Last week we had our webcast “Oracle User Productivity Kit for Higher Education Institutions.” Once again, we’d like to thank Tulane University’s Charlie McMahon for sharing his experience with Tulane’s UPK implementation. As usual, we’re happy to bring you a transcript of the Q&A session of the webcast.
How is the test script used by end-users to complete regression testing? Does the test group run the process or is it a roadmap for the user to complete the test?
It is more of a roadmap, where your test scripts are couple of avenues. If you are looking to send it to an end user, you have an option for creating traditional word documents with all the steps they need to follow, the expected results, and if it’s a Pass or Fail.
Another option for testing is the test deployer. This is a deployed package where the user will have the application open on their screen, will launch the test deployer, and can follow along with the player. There they can indicate patch, leave notes of challenges encountered during the testing process, etc. There’s a feature where in case they reach a hard stop, they can launch a separate window that will indicate every step the user took to get to that stop point. This is very useful as users sometimes can’t tell you what they did to get there, but the test deployer keeps it all documented in the background for you.
Can these test scripts integrate with PeopleTools testing framework?
No, unfortunately UPK test scripts will not integrate with PeopleTools, but will integrate with HP Quality Center, Oracle Application Testing Suite, and IBM Rational.
Do you need a separate license for Oracle UPK?
Yes, you do. It is a separate application you can purchase from Oracle. However, bear in mind that UPK is not exclusive to Oracle products, so you can use it for any of your enterprise applications.
When you purchase your license, you are purchasing two things: one is the license to the content developer (for the people who will actually be creating the content) and another is the end-user licenses (those who will be consuming the content that is created). Oracle does offer pre-built content, which will represent an additional fee on top of that.
Specifically for higher education, we use numbers that we report to the government as a proxy for how much of the product we are going to consume. So we report our student count, our faculty count and staff count, and that number is taken by Oracle to determine the price for the licensing.
How did you come to the decision to use UPK at Tulane?
At Tulane University we had not used UPK in the past. Before we made the major upgrade, the only thing we had done with Oracle was General Ledger. When we decided we would consolidate all our enterprise systems into Oracle E-Business Suite, and that it would represent new functionality to all our end-user community, we faced a pretty daunting knowledge transfer problem. As we discussed how to solve this problem with Oracle and IT Convergence, whose consultants we were using for the implementation, UPK came to the surface as the most effective and cost-effective way to train our power users and have the knowledge transfer for casual users who needed to learn simple things (such as changing their bank routing or selecting a different retirement plan). We needed to do it, do it well, and in an affordable way.
How is the UPK training team at Tulane staffed?
We have one person. We did get some help from ITC when we created the initial UPK content, because of the large volume of work. After we got the original UPK content produced, now our single trainer maintains all the content we have. Every patch that comes out, or configuration change we make is reflected on our UPK content, and we only have one person who handles that – a very talented and dedicated person, but only one.
What kind of advice would Tulane give to other higher education institutions who are considering UPK instead of other tools?
What I found the most valuable is the ability to embed your UPK content into the application. So that, let’s say, I go into Self Service and want to select a new benefit package. The UPK help that I need to remind me how to complete that function is embedded right into the application, so I don’t need to go searching for it. UPK can actually be embedded context-aware: it knows you’re on a screen that talks about benefits and offers you the help you may need.
How have you chunked up your training? How long is the average recording? Do you record an entire process or just individual pieces?
We tend to go for short content – a minute or two – and we try to encapsulate an activity in a training session: for example, anything you need to do to add a dependent to your benefits will be covered in a session. We try to make it short enough to remind people how to do it quickly and to the point.
How do you make UPK content available for people who are not in E-Business Suite?
You can go to a portal or webpage and see a list of all the UPK topics that are available – kind of like chapters in a book, and from there you can select the training you’re interested in taking. It doesn’t have to be embedded directly, the structure is fairly intuitive, and what I like the most is that it doesn’t force you to sit at your desk through yards of footage in order to get to those two or three minutes that contain the information you want. You navigate to it like you would in a text book.
Can UPK content be deployed into an LMS?
The published player package can be imported into most Learning Management Systems. If you have one in place, UPK can integrate with that, so any courses the users would take in the LMS would go on their official transcript.
Any final advice or lessons learned that Tulane would like to share with other institutions?
Well, we didn’t make any mistakes during the process. In part, it was because we had a knowledgeable person on point on our staff, and another part was engaging with ITC for the original big effort as we rolled out UPK for all EBS modules. So the combination of good internal resources and good advice and guidance from ITC made the difference. Not to say it was easy and simple, but it was straightforward: with some thought and planning, and a clear understanding of your objective, it’s not difficult to be successful.
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