From Planning to Testing: Everything You Need to Know About Oracle Cloud ERP Application Updates

Published June 11 2020 by Laura Meine
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Oracle’s ERP Cloud Applications are continuously evolving.  New features and bug fixes are released every quarter, and there are a few key elements you need to know. This post dives deep into those elements and provides foundational knowledge that you can apply to anticipate, plan, and execute on these releases effectively for your organization.

Versions and Timing

Oracle releases four updates per calendar year (one each quarter). The versions are numbered using the year plus the letter for the quarter released such as 19D and 20A.  The updates are in cycles as follows: 

(A)Feb-Apr, (B)May-Jul, (C)Aug-Oct, (D)Nov-Jan

It’s important to know which of the 3 cycles your organization falls into:

Cycle

(A)Feb-Apr

(B)May-Jul

(C)Aug-Oct

(D)Nov-Jan

1

Feb

May

Aug

Nov

2

Mar

Jun

Sep

Dec

3

Apr

Jul

Oct

Jan

The updates are applied to your non-production environments first.  Two weeks later, they are applied to Production. This date cannot be rescheduled or cancelled unless specifically discussed and approved by Oracle. The environments are brought down starting the Friday night of the update weekend and are usually back up sometime on Saturday.  Downtime can vary based on the size of the environment and the patching activities for that quarter.

  • 1st Friday weekend: Non-Production
  • 3rd Friday weekend: Production

The estimated start time for quarterly maintenance depends on the data center, which can be seen in the URL you use to access your application. For an example, please see below:

 https://eeee.fa.us6.oraclecloud.com/fscmUI/faces/FuseWelcome

The yellow highlighted part in the URL above is the Oracle datacenter where your environment is hosted. In this example the datacenter is us6.

Your Production pod name is generally the 4 letters starting with ‘e’, you can add –test, -dev1 etc. for other non-production environments. In this example the production pod name is eeee.

Below is the schedule based on the datacenter your pod is hosted.

  • Friday 9:00pm data center region time
    • US2 datacenter Arizona MST
    • US6 datacenter Chicago CST

Planning

About 4-6 weeks prior to the update to your non-Production environments, it is a good idea to get a refresh of those environment(s) so patching and testing can occur with the latest data as it stands in your live Production environment.  This is often referred to as a P2T (Prod to Test) process.  You must plan ahead for these, as there is a minimum 3-week lead time plus blackout dates that can end up adding to the 3-week lead time.  Review 'Oracle Applications Cloud Service Definition - Environment Refresh' (Doc ID 2015788.1) on Oracle Support for further details.

You also need to establish a test plan that includes test scenarios and scripts, a timeline, effort, and resource plan.  The maintenance packs that provide bug fixes have the potential to affect a variety of functionalities. Though issues are getting more and more rare as the product evolves, it is still possible a new bug could be introduced – or, a fix to a bug could have a negative impact to your business processes. We recommend regression testing all your critical business processes during the 2-week test window.  Also, we advise you to validate your critical reports, key workflow approvals, and critical integrations with other applications.  If you find any issues, be sure to contact your support provider or log a service request with Oracle Support immediately. The time window to resolve the issues is short, so any time you can save will be helpful down the road.

Review Readiness Material

Before the update to your test environment, be sure to review the Oracle Cloud Readiness site.   There are a few key areas:

  • What’s New
    • Review for each product area you utilize. (e.g.:  Fin, HR, HCM, Inv, Procurement)
    • Common Technologies and User Experience
    • Features with Opt-in Expiration
  • *New Feature Summary – same information as “What’s New”
  • Oracle Applications Cloud Known Issues and Maintenance Packs(Doc ID 1
    • Review for each product area you utilize
    • Oracle Applications Cloud (Common)

Prepare Your Environment

About a week before the first Friday update to your non-Production environments, it is recommended to archive (back up) your custom BI catalog directory and hold/pause any long-running ESS or BI reports.  Then, do the same the day before the update to your Production environment on the 3rd Friday of the update period.

After the update is complete in Prod, do a quick round of ‘smoke-testing.’  This is just a quick check of primary business areas.  Also perform any post-update steps that could have been identified during testing and resume any ESS/BI processes put on hold before the update.  Monitor the critical business processes for the short-term.

Testing

What Should You Test? 

Do: test all critical business functions before the patches go into Production.  

Don’t: try out any of the new features available in an update. Now is not the time for this. 

  • Areas to include in your test plan: 
    • Key business process flows for different roles in the organization 
    • Critical custom reports 
    • Integrations with other applications 
    • Custom workflows (journal, invoice, PO approval, etc.)
    • Automatically available UI and process new features that will apply to you 

How can Alithya Help?

We offer flexible quarterly update service packages to allow your business to focus on more value-add services.  Our packages include some or all of the following based on your needs:

  • Release Notes Review
  • Impact Analysis
  • Customer Education
  • Opt-Ins Discussion
  • Test Plan Updates
  • End-to-End Regressing Testing
  • Testing Results Walkthrough
  • Issue Resolution

For additional insights and detailed presentation and discussions regarding Oracle Quarterly Updates, watch a recording of our webinar here.

For comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics, please reach out to us at infosolutions@alithya.com.  Visit our blog regularly for new posts about Cloud updates and other Oracle Cloud Services such as Planning and Budgeting, Financial Consolidation, Account Reconciliation, and Enterprise Data Management.  Follow Alithya on social media for the latest information about EPM, ERP, and Analytics solutions to meet your business needs.

 

 

 

 

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