up an awful lot of skirts.  Lots of people can talk the talk, but it's the rare few that can walk the walk.  So when I see an event where people in that latter class are gathering together, I tend to get pretty enthusiastic about it.

At the Oracle HR User Group ("OHUG") conference this year, Oracle and a select group of partners are getting together in a single location - Solutions Central.  Product experts from across Oracle HCM development to answer your questions.  Round-table discussion with Oracle experts and other customers.  The ever-popular Report Jam - bring your reporting needs and walk out with the report you need.  A demo theater focused on specific features and solutions.  1-to-1 discussions with the experts.

Now you can always drop into Solutions Central while you're attending the OHUG conference.  But the smart people, especially those wanting 1-to-1 discussions, will book a reservation ahead of time.  You can book yours anytime up to June 10th here.

The people in Solutions Central...we've seen the ocean:  whitecaps, hurricanes, the doldrums, the whole thing.  And we're itching to share what we've learned.

OHUG 2018.  Come join us.  And do come into Solutions Central.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

About Continuous Service Delivery

I feel like a spinning top for a dreidel
The spinning don't stop when you leave the cradle...

                                                    From "Dreidel" by Don McClean

Continuous Service Delivery aka CSD:  it's all the buzz in the Oracle Cloud Application circles these days.  It's Oracle's answer to the ever-increasing rate of change we're seeing with our customers.  But what exactly is it and what does it mean to you?  Let's see if I can answer those questions for you, at least from an Oracle HCM Cloud perspective ...

The first thing to understand about CSD is that, rather than delivering substantial upgrades with loads of new functionality, we'll be delivering incremental updates with a smaller set of new features.  The idea is to get innovation from the drawing board to the customer at a faster rate.  For the Oracle HCM Cloud team, that means quarterly incremental updates.  No more big bang upgrades to the latest release.  Incremental updates instead - much easier for customers to digest.

As part of the move to CSD, we're changing our versioning nomenclature.  No R14, R15 and so on.  Updates will be identified by the last two digits of the calendar year plus a letter indicating the quarter of the year the update is released.  So the update for the first quarter of 2019 will be 19A, the second quarter 19, and so on through the four quarters of the year.  This change is a better reflection of how we deliver using CSD.

The time span for delivery is pretty simple:  your update is delivered to your test instance first, then to your production instance two weeks later.  This give customers a two-week window to test and evaluate.  Don't panic about the two week window...remember these are smaller, incremental changes.  And, if you're panicking anyway, take solace in knowing that standard operating procedure will be that new functionality in an update will not be enabled for existing customers, with the intent of providing a substantial opportunity to uptake new features and functionality before they become defaults. Will we deprecate features and functionality when it makes sense? Yes, we will.  Generally speaking, yes.  But if you read "Getting Ready" and "Getting Ready, Part II", you know that any changes will be well documented and available to research long before the incremental update hits your test environment.  If you're a new customer, you have even less to worry about: those new features will usually be enabled in your environments until you Go Live.

As it turns out, CSD will be pretty transformative for customers in the experience of uptaking new features and functionality delivered by Oracle:

  • Quicker delivery of new innovations
  • Easier adoption of smaller changes over time
  • Due to smaller delivered chunks of innovation, readiness docs can include deeper dives into the details
Will customers still see monthly patches?  Of course.  Fixes and statutory updates can't wait for quarterly deliveries.  But the innovative stuff will be delivered via CSD.  

I'm pretty excited about the introduction of CSD, as I think quick delivery of innovation is one of the best things a software services provider can do for their customers.  Questions?  Comments?  You know what to do.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Getting Ready, Part II

A recent post here, "Getting Ready", was all about getting ready for the Oracle Cloud Applications upgrade from R12 to R13.  Now that the upgrading is underway, I thought it might be a good time to add a bit to the info passed along in that prior post.  I'm thinking a basic bullet list is the best way to get this done, so here we go.

  • Upgrade Readiness  Checklist:  You can find a pretty nifty upgrade readiness checklist in My Oracle Support Doc ID 2354604.1.  
  • Upgrade White Paper:  There is a great white paper on the recommended approach to upgrading here.
  • When Will I Get My Upgrade?: Upgrades are in full swing now.  If you don't have an upgrade date yet, work with your Oracle Customer Success Manager to get that scheduled.
  • What Is The Opt In Feature?:  Oracle is sensitive to change management issues when we roll out new features, so we're expanding the time window for customers to uptake new features with the option to opt in.  You can read about how to opt in for new features here.
  • Learn About The New User Experience Features in HCM Cloud: You can get the straight scoop from the man himself (@chrismleone) right here.
So there ya go.  Between the two posts, you're getting a bucketload of information on R13.  But my little pea brain obviously can't think of everything.  So if there is something more you need to know, hit me up in the comments.  I'll answer if I can.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Nobody Does Vanilla

I have a granddaughter who loves ice cream.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever...whenever she sits down at the dining table, she asks for ice cream.  Chocolate, Raspberry, Cookies and Creme, Fudge, Neapolitan, Rocky Road...all flavors are good.  Except vanilla.  Put vanilla ice cream in front of the kid and she would refuse to eat it.  Even to the point of shedding tears over the thought of eating vanilla ice cream.  Because nobody does vanilla.

Ditto for enterprise software.  Nobody does vanilla.  Oh, you'll constantly hear the declarations at the beginning of an implementation project: "no customizations".  I hear that and I consider it to be an edict similar to zero-based budgeting.  It's really a statement that customizations will require justification.  And that justification usually involves preserving an existing business process.  Because nobody wants to change their business processes.  So they tweak the software to fit.  And, because we don't all do business in exactly the same way, that means nobody does vanilla.

All that being said, there is an easy path to minimizing customizations when implementing enterprise software.  Why do you want to minimize customizations?  Because maintaining customizations costs money.  In fact, it's one of the most expensive things you can do when using enterprise software.

So let's talk about that easy path.  Most implementation project plans include two or three Conference Room Pilots ("CRPs").  So stick with vanilla for the first CRP.  No customizations, no extensions, no personalizations.  Just configure the software and run the "baked in" business processes.  Then take a careful look at the results, considering where it makes sense to change your business process to fit the software as well as where to customize in order to fit your business process.  You'll be surprised at how well the vanilla business processes will fit, and how little you'll actually need to customize.

The granddaughter finally got over her dislike for vanilla.  I slipped a spoonful in her mouth while she was protesting.  And she learned that vanilla tastes better than she thought.  The same thing applies to enterprise software - once you get a taste of vanilla, you'll find it's better than you thought.