Labor invests in PeoplePower

Labor invests in PeoplePower

Labor Department users can learn about the status of the PeoplePower 2000 conversion project on the Web. Eventually all personnel actions will take place online.

System will move department closer to paperless personnel processes

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

The first phase of the Labor Department's PeoplePower 2000 project went live in June using applications from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif.

Eventually, Labor managers will process most routine personnel actions from their desktop PCs.

'This is a totally integrated management system for managing the largest cost element, and that's people,'' said Jon Klem, vice president and general manager of PeopleSoft Federal in Bethesda, Md.

Labor previously managed the personnel and payroll records for its 16,000 employees through the Personnel Management Information and Support System, or PERMISS, an Air Force-designed mainframe system dating from the mid-1980s. Users accessed PERMISS through clients in IBM 3270 terminal-emulation mode.

Labor officials started looking at replacement options for PERMISS in July 1997, said Thomas K. Delaney, director of the PeoplePower 2000 project. A steering committee of Labor bureau representatives picked PeopleSoft Human Resource Management System (HRMS) payroll, time and labor, and benefits applications.

Delaney said the department chose the PeopleSoft products mainly because 'we felt they were in the forefront of the industry'' and had the potential for technology growth.

The PeoplePower 2000 team consisted of about 20 Labor employees and a dozen contractors from PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. of New York and Systems Plus Inc. of Rockville, Md.

After surveying potential end users, the Labor team customized PeopleSoft HRMS by developing reports that did not come prepackaged and developing an interface with the legacy system.

'The end users really defined what changes we wanted to make, and we tried to address their concerns,'' said Hans Krein, information technology group leader for the PeoplePower team.

Nothing to waste

PeoplePower 2000 runs on a six-processor Sun Microsystems Enterprise Server 4500 with 6G of RAM. That server may sound oversized for a human resources system, Krein said, but the extra number-crunching power will be needed when Labor finishes converting its payroll processing to HRMS in early 2001.

PeopleSoft's Tuxedo middleware for three-tier transaction processing will improve performance over the department's WAN, he said. PeoplePower 2000 data resides on a Sun StorEdge A5000 network storage array with 127G capacity.

Krein said the department leased the hardware to make sure it stays up-to-date. The funding for leased hardware comes out of the department's operating budget instead of its capital budget. The step-down lease, he said, can bring in newer equipment to replace aging hardware for the same price.

The server runs SunSoft Solaris 2.6 and Oracle 8.0.4 Enterprise Edition, and the clients have Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0, Krein said. The file system for the graphical interface runs off a shared area under NT Server in Labor's regional offices.

Instead of customizing Version 7.0 of PeopleSoft's federal payroll application, department officials decided to wait for Version 7.5, which came out in June.

PeoplePower 2000's long-term goal is to integrate all human resources functions into a single system for paperless processing, Delaney said. During the first phase, only human resources personnel will use the system through its graphical client. Within about 15 months, other employees should be able to perform routine actions, Delaney said.

Managers will initiate personnel actions and forward them electronically, instead of on paper, in a second phase that should be up by October 2000, Delaney said.

Also by that time, the graphical version of PeoplePower 2000 will put new data-analysis tools in the hands of managerial users, Delaney said.

The third and final phase of the PeoplePower 2000 conversion, in which payroll processing will integrate with the other HRMS functions, is scheduled for completion by January 2001, Delaney said.

The Labor team decided early on to wait for Version 7.5 of PeopleSoft's federal payroll application instead of customizing Version 7.0.

The newer version came out in June.

Access to the browser-based PeoplePower 2000 will probably be restricted to Labor's private network, Krein said. He said the software cost is about $1.6 million, and the ongoing annual maintenance will be less than $400,000.

Delaney said he has already received some positive anecdotal feedback about PeoplePower 2000. It is much more user-friendly, he said. 'The old PERMISS wasn't English, it really was code.''


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