By Brian Berns
CEO, Knoa Software
One challenge faced by Oracle Cloud customers is the difficulty of managing the Oracle upgrade cycle, which occurs on a quarterly schedule. In order to remain innovative, Oracle makes dozens and sometimes hundreds of new functionalities available with each new upgrade. However, for customers, the process of activating and deploying these changes can quickly become overwhelming, especially when enterprises lack access to tools and processes that help them prioritize the changes or properly assess their impact.
Since new features are disabled by default, customers must activate them selectively. This requires proper testing — to validate that those features perform well with existing business workflows, customizations, and integrations. Without a robust change and release management system in place, customers risk either falling behind the innovation curve (by keeping new functionality turned off) or introducing instability into their environment (by rolling new features to production without proper vetting).
One solution is to provide teams with user experience monitoring (UEM) software, which collects real-time analytics on user behavior and employees’ interactions with Oracle Cloud applications. This data identifies the changes that occurred during an upgrade, the ways that users were impacted, the most frequent issues encountered, and the effectiveness of the response. User analytics open a window for IT, management, and other stakeholders to see the impacts of upgrades on employee engagement and productivity, enabling them to provide better service to the actual users of the applications. Conducting a smooth upgrade process ensures that updated functionalities are being leveraged, which is critical because these often build upon one another.
Here are five steps that enterprises can take to simplify their quarterly upgrade tasks.
- Determine the Probable Effects of Upgrade Changes
Each Oracle Cloud upgrade provides customers with an overview of release notes explaining which aspects (e.g., functionalities, procedures, UI elements) will change. The main questions enterprises must answer are:
How will this upgrade affect my users?
How do I know which changes to implement immediately?
Are there any that should remain disabled?
The only way to answer these questions is to know which processes are currently being used in your workstream. As such, you need to know how your users are interacting with Oracle Cloud applications. UEM software enables enterprises to identify which employees and departments are power users of specific Oracle functions and thus will be most impacted by upgrades.
- Run User Acceptance Tests (UATs)
The user acceptance test (UAT) is when employees test the upgraded software to ensure that it can carry out the tasks it was designed to perform. But considering the frequency of the upgrade cycle, it is impossible to test every single change, so how can enterprises decide which new processes should be tested?
All the team needs to do is rank the Oracle functions impacted by an upgrade based on their current level of utilization, and then prioritize them in that order. When ranking the functions, teams can take a deep dive into how many employees use a certain function on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, as well as the overall time spent. The team can also access account metrics like transaction performance and error frequency.
Besides metrics on utilization, user experience analytics provide a comprehensive view of errors that users encountered during the UAT. These can be ranked by error frequency or the number of users impacted to determine which fixes to prioritize.
- Develop and Share Information on Upgrade Changes
Not everyone likes change. It can be challenging to get employees to welcome and adapt to these quarterly upgrade cycles.
Usage and error analytics are critical for preparing the larger user population for the upcoming changes. If the IT department knows which employees will be most affected, they can more easily correct errors and prepare self-service guides outlining the new functionality prior to rollout. An informed workforce is a happy (and more productive) workforce.
- Determine the Impact of Business Interruptions
Too often, the most important post-upgrade question is overlooked. In short, how have the new functions affected the employees and their user experience? User analytics provide a data-driven approach to ensuring user adoption and proficiency so that IT teams have a reliable way to measure the real-world impact of each upgrade.
If there is a sharp drop in user adoption, decrease in productivity, or immediate uptick in errors, that’s typically a sign that the upgrade is impacting users negatively. By providing hard data on employee response time and system errors, UEM software enables enterprises to identify specific users and functions that have been hit hard by the upgrade.
Crucially, what was the net impact of the upgrade on user productivity, as measured by time spent productively while in the application? Each application slowdown and error encountered equates to a certain “time loss” for the user, making it straightforward to generate a comprehensive view of lost productivity and its impact on the bottom line.
- Quick Response Times to User Issues
Even if every precaution is taken, there is still the potential for rollout and production problems that require the Help Desk. UEM software enables support teams to see the exact steps that led to an error message, so the impacted employee doesn’t have to waste time trying to recreate it. The Help Desk can then determine whether the system is performing poorly, or users simply require additional training on the new functions.
Despite the obstacles that come with managing an Oracle Cloud upgrade, there’s no need for it to be an agonizing experience. By prioritizing the end-user experience, enterprises can increase their odds of success. Rather than worrying about your next upgrade-induced headache, ask yourself if and how user experience analytics data would help.
Knoa Software provides software and services to help global organizations identify how people and processes are supported by their enterprise software solutions — increasing technology adoption, user engagement, and delivering business value.