You’ve heard about the cost savings, modern user experience, technological advances, and time savings of Oracle Cloud HCM. But how do you take care of your organization once you’ve moved to Oracle Cloud HCM?
Whether you are considering a move to Cloud HCM or you’re already there, in this post you’ll learn how to apply updates and take regular maintenance in Oracle Cloud HCM. Quarterly updates in Cloud HCM are the key to leveraging continuous innovation available via the Cloud. Plus, regular updates are more efficient than pausing operations for a major update for non-Cloud systems. As you become familiar with quarterly updates, maintenance packs, payroll updates, legislative updates, and infrastructure updates, the process for maintaining your Oracle Cloud HCM will prove abundantly worth the effort of staying up to date.
Cloud Customer Connect
On Cloud Customer Connect, there is a tab called Customer Success. Under this tab, you’ll find Update Readiness & Planning, Application Roadmaps, Access Readiness Announcements, and What’s New (Cloud Apps & Readiness Content), each of which will be advantageous as you prepare for the next release cycle. This is where you’ll go to understand what’s coming in the release to prepare for the next update.
Readiness Site & Readiness App
Readiness tools empower you to see what’s coming in the next release and download a roadmap for the future—which is especially significant for your longer-term strategic planning. You can access the Readiness Site or the Readiness App to prepare for your next update and learn about the latest innovations in Oracle Cloud Applications. The Readiness Site will give you a complete view by product, and the Readiness App enables you to build your own customized checklist for one or more products.
You can download the documentation for new updates in the Readiness App with deep links that take you to pictures, videos, and explanations for execution of updates. It even lists the level of difficulty to achieve functionality in the application as low, medium, or high.
Here’s an example of a downloaded Excel document, as mentioned above.
Click the links on your customized checklist to access update functionality and the specific steps for enabling each update. An example of the linked content is shown below:
Managing Updates in Cloud HCM
According to the brochure, Applying Updates and Taking Maintenance in Oracle Cloud HCM, Oracle has four recommendations regarding managing updates.
- The first was discussed above—reviewing pre-release docs through Customer Connect—and will help you to understand the new functionality, as well as determine which enhancements will have a favorable impact on your environment.
- Second, attending pre-release online events led by HCM product experts will give you deeper comprehension of the new products. This is a great opportunity to ask questions, see key benefits, and develop use cases for the feature as it applies to your unique situation. The individuals who attend these webinars are positioned to achieve the full potential of new releases.
- Third, it’s ideal to check the expiration dates of the release. By default, new functionality is turned off. But new functionality eventually becomes standard to the application, at which point you’ll have no choice but to accept the effect it has for your environment. You’ll want to be aware of these dates well in advance to test and position your business for success.
- Fourth, keeping your IT team and HR stakeholders in the know regarding new releases in of utmost importance. As you collaborate to determine which features to deploy, their perspectives will be invaluable to the business. You’ll have a fuller understanding of broad needs. Plus, this naturally equates to better buy-in across the entire organization.
Oracle Cloud Update Schedule
Quarterly updates in Cloud HCM occur every three months. They are named according to the year and quarter, such as 23A for Q1 of 2023.
Each quarter contains three months, called cohorts, for quarterly update terminology. For example, if your 3-month quarter consists of February, March, and April, then February would be Cohort A, March would be Cohort B, and April would be Cohort C.
When you implement Oracle Cloud HCM, you will choose the month of the quarter in which you want to receive your updates unless you’re a Payroll customer—in that case, you’ll automatically be assigned to cohort A because tax updates are released at the start of each quarter. Updates are deployed in customer staging environments on the first Friday of the month and into production on the third Friday of the month.
Information on the update is added to Cloud Customer Connect, as discussed above, two months prior to the quarterly update. This allows your IT team to prepare for the updates and enhancements, and the advanced notice empowers you to choose which functionality to release into your environment.
Here is an example of an Oracle Cloud HCM Quarterly Update Schedule:
In addition to quarterly updates, you’ll also want to be in the know regarding maintenance packs, payroll updates, legislative updates, and infrastructure updates. You can find detailed information on these updates in this document on application updates.
In short, maintenance packs are weekly and monthly updates you can request ahead of a scheduled quarterly update. These updates are listed within the quarterly update to come. You may want to take a maintenance pack to leverage a specific bug fix or enhancement without having to wait for the quarterly update to take effect.
Payroll updates are mandatory monthly tax updates for Oracle Cloud HCM Payroll customers. They are deployed monthly on the 19th to staging environments and on the 25th to production. They do not cause any system outage.
Legislative updates are deployed quarterly and at year end.
Infrastructure updates occur as needed to keep your applications in top shape. They require minimal downtime. Even so, Oracle will be in touch in advance with prior notice of an outage, time frame expected for completion, progress reports, and color-coded alerts for application downtime status. These updates usually take place on the weekend, but in some instances, they are performed during the week. Oracle works to keep these updates as minimal impact as possible. Infrastructure updates have averaged 10 hours of downtime per year over the last few years.
Testing Updates on Your Business Data
At each update, you’ll want to test in the staging environment before it takes effect in the production environment. This is called regression testing. Regression testing ensures that you can be successful with the update as it applies to your particular business use and protects you from unwanted surprises after implementation. Oracle provides instructions for high-level testing along with the update.
Oracle Cloud HCM customers have options when it comes to regression testing. You can take a manual approach, implement automated regression testing (ART), or hire an Oracle partner to help you achieve your testing goals.
You can also learn from your peers. One Cloud HCM customer, Choctaw Nation, has organized their testing cycle into three phases:
- Lower Environment Drop Preparation
- Lower Environment Drop
- Pos-Production Drop
You can learn more about Choctaw’s method by checking out the following blog: Cloud HCM Release Management Tips from Choctaw Nation.
Another customer, McDonald’s splits their release into two phases: before and during the drop. To learn more about McDonald’s methods, considering reading this blog post: Cloud HCM Release Management Tips from McDonald’s.
Follow suit for your company, or you take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of an Oracle partner. You can preview some tips from Oracle partners as you consider your desired approach here: Regression Testing and Automated Testing in Cloud HCM. Keep in mind that more testing leads to greater confidence, and automated testing is the most effective approach for heavy loads of testing.
After you test the crucial functionality and workflows for your business, you’ll use the documented test scripts to make sure there are no issues. If you find an issue, you’ll want to log an SR with Oracle immediately to receive a resolution prior to the update going into production.
Tips for Getting Ahead
Many organizations are gaining perspective on the business benefits of moving from PeopleSoft to Oracle Cloud HCM. They understand that Cloud isn’t just the future anymore—it’s the present. Once you’ve practiced applying updates and taking regular maintenance in Cloud HCM, you’ll become more comfortable with the process. You may even gain the confidence to take maintenance packs, joining the pack of early adopters who test and deploy new features before their scheduled release.
You can view your business approach for updates as an evolving process, just as the leaders at McDonalds do. Additionally, it’s helpful to keep Customer Connect as a regular resource for discovering new features and finding inspiration for use cases.
For more on Oracle Cloud HCM, check out Quest’s Content Library.
To connect with other Cloud HCM users, you may considering joining Quest’s Cloud HCM Community.