Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Provide Upgrade Feedback to Denver - A Unique Opportunity

It's no secret that Oracle is in the midst of a big push to get (force) customers to upgrade to the latest release of JD Edwards software.  It saves them money on support costs and allows them to avoid writing solid, error-free code by embracing an attitude of  "It's being fixed in the next release".

Oracle has turned the Sales and Marketing faucet fully open, the message is: "Get customers to the next release."  Shorten support timelines, age out platform versions and in general make things uncomfortable for those on older releases.  Oracle is turning the screws.

I suggest that instead of stick, Oracle try carrot and take the Convenience Store approach – Make it easy for people to do things and you will increase their likelihood of doing so.  This exact comment was made to EnterpriseOne folks in Denver and I was challenged to help improve the upgrade process, make it easier and therefore more likely to be undertaken by JD Edwards customers.  For this I am turning to you, the ones with all the knowledge about the pain of an upgrade.

Feel free to turn this into a bitch session about JD Edwards World and EnterpriseOne upgrades.  Use the comments section to describe why, exactly you hate the thought of upgrading your JD Edwards software.  What would you improve as part of the entire JDE upgrade process?  (be specific – not looking for “make it faster/easier”).  Provide feedback on any part of the process you are familiar with: Technology, Development, Applications, Management, Project Management, Budget, Training, etc.


Once comments have been posted I will forward them to contacts in Denver who are eagerly awaiting the feedback. sit around and hope that someone from Oracle cares enough to read them. Comments can be posted anonymously but if you feel more comfortable emailing me use the Contact Form to send them directly.  I will ensure the anonymity of all emailed comments.

Let's make this work.
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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have not upgraded to 9.x, but did recently 'upgrade' to double byte on 7.3. So far, it has been an 8 month nightmare. There is pretty much no way I would ever upgrade either a system i or JDE World again.

Jeff Stevenson said...

Thanks for the comment. Could you take some time and expand a bit on what exactly made (is making) it so painful?

Daniel Bohner said...

I've done more migrations than I have leaves left on poor plant in my office window... I still don't understand the ruckus of 'how hard' it is to upgrade.

The biggest issue is Customizations. Apparently It is WIDELY Misunderstood. From and E1 to E1 Upgrade - Oracle has gone to great lengths to make things easier (ER Compare is your friend). They do need to go further (how about telling us the Location of a field, too??).

World to E1 - a little more painful, but still it's just moving 'similar data' to similar data. There are gotchas (Unicode, Custom Data, AAIs that don't work anymore and the endless complaint code portability [I'm not the complainer]).

What could Oracle do to help get organizations Code-Current? Plant a 'Single Point of Contact' into EVERY organization that presents itself as a Upgrading / Migrating. DO THIS AT LITTLE COST! Place an Oracle PMP-type persons, with Upgrade Experience 'Forward' as the liaison to Oracle. Regardless of which Consulting Organization the client picks - give them a SPOC to Oracle.

This persons job would be to review SRs, and provide 'Best Practices' solutions. I could share the reasons why this person is Necessary - but, it should be pretty obvious from the standpoint of any organization that has done an Update / Migration.

Doug Rezanka said...

Upgrades require extensive applications testing, time, and money. Finding the time and resources for this is very difficult. There must be a business case to get the business behind the project and committing these resources. For automotive manufacturing, there has been little business value in maintaining a ‘code current’ system. The EnterpriseOne upgrades are not providing the additional functionality we need. So I keep hearing “we wait until Fusion”.

From a technical point of view, there have been some improvements I would like to get implemented. But to gain the functionality, the applications have to be upgraded along with the Tools Release which goes back to my first point – the need for a business case. Also, it would be great if I could maintain ‘code current’ with the Tools Release, but unfortunately, these have proven to break applications, so we still need extensive testing resources even for this.

What we need from Oracle for EnterpriseOne is increased business functionality and decreased effort and costs for an upgrade. We would like to replace some bolt-on products with core JDEdwards functionality. We see potential in Demand Scheduling and BI Publisher, but neither go far enough to replace the products we are currently using. A complaint I hear often is the need for emailing from a UBE to our customers and suppliers. But the features provided in the product do not go far enough to satisfy the user’s requirements, so these requests get cancelled. On the plus side, the ability to directly connect persistent devices to EnterpriseOne could replace a 3rd party application. Now we just need to free up some resources or money. Much of the issues I am referring to here may be associated only with the company I work for, but I’m sure everyone could use help to build a stronger business case and reduced costs for the project. And I haven’t even touched on the cost to retrofit mods. 

Harry Chen said...

