Posts Tagged ‘HRMS’

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – R12 Self Service Jedis

April 14, 2011

Now I can’t do the scrolling Yellow Text and the famous Star Wars fanfare, but I reckon most people will have already got the Star Wars theme for this blog. The force is obviously strong in you.

There is a serious disturbance in the force across the corporate Galaxy. Have you ever thought that your company is built up of numerous Sith Lords, all wanting to basically build a Galactic Empire of epic proportions, with no relevance to the goals of your Business.

Think of it this way. Each of those Empires is building deathstars 0f immense power over decades. Each of these wields terrible power across your company reaching to every corner of your corporate universe. At the head of these powerful empires are your typical Darth Vaders, Darth Sidius’s and other villains that steal the lifeblood from your company and quash any rebellions against them with absolute force.

However despite the absolute power, in our galactic quadrant, a small group of Rebels started a rebellion with a view to wipe out the tyranny of the Evil Empires and bring freedom to the corporate galaxy. These few were the R12 Self Service Jedis. Or perhaps you’re a Princess Leia wanna-be? (If you’re a guy and a Princess Leia wanna-be then I’d certainly find you a little strange in a long flowing white dress, but each to their own……)

So what better way to start with than a movie  recommendation. It has to be Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This was a truly cutting edge movie (which a top movie critic in the UK stated was “rubbish” at the time of release – there was a truly epic screw-up……..). Well Star Wars was the thing of dreams for millions of kids (and adults) and continues to be to this very day. It’s a 10 out of 10 movie and you should buy it on DVD.

In 2001, our company built an ERP deathstar providing the various Empires powerful facilities that did everything to consolidate their power. Bar one item. Included in this deathstar was one area that could, maybe just could, undermine the Empire. There was a small part of Oracle ERP dedicated to the galactic citizens. This allowed galactic citizens to check Galactic HR records for:

Payslip

Staff Receivables (*)

Pension (*)

Company Savings Scheme (*)

Bank Account designated for Payroll

Personal Information

Staff Information

Education

(*) Indicates custom Screens we have written in OA Framework

What is interesting is that many of the above screens are pure standard functionality. Easily and very quickly enabled across the entire Galactic Empire.

Enabling the simple Staff Information gives your staff access to Employment, Salary, Performance, Training and Job Applications with a simple addition to a menu. (The screen has most of the data removed for privacy reasons).

Now perhaps you are thinking big-deal, who cares about Payslips. Well we have 2500 staff across 27 Galaxies each requiring a Payslip twice per month of 3 pages. We also have 1,000 Pensioners requiring a Payslip across 66 Galaxies. That’s over 200,000 pieces of paper that have to be printed, put in an envelope, sent to the various far flung corners of the galaxy and all that costs a huge amount of time, money and bureaucracy. Putting a Payslip online (and have it populated as a natural part of Payroll) wipes out this pointless costly burueacracy in one swift action. Start to consider the effect for a Galactic Corporation of 25,000 employees, or 50,000 employees. The savings year after year after year are immense. Not to mention that online Payslips are delivered at the speed of light, being available seconds after Payroll is completed.

(As above all the key information has been removed for privacy reason, i.e. my privacy……. although as can be seen last month I cleared 34 cents – it was better than usual 🙂

For 30 years this Payroll Empire outpost had created tyranny and bureaucracy by making citizens beg for key information that was held on the Empire’s central computers. This functionality brought a small part of freedom to the citizens in this far flung quadrant.  However the Jedis from the Oracle Corporation sect quickly left in 2001 as these were mercenaries, who would only stay whilst the galactic credits kept flowing. After that the Galactic Empire’s consolidated their power, insisting each citizen continue to file vast quantities of paper with no specific purpose.

Our journey to restore freedom to our corporate Galaxy fighting against the Empire began on the small planet of Tatooine some 6 years ago back in 2005. Surveying the corporate galaxy the Jedi’s looked for areas of maximum gain where an attack would carry minimum cost and risk.

The Empire ran a facility to give Loans to Galactic Citizens (Employees). The loans were ironically managed by an army of Galactic clones that actually managed the loans and deductions to Payroll MANUALLY using spreadsheets. There was no risk on this, given they were TRIPLED CHECKED, leading to even more clones.

The Jedi’s reviewed this facility. A citizen could loan based on their Galactic Salary and length of service to their company. The Jedi’s checked and  they could get this information from the HR System. A citizen could request for a loan to be paid into their Bank Account. This could also be found in the Payroll/Payables system. The Loan could be paid using Accounts Payable and R12 Payments modules. Finally Loan interest was deducted each month from the citizens Payroll. Check – The Jedi’s could do this through 100% automation.

