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The IT Convergence Oracle R12 Upgrade v11.pdf

The IT Convergence Oracle R12 Upgrade v11.pdf

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Mission Possible: Upgrade to Financials, HRMS, CRM, AND PROJECT to R12 on 3 continents in 6 months

By Gustavo Gonzalez, IT Convergence
Let’s Take Our Own Medicine with Oracle R12: This document takes you behind the scenes to an R12 Upgrade that spanned 3 continents and included Financials, HRMS, CRM, and Project. You will discover how 17 modules were upgraded and configured to meet local requirements in North America, Latin America, and Asia, including the first R12 upgrade in Argentina. The project also covered 30 customizations migrated during the implementation, fostering further R12 innovations by sharing the lessons learned during this project and reveals how the upgrade laid the foundation for rolling out OBIEE. This white paper outlines the vision, motive and plan that drove IT Convergence’s upgrade to Oracle R12. This upgrade was part of ITC’s larger commitment to “Taking Its Own Medicine,” which means that the company uses the same Oracle solutions internally that it provides to its clients. ITC adopted this strategy to consolidate its business system onto a central Oracle E-Business Suite platform, establishing “One Source of Truth” to simplify reporting and improve business processes. “Taking our Own Medicine” helps ITC better understand our client’s needs and deliver improved service. ITC began implementing the Oracle E-Business Suite in 2004 with core Financials. This was followed by a global rollout of Oracle HRMS and Oracle Portal in 2005. Then we added Oracle Project Resource Management in 2006 and Oracle Telesales going live in 2007, and our final implementation during this year that was Oracle Project Management.

Figure 1: E-Business Suite Implementations Prior to upgrading to R12, ITC’s complete 11.5.10.2 included: • • • • • Oracle Financials, AP, AR, GL, iExpense, PO, iProcurement, Cash Management Oracle HRMS: Core, SSHR Oracle Projects: Costing, Billing, Project Resource Management, Project Management, Project Intelligence Oracle CRM: Telesales, Teleservice, iSupport Reporting: Oracle Portal/Noetix

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Geographically, IT Convergence has operations in the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Singapore and China. ITC plans to implement Performance Management, Incentive Compensation, iRecruitment, Fixed Assets and Project Collaboration in the near future. Upgrading to Oracle Applications R12 is giving to IT Convergence the tools it needs to better manage its global operations. Specifically, R12 is giving our Finance department improved visibility and control over our revenue streams and payment processes. HRMS R12 functionalities allow us to better manage our global workforce, and Oracle Projects R12 improves our ability to manage projects that encompass multiple countries and/or multiple continents. Finally, Oracle CRM R12 enables us to deploy a dynamic sales and marketing funnel which in turn enhances our ability to project revenues.

Figure 2: R12 benefit and advantages

Project Scope
Given the global nature of ITC’s Oracle footprint, keeping the upgrade in scope was essential to the project’s success. To keep the project in scope we ensured that each of the following elements was tied to the overall project objectives: • • • • • • • • • • Applications – Only existing applications & modules we upgraded Sites – All ITC offices were included Process Re-engineering – No processes were to be reengineered during the initial upgrade Customizations – Only existing customizations were migrated Interfaces – All existing interfaces were migrated Architecture – The existing functional and technical architecture remained the same Data Conversion – No data conversion was necessary Testing – Existing processes and functionalities were tested, recycling 11.5.10 test scripts Funding/sourcing – The upgrade depended 100% on internal resources Training and end-user Education – Training focused on GAPs between 11.5.10 and R12

Assumptions and Perceived Project Constraints
The Project Team developed the project plan with the understanding that we were going to be working under various constraints which were based on certain assumptions. The most important constraint revolved around the internal staff’s limitations. For example, the Web Services team was slatted to support the project, but some of their staff members were dedicated to billing for external clients. This was also true of other personnel who would be supporting the upgrade. Too much dedication to billing for external projects could lead to a loss of focus on R12, and this could jeopardize progress. To mitigate this danger, the Project Team analyzed and retained the right to approve the assignment of any R12-dedicated resources to an external project. Loss of key staff dedicated to the R12 project was also a possible limitation.

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When we began the project, we also identified a lack of skilled personnel who had the ability to contribute to the R12 project. The answer is to provide this training, which will not only strengthened the project, but it strengthened ITC’s ability to offer R12 solutions after completing our own implementation. Another method of minimizing constraints was to freeze new enhancements to the existing Oracle EBusiness Suite to fixes for bugs and other types of maintenance activities. Likewise, development of new Noetix reports was frozen, and users provided with additional Noetix training.

