Earlier in this series, we defined Continuous Delivery, highlighted its benefits, and shared how to prepare for it.
Now, we’ll take a look at best practices for the successful execution of Continuous Delivery, including a timeline to help you get started on your own path.
A code current update is not an isolated endeavor. It needs to fit within your organization’s overall list of projects. That’s why planning in advance and having a solid methodology in place is critical.
To help you determine the true impact of going code current, we’ve developed the following methodology. It provides an accurate scope of work needed for subsequent steps, and allows you to evaluate effort against impact.
For example, the most recent fix or release might have “the best” thing in it, but if applying it completely upsets your business, it could outweigh the benefits for you at that time.
There are five main steps in Continuous Delivery:
Conducting an impact analysis for an EnterpriseOne update is extremely important. It requires your organization to evaluate the change impact on business, process, and other projects, and sets the scope and schedule for the rest of the project.
When performing impact analysis, we recommend Object Usage Tracking. Object Usage Tracking is a powerful tool to help you understand your system, and is a feature limited to 9.2. It allows you to understand the impacts of the objects included in the updates since you were last current.
Object Usage Tracking has a front-end UX One page, and all of this data is stored in tables that you can use to compare against data from tools such as Change Assistant and Impact Analysis. It can answer important questions to get your impact analysis underway, including:
- Which objects are being accessed?
- When do you have peak load on your system?
- Which customizations are used or unused?
- What impact will an EnterpriseOne update have on my environment?
Object Usage Tracking captures objects accessed by users and has an out-of-box analytics component for system load. We recommend using it to identify the system applications that are used the most – a critical first step in beginning your impact analysis.
Next, you’ll want to focus on the changes wrought by Electronic Software Updates (ESUs) in the areas and applications identified by the Object Tracking Tool. If an object is included in the ESUs but you don’t use it, you can install it on your system with no impact.
Understanding what is being used on a daily, weekly, monthly based should also provide better focus for your testing, which we’ll look at in more detail in step 3.
Now that you’ve completed and digested the findings from your Impact Analysis, the second step is to retrofit your custom code based on the changes delivered by Oracle and usage of the impacted objects.
Your technical teams (CNC and Development) have a major role to play installing the latest packages and ensuring any customizations are accounted for. It’s also time for your business analyst group to assess the impact of the changes and make any updates to business process documentation, testing plans, and training materials.
Business process documentation that is up to date and comprehensive is a major asset in this area. If you’ve been diligent about your business process documentation, it will really pay off for you now. We recommend you leverage it for both training and testing.
Continuous Delivery will change the code and footprint of your EnterpriseOne system, so it’s critical to test changes that are introduced in any updates that could impact your use of the system.
Comprehensive testing of your business-critical functions is crucial with every update. Rigorous change management processes should be in place to avoid introducing undue risk to your production environment.
You may also want to consider testing automation. Because Continuous Delivery provides more frequent and incremental changes, automating your testing now becomes much more impactful. It will save you time, as well as help ensure greater accuracy.
Questions to answer through testing include:
- Can you apply all the ESUs and be confident your most critical business processes are tested and running smoothly?
- Can you focus your testing efforts on what really changed or is new for your business, with the assurance that employees and vendors will still get paid?
Once you’ve conducted your impact analysis, your retrofit, and finished testing, it’s time to apply the updates. It’s that simple.
With successful completion of steps 1–3, implementation should be straightforward. Your technical team will apply the approved updates to production.
Next up, change management is a critical function to ensuring a successful implementation. Timing, communication, and related change management activities are important to manage for all users of EnterpriseOne.
Education and adoption of the new features, both functional and technical, is a key part of ensuring the success of Continuous Delivery. If you make the effort to undertake this type of project, it’s important to take advantage of the new features.
Your people need to know and understand the capabilities delivered in the update. They’ve just been provided with the latest and greatest in EnterpriseOne features and functionality, so there’s no sense in them continuing to use the applications “the old way.”
Within many organizations, there is a huge learning opportunity regarding User Defined Objects (UDOs). As mentioned above, your updated system will include UDO functionality just waiting to be capitalized upon. You can find a primer from Oracle here: Oracle Document – Understanding UDOs
A few parting thoughts
To conclude, we advocate the adoption of Continuous Delivery as a best practice – and so you can maximize the value you’re receiving from your EnterpriseOne investment. The sooner you can reap the benefits of the maintenance dollars you pay to Oracle, the better the cost of ownership becomes for you.
A big part of achieving this return on investment is in taking advantage of Oracle’s innovation and vision and utilizing EnterpriseOne to support your strategic objectives.
Keep the following in mind and you’ll be well on your way to successful adoption:
- Understand how Continuous Delivery will work for your organization
- Develop a methodology and strategy for how to approach it
- Potentially adopt a new Change Management structure to support Continuous Delivery
- Remember there are lots of moving parts, including data and information to gather and evaluate
- Plan it out, understand the impacts to how the business uses EnterpriseOne, test thoroughly, and deliver seamlessly
- Ensure your people are trained and ready for an even better system
And finally, make sure you can derive value from the new features and don’t just adopt Continuous Delivery to stay compliant. If planned out properly, it will come together and be a beautiful thing.
Example: A Continuous Delivery Timeline
We’re often asked about the timeline for a Continuous Delivery code current methodology. We have found that creating an annual cycle works well for Continuous Delivery.
Below is an example annual timeline. You’ll see that steps one through four can be completed within one quarter. The rest of the year can be spent on education and adoption.
Our example begins in June, but your process could be started at any point in the year. We suggest working around the availability of your testers, as this may be your most critical timing factor.
As you can see in the timeline, we recommend periodic business reviews throughout the year so you can anticipate what’s coming. We also recommend spending a relatively lengthy amount of time educating your staff on the new features, so they can begin to adopt and integrate them within your business.
We hope this helps give you an idea of how to prepare for Continuous Delivery. As always, we’re here to answer any questions you have – email us or call 1.888.308.ERP1 for a no-pressure, objective consultation from our experts.
Next up – watch for a five-step example execution strategy for Continuous Delivery developed by our experts.
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Did you miss the previous articles in this series? Read What is Continuous Delivery?, Why adopt Continuous Delivery?, or How to prepare for Continuous Delivery now.