So exactly what were these clones doing that they demanded citizens to fill out reams of paper, have it checked in 6 separate Empire facilities shuffling paper between each, wait for weeks or months for the approval, then finally pay the loan. This was Galactic madness, purely to justify the Empire’s existence.

With a simple OA Framework screen linked to the Empire’s Accounts Payable facility, the Jedi’s managed to remove the Empire’s clone army in a six month operation. Citizens would apply for a Loan with a few clicks of a Self Service screen. This sent an invoice to Payables (pre-approved) and fed through to R12 Payments, then through SWIFT to the citizens Bank Account. The end to end application process moved from 2 weeks to 2 minutes, with no Empire intervention.

The second part of this sytem, the Loan Engine created by the Jedi’s plugged into the Empire’s computers and automatically removed the correct interest each month from the citizen’s Payroll, with no Empire intervention from clones. The Loan Deduction fed through automatically to the Self Service Payslip.

This system now processes over 4,000 Employee Loans every year. Imagine the manual work that was done before this Self Service System was deployed.

Given this was the first attack on the Empire, everything was automated, except for the R12 Payments module, which still required manual runs of the Payment Cycle Programs in R12 Payments. The Jedi’s were careful about picking full scale battles with the much feared Sith Lord Dollarius at this early stage in case the Empire became aware of the serious challenge that was growing within. A key tactic in the Jedi Wars to bring the freedom of Self Service to the Corporate Galaxy was to carefully choose their battles, delivering quick wins, at limited cost and risk.

(Again the screen is censored, but normally you could see the Loan amounts you can borrow, current loans, etc)

The next obvious move was to take out an Empire facility that did nothing but produce Certificates for Citizens. These Certificates could be for Employment, Salary, Wages, Tax and many more. Staff used ancient technology from the days of the Old Republic to fill out Old Republic Excel sheets and sign, and send to the Empire Central Processing Facility. The Empire demanded citizens wait two weeks for their own information, whilst armies of Empire Drones ran reports, got the information, sent memos to other facilities, got returned information from said facilities, cut and paste a variety of sources into an Old Republic Excel or Word document, checked the information and waited for the return of Darth Vader, the feared Head of the HR Facility to physically sign. This was the information tyranny that was feared throughout the corporate galaxy, draining desperately needed funds from well run Republic planets to fund an army of mindless Empire drones in bureaucracy.

With the plans from Princess Leia to the facilities HRMS System, the Jedi’s worked out that a small custom system to access this could be used by the citizens of the Old Republic to access their own information, removing the need for the endless army of Empire clones.

“There is something very wrong when it takes so long to get your own information from the Empire”

Obi Wan Kenobi

With a small OA Framework screen, loading of electronically scanned signatures and a little bit of BI Publisher force, the Jedi’s slashed through the endless bureaucracy of the Empire. The Empire’s Darth Attornius questioned the validity of scanned signatures, but traders and governments throughout the Empire readily accepted these, allowing citizens to apply easily for Bank Accounts, Tax Refunds and all manner of other necessities.

A signed (scanned) certificate with the citizen’s own information could be generated within seconds by the citizen themselves simply by selecting the certificate type in a Self Service screen, pressing a button and waiting a few seconds for a PDF file to be generated, with a scanned signature attached. Imagine a process that involved many people, many departments and took weeks to deliver information that citizens often needed quickly. Imagine that process where absolutely no-one was required, the citizen pressed a button and got what they needed within 5 seconds. That was the power of the Jedi Self Service.

Another small Empire outpost fell without a fight to the R12 Self Service Jedis.

In 2006, the year we launched this Self Service feature, we had 2,500 Certificates created. By 2010 that had grown to over 6,000. (For a company of 2,500 people).

This could be delivered by any small Jedi strike team in a very short period of time at minimal cost. Scale this up to a global entity of 50,000 and savings are immense. The other immediate payback is a lot of very happy citizens who get what they need in seconds.

(Note there are confirmed rumors that the Jedi Sect from Oracle Corporation has provided Certificates in R12 which the Empire and most Jedis are unaware of. See Employment Verification in Oracle Self-Service Human Resources Deploy Self-Service Capability Guide (Part B31648-03)

This short episode outlined the initial skirmishes with the Empire, mostly which went to plan, to deliver the initial foundations of Self Service functionality and freedom to the Corporate Galaxy with rapid ROI.

The R12 Self Service Jedi’s will continue with Episode V – The Empire Strikes back shortly…….

