What’s New in Oracle 21C for Higher Education?

What’s New in Oracle 21C for Higher Education?

Author: Richard Clayton, HE Lead, Namos Solutions

The latest 21C update provides some valuable upgrades and enhancements in Oracle Financials and HCM that will benefit all user communities. In this blog post our Higher Education Lead and Managed Services Director, Richard Clayton, highlights some of the features that Higher Education Oracle customers may find useful. 

Key Enhancements for your Oracle Applications in 21C: 

ERP: Collections Scoring 

Years of working in HE means I do not see students as typical customers. I was always reminded that they do not buy a degree, that debt collection is intrinsically linked to student wellbeing, and that any Finance information presented to students needs to be simply stated. After all, for many students, their first introduction to personal finance was opening their bank account on the run up to Freshers! This is why this feature may be really useful for your collections scoring. 

It is best practice to have a single customer account for students (typically linked to an SLC account by way of third party relationships and or flex fields). That customer account will then have sites for accommodation and fees. However, until 21C, there was no way of scoring the customer based on total amount of days past due date for each of those sites. So now this new feature has come along, it is definitely worth revisiting some of your scoring to consider this site level data point. 

ERP: API for On-Account Credit Memo 

Proving that most new features are born from customer requests, I know many of our team personally lobbied for this one

We know we are in an era of uncertainty when it comes to refunds to students. Regardless of tuition fees and the in-person/blended/remote debate, there is accommodation, and hardship to consider. Refunding to individuals has always been fairly straightforward in Oracle ERP, however, en masse refunds usually requires external triggering. However, this was made difficult by needing to sequence multiple integration calls with some handling logic (to apply or unapply accordingly). 

Our Tech guys assure that this new API will make the process much slicker, so much so we are revisiting some of the custom solutions we have made to tackle this. If you are doing this manually or have some Heath Robinson solutions, it may be worth looking at this this new feature. 

ERP: Dual Currency on Corporate Cards 

It is with great relief that I am now able to travel to client sites, it is with great excitement that there is the prospect of international travel again! However, to internal Finance teams it is probably with great exasperation that it also means the return of travel expenses, and none are more weird and wonderful than those of a travelling academic researcher! 

The ability to effectively manage corporate card charges is essential in these circumstances, and thankfully with 21C, one shortcoming on dual currency has now been addressed. Take a look to see if this applies to you, and whether this alleviates the need for offline currency conversion. 

ERP: Invoice Scanning Success Analysis  

These blogs have often focussed on admin efficiencies as it is often an (unfair) criticism of HE. However, one inefficiency that Oracle has the ability to alleviate is the burden of manual invoice entry. However, when certain invoices are barely human readable, the technology has a hard job making them machine readable! The advent of next-gen Oracle Infrastructure paved the way for Intelligent Document Recognition (IDR) which was a marked improvement on Auto-Invoice Matching (AIM). A great feature of IDR was it’s ability to train the system to focus on field locations. With 21C there is a new report that gives an ‘at a glance’ view of  which suppliers are less than 100%, whether the overall trend is increasing and where to focus intervention. Take a look for yourself here

SCM: Supplier Qualification Internal Scoring   
Whilst I am yet to see the magic bullet, I believe Oracle goes further than any other enterprise solution for addressing the source-to-settle requirements of HE. Through supplier sourcing, supplier qualification and supplier portal, the automation of offline processes is a real possibility. 21C goes one small step further by even capturing supplier performance measures from internal respondents, take a look here

HCM: Teachers Workforce Census 

Namos specialise in bringing Oracle Cloud to Education clients, indeed, as well as several Higher Education clients we also serve a Secondary and Further Education Academy. It is no surprise then why sector specific requirements such as HESA, Teacher’s Pensions and Workforce Census are so well known to us. The details of the new Workforce Census functionality can be found here, however, if you would like to talk through how these could be applied to your organisation, please get in touch. 

