by Euna Lee
loud computing and the Software as a Service model has allowed organisations, small and large, to focus their valuable resources on their core business rather than on their IT infrastructure and maintenance. Some benefits of SaaS applications include quick and easy access for users and constant innovation.
SAP SuccessFactors delivers its constant innovation via the 4 major quarterly releases providing customers with more efficient ways to manage their workforce. As great as this constant innovation is for organisations, it can also bring some challenges. As new releases come every 3 months, it can be quite overwhelming for some organisations to manage. Some may even choose to ignore them altogether.
As a SuccessFactors customer, it is just as important to have an effective plan to manage and keep up with the quarterly releases as the initial implementation itself to take advantage of the improvements and innovations that are an integral part of their offering. This can range from a very involved process each quarter to a lighter review each quarter with a scheduled detailed review at other intervals. No matter what approach you take, consider these 6 key tips for SuccessFactors application and release maintenance.
You should check the release schedule and make note of the key dates. Please note that these dates are subject to change so it’s important to check back regularly. SAP SuccessFactors provides valuable resources to help customers prepare for all the major quarterly releases. This includes Release Information Summary and Details documentation and Release Information Webinars. Ensure that you are registered on the Customer Community and the SAP Help Portal to access a wealth of product resources along with the release related information.
After reviewing the Release Information Summary and attending the webinars delivered by Product Managers, analyse the expected features and enhancements for possible impact to any of your current processes with a focus on the business-critical ones to minimise disruptions to BAU. Also consider the release type, Universal or Opt-In, to help prioritise the new feature or enhancement. You don’t have a choice on Universal features so it would be good to review those first.
Download the excel version of the Release Information Summary from the SAP Help Portal which is available 60 days before the new release is deployed into the Production (live) environment. Filter by the products in use in your organisation and add extra columns to capture important notes on the internal discussions and the final decisions reached on each feature. Your company should decide whether to enable the optional features or enhancements based on its overall business and HR objectives and strategy. This document can be used to also track items which are deferred to a later date and updated as it gets enabled.
It helps to review your company’s requirements periodically and note any gaps in functionality. The SuccessFactors application is aimed to support majority of customers’ needs but every company is different with different needs. Chances are that not all requirements of one company will be met with the standard functionality available. A gaps analysis will allow you to think of possible enhancement requests to submit for consideration by the SuccessFactors Product Managers. They listen to customers and welcome feedback to help make the products better with each release.
It’s important to perform regression testing to determine a new release does not negatively affect your system’s current configurations that support business critical processes. Develop test scripts for regression testing which should be run with each release that’s deployed to verify that everything is still working as expected. It’s advised to review the regression test scripts once a year to incorporate and adapt them to the current state of your system.
Typically, a customer’s Test instance is in the Preview stack which gets updated at least 4 weeks before it’s applied to Production. This 4-week window allows customers to test the new release features. Take advantage of the early access to the new release and thoroughly assess the features and enhancements which your company has decided to enable and prepare for the Production release. It is best practice to always test out any new functionality you are considering rolling out (newly released or not) in your Test environment prior to proceeding to implement it in your Production environment.