Oracle upgraded PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) this week, it will offer another feature-pack upgrade later this year, and there will be a major 9.2 release next year. Upgrades will continue after that point, Oracle promises.
So, that might leave you wondering -- if PeopleSoft's getting all these upgrades, what's the purpose of Oracle Fusion, the application suite that's supposed to blend all the best from Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Siebel? Fusion was finally released June 1, but Oracle hasn't had a lot to say about it. Expect that to change at this year's Oracle Open World event in early October.
In the meantime, here's the latest on PeopleSoft upgrades and how customers might choose to coexist with -- and someday cut over to -- Oracle Fusion Applications.
This week's feature-pack upgrade to Oracle PeopleSoft 9.1 delivers in four areas: payroll, compensation reporting, time and labor reporting, and online training integration. European customers will benefit from the payroll upgrade, which supports management of payments according to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). This is a fairly new standard that saves time and effort when making payments across European borders.
The feature pack delivers PeopleSoft Total Rewards Statement 9.1 as a way to provide a more holistic view of total compensation, including benefits, allocations, incentives, and bonus pay. This makes it easier for companies to help their employees count their many blessings.
Of course it's the paycheck that matters most, and PeopleSoft Time and Labor 9.1 now includes more than 40 customizable, rules-based templates for reporting standard hours, overtime hours, holiday hours and more. Pay calculations get complicated, particularly when union-specific rules are applied. The templates are aimed at simplifying matters. Consulting firms have made a pile of money helping organizations figure this stuff out, but Oracle says templates will minimize the need for such support.
In a PeopleSoft Enterprise Learning Management 9.1 upgrade, the software has gained support for the SCORM 2004 Fourth Edition, a standard specification for how online training materials are created and delivered. This spec has been around since 2009, so it appears Oracle's a bit late to the party. Where other HCM vendors such as SuccessFactors have actually added capabilities to create and deliver SCORM-based content such as training videos and audio-visual presentations, Oracle is just supporting integration to third-party providers.
Oracle came up with this feature-pack upgrade approach as a way to deliver smaller, incremental upgrades with less disruption -- and to respond to the rapid upgrade capabilities supported by software as a service (SaaS) competitors, like Workday and SuccessFactors, according to Gartner analyst Jim Holincheck. Oracle PeopleSoft 9.1, the application's last major release, came out back in 2009.
"Feature packs were originally meant to be annual releases, but they've changed direction and decided to do them more frequently," Holincheck says.
Indeed, Oracle has another PeopleSoft feature pack upgrade planned for later this year. The company won't be precise about the timing, but executives tell me it will pack self-service capabilities -- a theme competitors have previously pursued.