Further Prophecies can be found at https://oracleprophet.wordpress.com

Business Intelligence and the Kung Fu Dragons of Wudang

October 3, 2010

I recently watched an interesting program on TV about the Kung Fu Dragons in Wudang, China. The students join from a very young age and basically study 16 hours a day to become a Kung Fu Dragon Master over many, many years. The training is difficult, filled with risks of failure and many give up before ever coming close to becoming a Kung Fu Dragon master. Indeed the truth is most simply don’t have the skills, time or patience to reach the heights of a true Kung Fu Dragon Master. Very few will ever become a Kung Fu Dragon Master.

Now you look at data warehouses and Business Intelligence and ERP. It’s extremely difficult, filled with risks of failure and many give up (after spending a fortune) before they even get close after many, many years of trying. The truth is most simply don’t have the skills, time or patience to reach the heights of a true Kung Fu Dragon Master in Business Intelligence and ERP. The parallels and similarities are indeed striking.

Now the Art of Zen Patching article talked about patience and a non-aggressive approach. Not so this article. This article is really designed to allow you to become a true Kung Fu Dragon Master in Business Intelligence in 9-12 weeks (in vanilla implementation) and stresses a highly aggressive approach to Business Intelligence and ERP. (This article doesn’t ask for any money to be sent for some dodgy DVD and a certificate I printed in my bedroom. This is free, it’s not marketing hype – this is the real deal).

A cautionary tale before I start.

I’ve seen the two sides of data warehousing with Oracle ERP. One European company I know bought a bunch of expensive, state of the art tools almost a decade ago. Almost a decade on, with a lot of tears and pain  (sounds like a Kung Fu Dragon training course…..???), 2 million bucks and a change in system architecture that will require massive re-work, users simply not adopting because what has been achieved is small, fragmented and ad-hoc, and performs like a three legged dog (indeed in the user manual it instructs the person to submit the report and then get a coffee for 20 minutes before coming back or lunch if it’s a larger report) – the dreams of being a Kung Fu Dragon Master in ERP Data Warehousing lie in shattered pieces, a ruin of what should have been a shining example of 21st Century technology. This isn’t a one off – according to independent research a huge percentage of projects fail in the custom approach. Indeed it is the minority of ERP Data Warehouse projects that succeed.

Sure they bought the most expensive software, they put in piles of money, but they never sought a Kung Fu Dragon master to train them properly, preferring naively to think that they could learn the art of the Kung Fu Dragon Business Intelligence off a DVD in front of the bedroom mirror whilst their parents wondered what the weird shouts and snake hissing sounds were from upstairs………Instead of being a Kung Fu Dragon Master of Business Intelligence, they ended up as more like something of a joke reminiscent from the movie Kung Fu Panda……….Trust me if you’re a Kung Fu Business Intelligence Panda, people are laughing at you, not with you…….

 

(By the way, if you haven’t got the DVD for Kung Fu Panda movie, it’s highly recommended). As well as Oracle Fusion Apps being released in 2011, Kung Fu Panda 2 will also be out…..

Here’s the other side. I’ve seen Oracle come in with the prebuilt ERP Analytics, install the database, ETL tools, dashboards, KPI’s and reports and do all the data orchestration, extracts and imports in……..seven hours………Now I’m an utter skeptic when it comes to Oracle marketing and consultancy, but yes, I watched as one single Kung Fu Dragon Master in Business Intelligence and Pre-Built ERP Analytics achieved in 7 hours what could not be achieved in 7 years by an army of untrained people in another European company. Now this was only a demo (done for free as a demonstration of what could be achieved), but it took all our historical R12 Oracle ERP Accounts Payable data for 7 years and transformed it in a fully defined, fully functional data warehouse with dashboards in 7 hours. This guy was an Indian Kung Fu Dragon Master in Business Intelligence from Oracle Singapore. I was in utter awe of what could be achieved so easily and so quickly by one talented individual.

Have a look at Haemonetics Corporation story at Oracle Open World on Demand (Oracle On Demand Access Required) and then the results when they moved to Oracle’s prebuilt BI Applications approach.

The reason this utterly amazing complete data warehouse could be achieved is due to the pre-built Analytics packs that Oracle now provides (for of course, an additional license fee), together with of course an incredibly talented Indian Kung Fu Dragon Master.

So what’s the deal with Oracle BI and Pre-built Analytics?

Oracle is moving heavily into the BI market, taking the overall lead in terms of BI according to Gartner, much to the surprise of many.

In parallel Oracle is moving to create an unprecedented amount of pre-built content for Oracle ERP (including R11, R12, Peoplesoft, Siebel, JD Edwards with SAP in the works in 7.9.7…..) moving the task of creating a data warehouse from a vast army over many years (with a horrific failure rate) to a guy with an installation disk. Or that’s the single great hope and prophecy of Oracle Corporation. OK, we’ll never get to an installation disk, but if the guy with the installation disk can get us to 70% I won’t be complaining……..