Our main reason to upgrade is to keep our JDEdwards release supported by Oracle. Our major pain of upgrading is to spend time on testing all functions in all business area like finance, sales, procurement, shipping. We have to ask business process owners to plan and spend a few months to test all business processes in JDE and ensure the functionality does not cause problem in newer release. On top of that customization is often needed and also time consuming if we found issues in testing. Oracle support is typically not able to provide real solutions within a few months. Good quality of applications in newer release would make upgrading much more enjoyable. I would suggest Oracle to involve more customers on testing their new release, new applications. Each enhancement or bug fix requester is normally a good customer who can help on testing the solution.
So we would rather stay in current release until it is close to the end of supported product life. I agree that Oracle should add more practical functionalities useful for users in newer release to attract users upgrading.
For the convenience of upgrading on technical side I believe there is much to do but I do think no matter how easier it would be it won't be as easier as upgrading a web browser like Firefox. Our CNC resource would spend the similar amount of effort anyway.

Brian Connor said...

One of the biggest issues keeping the business from upgrading is a lack of understanding or misinformation about what is and is not available in a new release. We had several meetings with JDE/PSFT/Oracle execs to discuss the new features/applications available in the "next" release only to find out, once we did some due diligence and asked very specific and pointed questions, that the features we were most interested in weren't really available or we would not be able to take advantage of them. It is next to impossible to build a business case or get the business to buy off on the expenditure of both money and resources for an upgrade if they feel they are being misled or lied to, or if a ‘promised’ new feature isn’t really there.
If Oracle wants customers to upgrade they need to do the following:
1) Provide accurate and complete information on exactly what is available in the new release. BE HONEST.
2) Provide a resource to assist in building a company specific business case for the upgrade.
3) Make current training for the new release available and convenient/cost effective for customers for both tools and applications.
4) Get customers to participate in the upgrade consortium calls and make the calls relevant and informative.
5) Recommend upgrade partners (yes, more than 1 so a customer can interview and pick the one best suited to them) that do what they say they will do and then be accountable for the performance of the recommended partner.
6) Provide a single point of contact to report issues to and handle escalations during the planning and execution of the upgrade from the initial install thru go-live.
7) Have REGULAR meetings with the customer and partner to discuss/review their progress and what they can do to help keep them on track.

Sebastian Grady said...

Wow, what a great blog topic! All the margins for companies like Oracle (JDE) and SAP are in the maintenance revenue streams these days. That is why you see this incessant push for upgrades from the vendor that are so out of touch with customer reality that we can honestly say the model is broken.

This is 20 - 30 year old software and the fact is you are not seeing enough innovation to support a business case as Doug Rezanka mentions in his comment.

There is ample discussion available on the costs vs. benefits of "going to the 9's" and the forced upgrades you mention on the tools stack that are causing many customers to pause which is exactly what they should do and exactly what Oracle does not want them to do.

I also agree with other posters here that it is time to be crystal clear with the new features and functionality provided in these new releases early and often vs. what is happening with Fusion and how far off Fusion really is? Furthermore, when you get to Fusion is it a full re-implementation and what are the costs involved?

In the spirit of full disclosure our company Rimini Street was built to address the cost / benefit alignment gap you are seeing in ERP vendor offerings today so we have done extensive analysis on the market opportunity for customers who do not feel they are getting their value out of current vendor maintenance payments and want to use those significant savings to fund other more important innovations. We provide full maintenance support as a replacement for SAP or Oracle at 50% of your current cost and our business is growing rapidly.

We are seeing a "sea change" at the CFO and CIO level in major Fortune 500 organizations that do not see the benefit vs. the cost of annual maintenance and want an alternative.

Thanks for the conversation - I just subscribed to this blog.

Jeff Stevenson said...

Brian,

The new Upgrade Value Proposition Tool may help with some of your issues about what is and is not available. Oracle has gone to great lengths to address that problem. Hopefully the UVP tool will help.

Oracle can recommend upgrade partners, there are plenty. I am working on determining the best contact for getting recommendations. One recurring complaint is that it is very difficult to get your Oracle rep's attention unless you are a larger customer. They could indeed do a much better job with that.

As far as a single point of contact for upgrade issues - you can contact support early in the upgrade process and have them track your upgrade milestones. That doesn’t assign an engineer, but at least gets you in the system so they know where you are going and to watch for cases as they come in on milestones (CRP testing, go-live, …)

Regarding training - Andy Klee's group is doing good stuff with E1 training, check out http://www.jdetips.com/JD-Edwards-Training/ and http://www.jdetips.com/JD-Edwards-Training/Course-Manuals.asp

I appreciate your comments.

Jeff Stevenson said...

Sebastian,

I appreciate your comments, you make some very valid points indeed. Oracle can do a better job at convincing customers to upgrade. I've made the point that if customers see the value in upgrading, they will, leaning on them is probably not going to get it done. Make awesome software that's bug-free, fix the years-old bugs and shower your customers with love and they'll beat down your doors to upgrade.

Where I don't agree with you is going off Oracle support. I simply cannot see a reason to do such a thing. I'm not going to get into the ongoing battle between your organization and Oracle but as much as I beat on Oracle, I still prefer to work within the system to improve it.

If Oracle doesn't make money, the product goes away. Parasitoids are not good for anyone other than themselves.