dilemmanade
Thursday, February 09, 2017
  The Workshop That Wasn't A Workshop

  Prologue:

  After an early presentation by PeopleSoft, I told everyone around me, including my Supervisor and her Supervisor, I've seen this before: heavyweight private industry software player moves in on the University, promising the moon: Oh, our program does everything. Believe me. We've been doing this for many years. Millions of people are employed by companies using our software. A University is just like any other business when it comes to this stuff. (It's not.) And we can make enhancements in our software, if we do find incompatabilities. (They won't.)

  Management swoons. The Magical Market Faeries are here! We'll save money! There's no down side!

  But sooner or later it is revealed that the fit is not perfect, there are conversion problems, and the University is going to have to change their procedures to fit the software, not the other way around.

  I suspect it's not just the UCs that are engaging in this folly.

  ***

  It was billed as a workshop. It wasn't one. It was a meeting. Why call it a workshop? So we'd be receptive, and not expecting bad news or orders.

  Donna: We're so glad you're all here. The "go live" date is being moved back (again) from August to December. (1)

  Everyone is happy about that. More breathing room.

  Next: General introduction by Troy-- what is UCPath? (2)

  The PowerPoint slide shows how it all starts with people. It says "PEOPLE" right there in the middle. Aw.

  We've all seen this PowerPoint slide before. Repeatedly. "Comprehensive", "integrated", and other words like those are uttered. Yawn.

  More Donna: We love you, really love you and you're wonderful and smart and good. And we're all part of the team.

  (A person might have wondered at this point, "Just what are you planning to do with all that lube?")

  They have us raise hands for "novice" and "experienced" users of our current Cognos canned reports. About half and half.

  (But they know that perfectly well from analytics and word of mouth. They are telling us in the form of asking us. Why? See below.)

  Hilda shows a schematic of the PeopleSoft tables. There are hundreds, yes hundreds of them. She assures us there is no way we will ever master the data in that form. (3)

  With that Hilda lowers the boom: despite previous representations, employees will not be able to use Excel, SQL, MS Access, Hummingbird, or Crystal Reports to access data as we always have. We will use canned Cognos reports. End of story.

  Those of you ("experienced") who've already made peace with canned reports? Look, you'll be right at home! (Oh, that's why. Divide and conquer. See above.)

  Get used to it: PeopleSoft methods, PeopleSoft nomenclature, and Cognos canned reports.

  This, then, was the purpose of workshop that wasn't a workshop: to tell us where we stand.

  Hilda assures us she will take all our queries from the old system and design canned reports that'll be just as good! Okay, then.

  tl;dr Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

  ***

  Epilogue: We are looking into new financial system software, too. And we're going to go down the same road. Management is excited by the words "cloud computing." (Sigh. I don't want my or our financial data in the cloud, for crying out loud.)

  ***

  1) They don't tell us why, but likely data conversion problems. Likely the data will never convert properly, and there will be a massive clean up operation after we go live. This despite original blithe assurances of a smooth transition.

  2) UCPath is a way of not saying PeopleSoft.

  3) Why is the table structure impenetrable? At first I thought it was a legacy problem-- you can only add tables, and can never re-engineer, because everything must be backwards compatible forever.

  But it's not just that. For instance, the basic "person" table does not have a field for a person's name. You'd have to link to another table to get that. This is beyond efficient into needlessly complex. It is absurd.

  I have to conclude that they want the table structure to be inpenetrable. It means PeopleSoft now and PeopleSoft forever, because we won't be able to do anything with the data if we ever wanted to walk away. It will be harder to change systems in the future than it is now.

 
When life gives you dilemmas, make dilemmanade.

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