By Vince Blockley, Head of Customer Support at Crocus Consulting

Crocus Consulting is an Oracle Gold Partner and the UK’s most experienced PeopleSoft consultancy. Motivated by the pressures of the current economic back-drop on our clients, we recently saw an opportunity to use this experience to develop a cost-effective alternative for delivering inexpensive software upgrades to major corporations.  The solution was to develop a dedicated upgrade laboratory which could update client’s systems inexpensively and with minimum disruption.

Vincent Blockley
Vincent Blockley

As a unique resource, the laboratory can carry out successful upgrades for Oracle PeopleSoft Financials, HCM or Global Payroll systems at a fraction of the cost previously required. Typically the systems that require upgrading are found in some of the UK’s leading banking and financial institutions, many of whom use Crocus for a wide range of IT support services and consultancy. Crocus is also the company of choice for American and other overseas corporations seeking to update their systems in keeping with European employment laws, tax regimes and compliance standards.

The relatively recent launch of Oracle PeopleSoft version 9.2 has really driven interest in upgrades and our laboratory resource. We have just announced, therefore, that this version is now available through the upgrade lab. When users are ready to make the move, Crocus consultants analyse an organisation’s system upfront and give the users a fixed price for the upgrade.

Having agreed the scope and rationale for the upgrade, Crocus will take secure copies of their PeopleSoft Financials, Payroll or HCM systems to the Upgrade Laboratory to have their system upgraded to this latest version through a risk-free, non-disruptive process. Through the laboratory approach these upgraded files are then returned to the user for their own internal testing and deployment. This is done without any interference to normal working practices. Crocus Consulting can also host the new version for users seeking to reduce the cost of ownership. Simply put, the new scheme represents a painless, low-cost route for those users who are keen to ensure that their PeopleSoft systems are kept up to date. For users with international operations Crocus is also able to add in the latest language packs.

Crocus is able to mix and match the way that it performs the upgrades. It will for example take into account how much technical involvement the customer wants. The real cost saving to the customer comes from Crocus doing all the technical heavy lifting and upgrading the system in situ, whilst leaving the data intact as the system is rebuilt around it. Upgrading PeopleSoft systems this way has slashed the costs by up to half.

Crocus believes that by upgrading, users not only benefit from the latest features and security standards of Version 9.2 but that they also have the potential of integrating with Oracle’s new OBIEE analytics product set. This will ensure that not only are users operating with the latest technology in place but that they are also able to use OBIEE to boost decision making and business process optimisation. It is also an ideal platform should the users wish to consider Oracle’s latest Fusion products.

Spending time with customers and understanding what they really want from a software version upgrade clearly makes sense. The main driver for change is nearly always the need to be on a credible platform and supported version of the software. Customers will also acknowledge that the latest software version will be more compliant and less exposed to security vulnerabilities if sitting on the more advanced technology platforms. If you are a Global Payroll customer staying on a supported version becomes a necessity.

So with the new methodology in place, upgrading PeopleSoft systems to the latest release is not as expensive as many customers first thought. But it’s not just a matter of budget. Although IT budgets are under pressure, our customers are also looking for quality of delivery and operational certainty once the upgrade is complete. It is a virtuous circle therefore that in having the quality of consultants with the experience to drive such upgrades successfully; it also ensures that the cost-effective upgrades supplied can meet quality criteria laid down by customers in advance. There is no reason of course why this approach could be expanded to other vendors market and it could be we consider IBM projects for example in time.

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