Thursday Jun 30, 2011

Upgrades in 5 Easy Pieces

Even though there are a few select tasks that I have to do once or twice a year, I can’t remember how to do them! Or where to find the bits and pieces to complete the task. So I love it when someone consolidates everything under one spot. That’s what the CRM On Demand team has done with the upgrade information. Specifically, they have:
  • Provided a “one-stop” area for managing upgrades at your company.
  • Broken down the upgrade process into 5 (yes, 5) steps.
  • Explained when and how to perform each step with dates specific to your pod.
  • Included details about each step, visible by expanding the step.
  • Translated the steps into 11 languages.
  • Added a list of release-specific resources with links from the page.


Now, just head for the Training and Support portal, click the Release Info tab, and walk through the “5 Essential Steps to a Successful Upgrade.”

Before you continue, though, select your language from the drop-down list on the Release Info page. CRM On Demand now has the upgrade steps translated into 11 languages.




On the Step page, you can expand each section in sequence and follow the more detailed instructions that appear. This will ensure that you’ve covered all your bases for each upgrade.


Here’s a shortened version of the information that you’ll find:

1. Verify your Primary Contact Information.

Have you checked your primary contact information to make sure you’re being notified of all upgrade information? Or do you want more users to receive upgrade announcements? This section provides you with the navigation path to do that in CRM On Demand.

2. Review your Key Upgrade Dates.

If you expand this step, a nice table appears with your critical dates for the various milestones.

IMPORTANT: When your CRM On Demand pod has been officially added to the upgrade schedule, closer to the release date itself, this table will display your specific timetable.

3. Migrate your Customizations from the Staging Environment before the Snapshot Date.

Oracle refreshes the Staging data with a copy of your Production data made on the Production Snapshot Date. So this section lists considerations relevant to this step. It also reminds you of the 2-week period when you should not be making any changes in your Staging environment.  

4. Conduct your Upgrade Validation on the Staging Environment.

When the Customer Validation Testing period begins, you need to log in to your Staging Environment to validate that your key business processes and customizations continue to behave as expected. If your company utilizes Web Services, Web Links, Web Applets or Workflow, focus on testing these first.

You generally have about two weeks for testing. If you run into problems during this time, follow the instructions shown in this section for logging a service request. It describes exactly how to fill out the fields in the SR for the fastest resolution.

5. Conduct "White Glove" Testing in your Upgraded Production Environment.

Before users start using the upgrade, you should access a few tabs and reports. Doing this actually warms up the cache so that frequently used pages and reports will come up at normal speed on Monday morning, when users log in to the upgraded system.

Resources listed under this step help you in further preparing for the upgrade. Now there’s also a new Documentation section on the right with links to these release-specific resources.

Documentation section 

Very nice, I commented, when discussing these improvements with the “responsible party.” She confirmed that, yes, they tried to consolidate the upgrade information, translate it for better communication, simplify it into 5 easy pieces, and drive admins responsible for handling upgrades to this one site instead of sending out elaborate emails.

Yes, I just love it when someone practically reaches out and holds my hand through a process. Next best thing to a wizard!

Wednesday May 25, 2011

Read This Book - Please!

Mr. McDade’s voice echoed in my brain, What you cannot clearly state, you do not know. He was my high school English teacher, and I thought of him as I read the Oracle CRM On Demand Deployment Guide. Why? Because the authors, Jeff Saenger, Tim Koehler, and Louis Peters, gave me insight into a product that I’d been documenting for years now!
  • They explained basics that I sort of knew but probably could not “clearly state” (or not state as clearly as the authors do).
  • They framed information from a different perspective, shedding some high-level light on the product.
  • They provided details that I wasn't aware of at all!

Before I tell you more, though, let me confess that I know the authors. In fact, the entire curriculum development team has tapped into their expertise when developing training materials.

Nevertheless, even realizing the depth of knowledge that the authors have amassed, I had low expectations. After all, software, SaaS, configurations? Not the stuff that keeps you up at night! But happily, their book is, dare I say, a great read!

First of all, it spans big and small topics, taking you through planning, designing, and maintaining your application. Yes, that could be a little dry, but the language is clear and understandable, made more comprehensible with specific examples peppered throughout. And most importantly, it’s chock full of best practices. Articulate, accessible, and relevant to application designers.

Here’s just a sample of discussions that caught my interest:
  • Designing to meet different solutions
  • Chapter 6, “Sample Oracle CRM On Demand Designs,” details six different designs, which address solutions ranging from B2B sales to consumer support services to retail banking sales and service to pharmaceutical sales call tracking. The authors graphically represent the process flow for each solution and discuss the necessary object design, access and visibility, analytics, and integration setup.

  • Understanding the embedded processes
  • I love the way the authors describe the core sales, marketing, and service functionality that is embedded in the application. Knowing how the product works will help you match your business needs with those in the product for total leveraging. Do that before you start thinking about customizing anything.

  • Tinkering with the default objects
  • The authors take you through each default object and point out “special purpose fields” and “relational design” for each of those. And then they discuss considerations when customizing those objects. (Yes, I knew about those special purpose fields but hadn’t grasped the full significance of tweaking them.)

  • Leveraging the industry objects
  • If you find a gap in functionality between your needs and the product, look at the industry objects, which can be turned on through Oracle customer care. Often, you can repurpose those objects to fill the gap.

  • Keeping an eye on the schedules for the Staging and Testing environments
  • Ever wonder what environments are available with your subscription, or how they work? Well, the authors outline each environment and caution you to pay attention to the schedule to preserve any new configurations that you want to move to your production environment.

  • Using formulas for field validation, default values, and workflows
  • In the Appendix, the authors list some formulas for field validation, default values, and workflows, such as 1) updating an opportunity’s Close Date field with Today’s Date when its Sales Stage is Closed/Won or Closed/Lost or 2) when an Opportunity is modified, update its Priority to match that of its associated Account. Great examples to use or adjust for your own business requirements!

In short, the authors have been the “bridge” between customers and trainers, including me. Now the bridge has been extended to everyone…and it’s quite a view! Mr. McDade would be pleased.

Thursday Apr 07, 2011

Optimizing Report Performance

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Wednesday Nov 10, 2010

Direct from Our Experts!

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Thursday Oct 28, 2010

Learn All About Release 18

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Tuesday Sep 14, 2010

Connecting to the CRM On Demand Community

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A dialogue about training


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