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Oracle, system integrator develop new HR product

Oracle and system integrator BearingPoint's jointly-developed application shows how vendors and SIs build new applications. The product, which aims to streamline the new-hire process, is built with Oracle's Fusion middleware SOA.

Oracle Corp. has teamed up with systems integrator BearingPoint to add human resources-management functions to Oracle's data-management capabilities.

The two companies announced earlier this month a package of Oracle products designed as a human capital management (HCM) system, with functions to automate the administrative process of hiring new employees and dealing with those who leave.

The HCM system is based on the Oracle Fusion service oriented architecture (SOA) platform and aims to streamline employees joining and leaving companies.

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Oracle works with system integrators (SIs) to develop such projects, according to Gretchen Alarcon, Oracle's vice president of HCM product strategy. Although Alarcon said the company "works with companies of all sizes" on implementation strategies, Oracle picked McLean, Va.-based BearingPoint. Size was a factor in landing it this deal, according to BearingPoint's managing director of enterprise solutions Dan Staley.

"What they told us was that they were talking to some pure play HR strategy firm" as well as other large, global SIs, Staley said. "We had the scale but we were nimble enough" for the project.

Oracle's goal in working with BearingPoint was to automate as many new hire processes as possible -- like getting them computers, giving them security access and setting up benefits plans -- and provide a single place to manage the process, instead of relying on departments emailing each other one at a time, Alarcon said.

"It's an understood process, but it's not a very efficient process," Alarcon said. "The good news about working with a company like BearingPoint is, they have a good understanding of the technology upfront, and best practices" to use it.

Using Oracle's middleware to shift data among various databases and departments, the package is designed to let one person manage the whole hiring process. That would usually be the line manager, who has the most at stake for the hire going well, Alarcon said, but it wouldn't have to be.

Many departments within a company have some part in each new hire process -- HR, IT, security, legal -- so selling a package of this nature requires as much diplomacy as sales effort, Staley said. To pitch the package, he organized a meeting with representatives of all the parties and goes through a checklist of each step in the hiring process.

The HR and IT departments usually lead the way, and they're where BearingPoint often starts, Staley said. Once those departments are sold on the idea, he said, the others usually come around.

As the IT industry continues to specialize, deals like the Oracle-BearingPoint project will become more common, according to Forrester Research principal analyst R Wang. Software vendors, eager to reach more customers by specializing their software, will work with SIs or other groups, including non-technical organizations like trade associations, he said.

Who vendors pick for a given project will depend on what a partner can bring to the table, and how confident the vendor is that their partner will follow through.

"It's going to come down to the level of trust. It's going to come down to the overlap in terms of where they believe their capability will be and where they believe the demand" is, he said.

Smaller, regional SIs may be able to land some of those deals if they focus on a particular niche, Wang said, thus giving them a specialty that could convince large vendors they're worth working with.

For now, much of this specialization is happening at the larger end of the market, where technologies like SOA are catching on, he said. The Oracle-BearingPoint package, for instance, makes most sense for companies with at least 3,000 employees, Staley said.

Whereas those large companies used to develop projects in house, they are now beginning to look to outsourcing for applications their customers don't see -- that is, for applications that don't threaten their brand, Wang said.

"A lot of this is also being driven by the customers, who are going through the next upgrade cycle. And what they're realizing is that this isn't part of the core differentiation part of their business, like it was 10 years ago," he said.

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