The branding in Release 13 is a touch different from what we had in R12 as we’ve been given a few more options in the Appearance toolkit. Oracle have upgraded Cedar’s partner environment to 18A so we’ve refreshed the look’n’feel. The 18B update later this year brings in the new ‘newsfeed’ responsive UI, but until then let’s see what we can do with the current toolset:
The first choice is for the overall springboard layout: Panel or Banner?
Panel is the layout we used to use in R12 (on the left, above), and we get a new option of the Banner layout in R13 (on the right). If we use the Banner layout we also get to choose what appears in the horizontal banner: Social, Announcements or nothing (hide the banner altogether). We like using the Announcements as it gives the most control over the contents.
Now you can move on to the colour scheme. There’ll likely be a mandatory corporate brand that you have to follow here so there probably isn’t much choice for Prod. We strongly recommend going for a markedly different colour in each environment however, so it’s easy to quickly distinguish them.
We also use a background watermark with the word ‘Testing’ on it to help further in that respect. More on that here.
Finally, there a host of other options such as icon size, shape and colour. You can also alter the appearance of some of the pages and buttons. As a final touch you’ll want to replace the Oracle logo in the top left (we’ve found that 134×25 pixels works best) and you’re good to go.
You can create a number of styles really quite quickly:
This week I was fortunate enough to attend a 3-day workshop on the new Oracle Recruiting Cloud module.
It was my first proper look at the module and I was curious to see what Oracle have done, as there has been a lot of negative publicity about Workday’s new recruitment module (here and here). My first impression is that Oracle have done a really good job. It doesn’t do everything that Taleo Enterprise does yet, but most of the core functionality is there. Oracle have shared the road-map and many of the missing pieces are coming before the end of the year.
I’ll post a full review next week, but here are a couple of screenshots to show why I’m so excited:
Last week I attended Oracle’s MBX (Modern Business Experience) conference held near the O2 in London. Here’s what I learnt:
It was busy. Really busy. I’ve also been to the MBX in each of the last 3 or 4 years and this was – by far – the biggest event. I think it even took the organisers by surprise how many people were there as the registration was super-lengthy and there weren’t many lunches left. Busy conferences can only be a good sign.
Thomas Kurian Keynote
Thomas Kurian shared some big customer success stories in his keynote:
- PWC are running globally on a single ERP Cloud instance
- Dropbox put 5 million AR transactions a day into ERP Cloud
- Orange are running globally on a single ERP Cloud instance
- Sainsbury’s have 160,000 employees live, and now rolling out payroll
- Macy’s are live with Payroll for 180,000 payees
- Engie are live with core plus Learning, Performance, Rewards for 150,000 employees
He also shared this very crammed logo slide:
Ray Wang Keynote
I’ve followed Ray on Twitter for a long time and I was looking forward to seeing him speak for the first time. It was a real exercise in concentration. Not only does he never stop moving, energetically pacing from one extreme of the stage to the other:
but he speaks so quickly, and shares his ideas so fast that it’s hard to keep up. You don’t get time for the first nugget of info to sink in before he’s half way through the next one.
Great fun though!
Gretchen Alarcon HCM Keynote
I always enjoy listening to Gretchen speak as she always manages to anchor whatever functionality she’s discussing with real-life use cases.
Gretchen shared that chatbots are coming to HCM later this year. Recruitment first – which we’d previously heard – but also to Core HR. She also explained that although HCM Cloud has had predictive algorithms for many years these will be on the increase with the next uses being succession planning and spotting anomalies in employee expenses, pay, timesheets etc.
She also said that the $6Bn+ a year that Oracle spends on R&D means that they have 40,000 developers. That’s a staggering amount of people.
HCM Panel Session
Finally, I attended an HCM Cloud panel session. Andy Campbell hosted a chat with Sainsbury’s, Morgan Stanley and Co-op about their successful HCM Cloud rollouts.
One of my pet peeves is a sloppy screenshot. I shudder if I’m sent a screenshot in a professional document that’s blurry, too zoomed out or stretched out of ratio. I cringe if I see a presentation with a screenshot that includes a stack of irrelevant extra info – it’s not necessary to include your Amazon shopping browser tabs or to advertise how many unread Yahoo emails you have.
As a result, I like a good screenshotting tool – one that allows you to accurately pick your screenshot regions. For years I’ve flitted, most recently with Greenshot, however, I’ve found a new favourite – ShareX. It’s open source, so free to use, and although it shares some of the same code as Greenshot it improves on it in a number of ways.
It has two features that I’ve found hugely useful – scrolling capture and OCR.
