Whitepaper: PeopleAdmin and Oracle PeopleSoft
Organizations of higher education strive to acquire top talent, while facing a wide array of budgetary and technological challenges. The search for the most cost-‐effective solution leads to many questions: a one size fits all product, or best-‐of-‐breed integrations? Would an enterprise solution or software-‐as-‐a-‐ service (SaaS) best fit your needs? How should system customizations be managed? How can adoption of new products and processes be ensured?
As organizations struggle with these issues, understanding how PeopleAdmin fits within a larger Oracle PeopleSoft implementation is a common concern. This whitepaper will help you understand the advantages of using an applicant tracking system designed for higher education, and address questions regarding the integration of multiple systems into a seamless talent management solution that meets the needs of your entire organization.
The Challenge of Higher Education
All types of organizations struggle to determine the best Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and talent management solutions for their organization; but for higher education, the cost of purchase plus implementation can be a far more significant factor than it is for the private sector. Add to that the challenge of finding solutions that meet the expectations of higher education, such as faculty recruiting, search committee management and adjunct pools. Public colleges and universities, like government agencies, face additional challenges as they search for a solution that will address their Equal Opportunity compliance needs as well as the complexities of civil service hiring.
The solution, unsurprisingly, is not simple. Organizations must choose between purchasing a single system that may not precisely align with their needs and cherry-‐picking “best of breed” solutions designed to address specific requirements. Because so many enterprise HRIS solutions are designed first and foremost for the corporate environment, large-‐scale implementations of these systems in higher education can result in unmet needs, low adoption rates and widespread frustration.
In developing a methodology for this decision-‐making process, the evaluation team must define the exact needs of their organization, and implement a stringent prioritization list. A feature comparison should be more than a checklist of the components and functionality of each system. “Highlight the critical needs of the users and the pain points it will solve“, says Leslie Porter, Director of HR Consulting and Talent Management for the University of Arizona. For each feature request, the organization must
then ask if they are willing to pay additional customization fees to implement this feature, if they would consider a best-‐of-‐breed solution in order to solve this problem, or if this a “nice to have” that they can live without. “Our main goal is to serve the needs of our constituencies, not just the HR department,” emphasizes Porter.
Similarly, all possible solutions should be evaluated using standard criteria. In addition to specific features needed by the organization, common factors may include:
• Ease of adoption
• Ability to integrate and share data with other products • Completeness of the feature set
• Reporting and data export capabilities
With all features, the follow-‐up questions should be regarding the level of customization available – and necessary – to meet the organization’s needs. Since cost is always a factor, evaluators should be aware not only of obvious product pricing, but also the cost of implementing, configuring, integrating and maintaining each system.
Ultimately, some organizations conclude that a single HRIS platform will meet the majority of their needs and decide that they can live with any gaps in the solution. Others closely define areas where their specialized needs cannot be satisfactorily met by a single, wide-‐ranging system, and choose best of breed solutions that are specially designed to meet the needs of organizations like theirs.
Making the Choice
Organizations that are either already using or are considering system-‐wide adoption of a product, such as Oracle’s PeopleSoft, find themselves confronted with these questions. While enterprise solutions have much to offer in terms of breadth, the strength of their solution – broad functionality coupled with a very high level of customer-‐specific customization – is also their weakness.
Enterprise versus Software-‐as-‐a-‐Service
Broad functionality also means that customizations to meet specific needs are either unavailable or extremely expensive. An enterprise installation gives the organization complete control over their system, but is time-‐consuming to implement and expensive to maintain. While additional modules, such as recruiting, can often be added for little or no additional product cost, hidden costs in the form of professional fees and travel, patches, DMZ servers, third-‐party vendor integrations, workflow customizations, conversions and reporting can drive the total implementation cost much higher than expected. Many organizations, while recognizing the value of these solutions for certain large-‐scale initiatives around accounting or employee management, choose to reduce their dependency on costly enterprise implementations in other key areas.
In contrast, Software-‐as-‐a-‐Service (SaaS) solutions are becoming increasingly popular. When this type of product first became available, fears regarding data security and access were common. Improved
technology – including secure data centers with redundant firewall layer, 128-‐bit SSL encryption, and virus
protection – and wide use of these products, has significantly changed this perception. According to
Gartner, a technology research company, "Increasing familiarity with the [SaaS] model, [and] continued oversight on IT budgets… are now driving adoption forward," said Sharon Mertz, research director at Gartner.”1 SaaS solutions can offer a significantly lower total cost of ownership – a critical factor for any
institution of higher education – by eliminating the need to install and maintain equipment or software
locally, and drastically reducing implementation and configuration time. Even at large organizations with
significant commitments to enterprise solutions, choosing SaaS solutions for selected needs has become a viable option.
Many aspects of human resources management are applicable to any organization, public, private or corporate. However, colleges and universities often struggle with how to meet the needs of higher education using a system that is geared largely to the business sector. In addition, the needs of an employee management system and a recruiting system can be quite different. There is relatively little overlap between the processes and data associated with the two systems. Even the records themselves are different, as only a small subset of applicants become employees.
