EDI Application Upgrade: A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

6611378317_c4948f659b_z-1.jpgPhoto appears courtesy of brownpau. This blog was written by Kim Zajehowski, Aurora's Manager of EDI Hosting.  How many times have you scheduled to do an EDI application upgrade only to find out you have not met all of the requirements the day of the upgrade or that users were not informed that the system would be unavailable during upgrade time? The objective is to eliminate surprises during the upgrade process and reduce stress when you have to shut down your EDI functionality while you are upgrading your EDI system. Your EDI system is probably one of the most critical applications in your environment.

Proper planning is the key when scheduling your upgrades to avoid future headaches during the process. It is very helpful to develop a checklist of all of the tasks that are required during the upgrade process and check them off as you go. The checklist can then be referenced for future upgrades as well and tweaked as required.

Some key tasks that should appear on your checklists are as follows: 

  • Obtain the latest application version software and documentation from your reseller or application technical support. This may take a little time depending on your media choice. Some may have to download image files from a vendor’s FTP site and convert them to the necessary format to be able to use them. Make sure you have the image conversion process readily available. Others can download the files required directly to their system without having to convert them. 
  • You may want to reach out to the application community groups (i.e. Yahoo Groups) to poll to see if anyone has encountered any issues on upgrading to the latest version of the software.  Sometimes the best source of information is fellow users.
  • Review the documentation. There may be separate procedures for upgrading vs. a new installation of the applications.
  • Review your system requirements. Ensure that you have applied all of the necessary patches, system operating system upgrades, etc. prior to your upgrade date. You may also be required to do a step upgrade where you have to do a preliminary upgrade to a more recent version of the application prior to upgrading to the latest version.
  • Discuss the upgrade with all parties involved to help in planning the best time to do the upgrade. During the week may not be feasible and the weekend may be best time to do it. Keep in mind that support resources may be limited on weekends and off hours if you do run into an upgrade issue. Set an agreed upon upgrade date.
  • Schedule to do clean up and/or purge on your existing data and review your data retention policies prior to the upgrade date. The less data for the upgrade to work with is better and the upgrade will finish faster.  See another blog we did a while back on eHoarders.
  • Determine if there are any database or application interface changes that may affect your existing processes. You may or may not have to modify and recompile some of your processes, programs, etc.
  • Determine if there are any menu, screen, etc. changes within the application that you may have to review with users.
  • On the day of upgrade, ensure no EDI processes are running and all EDI users have been made aware that the EDI application will be temporarily down during the upgrade process. You may have to disable or shut down any automated EDI procedures. During most EDI application upgrades, you have to have exclusive use of the EDI system in order to perform the upgrade successfully.
  • Ensure that you are signed in as an administrator or security officer user and perform a backup of the necessary objects prior to any upgrade and ensure that you have the restore procedures readily available to restore the application if you run into an issue.
  • When doing the upgrade, you will want to be signed in as the administrator, security officer, or application service user when doing the upgrade depending on the application. For Liaison products, it is best to use the Liaison ECS service user to ensure the proper permissions are in place for the upgrade.  Permissions issues is the number one problem we see in upgrades and installations.
  • Follow the application upgrade documentation to perform the upgrade.
  • Once the upgrade has completed, try testing inbound and outbound communications to your networks, trading partners, etc. by resetting a functional acknowledgement to be sent and reprocess an inbound functional acknowledgement from your VAN if you have that functionality on their portal.
  • Once successful testing of transactions has been completed, start any disabled procedures and inform your users that the system is now available.
  • Provide training for users if any application changes or procedural changes that may affect them.

The more thorough the planning and preparations are prior to your upgrade, the more successful the upgrade process will be. I will always remember what a past manager of mine many years ago would say, “Plan your work, Work your plan.” This statement can be your mantra when working on any project not just an EDI upgrade.