Evaluating PS Release 9.2: First Adopters or Wait?

PeopleSoft (PS) 9.2 is GA on Friday, 3/22, and the press releases show that everything will be available—that’s great news. Bloomberg[i] reports a broad range of customers have already started the PeopleSoft 9.2 upgrade process. We at Sierra-Cedar can attest to that. We are working with a number of our clients on their PS 9.2 upgrade: project planning, identifying resources, securing budgets, and reviewing the value of the new functions in the pre-release notes[ii].

I did a straw poll and asked for the pros and cons of upgrading ASAP versus pushing the upgrade off for a while.

Common reasons for upgrading to PeopleSoft 9.2 – ASAP

Pros Cons
  • New functional features will increase efficiencies and retire modifications (an early upgrade will have a higher ROI)
  • New technical features will simplify development and maintenance
  • Improved user experience is expected
  • The perception that a little extra attention is given to the earliest adopters
  • Lack of resources (staff, consulting, or competing projects)
  • Prefer to first see how the upgrade process goes for others
  • Belief that there’ll be no observable benefits.
  • The upgrade will require updates or changes to processes, training materials, etc.

Early adopters expressed confidence the “pros” associated with immediately upgrading will outweigh any trail blazing related “cons” they might encounter. Since the largest part of the cost of an upgrade is a sunk cost (you will spend this now or spend this later), why not embrace the benefits, new functions/tools, right away? The earlier you retire modifications for new functionality, the sooner you realize the related savings. A new workflow or function can free up scarce resources. These benefits will be partly offset by training and organizational change management costs (which will also need to be incurred later), but usually payback is quick. The sooner you complete your upgrade, the better your ROI.

I discussed the validity of assuming there would be a higher ROI for early adopters with several colleagues by comparing the timing of an upgrade to the funding an IRA account. You can a) start to fund you IRA on January 1 of the current year, or b) on April 14 of the following year, you can do the same. Over a ten-year period, with an interest rate of 3.5%, you would have about 4.1% more in your IRA if you began to fund it early. This isn’t a finance blog, so I’m skipping the details, but the gist is that you get more if you invest early. Maybe that’s one reason why some organizations (like AARP, Caterpillar Inc., Daimler, Franklin Templeton Investments, Scott & White Healthcare, Washington University in St. Louis, Westfield, and Verizoni – see the Bloomberg article referenced for more information), decided to start upgrades before PS 9.2 was even in GA.

There are, however, some very legitimate reasons for putting off an upgrade. I think the most valid is the lack of resources—sometimes due to lack of staff or because competing projects have consumed all available resources. We’ve all seen examples of where something should be done, but management prioritized other objectives above an immediate upgrade.

To me, the one scenario that is difficult to understand or hard to justify is when a client wants only a technical upgrade. These can have significant costs ($100k+), and the main benefit they provide is “staying current,” e.g., support for patches, taxes, etc.  There are some benefits from the new PTools, but, why not upgrade in a way that maximizes ROI?

So, where do you stand—upgrade early or wait, and why? I’d really like to hear from you on this. Please share your thoughts, and I’ll share them with our readers: PS9.2@Sierra-Cedar.com. Next topic will review what modifications you should bring forward.

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