It’s Go-Live weekend, everything is prepared and you are ready for the joyous feeling of kicking users out of the system at 6pm on Thursday. But in the back of your mind, as a Basis consultant, you know that by the end of this process a Go-Live party is the last thing you want – all you’ll want is your bed.
The first question I suppose for most people is why do Basis consultants have to stay up for so long.
Well there are two answers for that
A. An upgrade runs 24×7, and there are many times that you have to interact with the upgrade, quite often these interactions will fall outside normal working hours. In my most recent upgrade, all the Basis interaction seemed to fall between 1am and 7am for both the upgrade and the Unicode conversion, which was not ideal.
B. No matter how well practised your upgrade is, there is always something which does not run the same way it has in all the other upgrades. So you cannot leave it running on it’s own without someone watching it.
Another question is why don’t you just spread the load more so people do not work such long hours
If your project can afford to employ lots of Basis consultants for each individual upgrade, then that on paper would be the answer, the reality is that it is unlikely all these people would have experienced the full end to end upgrade process. That is a risk, because nobody’s documentation is perfect enough that you could give it to a person unfamiliar with the process and expect them to do it perfectly. So you have to maintain a continuity of experience within the upgrade process, this means for every shift at least one person has to have a high level of experience on this client’s upgrades.
This brings me onto another point about the number of people that should be on-shift at any one time.
The decision on how many people have on shift depends on many things
A. The length of the actual process.
For my last upgrade the downtime was over 25 hours and the unicode conversion was 26 hours in total, post processing work and testing was scheduled to take 30 hours, this gives an overall runtime of nearly 4 days.
B. How many people do you have available to watch the processes and can they be trusted to interact with them in the right way.
For long running phases of the upgrade, and for the Unicode conversion I am happy to have non-Basis people monitoring as it is easy to determine if things are running as they should. Also I have been lucky enough that on my last few upgrades, we have been upgrading more than 1 SAP application and this has meant that there are 3 or more Basis consultants on the project. In order to reduce the pressure on each person within the project team, I have two people present when interaction is required – 1 person to do the action, another person to validate it.
C. How often does the team have to interact with the upgrade
With hardware getting more powerful and SAP improving the upgrade process, elapsed downtimes are becoming shorter. Which can be good news, but it means that there are fewer long phases for people to snatch some needed rest. On the other hand it means that people have an overall shorter go-live period.
But what can you do to make sure your go-live is not a complete nightmare and you are not too exhausted at the end of the process.
1. Work out how much sleep you really need in order to function and make good decisions – you do not want to make the wrong decision because you were tired, know your limits!!
2. Have good tasty food available to you, at some point you are going to start swapping calories for sleep – so make sure they are readily available in the form of highly calorific food (my choice, not nutritional advice.)
3. Watch out for the caffeine, I believe you should grab sleep when you can, so even if there is a phase that runs for an hour I will grab at least 30mins – if you are wired on caffeine that will be very difficult to do.
4. Bring lots of things to do while you wait, ‘the devil makes work for idle hands’, let the upgrade/conversion get on with it’s tasks – do not fiddle with it unnecessarily. Curb these urges by reading, listening to music, watching films.
5. Have a comfy place to sleep during your breaks, in all my upgrades I have followed two rules
A. Upgrades are done from a local hotel, with the shifts being run from a meeting room
B. The hotel is no more than 10 minutes drive from the office
This means that when people are off-shift they can easily grab rest and still be quickly available to the project team if required.
Hopefully this has given some insight as to how some Basis people execute upgrades over Go-Live weekends.