Risk Analysis
The Project Team identified a number of risks at the outset and took the steps to mitigate each of these risks. Risks that surfaced as the project was in process were tracked and resolved through the Risk and Issue Management process.

Figure 3: Risk and Issues management Since ITC was doing a straight upgrade – not a reimplementation -- to Oracle Release 12, neither new interfaces nor data conversion was necessary. However, the upgrade to R12 required integration with our existing Oracle Portal solution, and this meant that we would need to test several integration points.

Critical success factors
IT Convergence Business Services team identified a number of key factors that were crucial to the success of our R12 upgrade. The Project Team agreed with the sponsor and steering committee to measure progress towards these factors by defining some metrics. The critical success factors were: • • • • • • • • Strong executive sponsorship and management support Adequate project staffing Clear definition of roles and responsibilities Committed and well-informed project manager and project team A defined and maintained project infrastructure throughout the project duration. Clear understanding of known project risks and assumptions Agreement in overall objectives and acceptance of change. Crisp execution on decisions and teamwork.

The success metrics for the project were measured by:

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Figure 4: Success metrics

Approach for success
Extensions and Customizations ITC’s existing Oracle footprint features many enhancements, module extensions, and customizations. A total of 11 workflows, 10 forms, 2 interfaces, 8 concurrent request processes and 5 legal report customizations needed to be examined in addition to around 100 Noetix reports. Our strategy was to guarantee that ITC’s current business processes were fully functional when R12 went live. To achieve this goal we prioritized the development/migration of these customizations in order to synchronize the development and functional effort. Reporting strategy The current reporting footprint includes Noetix views, and the Noetix platform (Noetix web query). This tool was implemented in 2007 and has around 400 actively running reports. The logical approach we took was to get all the reports running on R12 and also revise the current footprint in order to migrate it to the latest business intelligence solution from Oracle that included Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition. Educating Our Users on R12 We adopted a “train the trainer” approach to getting our staff up to speed up on R12. Key users divided into tracks had the responsibility to train other key members of the Project Team. and also positioned them as the support level 1. Each track corresponded to a business process within IT Convergence such as: Human Resources, Financials, Projects, Recruiting, Sales and Services. Another thing that we did was to involve key business users in each and every phase of the project, which made a difference not only in the testing phase, but also in building a strong team. Hardware, Network, and Software Concerns There were a number of issues related to ITC’s IT infrastructure that had the potential to aversely affect the R12 Upgrade. While no issue posed an imminent threat, there were several risk factors that merited attention. These factors related to the ability of existing hardware to handle the volume created by an R12 Environment, its ability to support hot back ups, and other factors that related to systems and network availability. Size There was only a moderate danger the ITC’s existing hardware could handle sufficient volume to support an R12 upgrade. If this did come to pass, performance of the application would drop to an unacceptable level and, in that event, additional hardware was going to be needed. To avoid a drop in production, the project team constantly conducted a detailed sizing process until the volumetric of the new system became evident. Once ITC made this determination, they were able to design the proper production environment. Hot Back Ups

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Presently ITC does not have a hot-back up hardware site available to support either the upgrade or the eventual R12 Environment. This meant that any loss of availability in the primary environment would result in a total loss of availability of the R12 environment, until ITC could locate another physical environment. The most effective way to guard against this was to develop comprehensive disaster recovery plans that could be implemented quickly and efficiently in the event of an emergency. System and Network Availability Unexpected interruptions in system and/or network availability had the potential to delay the upgrade unnecessarily. The best way to mitigate this risk was to administer the hardware and software environment used for the upgrade as an “as-production” environment and to reinforce ITC’s high availability requirement with its network. The transition to production started early on this project since the R12 upgrade required several pre upgrade steps. The first step was moving the concurrent manager from the database server to the application server, then an operating system upgrade was necessary and finally a database upgrade from 9i to 10g was done.

Figure 5: Technical steps for the upgrade to R12 The decision to set up 12.0.5 as the last RUP was important because this would freeze our strategy and would allow us to plan future roll up patches application after the go live date.

Results
The results were excellent. We had a smooth production deployment with a low amount of service requests (SR) opened through our helpdesk or via iSupport. We resolved the requests that we did receive in an average of one business day. To be proactive, our team was ready to handle a large volume of SR and related-phone calls, but fortunately these preparations were not necessary. During the first month, we resolved approximately 100 SR´s, taking an average of 1 business day to close each request. The fiscal year closure was delayed by 2 business days because some AP processes failed and we had to rely on Oracle support resolve those issues.