Finally Oracle is now heading towards, probably in R12.1.4 to embedding the BI content directly into Oracle ERP screens. (The technology to do this by embedding into Java screens – not hanging a BIEE screen of an ERP menu by the way – was released as part of 12.1.2). If you also look at the new Fusion Apps, embedded dashboards are now an integral part of each module. According to Oracle at Open World 2010, there will be “hundreds of pre-built embedded analytics in (Fusion V1) or as they put it another way “Analytics are always available in Fusion Apps”.

 

 

Whatever BI tool or preference, you have to admit Oracle’s strategy and growth is certainly very impressive. With the recent release of Oracle BIEE 11G it just gets even better. The presentation layer is truly fantastic.

 

So many are probably asking, what’s the pre-built content for Oracle ERP?

Oracle has effectively written for you the following components:

  • Data Extraction from Oracle ERP (and many other ERP’s)
  • Data Orchestration (pulling dependent tables as needed with full synchronization)
  • Data Import to Data Warehouse with full management and restart capabilities
  • Data Model Design of Warehouse
  • Standard Dashboards
  • Standard KPI’s
  • Standard Reports
  • Security Models
  • Integration both to and from Oracle ERP
  • and a whole lot more

Now all of the above have been done not by a single Kung Fu Dragon Master in Business Intelligence, but by an army of Kung Fu Dragon Masters in Business Intelligence and ERP at Oracle Corporation.

These guys are experts in Business.

These guys are experts in Data Warehouse modeling.

These guys are experts in BI.

These guys are experts integrating BI to ERP.

These guys are experts at extracting data reliably from ERP to a data-warehouse.

The product line has come from a huge amount of hours collaborating with top businesses around the globe to find out what an ERP Data Warehouse should be

They have created something that no matter how much money and how deep your pockets, you will never be able to match, because Oracle Corporation is in the software business and can use economies of scale. Your company isn’t, despite the best intentions of your IT department.

The Pre-Built Analytics module list for Oracle ERP is equally impressive and is growing substantially on a consistent basis. This now covers:

Now it’s almost definite that this list will continue rapidly expanding, so that not only is there prebuilt content on ERP, but you’ll find it integrated directly into ERP (R12, Fusion, etc) and I bet into all of the other tools that Oracle has in the coming years including their database and other management tools. Basically if you are running Oracle ERP now, you WILL be running Oracle BIEE in the years to come.

Not only does Oracle Pre-Built Analytics create entire date warehouse content, they also add to it on a frequent basis. So when Pre-Built Analytics 7.9.6 was released it had a whole raft of brand new areas of HR addressed including Talent Management, Learning and iRecruitment.

So if you are still considering building using a custom approach to Oracle ERP Data warehousing, think about this foolish Kung Fu Panda……

Imagine that Oracle ERP has some 14,000 tables – do you really want to build a data warehouse from this (and will it actually perform…….????)

Imagine having to write extracts from the key tables which although much smaller is still huge. Imagine writing all the complex logic on something like Order Management for the extracts.

Imagine having to define a complex data warehouse model (and no, ERP and standard database design don’t work for data warehouses – it’s a completely different approach from a relational database model so your skills won’t work here……).

Imagine having to write processes to manage the extraction and import of data.

Imagine having to do the Security models.

Imagine having to do all the integration to and from your ERP.

Imagine trying to keep your custom built data warehouse in synch with Oracle patches, upgrades, etc

Imagine designing and building 100’s of dashboards with no idea of the proper principles of dashboard design and usability

Still fancy your chances of building a BI Apps comparable product Kung Fu Panda? Have a look at the summary data warehouse of BI Apps…….I guess you would be a whole lot less confident if it was your own money at stake on your custom build rather than your company’s……

 

The above represents years of work by an army of highly skilled, highly paid people, where the company must wait for a very significant time to get the results if you choose to custom build. Where you don’t get these highly trained people (as too many companies don’t), the consequence is simple – utter failure and massive cost.

And of course, even if you build it, what happens when you add another 2,000 users? Is it scalable or will you find major flaws in the design that are incredibly costly to fix? With Oracle Pre-Built Analytics scalability has already been designed in by the experts.

Still not convinced? Well let me give you the stats on Oracle’s prebuilt analytics:

350 Fact Tables

550 Dimension Tables

5,200 Pre-Built Metrics

15,000 Data Elements

And Kung Fu Panda, do you really think that the quality and performance and design can match that of the Kung Fu Dragon Masters from Oracle Corporation that do nothing but BI Applications? If so put down that Vodka bottle (or whatever else you are smoking) and get a reality check.

