Workforce Planning is the most well known of the out-of-the-box “modules” that have been available for years in on-premise Hyperion Planning. It is a great area for organizations to get some lift from Oracle’s development resources in and jump start planning for labor expenses, which nearly everyone has a need for and which has few meaningful variations. Although Workforce has some great capabilities there is a long-standing joke even inside Oracle about how nobody has actually delivered it in true “out-of-the-box” form due to a few sub-optimal elements of the design. Customers and partners would typically invest a significant amount of time and effort in customization work to realize the full value of the solution.
We need not dwell on the past though, as Oracle has completely re-engineered Workforce for EPBCS. It is in no way just a shift of the previous module into the cloud.
What’s New in EPBCS Workforce
The Workforce we know today is focused on planning for compensation costs, typically for a 1-2 year time horizon. This is unquestionably a very important area, as those costs are the largest expenses for many organizations. However, there are other aspects of Workforce planning that are not tied to expenses and are not exclusively geared towards a finance view.
Within the HR community there is a concept of Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) that takes an alternate view of labor planning. SWP seeks to have an understanding of what the skill demand for an organization will be in order to achieve strategic goals and in the context of factors such as the aging population that impact the supply of skills. Typically a SWP view will have a longer time horizon of 2-10 years and may take on characteristics such as diversity and geographic location planning for labor resources.
Why is this important? EPBCS Workforce starts with an assumption that the full lifecycle of labor planning should be supported within the solution. From traditional compensation planning and other labor expense planning, to strategic workforce planning of skills, and even demographic planning – EPBCS aspires to integrate those processes in a single solution. The next few sections will cover the major new features and differences.
Application administrators will have unprecedented ability to configure Workforce and all of the new out-of-the-box content with minimal effort. EPBCS maintains segregation between the Oracle-managed content and the customer configured content so that upgrades and system integrity are maintained while providing flexibility. The configurations (calculations, structures, etc.) developed by a customer can be exported and moved to other EPBCS pods – a nice feature for partners who invest time to create accelerators to speed up solution delivery. There is also an option to “restore to factory default” to unwind those configurations and get back to the original application state. A few of the key options include:
- Level of Detail – plan at the employee level, the job level, or both employee and job
- Add Custom Dimensions – up to 3 “flex” dimensions can be configured in a simple console screen and do not require updating every form, calculation, and business rule as was the case in the previous Workforce
Benefit and Tax Calculations
On-premise Workforce is highly U.S.-centric when it comes to tax and benefit calculations. If you needed more than standard FUTA and SUTA, customization was required. With EPBCS there is a very flexible and wizard based process for defining benefits and taxes, which was specifically designed with the concerns of international organizations in mind. These calculations can be defined as a simple rate per period, a tiered rate table, or a tiered rate table with threshold logic. The timing pattern of the tax or benefit can also be prescribed along with the frequency. The product management team anecdotally has mentioned they have not found a tax or benefit that cannot be modeled with the new approach so this should provide efficiency and speed in implementing these elements.
A few technical changes are on the way that make Workforce run better under the hood.
- Currency Translation – The on-premise Workforce design forced the storage of FX rates in a manner that led to some inefficiency in the storage of application data. In EPBCS the standard currency approach reflects the cumulative feedback of several years of implementation experience and the result is something that should be widely adopted.
- Cube Architecture – Making another comparison to on-premise, the previous design was a single Planning application with a single plan type. That design is common for many uses, but in cases where employee level detail and very specific individual person level calculations need to occur it can be inefficient or slow. EPBCS utilizes a 3-cube approach where standard calculations happen in 1 BSO plan type, detailed and custom calculations happen in a second BSO plan type, and a single ASO plan type brings all of that data together for reporting and analysis (and is shared with other out-of-the-box capabilities).
Taking advantage of the new cloud platform, Workforce will come with some predefined dashboard views that can be tailored for customer needs. Starting with a baseline of reports to build from will certainly provide some benefit over starting from scratch.
EPBCS Workforce Wrap-Up
That is what we know right now. Looking forward to getting our hands on the product in the next few weeks and sharing impressions here. The next posting in this series will cover the remaining out-of-the-box business process content for Financials, CapEx, and Projects.