Oracle Learning Streams

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Five years ago the only training that we could get was the in-person, classroom kind. The only options were whether you went to a partner or Oracle University, and whether travelled to the trainer’s venue or they came to your office. This type of training had some drawbacks, in that you had to commit to a specific week or set of days – often a long time in advance – and you had to take the training all in one go. In the fast-changing world of project work it was often the case that the training couldn’t be organised at short enough notice, or by the time it came around it was no longer convenient to take the time away from the office.

There is now a solution to this … enter Oracle Learning Streams … Read the rest of this entry »

Becoming a Fusion HCM Implementation Specialist

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In my quest to become a rounded out and properly qualified Fusion / HCM Cloud consultant, I’ve been working my way through the certification exams. So far I’d completed these 7:

The final exam to check off was the Implementation Specialist exam. This was a little different to the others in that it is proctored, i.e. you have to book in to go to a testing centre and all the travel etc that entails.

The exam itself is tougher than the others, and if you fail there is a period of time before you can retake it. Therefore it made sense to make sure that I nailed it first time.

Handily, I’d just come off of the Fusion HCM workshop for partners which gave me a good grounding in the topics and all it took was a couple more nights of study using the materials from the workshop and some sample questions (there’s a 10 question study guide available from Oracle here).

I was very pleased to pass the exam, but it was close as there were some fairly niche questions. The ones that caught me were mostly about security, and not security within the application – which I knew pretty well – but with APM (Authorization Policy Manager) which I was less familiar with) and I had four questions on which business sub-processes are within each product family.

Of course, the questions given are most likely selected from a large bank so others taking the exam may see other questions instead.

Becoming a Fusion HCM Reporting Specialist

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At first reading, the wealth of reporting options available to Fusion customers is a little confusing. How do you know your OBI EE from your OTBI and your BIP from your OBIA? Hopefully this post will clear it up a little. Read the rest of this entry »

Cedar wins Silver – Fusion Partner of the Year 2014/15

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If you follow any number of those in the Partner community on LinkedIn you’ll have seen many of us asking that you vote for us in the UKOUG’s annual Partner of the Year competition. All of the partners are really grateful for your votes as winning an award selected by end-users carries significant prestige.

I’m delighted that the company which I now work for – Cedar Consulting – were awarded 2nd place (Silver) for Fusion Partner of the Year for 2014/2015. It’s a tight-fought and highly coveted category, Cedar were also thrilled to win Gold in the PeopleSoft Partner of the Year awards, further establishing our reputation as the go-to partner for Fusion/Taleo for all existing PeopleSoft customers.

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Simon Boscoe, proudly displaying both of Cedar’s awards

SimonWr (normal)Simon Wragg, Director at Cedar Consulting said, “We are honoured to receive both the Fusion and PeopleSoft Partner of the year awards amongst such a strong group of finalists. Cedar Consulting are delighted to be recognised as one of the leading partners within the UK Oracle User Group community. Winning these awards and knowing that so many votes were cast from Oracle customers is a real testament to the service we have provided over the last 12 months”  

We’d like to thank all of you who took the time to vote for us, we’re very grateful for your support.

Oracle recognizes Cedar Consulting for Expertise in Oracle HCM Cloud

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Oracle HCM Cloud Specialisation (white bkgnd - small)We are delighted to announce that Cedar Consulting has achieved OPN Specialized status for Oracle HCM Cloud.

To achieve this a number of our consultants had to pass a set of exams on Oracle HCM Cloud and as a business we had to have a certain amount of clients. This means that we can proudly display this logo on relevant collateral.

Graham, one of Cedar’s Directors, said:Graham (normal)

“This Specialized status, which follows extensive investment in our Oracle Cloud practice, further demonstrates Cedar Consulting’s commitment to Oracle HCM Cloud.  Having been implementing Oracle HR applications for 20 years we are very excited about the opportunities Oracle Cloud brings for ourselves and our clients”.

Will O’Brien, VP Alliances & Channels, Oracle UK & Ireland said:

“We are delighted at the effort and resources that Cedar Consulting are committing to the Oracle HCM Cloud. Having been the implementation partner for one of the earliest UK customer implementations Cedar are one of the foremost Oracle HCM Cloud consultancies and we look forward to working alongside them to make future client implementations a success.“

You can view the full press release here:

Oracle HCM Cloud Specialisation Press Release

What’s coming in Taleo 14B

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The release notes are out, and the other night I attended a webinar showing the highlights of the Taleo Enterprise Edition 14B release (provisionally due on November 24th). It was a really worthwhile hour and the presenter – who I believe was Fabrice De Carne – was very engaging. Here’s what caught my eye:

Talent Acquisition:

Evaluation Management

  • The ability to mark some questions as requiring responses (shown with a star) to ensure that you don’t receive empty questionnaires

uploadA star signifying a question that requires a response.