 

Or how about this Dashboard, with all the extracts, imports, data model behind it? For info this is Oracle Projects, one of the hardest niche modules in the entire ERP Suite, with links to EVERYTHING…….

 

In BI Apps just for HRMS there are 9 dashboards with a whopping 47 pages, 230 reports and 330+ metrics. And that’s just ONE MODULE OF BI APPS !

By the time you build that using a custom build approach (that’s so 1990’s in terms of approach – are you also still using Computer Punch Cards?) you’ll be retired or fired before you see it go-live……..

Today Oracle has the capability to deploy in 9-12 weeks (in vanilla implementation). Marketing slogans and nothing else? Absolutely not. We watched Oracle install everything (from database, to tools, to dashboards and migrate 7 years of data) and bring up Accounts Payable in 7 hours as a proof of concept. I can be pretty skeptical and hard on vendors, but believe me, this was truly amazing the ease with which this product could be brought up.

Now true there are some serious challenges around also, even with the Pre-built Analytics. Anyone thinking they can buy this and that’s it, well that unfortunately is naïve. I wish life was that simple……

The fit of the BI Analytics needs to be checked in terms of dashboards. What we found was that a lot of dashboards fitted very well onto the Business Requirements. Please bear in mind that dashboards are very easy to build (and BIEE is very easy to learn), especially when the Kung Fu Dragon Masters at Oracle Corporation have done the hardest part of building the entire data model and all the data extractions for you. Even if you find no use for the pre-built dashboards, simply having the data model and extracts will save you a huge amount of time. Now looking at Infosys they reckon a 70-80% fit in terms of BI Apps. I’d tend to agree that would be a ballpark figure when we assessed this against our ERP.  (And remember a fit means data extraction, import, data models, dashboards and all the other components).

If you do have custom modules, then you will need to build the extracts, data model, etc. However don’t be fooled by naïve arguments that if you’ve customized your ERP, BI Apps will not work. I’ve rarely seen a company modify base tables in ERP (add new custom tables yes) as they would be extremely foolish to do so. Therefore BI Apps will have just about every key table from the core ERP model you could possibly need. That’s a huge chunk of work already done.

You will need to define further dashboards and reports. That is a given. BI Apps will get you very far down the line, but it won’t be a silver bullet.

You will need to design data models and extracts for any custom modules you have. That can be a difficult task, but your ERP will already have all the data models, extracts provided by BI Apps. Custom modules are almost always a whole lot simpler than Oracle ERP Data models.

One of the biggest tasks that not even pre-built analytics will address is Training and user adoption. Moving from reports and Excel to Analytics is a major business change exercise and should be treated accordingly. The project can still fail even with great pre-built content, because users are not trained appropriately and there is a lack of vision in how this can really change the way the user community work.

The cost of prebuilt analytics is still a major problem I think. There are alternates out there that are much, much cheaper but then you have to consider upgrades, risk of building, integration and a whole host of other problems. I love the Oracle BIEE and the Pre-Built analytics but the cost is still pretty high. Of course compare the cost of that to the cost of building all this yourself and there is just no comparison between the two, like for like. Playing hardball with Oracle Corporation (ideally at their year end when the best deals can be achieved) can pay dividends in terms of price, although I’m not going to give away how cheaply we got offered the prebuilt analytics……There are still alternates to Oracle in many areas, solution wise and Oracle should be reminded that you can go elsewhere…..

Pre-Built analytics for ERP can get you there fast. But a big bang approach is not recommended. A fast initial deployment to a small community followed by consistent wins over a period of time, slowly building up the user base and expanding across the lines of the business is the way to go, bringing in and training champions each and every step of the journey. Then you’ll succeed where so many others fail. When everyone can see frequent wins (and with BI Apps it can be every few months), it becomes an unstoppable train that everyone wants to get on. BI Apps is beautiful eye candy that users seem to love. (Or is it that they finally can get their own answers in seconds without waiting 12 weeks for the IT Department…..)

You can buy the software, but you need to sell the vision, otherwise you fail. IT Alignment to Business Alignment and support from Business is the key to any successful project.

I’d still recommend having a BI Expert around who you can gain the knowledge from. Again Pre-Built Analytics is not a silver bullet and your staff will need to be properly trained by an expert.

I think all companies running ERP should be looking seriously at BI Apps, even those with the approach of building everything. In the 90’s companies realized the value of letting Oracle, SAP and the rest build their ERP applications. That’s now a generally accepted principal by most companies around the globe.

