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    « HR Happy Hour - Episode 14 - Clueless at Love | Main | Employee Networking at Nokia »

    While HR is Waiting for Fusion

    Ok, I know Payroll is boring.

    Compliance reporting is exceedingly boring.

    But chances are a wide cross-section of your employees view your Payroll function as the most important 'people' function you do today.  And it is likely in many shops, compliance reporting, also known as 'we better not get fined this quarter', grabs the bosses attention as much if not more than any other people process.

    Today I spent an hour trying to wrestle around new NACHA rules for reporting certain international payments, and some new American Re-investment and Recovery Act reporting requirements. After that fun, it was on to trying to sort out changes to benefit plans and making sure systems were ready to handle changes in deduction schedules for 2010.

    None of that stuff is even remotely interesting.

    None of it helps to make the 'people' function more 'strategic' or contributes much to the execution of the organization's critical initiatives.

    Unless avoiding a riot in the payroll office next Friday is considered 'strategic'.

    But the day reminded me yet again that in HR organizations these new issues, new requirements, new laws and regulations, most of which will not help your organization one tiny bit in what we all talk about as being critical in HR Technology are constantly in the way, and in many cases directly in front of and hindering the pursuit of truly breakthrough projects.

    Aligning corporate goals with individual work plans, linking performance with training and development plans, or building out portals or new tools to better connect the workforce and increase innovation and collaboration; we did not talk about any of these for one minute today.

    And I suspect we won't talk about them tomorrow either, since the wrestling match with changing regulations and new compliance requirements never ends quickly.

    Yesterday at Oracle Open World, we got the first meaningful look-see at the long awaited suite of Oracle Fusion next-generation applications.  It was a pretty slick demo, and did much to showcase just how far the Oracle team has come in user interface, integrated intelligence, and dynamic organizational charting.  For several years, Oracle has been developing Fusion, delivered technical components of what will support the Fusion Apps, but mostly just made promises about what might be coming with Fusion. Yesterday we got some more clues, but with so many questions remaining about General Availability (sometime next year?), the upgrade path from Oracle EBS or PeopleSoft, and no clear idea about what if any of Fusion is 'free' (i.e. part of the normal and ongoing maintenance fees that EBS and PSFT customers pay forever).

    Lots of questions still.

    But tomorrow, and I suspect the next day, and the next week (single payer health care anyone?), the question lots of HR folks will need to answer is not 'When are we getting Fusion?' but rather, questions like when will EBS or PSFT or whatever else we are using support the latest changes in transmission and reporting of foreign deposits.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    Steve, thank you so much for this excellent post. Having managed payroll and personnel compliance, operations and systems, I know it's a thankless job which goes unnoticed unless something goes wrong, and then it's all too visible. One of the reasons I so hoped that HRM BPO would mature quickly and well was to take much of this off the shoulders of folks like you and your HR counterparts to allow time, once and for all, for the cream of the HR crop to rise to the occasion of strategic business partner. But that didn't turn out as hoped, at least for the higher end of the market, and look how you're still spending your day. We all love the great new talent management suites, and Oracle Fusion talent management must be viewed as a new entry in that category. However, I think we were really expecting (hoping for?) a full Fusion replacement for EBS and PSFT HCM that would go a lot farther than the current products do to reduce the IT footprint via SaaS, handle all the administrative/compliance stuff pretty fully and with the full range of intelligent self service, and deliver a fully integrated talent mgmt capability at no additional cost to those who are current with their maintenance on Oracle's now legacy product lines. We knew that not all of this promise could be fulfilled in Fusion R1. So we came to #oow09 with questions and left, not with answers, but with a deep sense that no one really tried to give us those answers. Perhaps our colleagues who've been briefed deeply under equally deep but now expired NDAs will be able to shed a lot more light on the Fusion HCM story. I await those details as do the entire EBS/PSFT HCM installed base, not to mention anyone considering becoming the latest of late adopters of those now legacy product lines.

    October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Bloom

    "It was a pretty slick demo, and did much to showcase just how far the Oracle team has come in user interface, integrated intelligence, and dynamic organizational charting"

    And you forgot to mention a cool easter egg for @Zen_Girl too ;-)

    thanks for the kind words!


    October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeg Bear

    @Naomi - Thanks so much for the detailed observations and comments. I know that you (and sometimes I think you are the only leader that does), appreciates the significant issues that legislation and regulations present to the HR and Payroll effort. I do believe there is still much work to do in this area such that every new reg does note 'kill' progress and innovation in areas that can benefit the organization.

    @Meg - Thanks and full props to the Fusion Team. Once organizations can find their way there, I am confident the rewards will be substantial. I look forward to learning more.

    October 15, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Only payroll-people find payroll interesting, I know. I'm one of them. Someone's gotta do it. The challenge is getting it done correctly, on time, every time so that no one notices it. I was talking with the corporate payroll group at a Fortune 50 firm the other day, and they reinforced the idea that as they transition to new software or bring in new functionality, they HAVE to do it in a way that will not disrupt employee payrolls. In a big environment, that can be challenging - it takes a lot of planning, testing, change management and so on. Hopefully no one will ever notice all that work.

    October 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Bogner

    Steve - thanks so much for the comments. You are 100% correct, any disruptions to payroll will destroy all goodwill an organization accrues doing just about anything else. It is the lot of Payroll that you never really want to be noticed. But without quality Payroll, no other technology advances are really even possible.

    October 19, 2009 | Registered CommenterSteve


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