Communications and Communication generation in PeopleSoft v9.0

Whether upgrading to PeopleSoft v9.0 or implementing new, questions will arise related to the configuration of communications and use of communication generation. These questions may include some of the following. I do not have all the answers to the questions as things vary from institution to institution; however, sometimes it helps just to see the questions.

What are the advantages of communication generation over letter generation?
· Communication Generation
o    Generates the merged letter or sends the email and can do so based on a person’s preferred communication language and method.
o    XML templates can include complex programming logic (e.g. If … Then … Else, For-Each).
o    Configurable data source.
o    Even though only the very basic name and address data is delivered in a data source, it is easy to include additional fields by using a PS Query.
o    Functional resources can create custom data source queries.

· Letter Generation
o    Generates a data source file used to merge with a MS Word template.
o    Word merge documents are limited to very basic logic.
o    Delivered data source includes lots of fields often more fields than required.
o    Requires a custom SQC to retrieve additional data source fields.
o    Technical resources required to create custom SQC.

Communication generation is a more flexible and more powerful tool than letter generation and it is the future of 3C communications in PeopleSoft. Although letter generation is still around, like other older features, no new development will be done on this functionality.

What do you need to consider if you are upgrading? Must you switch to Communication Generation? What if it is a new implementation?
· Upgrade
o    Letter generation is still available, so no need to immediately tackle conversion to XML Publisher and communication generation.
o    Switching over to communication generation may be a candidate for its own mini project following the upgrade.
o    The communication generation and letter generation can be used concurrently in the same environment.
o    Existing letter code, context, category, 3C groups structure is still relevant and required. New tools build on this configuration.
o    Do not underestimate effort required to upgrade if switching over to communication generation.

· Implementation
o    Effort is similar to implement either.
o    Communication generation is the future of 3C communications in PS.
o    Do not underestimate the effort required to implement communications.

In either case, upgrade or implementation, the decision should be to use communication generation, the only question may be when to implement it.

Where is the new line between functional and technical in the configuration of communications?
· Then with Letter Generation
o    Creating custom SQC to retrieve additional fields – Technical.
o    Mass Change used to assign communications – Technical/Functional depending on the strengths of your functional team.
o    Word merge documents are relatively simple – Functional.

· Now with Communication Generation
o    Data source queries are similar to creating any other PS query – Functional.
o    Pop select queries are similar to creating any other PS query – Functional.
o    XML templates have the potential to be very complex – Functional/Technical depending on the strengths of your functional team.
o    Security role required to create new report definitions for communications may be a limiting factor – Functional/Technical.

As you can see, with the introduction of XML Publisher, communication data sources and population selection, the line separating functional and technical duties is further blurred. All these new tools are intended to shift the more technical aspects required for creating communications to the functional experts.

Are there new security concerns with communication generation?
· Communication Generation sends mass emails.
o    Who will have access to run it in production? It is a very high-risk process and as such there should be limited access.
o    Will the email functionality be turned on in a development environment? Either turn it off or use a script to change all email addresses to prevent any accidental mass communications. It is nice to have it one in at least one development environment for testing.

· Communication Generation utilizes Report Definitions and XML templates.
o    Will anyone be able to change a template in production? Perhaps you will not allow correct history on report definitions but you may still allow new rows to be added for updated templates.
o    Will anyone have access to create a letter in production? Like most things, it is best to create and thoroughly test in a development environment and then move it to production.

· A specific delivered security role is required to create report definitions using the data source type necessary for communications. This security role is hard-coded in the Report Definition component.
o    The role is called XMLP Report Developer and the trouble is that it provides users with full access to all pages in the XML Publisher menu, which may not be appropriate for the users who need to create new communications.
o    However, once a report definition is created with the appropriate Data Source Type, it can be updated without having this role.
o    If you must be able to create new communications quickly, on-the-fly in production, one workaround is to create a few empty report definitions for each admin function and data source.

For specific follow-up on this matter, please contact:

Michael Eastwood
Senior Specialist | Deloitte Inc.


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