Over 2,500 companies have already adopted the BI Applications. If it was cheaper (a message to Oracle Corporation and Larry Ellison) the uptake I am sure would be massive.

In the coming months, I’ll write a few more articles on deep-dive into some of the core areas of BI Applications – HRMS, Financials and Procurement, time permitting.

I think in the 21st century, that same principal will gain general acceptance on the value of pre-built analytics for ERP. Put quite simply, in the cut-throat economy companies can’t wait ten years to become a Kung Fu Dragon Master of Business Intelligence with Oracle ERP.

Companies need to achieve that in 9-12 weeks (vanilla implementation) and the only way to do that is to rely on the Kung Fu Dragon Masters from Oracle Corporation that have already done this for you…………before your competitors beat you to it……..

Related Articles

Below are a number of articles. Some are your average Oracle Sales pitches, but all the same very informative overall. Others are written by generous authors whom I acknowledge and extend my thanks to for writing very interesting and useful articles, which were used as background research during writing this article. (I particularly enjoyed the articles by Jeff McQuigg and Mark Rittman, both renowned experts in their field and excellent authors. Their articles are highly recommended reading).

 For those lucky enough to have been to the Oracle Open World 2010 show (hope you enjoyed the Black Eyed Peas !!! Turn down the volume before you click that link……), the following can be accessed from Oracle Open World On Demand.

(Note there were many more sessions, but many do not yet have the content uploaded at the time of writing – 2nd October 2010. I have chosen to hyperlink only a few of my favorite session links. Others are available in Oracle Open World On Demand).

  • End-to-End Oracle Business Intelligence: From Warehouse to Advanced Analytics
  • Enterprise Sales Analytics with Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition
  • Oracle BI Applications Roadmap, Including Support for Oracle Fusion Applications
  • Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition Integration at Comcast
  • Oracle Human Resources/Oracle Financial Analytics for ResCare Decision-Making
  • What’s New in Oracle Business Intelligence Suite, Enterprise Edition Plus 11g
  • Gain the Insight You Need with Oracle Business Intelligence Applications
  • Implementation Experiences with Oracle Business Intelligence Applications
  • Implementation Experiences with Oracle BI Applications
  • Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI)
  • Haemonetics Corporation: Better Decisions with Oracle Human Resources Analytics
  • Get Real-Time and Actionable Information with New Reporting and Analytics

An iRecruitment Odyssey

September 13, 2010

 Too many companies do recruitment in a not dissimilar way that would probably have happened around the time that Homer wrote his famous Odyssey poem back in 850 BC. Exaggeration – maybe a little, but consider someone needs a person, they advertise, interview and the person gets a job. Want another person, repeat the same process. That’s the way it happened three thousand years ago and it’s still largely unchanged today for too many companies.

Now the 20th century has added some refinement to the recruitment process, but it still left an awful lot to be desired. Your average organization still posts into newspapers or into the (almost) 21st century job boards on the internet. Your average applicant will have a nice shiny resume to send.  Your average organization will still process the same loser that you’ve rejected twenty times on each application. In short, recruitment still remains for most companies, a very intensive process indeed with many non-value added processes involved.

Our organization was somewhere between 850BC and the 21st Century in terms of recruitment, although probably leaning to the former rather than the latter…….

This led to some pretty serious problems for our organization:

  1. Recruitment cycles were incredibly slow
  2. Adverts cost a lot and don’t really hit the correct audience most of the time
  3. Good candidates were lost for future positions as it was all paper based. There was no corporate memory of candidates
  4. There was no option of pro-active recruitment, unless you looked through millions of papers in filing cabinets
  5. By the time you get the process going, the candidate is not available
  6. Candidates rarely find your organization, unless they read the right newspaper on the right day – recruitment is not a process, it’s a chance encounter between the applicant and the organizations advert
  7. Processing large volumes of candidates was slow and time-consuming as the HR department was swamped by job seekers
  8. After going through 200 resumes, you work out that 90% of those are not even relevant, but you still need to check every resume just in case………
  9. For staff away from the office, it was difficult to apply as paper submissions were required

In 2008, our organization decided something had to give. We were in major expansion mode needing considerably more staff (around 20%), but our recruitment processes could simply not support the business need. The case for iRecruitment was born and the odyssey began.

Our project followed the typical standard AIM lifecycle model, with the usual BR.100 Setup documents, MD.050 Functional Designs, etc.

 

We won’t dwell on the lifecycle model as its standard Oracle AIM. But what we did find was that for an average iRecruitment implementation, it could be achieved in 6-9 months, giving a pretty fast win and an even faster ROI.

Pre iRecruitment, our recruitment process was pretty archaic (and probably familiar to way too many readers…….)