Scrolling Capture is useful in web pages that are taller than your screen window. Previously I’d have to take multiple screenshots then stitch them together. Messy. ShareX does the scrolling and stitching for you.
OCR is reading text from an image. Retyping is time-consuming so this saves wasted effort, scanning through the image for words on your behalf and giving you the results as text.
Immediate Practical HCM Cloud Use-Case
Earlier today I had to produce a document showing the processes that we have scheduled. The grid in the Scheduled Processes page was about 3x screen heights high and there is no download to Excel/detach button. I was faced with either scrolling up and down and retyping the process names or having to find the back-end table, and neither would be particularly quick.
Enter ShareX. I activated it, clicked ‘scrolling capture’, clicked on the Scheduled Processes grid and away it went. It gave me a single image with the entire grid in. Then I activated ShareX again and clicked OCR, pointed it at the image and it gave me a table containing the text. Exactly what I needed in less than 60 seconds.
The Manager Resources Dashboard is being replaced in Release 13, but until we get the upgrade we still need to use the current version. Most of the content can be replaced with better OTBI output, however, Worker Availability is not able to be easily superceded.
So, for our client, they have this on its own on a Dashboard.
Straight away you’ll be able to see the problem. Anyone with more than four direct reports will see a scrollbar and will need to move up and down to get a view of their team’s whereabouts.
As this was the only item on the dashboard the client asked if it could be made a bit taller so more team members could fit in the centre window at the same time.
It took a fair amount of CSS digging, but it is possible. We added a piece of HTML markup within a sandbox and used it to inject a style into the page that specified a larger height value:
Purists among you will be tutting at my use of the “!important” directive as it prevents the cascade of style classes, however in this case the height was expressly set in the HTML as an element style so this was the only way of overriding it.
The result of this small override is a much better user experience:
All the team on one page and no scroll bars.
Oracle have announced that they’re stopping the practice of bi-annually upgrading HCM Cloud and are going to roll the enhancements into the quarterly updates instead.
It’s a move that isn’t particularly surprising as large upgrades are being phased out by most vendors in favour of continuous software delivery. Particularly when looking at Cloud vendors, most are eschewing large upgrades and delivering much more frequent incremental improvements instead (think Microsoft and Office 365, or Amazon and AWS).
So what does Continuous Software Delivery (CSD) mean for customers?
Instead of having to wait 6 or 12 months to get the improvements now clients will have to wait a maximum of 3 months. Innovations will flow from Oracle to customers much quicker this way.
Removal of Upgrades
There was a fair amount of inconvenience associated with upgrades – they have to be planned in advance, there is considerable testing effort and there is some downtime involved (although that was being reduced in more recent upgrades).
Larger Quarterly Updates
Of course, the quarterly updates will be slightly bigger as they’ll contain more enhancements than they currently do. They’ll still stick to the same schedule (1st/3rd Friday of the month) and customers will be able to choose their months so it fits around their business calendar – i.e. you could be Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct or Feb/May/Aug/Nov or Mar/Jun/Sept/Dec. You’ve never going to be more than 3 months from an update, but at least you can avoid a busy month.
Ability to Defer Functionality
Although Oracle will deliver the functionality to all customers in the same updates (aside from the monthly staggering) customers will be able to leave some ‘switched off’ until they are ready to roll it out. They’ll be able to defer the deployment until their business is ready.
Those who’ve elected to be on monthly maintenance will be largely unaffected by this change (aside from the obvious removal of upgrades and the inclusion of enhancements in the monthly updates).
At one of our clients we’ve exposed a number of infolets to employees to give them information about sicknesses, vacation etc. One of these infolets lists the holiday balances an employee has left.
The upper right figure shows the carryover from the previous holiday year plus any adjustments that HR have applied. As an adjustment could be positive or negative the client wished to always display the sign against the number, not just to show the minus sign when it was a negative adjustment (which is OTBI’s default).
The quickest way to achieve this was to apply a custom number format mask to the field.
Most people will be familiar with using a mask such as ###,###,##0.## where the hash is for an optional digit – so the data doesn’t pad with unnecessary zeroes – however you can use similar principles to force a plus sign in front of positive numbers.
The two mask techniques to combine are using ” ” around literals and using a semi-colon to split positive and negative number formats.
This means the mask:
will use the blue part (with the prefixed ‘+’) for positive numbers and the red part (with the prefixed ‘-‘) for negative numbers.
The documentation for this can be found here:
however I found that the quotes were not necessary and the mask +##0.##;-##0.## worked fine.