  • Reviewer recommendation configurability (instead of “recommend” or “do not recommend” you can add a comment field for reviewers to explain their decisions with fuller answers, or just have the comment field)
  • Expired request management (if the hiring manager misses the deadline to review the applicants the requests can be resent to ensure that their feedback is gathered)

Mobile Experience

  • New User Experience in the TAP Mobile App

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  • TAP Composer (allowing you to create tailored content within TAP, displaying UDFs within TAP, customise strings and labels etc)
  • Enhanced Candidate Compare (side-by-side comparison of candidates on pre-screening questions or competencies)

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  • Worklist parity for Android & iPhone


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Candidate Experience

  • Submission medium enhancements means that the system tracks which medium was used to apply for the role. This gives a better understanding of where the best candidates are coming from and also allows auto-progression rules for some candidates (i.e. internal candidates may not need to traverse as many stages in the application process)
  • Import file from Indeed (Indeed has been added to the CV upload page – LinkedIn already exists). This should lead to faster applications and fewer drop-outs where candidates have an Indeed profile.
  • Branding File Extension (The branding files have been split into separate pieces – one for html and one for javascript. This means that if it’s only the html that has been updated it doesn’t need to go through Oracle validation – saving both time and money.)
  • Cross-language Profile pre-population (previous applications in other languages can be used, before 14B the new application would need to be recreated from scratch)

Taleo Social Sourcing

  • TEE Integration (job feed, rerouting apply flow, runs using APIs now rather than scraping the screens)
  • Language improvements (allows you to post requisitions in multiple languages)
  • Internal Mobility (gives control over which requisitions are visible to certain populations, eg. some jobs may be external only. It also enables some details (eg. the name or contact details of the hiring manager name) to be hidden for some populations)


Showing/hiding selective information

  • Multi-brand site and email customisations (manage multiple TSS sites from within one instance)
  • Custom landing pages (create landing pages for certain locations or custom audiences)
  • Widgetization (add small parts of TSS to corporate site, intranet etc allowing you to recruit from multiple places and drive traffic back to TSS)

Performance Management:

  • Support for mid-year reviews
  • Talent Profile multi-language support (requested most often by EMEA customers)
  • Ditto for reporting as BI Publisher brings multi-language support
  • Outbound emails have a setting for email privacy/sensitivity at the notification level

Business Intelligence

  • Taleo is moving away from Business Objects and it’s time to embrace OBI EE and BI Publisher (the end of 2015 is end of mainstream support for Business Objects, so there’ll be no more updates or patches)
  • BI Publisher is now integrated with Recruiting (it has only been in Performance Management previously)
  • Administrative reporting (on foundational data like Smart Org)


  • Export job submission statuses
  • Export candidate search logs

The final note is that Oracle are properly moving the releases to a bi-annual update cycle next year (this year has 3 releases, 13C, 14A and 14B). 15A is expected to be due on 27th April 2015 and 15B on 19th October 2015.

Larry’s OOW Keynote on the future of Oracle Applications

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larry2Although there had been many analyst and Oracle ACE briefings for much of the preceding week, Sunday night was the ‘proper’ opening for Oracle OpenWorld 2014. It kicked off with Larry’s first keynote of the conference. (He traditionally does two, however skipped the second last year to watch the thrilling finale to the 2013 America’s Cup.)

His hour long address was given over exclusively to the cloud. Here’s a summary of the important points for those in the Oracle applications marketplace.

Layers of the Cloud

There are of course many layers within The Cloud … the Applications sit at the top level (Software as a Service), however there’s also the platform beneath this (Platform as a Service), and the infrastructure at the bottom (Infrastructure as a Service). Oracle is moving to being a company that can offer the complete stack of cloud services to the enterprise. Larry’s first big point was that Oracle is the only company that can do all three layers.

It’s an interesting – although to a certain degree, academic – point to debate. He said Salesforce only does the Application layer (he’s correct that they don’t have the infrastructure service layer, although I think that they would rightly argue that they have a large and mature platform layer – Salesforce1). He also said that Amazon just does the Infrastructure layer (although they would quite correctly argue that they also provide a platform layer).