HCM: Ceiling Points on Grade Step Progression 

This feature almost looks tailor made to HE! It is typical to have multiple overlapping support bands or academic grades. Where these grades overlap, these often become the ceiling points even though there are valid spine points beyond that ceiling. The points beyond the ceiling can be awarded on a discretionary basis. However, where these points are applied en masse (for reasons of market forces for example) as opposed to individually, 21C has a nifty new feature to configure grade step progression to recognise the ceiling and increment (or not) accordingly. What’s more, the results report even gives a detailed message.  

HCM: Multiple Assignments – Lookups on Title LOVs  

Whilst we have whitepapers on how to avoid, manage and mitigate multiple assignments in HE, spoiler alert, they are inevitable. Oracle now caters for them really well in terms of security*, pay and pension, however, one annoying shortcoming was that identifying correct assignments often needed an advanced search. From 21C there are now multiple (colon separated) attributes in the title field that should make this much easier.  

HCM: *Multiple Assignments – Further Security Features 

I previously blogged on assignment level security features and how useful this would be to HE. Oracle were upfront in saying that assignment level security would be rolled out in phases, well 21C brings with it the fourth phase of such releases. Check it out here, this one enhances the Payroll OTBI Reporting area. The readiness materials explains in (copious) detail the scenarios where this applies.  

HCM: Journeys 

One of our most frequent enhancement requests is to configure checklists to support internal processes. With such a diverse workforce, I know first-hand how varied such internal processes are in HE. With 21B there was the introduction of Journeys to streamline these processes into a seamless end-to-end user experience. It is clear Oracle have hit on something really useful, so no wonder that with 21C (and the August maintenance pack) there are further improvements to configure flow, calendars, look and feel, and personalise the experience. Namos are already showcasing this functionality to our clients, I encourage you to take a look

HCM: Non Unique Title Field on Departments 

Department Name has always been a unique field across your enterprise, but what happens if you operate multiple campuses or highly autonomous faculties and you have multiple teams that are genuinely called ‘Registry’, ‘Student Support’ etc.? The convenient answer has been to apply a prefix, however, with 21C you can now keep the Department Names unique but have Department ‘Titles’ as you need them. 

HCM: Sensitive Data Access Audit 

In a previous blog I highlighted the new sensitive data access audit features, 21C now goes one step further and gives key management information on this as a subject area within auditing. Take a look here

HCM: Timecard Bug 

Namos provide testing-as-a-service for clients wishing to have us support their quarterly testing. This is a bug we spotted in relation to timecards. Take up of timecards in HE is notoriously difficult, not least because it can duplicate admin of Academics recording entries for Workload Allocation Modelling purposes. So whilst it doesn’t affect everyone and the bug will be addressed quickly, there is an easy workaround to be aware of.  

After 21C, some users are experiencing an issue when creating new timecards via the ‘Current Time Card’ screen, after adding a Time Card the option to Save is not available, if you experience this issue, use the following work-around: 

1. Click Me 

2. Click Time and Absences 

3. Click Existing Time Cards 

4. Click + Add 

5. Choose the date of the Time Card Period 

6. Save and Close will be available 

About Namos Solutions 
Namos Solutions are an award-winning Oracle Platinum Partner and Cloud Excellence Implementer (CEI) specialising in the implementation and support of ERP, EPM and HCM business solutions, both in the Cloud and on-premise. 

With global experience together with an impeccable track record, our business is built on our passion for delivering successful business transformation.  Passion underpins everything we do at Namos – passionate about delivering beyond expectations, earning trust and building long-lasting relationships with our clients. 

Namos already has a number of Higher Education clients who have enjoyed implementations in record time delivered by consultants who understand the sector. We are also the UKOUG 2020/21 Partner of the Year based on our achievements in the Industry of Higher Education. For more information, please visit www.namossolutions.com, our Ucisa Showcase , https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/showcase/consultancy/namos?overlay=true (bitlk link) or email rclayton@namossolutions.com  

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