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Thirty days after the implementation there were only six remaining open issues, all of which were low priority and with a workaround in place. The upgrade to Release 12 upgrade was a success and the company is now able to plan for R12 innovations such as the Multiple Organization Access (MOAC) for our Shared Services Center in Argentina. While we’re happy that the upgrade was successful, we learned some important lessons, which we share below.

Lessons Learned
Plan Realistically Looking back, one of the key elements to success was the realistic project plan that we developed. We did this by considering all the changes to the data model that would impact both customizations and reporting in R12. With this information in focus, we were able to allocate enough time and resources for each phase of the project.
JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Migration Assessment Update and Test Transition Production
On time!
Figure 6: R12 Project plan

Test, Test, and Test
Obviously testing is an important part of any upgrade. Purists will tell you that you can never test enough, and they have a point. But of course time and budgets do not allow for unlimited testing, so how do you formulate a testing plan for an R12 upgrade? You have to test each module thoroughly, but it is important to focus on General Ledger. This is because Oracle has made so many changes to the General Ledger and because General Ledger is one of the most important E-Business Suite modules. Therefore, our advice is for you to test each and every month-end closing at least twice. The Inside Scoop on Reporting in R12 In an ideal situation, you’ll have an automated reporting tool, such as Noetix, that is configured to support an upgrade from 11i to R12. If you’re not fortunate enough such as tool, then you absolutely need to do an inventory of customizations and reports, and prioritize which ones you’re going to rebuild first. During an R12 upgrade there are some issues which you need to pay extra special attention to: • • • Changes to Vendors going to TCA (Trading Community Architecture) Security on Teleservice Set of Books

The Transition Plan – Making Change Management Manageable

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From the very beginning of the upgrade, your Project Team began preparing the transition plan. This allow us to get early approval from to the steering committee and secure full support from each of the departments involved. We included our Marketing department in this phase, drawing upon their expertise to communicate the transition to clients that relied on iSupport to open tickets with our Support Services division. We also worked with Marketing to communicate with internal users such as consultants and our Shared Services Center who needed to enter and process items such as expense reports. Location, Location, Location Timing, Timing, Timing The timing of our actual upgrade was just as important as everything else. Our assessment plans had led us to conclude that the upgrade would result in five days of downtime. Therefore, we planned during the Christmas-New Year’s holiday, when activity would be low. Fortunately, things went better than expected, we were able to have the application up and running within 4 days; one day less than planned.

Figure 7: R12 Transition to Production plan Do it By the Book Another key piece of advice is to reinforce the knowledge base of your functional team by making sure that all of them have read and understood the pre-upgrade functional steps, which are vital for the success. Since the fiscal year finishes on December 31st, pre closing was done each week and a final pre-close was completed before the downtime. Keep Them in the Loop Also remember to let Oracle Support know that you’ll be doing a R12 upgrade. They will assign a Customer Care Manager or Lead that will support your upgrade and will speed up Service Requests within Oracle Support. Quick Guides Our communication plan was truly successful, and it included corporate emails, remote training and delivering Quick Guides (see Figure 8) for reference created in collaboration with our Marketing department.

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Figure 8: User training material – Quick guides

Start at the Top One of the differentiators of this project was the complete involvement of the executive team, not just the IT manager, not just the CIO, not just the CFO, but the entire executive team, including the CEO. This of course isn’t a novel piece of advice, but we can vouch for the fact that its tried and true. The executive support we enjoyed through each phase of the implementation allowed us to make fast decisions and proactively resolve issue that otherwise would have become trouble spots. This top-to-bottom cooperation provides a good example of how a team with great people can tackle big challenges to make impact and add value to the company.

Put this Experience to Work for You
Upgrade to Oracle Release 12. Do it for a footprint that spans 3 continents and includes 4 E-Business Suite Applications, 17 modules, 30 customizations, and 100 Noetix reports. Keep in mind that this will be one of the first, if not the very first, R12 upgrades in Argentina, making it one of the few upgrades in Argentina. Oh yeah, the upgrade needs to be completed in six months. It might sound like an Oracle professional’s twisted version of Mission Impossible. But its not. As we’ve shown here, it is Mission possible. If you’re facing a similar situation, you should have confidence that it can be done, because its been done before and done quite successfully. In addition to our own upgrade to R12, IT Convergence has helped over 15 companies upgrade to R12. If you’re involved in or about to start an R12 upgrade and need some advice, then contact us at 1-800-6750032 and we’ll be happy to connect you with one of our R12 experts.

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