Execs focus on 'total ownership experience'

The "Total Ownership Experience" (TOE) strategy PeopleSoft Inc. launched in May to reduce the cost and complexity of running its software was a focal point Tuesday at its PeopleSoft Connect user conference.

In December PeopleSoft will release some of the several dozen tools and changes it is developing under the initiative, Executive Vice President of Products and Technology Ram Gupta said during a keynote address.

The company's goals include reducing application installation times from weeks to days and cutting configuration times from months to weeks, he said. Toward that end, PeopleSoft will soon release Setup Manager, a wizard-like tool offering a step-by-step guide through the process of implementing an application.

PeopleSoft is also aiming at simplifying user interfaces in applications, and at easing software management. A new task-oriented interface is intended to reduce the time needed to complete common tasks and to offer more intuitive navigation between applications.

Forthcoming new management tools include PeopleSoft Performance Monitor, a real-time operations tracker for use in locating bottlenecks, and PeopleSoft Change Assistant, a tool for automating the process of installing software updates and patches.

"This is about reducing the IT cost associated with the care and feeding of an application," PeopleSoft Chief Technology Officer Rick Bergquist summarized the TOE campaign, in an interview last week. "We think the software industry needs to, in essence, step up and provide software with better quality, performance and look-and-feel."

The TOE initiative was controversial within PeopleSoft's user community when it was introduced because of its focus on short-term improvements to the upgrade process rather than a long-term overhaul, according to Peg Nicholson, the outgoing president of PeopleSoft's International Customer Advisory Board (ICAB). Still, ICAB is optimistic that TOE's results will line up with ICAB's own goals for maintenance and upgrades improvements, she said Monday during a presentation.

"(TOE is) a direct result of themes ICAB has hammered on the customers' behalf for years," she said.

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