"PeopleSoft is a leader in corporate performance management," states Chuck Teller, vice president of product strategy for PeopleSoft Enterprise Performance Management (EPM). "We have set our sights on delivering the best products for our customers. We're focused on delivering a comprehensive scope not just human resource applications, but also financial, supply chain, customer relationship management and learning solutions all enriched with analytic applications. PeopleSoft can enable a company to be a collaborative enterprise, and PeopleSoft products can drive a high-performance organization."
Teller joined PeopleSoft in May of 2000 when PeopleSoft acquired Advanced Planning Solutions where Teller was chief executive officer. Advanced Planning Solutions focused on modeling technologies to drive budgeting and planning applications. Teller relates, "We made it clear to PeopleSoft that we had a vision about performance management applications. We were quite small, but we had the same philosophy as PeopleSoft. We were not focused on developing and selling a technology, but rather on developing and selling applications that provided business value to our customers. That had been our focus for six years prior to the acquisition."
The synergy that Teller has found within PeopleSoft is technological and cultural. "PeopleSoft is a company driven by the success of its customers. We've always focused on customer success," emphasizes Teller. "Dave Duffield, PeopleSoft's founder and chairman of the board, developed a personal relationship with his customers. He obtained their trust by delivering the applications they needed to run their businesses. That has been one of PeopleSoft's core principles throughout the company's history. Another core value is innovation. We obviously started in the client/server world when that was the leading-edge technology. When we saw the evolution of the Internet and Web-enabled applications, we moved there very quickly more quickly than our competition. We have always been on the leading edge for providing the best solutions to our customers across the board."
The PeopleSoft difference, according to Teller, is that PeopleSoft focuses on optimizing business processes, utilizing leading-edge technology. The company's goal is to develop and deliver applications to its customers not just a set of tools. Using the best tools that are available in the marketplace either built by PeopleSoft or by their strategic partners PeopleSoft's sole purpose is to deliver the right business applications to enable companies to be successful. Teller elaborates, "From an analytics perspective, the delivery of key performance metrics to people that are making decisions can really make a difference."
One of the challenges facing PeopleSoft's Enterprise Performance Management group is weaning companies from their dependence on spreadsheets. "Probably the biggest challenge is the uncontrolled proliferation of the spreadsheet. Don't get me wrong spreadsheets are powerful tools on an individual level; but when you try to use them to share information on an enterprise basis, they become very difficult to track, organize and secure. They actually facilitate disjointed analysis," says Teller. "We want to provide users with the look and feel they've grown accustomed to, but captured within an enterprise application foundation so that business can be analyzed, modeled and planned in a collaborative way. Providing those capabilities is what drives us," he stresses.
Teller contends that too many organizations today spend time arguing about the accuracy of their numbers instead of discussing business issues. He adds, "It's imperative to empower organizations with accurate information so that they can focus on creative ways to do business. What impacts the P&L? What's the role of the balance sheet? Our goal is to simplify the collection and organization of information for our customers and give them power over the things that they can control from a business standpoint. Who are the suppliers being selected? What is the volume of products being purchased?"
"PeopleSoft was the first enterprise application vendor to embed analytics directly into the automation of the business process. As a result, the people that are executing transactions and making decisions on a daily basis have the added advantage of business intelligence built into the applications they use to serve their customers," states Teller.
How does this analytic software perform and is it complicated to learn? Teller responds, "All of our applications are designed to run in a browser, with all of the ease of use and simple navigation that implies. Additionally, we have taken advantage of interfaces that our customers are familiar with, including some very spreadsheet-like capabilities. Finally, we have maintained an open architecture so that users can plug their favorite reporting tools into our analytics. We are the only vendor I know of that has achieved this level of simplicity and sophistication in a browser environment."
The first product line on the PeopleSoft 8 technology, PeopleSoft EPM, had already been launched when Teller joined the company. His role involved working with customers in the adoption of that product line and reviewing that release to determine what was needed to fill out the scope including the budgeting, business planning and workforce planning applications driving the whole concept of planning within the performance management construct as well as behavior modeling. He counts the success of the EPM product line as one of his proudest accomplishments at PeopleSoft.