The only companies that can come close to Oracle’s delivery in all three layers are Microsoft – they have Infrastructure (Azure) and Applications (Dynamics is now available in the cloud) but their PaaS offering is not as well known – and Google – who have infrastructure (Google Compute Engine) and Platform (Google Application Engine) however their SaaS offerings are Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs, rather than full-blown HCM or ERP offerings.

Platform in the Cloud

The newest of Oracle’s three offerings is the Platform layer. You can now move any database to Oracle’s database in the cloud service very simply. Furthermore, any Oracle application (or any Java application) that runs on top of an Oracle database can be moved to the cloud very simply too. This is apparently possible on Oracle’s upgraded 2014 platform. Larry’s also promised that these migrations can be done with just two button presses, which is a bold – many would say unbelievable – claim.

This platform supplies the building blocks with which any applications in the Oracle Cloud are built – whether they’re built by Oracle or by customers/partners. One of the points that Larry stressed again was that Oracle is the only vendor that gives end users the same platform to develop on that they use internally. Other vendors either have no platform service at all (Workday) or use different tools in-house (like Salesforce – who offer Salesforce1 to customers but use a different platform to develop the core application with in-house).

In what sounds like an entertaining session, during his second Keynote on Tuesday Larry has promised to both extend Fusion applications and perform the ‘two button migration’ in live demos. I think you should always get extra marks for demoing your own products, as many speakers usher someone else on-stage for this section – although as Larry is CTO now I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s going it himself.

Infrastructure in the Cloud

Larry spoke briefly about Oracle’s IaaS offering. He skipped over a few of the slides quite quickly, I’m not sure if he was running short of time, however he made some interesting points. It still strikes me as unusual when he claims that Oracle will compete with Amazon and Google on price – as Oracle solutions are typically more towards the premium end of the price-scale – however it’ll be interesting to see how they get on in the commodity pricing marketplace.

Larry’s claim that “the Oracle Cloud is bigger than most people think” was certainly correct for me. They currently have 30,000 servers and serve 62,000,000 discrete users every day!

HCM in the Cloud

Larry stated that Oracle has long held the lead in Talent Management in the Cloud – he was clearly talking about Taleo here – however for the last two quarters Oracle has overtaken the competition and is now the top-seller in Core HR. This ties in with the information from the latest Oracle earnings call (in the last financial quarter Oracle sold Fusion HCM to 60 new customers, and during the same period Workday only added 25).

HCM SaaS applications

Larry believes that the reason that Oracle HCM Cloud is selling so well is that it’s got Social integrated. Benefits, Payroll etc. is “table stakes”, but the Social tools are important for what he calls 21st Century HCM.

HCM SaaS customers

ERP in the Cloud

Larry says that he is particularly proud of the Oracle ERP Cloud as it was built in-house. He says that Oracle is the first company to sell mid-market and high-end ERP in the cloud. Given that Oracle has only been really selling this for a touch over 12 months, this is an impressive logo slide:

ERP Cloud Customers

He also mentioned that Oracle is selling EPM in the cloud – so they’ve moved Hyperion to the cloud – and claims that Oracle are the only company within an EPM in the Cloud offering.

Speed of Growth

Larry stated repeatedly that Oracle’s strategy is “build and buy” … some of Fusion has been developed in-house, other parts have been purchased. Of the parts that have been built in-house, this is the growth (or hyper-growth in Larry-speak) in the last 12 months:

SaaS Customers

He says that 2014 is an inflection point for Oracle in terms of selling these solutions. The fact that 19 out of the top 20 SaaS providers use the Oracle Database and Java is obviously something that Larry would enjoy (and the lone company that doesn’t – Workday – uses another Oracle Database – MySQL – for some of its back-end processing).

Oracle in the cloud today

He also poked fun at SAP for their HANA powers the cloud slogan by asking “whose cloud does it power, because it doesn’t power theirs” (SuccessFactors, Ariba and Concur all run on Oracle).


In summary, despite stepping down from the CEO role Larry couldn’t resist opening the conference with a bang. There weren’t as many new product announcements as previous years, however he was able to shine a light on some strong progress and healthy sales traction across many product lines. It’s clear however, that the product lines that will get the most focus are ones with ‘cloud’ in the name. There wasn’t a single mention of PeopleSoft, eBusiness Suite or Siebel during the entire session.