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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.

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  1. Alberto Castillo
    This is totally true, I have being involved in some Upgrades untill now and all them are different and has their own difficulties and your bloq resumes them pretty good.
  2. Tom Cenens
    Hello Chris

    Thanks for pointing out this blog to me. I didn’t know you described a SAP Upgrade from Basis Consultant points of view so good.

    I just bumped into a first issue for my upgrade 🙂 who could have guessed. Pleased to also let you know I solved it already and I’m now back on track.

    Kind regards


  3. Kumud Singh

    I read this blog in Conjunction with Tom’s blog regarding his hectic work schedule.
    Is there any other way in which non-basis people lend some helping hand in such crucial critical and non-ending working hours.
    Certainly,experienced and experts would be required. But I think with people genuinely willing to multitask and gain knowledge on these scenarios should be used to maintain balance within the team and smooth processing. Just a thought.


    1. Chris Kernaghan
      Post author

      Absolutely – I have done upgrades where there have been phases that have been monitored by Non-Basis people. But they are long phases and the slightest deviation from the screen means they come and get you. I am all for cross-skilling and will engage directly with everyone required to resolve an issue to increase my knowledge and network – but a Production cut-over weekend is not a time to be cross-skilling someone. If someone has a desire to cross-skill then they should be doing it from the QAS upgrade, that way they have the attention of their mentor, a few upgrades so they can learn the rhythm of this customer’s system and understand how not to be dangerous.


    2. Tom Cenens
      Hello Kumud

      Where possible we multitask, for the upgrade i had to do i did the first Oracle upgrade and documented it in a detailed way. The following where done by another team using my documentation.

      Kind regards



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