What’s your process for rolling out enhancements to SuccessFactors modules? In an ideal world, we’d all have ample resources to devote to release management—but in many companies, time crunches and headcount limitations mean settling for, shall we say, more “expedient” approaches.

Would it help you to get some tips from a company that has put a lot of time and thought into its release management process? That’s exactly what SuccessFactors customers got to do during our recent VIP Best Practices Presentation: Release and Readiness Testing at Talisman Energy, Inc.

About Talisman Energy’s Implementation

First, a bit of background on our company. Talisman Energy is a global upstream oil and gas company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Between our two main operating areas (the Americas and Asia-Pacific), we have a workforce of 7,000 employees and contractors.

Talisman Energy first implemented SuccessFactors Recruiting and Performance & Goals in October 2011. We followed this up with Employee Profile in June 2012, Succession & Development in September 2012, and Learning in June 2013. We then deployed Leadership Multi-Rater functionality this fall and have continued to roll out reports and dashboards since our initial go-live on SuccessFactors.

When SuccessFactors heard about the way we’d set up our release management process, they approached us about presenting a webinar on the topic. We were more than happy to share our secrets.

Four Tips for SuccessFactors Release Management

So, what makes our quarterly release management process so effective? In a nutshell, it’s the fact that we follow clear project governance standards.

Now, before I share our tips, I want to make something clear: you shouldn’t feel like you have to copy our process exactly. Your headcount and overall workload may prevent you from doing something so in-depth, and that’s fine. But implementing even one or two of our suggestions below could make your release management process just a little bit better next time around.

During the webinar, we shared four tips for managing quarterly releases:

1. Create and maintain an inventory of test cases for each SuccessFactors module. Our support team starts by creating a release testing spreadsheet. We then look through our case management tool to find any Platinum Support tickets that are slated for the upcoming release, and add these tickets to the testing spreadsheet.

2. Review all release documentation and attend the SuccessFactors OneVoice webinars. As soon as SuccessFactors publishes the Release Notes Summary document for a new release, our support team will read through it to find items that apply to our specific module versions. We’ll then start adding items to our release testing spreadsheet. We also read through the Release Readiness Overview document to glean additional helpful details.

It’s typical for three or four Talisman Energy staff—including module or process owners, representatives from our SuccessFactors support team, and members of HR Operations—to attend OneVoice webinars. Anything we learn gets added to the release testing spreadsheet.

3. Prioritize universal release items, and focus on getting through the high-priority items first. On the Saturday morning after a Friday release, our support team gets together to explore and test the universal release items. We test the high priority items first, confirm that they’re working properly, and then create simple documentation to help business users understand how the functionality works. We also perform regression testing to ensure that the enhancements don’t impact our existing functionality in unexpected ways.

4. Prioritize the testing for modules used at Talisman Energy. Our support team categorizes items as high or low priority and high or low use. An example of high-priority, high-use functionality would be our performance review tools, which employees use frequently across our company. We would test items related to performance review on Saturday after a Friday release.

High-priority, low-use functionality (such as succession planning, which is mainly used by one team) and low-priority, high-use functionality (such as recruiting, which is used daily by recruiters but doesn’t normally undergo major changes) get tested within one to two weeks after a release. And low-priority, low-use functionality such as ad hoc reporting will be tested within one month.

Get the Full Story

Our SuccessFactors support team certainly doesn’t spend all day every day testing new releases—but we still manage to address the highest-priority items within a day, and the lowest-priority items within one month. Sounds like a balanced, reasonable approach to release management, doesn’t it? To find out more about our approach, and to gain more tips you may be able to apply to your own release management process, check out our archived VIP Best Practices Presentation: Release and Readiness Testing at Talisman Energy, Inc.

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