Consun BNB

Today’s users are surrounded by state-of-the-art mobile and cloud applications in almost every area of their lives, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that they expect the same high-quality experience from their corporate systems. From providing seamless self-service to custom business processes, Oracle has worked closely with Consum—a leading retail organization in Spain—to make all of this happen. Using a full deployment of Oracle’s PeopleSoft Fluid User Interface, Oracle delivered what users demand: a state-of-the-art experience. In this article, you will find not only the results achieved but also the lessons learned across the whole lifecycle and an interesting discussion of the whole process.

Challenge

Consum, one of the most important supermarket chain in Spain, wanted to improve the use of Manager Self Service functionality regarding to optimise the way of how employees could be empowered to use Employee Self Service.   

Solution

PeopleSoft HCM implementation through Core HR, Global Playroll, Talent Acquisition Management and ePerformance were developed as part of the solution deployed in all Consum’s offices. This implementation was accompanied by PeopleTools upgrading to the version 8.54.  

This kind of project requires a high customization that can fit with the particularities of the spanish market. The industry requirements aren’t covered by PeopleSoft standard functionalities so the goal of attempt to empower outlet managers to initiate most of the business processes needed to be accompanied by the development of non-standard functionalities: Positive Input Self Service, Labor Changes, Budgeting (according to sales and productivity predictions), Taxation (inside the Global Payroll), Training and Health and Safety Management.
Fluid was also part of the solution. The usage of mobile devices to access all corporate applications allowed Regional Managers to perform their activities while they are travelling through Consum’s workstation.

Fluid PeopleSoft

Some additional challenges have been detected while we are implemented the solution.  

  • Provide a quick win for the project.
  • One Interface: set to have outlet managers to access all of their PeopleSoft functionality through Fluid dashboards and related actions.

Lessons Learned

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  • DIRECT REPORTS

Direct Reports are configurable and help PeopleSoft to know the way we should calculate who is reporting to each manager. The challenge is that the Fluid self service functionalities are mostly accessed through related actions from the My Team page or the Org Chart page. That means that people reporting to each manager are calculated before accessing the transaction.

However in this case at Consum, not all transactions are done by the same type of Manager, so one thing we needed to do was to find a common factor among them, and so we chose the Direct Report method that made more sense. We left the rest of the transactions accessible through tiles instead of doing so through related actions.

  • SECURITY

A second complexity was in the security. Some transaction such as the Location Change and the Transfer are initiated by different levels of management. Now in Fluid, both transactions are performed by the same component, known as Guided Self Service. In order to provide different security access to each transaction we have created new Menus with the same component and gave access to them to different permission lists.

As a hint, it is quite handy to know about Conditional Navigation if you need to implement something like this.

  • TESTING

Also from a functional standpoint, something that proved to be challenging was testing on different devices. Particularly when you do modifications to CSS, you may find that the page appears differently than expected depending on the browser or the device.

As a way to make the testing effort more efficient, we are using emulators to simulate the form factor. This type of emulators are available in all major browsers on their desktop version: IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

  • FLUID SKILLS

From a technical standpoint, the first challenge was related to fluid skills. Now, if you go through PeopleBooks you will see that the most important skills are CSS and HTML, and a little Javascript doesn’t hurt.

My view on this is that even if you have those skills, you still need experience. And this is mainly because the documentation of the PeopleSoft provided CSS classes, although having improved, is still a bit lacking. So, if you want to place a control on a given place of a page, and you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, you will need to know which CSS class to use. You can always use your browser console to identify which CSS classes have been used in other examples and copy from there. It takes time, but sooner than later you start learning the key ones, and the full development experience becomes more productive.

  • NESTED NAVIGATION

As we mentioned before, we wanted to maximize the usage of the Fluid interface. We wanted to put all Manager Self Service functionality onto the Fluid dashboard, so that it was accessible through this user interface.

If we had just created a tile for each one, we would have ended up with easily 40 tiles on the dashboard. We did not want to create more dashboards, as we wanted to keep that option open to the moment of deployment of additional functionality which exceeded Manager Self service.

We then built a new functionality to be able to open one dashboard from another. Technically, the page design wasn’t that complex as we could copy most of it from the standard landing page component. What took a bit more effort, was the back button functionality, but we finally figured it out.

  • PEOPLETOOLS 8.54

The usage of PeopleTools 8.54 instead of 8.55 is a challenge. Remember that the decision to use 8.54 was mainly taken based on the need to convert all existing Crystal Reports if we moved to 8.55.

Still, this decision came at a cost. In the first place, an expected one; there were certain 8.55 functionalities we couldn’t use, such as Master Detail components, which would have been a perfect alternative to the Nested Navigation customization We’ve just described.

Another cost which was unforeseen, is that we faced some integrity issues when applying the patches up to image number 17. Apparently, the PeopleSoft update manager had some issues in calculating the prerequisites as some of them required PT 8.55. Still the subsequent patch was marked as applicable, which obviously was not! It took us some time to tidy our environment up, but we would definitely recommend you to use the latest Peopletools release if you can.

  • APPROVAL FRAMEWORK

One thing that came as a surprise to us was that the Self Service approval processes for Fluid are different to their traditional interface counterparties.

For instance, if you take the Transfer process, the process definition for the traditional interface is called Transfer Employee, while its correspondent Fluid process is GSSTransferEmployee.

So, make sure that you review the changes you have done to the original process and apply them to the Fluid ones.

  • JAVASCRIPT

And as the last challenge we found that although Javascript knowledge is barely needed, it can be quite handy if you want to implement tweaks such as animations.

In our case, we implemented an animation that would enlarge the icon of a tile when hovering over it using the mouse. This is no rocket science, but still required some Javascript.

The good news is that PeopleTools makes it now much easier to inject Javascript and CSS than previous versions, so there is literally lots that can be done with it.

Future Steps

Fluid PeopleSoft Future

Finally we would like to share with you our plans for the future regarding Fluid in order to continue improving the user experience.

First of all we are very keen to gradually introducing new standard Fluid functionality as it is delivered in PeopleSoft Update Images. It is not difficult to see the investment that has been put behind the Fluid development, and we would like to take advantage from it.

On the other hand, we will continue with the transition of custom pages to Fluid. We will naturally start with the most used ones, but eventually we would like to have all of them in Fluid.

Probably for next year, we would like to upgrade to PeopleTools 8.55 (or 8.56 if available). This would naturally require the conversion of existing Crystal Reports, but we think there is a lot to gain from the new functionality.

Last, and this is something we have started doing, is to enhance the standard related actions to include new ones that redirect us to the custom pages. We believe that related actions are a more natural and simpler way of navigation.

Finally, we would like to extend Fluid functionality to other group of users. We think we could particularly benefit from the extension to employees, as they could now use their mobile device to access PeopleSoft and use Fluid.

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About Consum

Consum is a leading retailer in the Spanish market.

Founded back in 1975, it is today the largest cooperative in the Spanish mediterranean shore. Consum owns 646 shops in total, mainly located in eastern Spain. Consum team is composed of 12.400 people, with an average staff growth rate of 8% in the last decade.

*This article was part of the session led by Javier Delgado, César García Galán & Daniel Plaza Pardo at Oracle OpenWorld 2016

César García Galán