PeopleSoft EPM 8.3, which shipped in December of 2001, enables customers, suppliers and employees to collaboratively set goals, develop plans and measure progress. Teller explains the features of this release: "We're delivering what we believe to be a state- of-the-art planning and budgeting system built on a warehouse environment. I think that in the world of analytics, the must-have application is in the area of planning and budgeting which drives what I call a collaborative enterprise one in which line managers, controllers and others in the organization can participate in a budget process while in the planning process with the immediacy today demands. Changes to this plan can be made at a top level and quickly pushed down to yield results. Dealing with that core business process is critical."
Teller is experiencing firsthand the application of the adage: It's difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. "People are accustomed to working with very disjointed sources of information. As a leader, our challenge is to show customers that there is a better way and that there are huge benefits in moving to a packaged solution. We like to identify those customers who are the vanguards in their own marketplace, work with them and share their success. We've been very successful with this strategy, and we are seeing tremendous competitive advantage for the companies that have adopted our business analytics," states Teller.
Teller elaborates, "We can also deliver within those products the key pieces of analytic information that are necessary to make the right decisions. As you move from a focus on automating transactions to enabling strategy and management, the challenge is the communication of that information. This is communicated if, in your daily work process, the key pieces of analytic information are actually delivered to you without you having to search for them. For example, if I'm engaged in recruiting, I want to understand benchmarks from a payroll perspective. I also want to understand retention issues as well as the characteristics of people that make them successful. From an e-learning perspective, I want to know what kind of learning opportunities to provide to my customers or employees and I want to know if those things are going to be in line with our overall corporate strategy. I don't want to be teaching certain pieces of technology that aren't relevant."
"It's all about alignment. The key to driving major corporations is that the executive team has to be on the front end and has to be thinking about strategy. Success is the ability to push strategy to all employees so that they are executing it. Executives need to set the vision and then communicate that vision," explains Teller.
Many corporations have adopted portal technology in an attempt to simplify the access to electronic resources across the enterprise. While Teller agrees that a portal is an effective way to "put a wrapper" around a variety of databases and related information, he identifies the shortcomings associated with portals. "What's required is a seamless business process from procure to pay all the way across that process whether that cuts across supply chain or finance applications. A portal actually has a difficult time achieving that kind of integration. It can bring all the information into one area, but it can't tell you what you have to do next. We have made that seamless workflow a key issue for all of our applications," he notes.
Teller responds to customer expectations with great enthusiasm, admitting that the PeopleSoft team takes this responsibility very seriously. "Our customers trust us with their backbone applications, their customer-facing applications, their supplier-facing applications and their analytic applications. They trust us it's a true partnership. We have our customers' best interests in mind at all times. We're not successful unless our customers are successful using our applications," Teller notes.
To gauge that success, PeopleSoft conducts a customer satisfaction survey four times each year. The company invests a great deal in the customer survey, translating it into many different languages for the company's customers around the world. PeopleSoft proudly claims the highest customer satisfaction rate in the industry.
"We learn a great deal from these surveys, and I always push the satisfaction survey to my team because that's ultimately the bellwether of our success," says Teller. He attributes the high scores not only to the quality of PeopleSoft products, but also the PeopleSoft team. There are 10 components of the PeopleSoft corporate culture: people, customers, integrity, quality, innovation, fun, intensity, profitability, accountability and competitiveness. According to Teller, "People love coming to work here. They're driven to get their job done and deliver to the customers. There's the excitement, tension and enthusiasm that you want in a corporate workplace. We know how to have fun, we know how to be innovative, we're focused on delivering quality, but we also bring intensity to the workplace."
Teller attests, "The PeopleSoft team is driven, focused and very smart, but also pragmatic in terms of what we can and will achieve. In the technology world, we can come up with lots of great ideas driven by the needs and wishes of our customers, but it takes a long time to really put those ideas into a product perspective. The challenge for our management team is to sort the ideas, determine what will provide the most benefit across our customer base and prioritize. We need to manage expectations, and I believe that our integrity is one of the reasons we consistently receive high scores on our customer satisfaction surveys. We'll tell people if our product cannot do exactly what they want it to do," says Teller.
"We are sitting at the cusp of a major shift," proclaims Teller. "Every day our customers tell me that they like the fact that we are investing in the building of performance management systems. Now that they have their transaction systems together, they know this is the second wave of their investments. This is what they want. It is that kind of positive feedback that the Enterprise Performance Management team receives regularly. We know we're doing the right thing."
Being in the right place at the right time with the right business solutions is a noteworthy accomplishment. Chuck Teller proudly attributes this success to the dedicated efforts of the entire PeopleSoft team.
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