Viewing Application Updates as ‘Not Just an IT Project’ Benefits Organizations

By Jonathan Fritz, Chief Strategy Officer, Symphony Corporation


Technology has altered how work gets done, how workers interact with one another, and how the organization engages with its customers and suppliers. Best-in-class organizations recognize the significance of how technology advances will transform their businesses over the next several years.

Organizations can exploit transformational power through different delivery models, but must always remain focused on how the changes affect their people. Executives should assess how new technology alters business processes, where new skills are required, and how to effectively communicate and manage change.

For those healthcare systems that have upgraded to v9.2, PeopleSoft’s application update model is fundamentally different from the past. Instead of significant version upgrades that deliver added functionality, PeopleSoft has a continuous improvement model allowing health systems to selectively adopt features and functionality. As a result, health systems need to adapt to this model.

From our experience, a critical adaptation often includes an evaluation of the governance between IS teams and the business users in order to efficiently effect change that is in the best interest of the enterprise. Additionally, previous upgrades (including v9.2) have often been run as IT projects rather than business transformation projects. This has led us to finding health systems with customizations pushed through the last upgrade where delivered functionality would provide greater efficiency. This presents many opportunities for optimization and improving the operation of the enterprise and reducing costs.

Here are a few critical elements to consider when planning updates to your PeopleSoft system:

1. PeopleSoft Selective Adoption delivers new features to your business faster with ease and agility. Selective Adoption allows you to decide which updates and features to implement and when. It is crucial to think through your priorities and strategy for this form of continuous improvement, and to develop a plan to reduce customizations. Make sure to invite all appropriate business (including executive leadership), IT staff, along with your Selective Adoption Partner to the table when this collaborative plan is developed.

2. A continuous improvement program should be implemented as an ongoing effort requiring people at every level in the organization to constantly be looking for ways to increase efficiency, effectiveness and profitability. The concept of continuous improvement disregards the idea that products and operations can be “good enough.” There is no such thing as good enough in an organization that is constantly getting better and looking for ways that it can improve.

3. The PeopleSoft Update Manager (PUM), a lifecycle management process used with the PeopleSoft Internet Architecture (PIA) is only available in PeopleSoft 9.2. There is one PeopleSoft Image per product family (database instance) released periodically and almost every quarter. In essence, this is a flexible, streamlined patching process that enables the identification, understanding and the selective application of maintenance updates according to the organization’s requirements and schedule. This process reduces cost, time and effort in maintaining the PeopleSoft system.

4. Does your IS team have the right skill set and are you integrated with the business users? Given the complexity and integration with every aspect of your business, the skill set of your IS team is critical. Having an experienced ERP support team with the appropriate technical, functional, industry and business experience has a huge impact on the success of any upgrade and overall business improvements. A governance team also adds value to the organization and implementation in terms of accountability, growth and strategy.

5. Prioritize configuration over customizations. Configurations are stored with application data instead of People Tools data. New features, such as related actions, related content, pivot grids, dashboards and WorkCenters can all be configured. Avoid customizing existing People Tools objects, which could make applying maintenance to the objects costlier and time consuming. Replace customizations when similar functionality becomes available with new delivered features.

From a business perspective, while upgrading PeopleSoft, consider organization-wide strategic alignment to enable higher performance by optimizing the contributions of people, processes and technology to the realization of measurable objectives and, thus, minimizing waste and misdirection of effort and resources to unintended or unspecified purposes. Strategic alignment should be viewed broadly as encompassing not only the human and other resources within any particular organization but also across organizations with complementary objectives.

The objective of a PeopleSoft Enterprise Organizational transformation is to enable organization members and other stakeholders to adapt to a new vision, mission and systems, as well as to identify sources of resistance to the changes and minimize resistance to them. Organizations are almost always in a state of change, whether the change is continuous or episodic. Change creates tension and strain that requires adaptation so that change can evolve. Transformational planning and organizational change is the coordinated refocus of activities affecting users, as imposed by new or altered business processes, policies or procedures and related systems being implemented. The objectives are to effectively transfer knowledge and skills that enable users to adopt to the new vision, mission and systems and to identity and minimize sources of resistance.

A well-planned PeopleSoft ERP project is always a significant investment of both time and money. However, when planned holistically, and not just as an IT project, your organization should have a much higher chance of success. Don’t sacrifice the quality of a PeopleSoft ERP project for cost effectiveness; training, effective planning and an experienced and skillful team are crucial for getting it right the first time around.


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