Many colleges and universities have dramatically different processes for staff, student and faculty hiring. Some public institutions use a civil service or merit-‐based hiring process for certain positions, adding even more complexity in terms of position types, templates and workflows for hiring and approval. In developing requirements for their recruiting and applicant tracking solutions, it is critical for organizations to listen to and understand the needs of their different constituencies, ranging from human resources managers to the office of the Provost.
The University of Arizona conducted extensive research on the unique attributes required for higher education solutions, including search committee management and reference letter collection for faculty recruiting. The ability to draw applicants from hiring pools, and area where PeopleAdmin’s solution was already a critical part of their solution was another factor.
For Illinois State University, one key issue was position management. Khris Clevenger, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources explains that as a public institution, “the university is required to provide exact descriptions for many staff positions, and to seat specific employees into those positions. This information is then provided to the state for auditing purposes.” Being able to take advantage of PeopleAdmin’s standard functionality for tracking and seating employees was critical.
While an enterprise solution could be customized to meet their needs, extensive modifications would need to be made by a highly-‐trained on-‐site specialist, who would have to update them every time an upgrade was performed. When evaluating enterprise systems, University of Arizona’s Leslie Porter recommends, “Don’t just ask if a feature is available, find out if it is a standard functionality or if the feature will require extensive and potentially costly modifications.”
Most significantly, while an enterprise-‐level solution like PeopleSoft can be configured for a specific process, it generally cannot be configured to meet the needs of multiple parallel processes within a
single organization. For colleges and universities trying to meet the disparate needs of faculty, staff, student, medical and civil service hiring, a single hiring process will not meet their needs. Organizations that attempt a one-‐size-‐fits-‐all implementation often find themselves with constituencies who are simply unable to use the solution and either fall back on paper processes or begin looking on their own for outside solutions.
In contrast, a solution like the one offered by PeopleAdmin is designed from the ground up for higher education, supporting multiple position types, workflows and processes for faculty, staff and civil service. Specific features designed just for faculty recruitment, such as search committee management, reference letter collection, and the ability to upload CVs, samples of work, and other professional material, helps to ensure faculty adoption and support. While all of these features can be customized to meet the needs of the organization, they do not need to be designed from the ground up for each implementation, but instead leverage existing functionality and the expertise of your PeopleAdmin implementation team. This results in a faster, less costly implementation and a higher level of adoption across the organization, especially among faculty members and other groups whose needs differ significantly different from standard staff hiring.
Putting Together the Puzzle
Fortunately, organizations don’t need to choose between a wide-‐ranging solution for their HR management and a targeted solution for recruiting. With the right integration, it is possible to have both. If a college or university decides that combining an enterprise HRIS solution with a higher education-‐specific recruiting product is the right choice for their organization, the next concern is how the two systems should work together. Duplicate data entry is costly, time-‐consuming and carries an inherent risk of error and inconsistency. There’s no question about it: more products mean more integration points. However, the point the in the process where integrations may occur, the type of integration, and the expertise of the integration partners can make a critical difference.
The advantages of PeopleAdmin’s specialization in the higher education sector include its partnerships and technical expertise in working with other common higher education service providers, from job boards, to background check providers, to HRIS. PeopleAdmin offers numerous integration points which are standardized, repeatable and low cost, all designed so that future system upgrades do not require integrations to be repeatedly updated.
In contrast, extensive enterprise systems that lack particular expertise or partnerships in the higher education world treat these essential integrations as custom projects. While a single enterprise system may require fewer total integration points, those that are necessary are generally treated as custom integrations. This may have significant upfront and ongoing maintenance costs.
Concerns about duplicate data entry are addressed via two-‐way data integration between PeopleSoft and PeopleAdmin. Information is entered only once, and the relevant data is available to users of both systems – from human resources, to hiring managers, to the Provost’s office. When all participants in the talent management process have easy access to information, HR staff is no longer trapped in the time-‐consuming role of “information provider” and can focus on other, more strategic activities. In addition, the single sign-‐on (LDAP) integration with PeopleAdmin ensures that staff members who need to utilize both systems are able to do so seamlessly, without needing to remember and enter multiple usernames and passwords.
Integration between PeopleAdmin and PeopleSoft can be customized to meet the precise needs of your organization; but in most cases follows this model:
The PeopleAdmin product suite collects applicant data during the recruiting process, and only applicants who become employees need to be added to the employee management system. These applicants are identified through the hiring proposal process. New employee data, including name, contact
information, position, department and salary, are then imported into PeopleSoft at regular intervals, where additional information is added as necessary.
Employees who need to use both PeopleAdmin and PeopleSoft can be set up once in PeopleSoft. Employee names, IDs and passwords can then be imported into PeopleAdmin to enable single sign-‐on between the two systems through the single sign-‐on integration.
Selecting the right recruiting solution is critical to the success of every college and university. The first step is to take into consideration the needs and priorities of each. Secondly, understand the advantages and disadvantages of different technology choices. Finally, know your options: understand the possibilities of system integrations, and the reality of customization and maintenance costs. With the right solution in place, your organization will be poised for growth, attracting top talent in every area, and delighting faculty, staff and applicants alike, with the effectiveness of your recruiting process.
1. “Gartner Says North America to Account for 64 Percent of SaaS Revenue in 2011” Sept 14, 2011