PeopleSoft split project: highlights and lessons learned
By Emily Rushton
Splitting a massive piece of software into two standalone systems was something Common Infrastructure Services (CIS) and University Support Services (USS) had never tackled before – but it had to be done.
“Even though there’s a lot of skill and knowledge [in our departments], it was a lot of uncharted territory,” said Dan Thornley, associate director for USS Quality Assurance.
Until recently, PeopleSoft had been a bundle of two products – human resources (HR) and campus solutions. But that all changed when PeopleSoft announced that in order to upgrade to the latest version of HR, a bundled product would no longer be supported.
“So we had to split them,” said Jason Moeller, associate director for USS Engineering.
Like any project, there were challenges throughout the process. At one point it was determined that the system hardware would need to be upgraded to Exadata hardware before the split could take place, due to potential performance concerns.
“That really threw a monkey wrench into things,” said Thornley.
They were also racing the clock to get the project completed with enough time to start the HR upgrade, or they would risk losing product support.
“We had such a tight timeline,” said Moeller. “The schedule was really tough.”
There were also resource concerns.
“You had a lot of people juggling a lot of things, besides this big project,” said Thornley. “So that made it really difficult.”
Amidst all the challenges, the two groups were still able to come together and pull it off successfully – though with no shortage of long hours and late nights. The split went live on December 7.
“The minimal outage time could’ve been days, but we did it in less than 24 hours,” said Moeller. “The system was up and running when everyone came back in on Monday, and functioning, for the most part, very well.”
When all was said and done, Moeller and Thornley were able to identify a few things to improve on for the next large-scale project. Communication was a big one.
“I think we did a pretty good job on communication, but there’s always room for improvement there,” said Moeller.
Next time around, they said they would place a bigger emphasis on ensuring all departments are aware of the project timeline, clarifying the communication channels, and establishing a clear structure and leadership in the early phases of the project.
Staffing was another issue.
“Prior to going live with a project like this, we need to make sure there are clear resources available,” said Thornley.
In the future, they said they’d like to avoid running into scheduling issues and having people stretched too thin by ensuring the right amount of people are assigned to the project from the beginning.
“We could probably do a little bit better in estimating our time needed,” added Thornley.
Overall, it was an undertaking of enormous proportions that inspired collaboration and hard work between two of UIT’s largest departments. Moeller and Thornley were especially grateful for the work done by everyone involved: CIS Systems Engineering, USS departments including Engineering, Quality Assurance, Product Management and Business Intelligence, as well as the end users.
“We had people that just did amazing things, above and beyond the call of duty,” said Thornley. “A lot of people stepped up to the plate and did some really good work, and we were able to pull it off.”