  1. HR writes a job specification
  2. HR asks web developers to post job specification on organization website (and many don’t even have this today…..)
  3. Web developers enter this into the website
  4. Contact the newspaper with the specific advert, even though you have no idea if the adverts actually get you candidates or if it’s just a waste of your dollars or yen or euro……..
  5. Applicant views jobs either from website or by chance in the newspaper
  6. Applicant downloads a form from our website
  7. Applicant fills in form
  8. Applicant emails form to our organization’s HR Department
  9. HR Department files form in a very large room with millions of other forms – if you remember the scene from Indian Jones when they put the Ark of the Covenant in a huge warehouse never to be seen again. That’s kind of what happens to a lot of job applications……
  10. HR Department types form details into Oracle HRMS – the form is hugely complex and we needed teams of people to do this. Even more interesting was that only a fraction of the details were ever recorded and many details were wrong……….
  11. HR Department reviews each applicant
  12. HR retrieves forms from filing cabinet for shortlisted candidates
  13. Shortlisted candidates are kept in an Excel Spreadsheet
  14. Unsuccessful candidates aren’t told anything as processing 100 rejections would take too long. The impact here is that candidates think your organization doesn’t really care, so they won’t bother applying again
  15. HR prints short-listed candidate forms and sends to relevant department through internal mail
  16. Department Co-coordinator gets forms one week later
  17. Department Co-coordinator sends forms to relevant person one week later…….
  18. Person reviews forms, writes comments manually and gives back to Department Co-coordinator
  19. Department Co-coordinator sends forms back to HR department, where they manually update the comments into HRMS (sometimes……)
  20. HR arranges interviews with the person (if by this time they are still available)
  21. Department wonders what is going on as this process can take weeks
  22. Department finally gets all the forms back in triplicate for applicant interview
  23. All the other applicants are wondering what is going on as nobody informs them of progress of vacancy
  24. Interview takes place – notes are all paper based
  25. End User Department informs HR of the results
  26. HR validates the results
  27. HR send offer to candidate (via email)
  28. Candidate accepts or rejects
  29. All details are then typed fully into Oracle HRMS
  30. If someone wanted to find the same skills in the future, the process either had to be repeated or someone had to look through millions of pieces of paper or someone had to remember that two years ago they saw a really good resume…….not exactly a good process…….more a recruitment lottery than process.

This was a long and extremely painful process for the Applicants, the HR Department and the End User Departments requiring the resource.

By bringing in iRecruitment there was a very radical shift, both in terms of process, but also in terms of the mindset of everyone involved.

 

With the new process 100% online, we reduced the overall process by more than 50%…..

  1. HR writes the job spec and presses a button to enable on the website
  2. Applicants fill out their own details online, directly into HRMS
  3. HR reviews the applicants online and presses a button to refer to the End User Departments
  4. End User Department shortlists online, with full visibility to the HR Department
  5. HR arranges the interviews, with candidate automatically informed of status of either interview or rejection with regrets at all times during the process
  6. End User Department interviews
  7. HR validates results online
  8. HR Department sends the offer
  9. HR Department changes the Person Type in HRMS to Employee with no other changes required

10.  It’s a wrap!!!!!

The advantages of this process are very obvious indeed:

  1. Immediate savings by removing the need for a team of people to type in potentially 60,000+ resumes per year, with all the mistakes that entails
  2. Electronically link your advert to either your website or job sites, all under the control of your HR Department
  3. Removal of over 1 Million pieces of paper per year – good for the planet and good for your business
  4. Candidates are kept in the loop at all times and this shows your organization in an extremely positive light
  5. Reduces the need for expensive newspaper adverts
  6. End User Departments have far quicker access to Candidates
  7. Reduces the recruitment cycle time significantly, giving you the edge in recruiting the best people
  8. Massive online, searchable resource database that allows pro-active recruitment
  9. Reduces significantly the amount of HR time spent on recruitment
  10. Online referrals
  11. Apply anywhere, anytime and attract candidates GLOBALLY
  12. Hugely flexible model can be applied to centralize the HR process and federate the recruitment process

The biggest challenges and pitfalls we faced were on the Change Management and some issues very much specific to putting Oracle ERP into the outside world:

