It was early fall. That time of year when the aspen leaves are just starting to change colors to yellow, gold, orange, and red colors in the high country. During the day, dark green conifers and deep blue skies provide a backdrop, while at night the crisp, cool canyon breeze gently rustles the leaves.
The next day was promising to be a beautiful, clear day. A perfect day to watch the sunrise from atop one of the highest peaks in the mountain range. In order to reach the desired destination, an early morning hike was required. One of those hikes that starts hours before the first rays of the sun peak over the horizon. The only light was emitting from my flashlight as I started along the trail. It did not take long before a break was in order as I stepped under a large conifer to use as my support. It seemed like a good idea to shut off the light and take some deep breaths of that crisp mountain air. That is when it happened.
A loud crashing noise came from the other side of the tree. I frantically fumbled with the flashlight trying to get a glimpse of what was over there. The sounds of something running through the brush quickly faded and was gone before the flashlight discovered the source of the noise. However, I was then wide-awake as I realized I was still in my Probability and Statistics class and the instructor was providing examples of lurking variables. A lurking variable is a variable not included in an analysis but can affect the interpretation of relationships between variables. It seemed I had encountered my own lurking variable in my effort to participate in class – sleep.
During the course of my career, I have witnessed some of those unknowns or lurking variables creep up and cause havoc on IT systems. Unplanned events that pause production and affect efficiency of the organization. Planning is a key component to avoiding costly mistakes or oversights. During a conversation with a Director of IT at a company where they migrated to a cloud application, the Director informed me that after every quarterly release they have to quickly resolve issues that start occurring in the applications. When asked what type of planning or work they do to prepare for the release their response was, “It should just work!” That would be great if all applications and releases worked that way – they just work. Unfortunately, there are varying configurations that make it difficult for a release to “just work” in every environment. This is where Release Management comes into play.
Proactive is better than reactive. At Apps Associates, we have created a Release Management feature as part of Application Managed Services where releases and updates are planned out in advance to eliminate surprises. Part of the planning involves an analysis of the release notes compared to the target environment which will flush out specific areas where the release will affect the target environment and in addition, new features which may be available for improved efficiencies. After a complete plan has been developed, execution of the plan is carried out.
Testing is key to success. One of the critical steps of the plan is testing the release in a non-production environment. We will complete a round of testing in the non-production environment and report on the results. Users have their day jobs and sidelining those responsibilities to perform testing of releases and new functionality during the first pass of testing, is not generally the most efficient use of their time. We will track down solutions to issues uncovered during the first round of testing and get the environment ready for the final round of testing prior to applying the release to production.
What about the test scripts? At Apps Associates, we maintain the test scripts. When new features are introduced, we create additional scripts as necessary for testing the functionality. Maintenance of the test script library is fundamental to testing consistency, efficiency, and integrity.
Help is available. There are many aspects to maintaining an application environment. Our Application Managed Services team at Apps Associates is a mature organization that provides quality services that helps organizations be successful with their applications. Release Management is an important part of the full-managed services picture. Core applications where we provide unparalleled experience with Release Management include Oracle’s Cloud ERP, SCM, HCM and EPM Services. In addition to Oracle’s products, we also provide Managed Services for Salesforce, which includes educating clients on features available beyond the original implementation.
Lurking variables can affect expected results. Flush out the unknowns of upcoming releases through proper planning and testing using Release Management services. Leverage your full investment in your applications and improve process efficiencies by enabling features introduced through past or upcoming releases. Contact us and we‘ll get you started. You will be glad you did. Especially when you sleep peacefully at night.
Darin Chipman is Director, Managed Services Presales, at Apps Associates. Darin has over 15 years of experience in Oracle applications and databases. Prior to joining Apps Associates, he led a global team that provided managed services for Oracle applications and databases running in private cloud, public cloud, hybrid, and on-premises.