  1. The Technical Team (DBA Group) had to become very familiar with the DMZ Configuration to allow iRecruitment (and effectively therefore your ERP) to be put into the big, bad internet world.
  2.  Keeping up to date in terms of security patches in Oracle ERP is key. A prime example of a security flaw reported can be found on the following link.
  3. Keeping up with the latest ATG (Technology Patches) is critical, as you are now moving from your nice “my company has these PC’s with this Windows version” to “any candidate with any device (PC, Apple Mac, Ipad, etc) running any O/S with any browser wants to use your site”. The only manageable way to do address this major technology issue is to let Oracle Corporation do it for you: watch Steven Chan’s column, watch My Oracle Support and make sure you keep reasonably up to date on ATG Patches. Plan carefully as some of these patches are massive and although generally very good with limited impacts to your ERP, care as always with Oracle patches is mandatory. 
  4. The concept of a support team for external users was not really there – although iRecruitment saves a huge amount of resources, someone still has to answer the user calls. A solid user support structure must be in place and it’s a real grey area whether this is an IT or Business Responsibility. Our HR Department took the lead in this. Supporting a massive global user community is very different from internal support. 
  5. Our biggest User Support problems were related to:
    1.  Character Sets (make sure you have a multi-byte character set on the database, otherwise cut and paste from Word, etc fails……..This will cause support chaos and I am sure some companies are still running without multi-byte character sets)
    2. Login issues (Make sure you have very clear Quick Guides)
    3. Browser issues (make sure you are on the latest ATG Patches and keep updated)
    4. General User errors (good User Guides are essential)
  6. What was actually most difficult about this process was really getting the HR Department to let go of non-value added functions. This required a huge amount of Change Management effort and even 9 months on we are still not there. Letting go of functions that have been performed for the last 40 years is understandably very difficult, even when they add no value (and actually detract value from the process). 
  7. The other aspect of iRecruitment is again on Change Management. It really is a revolution to go from passive recruitment (wait for people to apply) to suddenly having a massive database of resumes that you can actively search on. This hasn’t really quite hit home yet in terms of changing mindsets within our HR area. Suddenly they have a resource pool of 40,000+ applicants, 2,500 staff and 20,000+ Consultants available to search at their fingertips with highly advanced resume search capabilities. 
  8. Customizations were required which ideally would have been better avoided. However the iRecruitment module is pretty flexible in this respect.

What we also found is that there is a wealth of companies out there using iRecruitment. We learned a lot simply by trying some of the sites and looking at their Help Guides. You never know, I may even get a new job with one of the registrations 🙂

However as the statistics show, the rollout of iRecruitment has been a huge success, with a massive and very active user base.

iRecruitment Statistics
Months Live Applicants Database Growth Per Month Vacancies Applicants Per Vacancy Successful Recruitment Paper Saved Process Reduction
9 Months 45,000 5,000 700 73 241 1M+ Sheets 50%

 What is amazing is the real global reach of systems like iRecruitment. A quick look at our statistics shows applicants from 85 countries from countries across Europe, the US, Asia and Africa. Countries as diverse as Philippines, Japan, Canada, Australia, Italy, Vietnam, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Tonga,  Russia, Iraq, Jamaica, Peru and South Africa to name but a few.

Great talent is in every culture, race, religion and every corner of the planet. iRecruitment allows you to very effectively tap into that huge wealth of human talent, wherever it may be.

All of the above of course can lead to some interesting support issues that you will not generally encounter in your average day to day support of internal Oracle ERP systems.

Of course we’re not there yet. So what does our future hold in terms of iRecruitment?

  1. Upgrade of the database to support documents in Microsoft 2007. This support comes with 11G and above.
  2. Questionnaires to filter out the 90% of unsuitable applicants so that resumes don’t even have to be reviewed. A sample is shown below.

 

3. Skills and Competencies – a very advanced feature that will allow you to match Job Specification skills and competencies to that of the candidate (including both internal and external resources)

4. Rollout to 28 countries worldwide to support our other offices across the globe (happening in September 2010)

5. At some point upgrading to 12.1.3 or above to take advantage of the extensive interview functionality available.

6. Finally persuading the HR Department to let go of the short-listing and let candidate details go straight through to the End User Department, to allow our HR personnel to move from low value added activities to pro-active recruitment

7. Assess Oracle Business Intelligence iRecruitment, to allow our HR personnel to move from low value added activities to analysis and improvement of the process worldwide

 

 Looking back, our iRecruitment project certainly had some fairly unique challenges, given this was dealing with a very large outside user base. However, overall our iRecruitment Odyssey was a short journey, relatively painless and low-cost with huge rewards at the end.

This was definitely a journey worth undertaking.

Other Resources

There are a huge amount of resources on the Web that is interesting for any company implementing iRecruitment. My thanks go to the generous authors and organizations that make these resources available to all.

For those with Oracle Open World On Demand access, the following may be of interest from 2009:

End to End Talent Acquisition in Oracle iRecruitment 12.1

How to achieve High Volume Recruiting with iRecruitment