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Instance Management to support project implementation lifecycle

This blog post is to introduce and provide a quick overview of the recently released SuccessFactors Implementation Design Principle (SFIDP) document – Instance Management to support a project implementation lifecycle

In order to effectively manage and deliver a SuccessFactors project, the development of an instance strategy and management approach is required to enable and manage the multiple streams of work and involves finalizing a count and timing of instances required to cover all functionality across all phases / activities during the lifecycle of the project.

All the possible differences in scope, complexity, timeline, company organization, resources and other factors make it nearly impossible to write a “how to” or create a decision-making matrix.  In this blog post I will focus on the concepts and influencing factors and provide information to help plan the instance strategy for your next implementation or for operation and maintenance after going live.

 

Terminology and Definitions

The SAP SuccessFactors Human Experience Management (HXM) suite of applications represents the SAP SuccessFactors Human Experience Management product line (see diagram below). The product line consists of various integrated platforms hosting solutions supporting functionalities in the Human Capital Management product category.

Diagram Source: Implementation Design Principles document – Instance Management to support project implementation life cycle

 

A Data Center is a physical location of server(s) where SuccessFactors cloud application is hosted. The data center is generally driven by the geographic location of the headquarters of customer.  You can find more information about Data Centers at https://apps.support.sap.com/sap/support/knowledge/public/en/2089448.

An Environment is a set of servers hosting the various SuccessFactors & HR Cloud solutions in a data center. Each data center has 2 types of environments:

  • A Preview environment is where the semi-annual releases are applied first, giving the customers thirty (30) days to test the new functionality.
  • A Productive environment is a stable environment which has been fully tested and is used for business operations. The customer production instance is always hosted in the Productive environment.

Other than being on different releases at certain points in the year, there are essentially no security differences between the Preview & the Productive Environment.

Instance and Tenant are interchangeably used terms and refer to a single database schema of a platform (product type) for example HXM Core (BizX), LMS etc.  Each instance, when provisioned for a specific customer, is assigned a unique identifier.

Every instance is further qualified into a ‘Non Production’ and ‘Production’ instance. There should ideally be only 1 ‘Production’ instance, but there can be multiple ‘Non Production’ instance spread across the Preview & Productive environment.

 

Factors influencing instance management strategy

A brief description of some of the factors to consider as well as the impacts follows.

  • The current solution footprint can influence how many instances are currently available and may make it necessary to reserve an instance during your implementation project for production & release support for the already deployed module(s).
  • The scope of modules being implemented will help determine the number of instances.
  • A Phased Rollout, verses a Big Bang, will often require additional instances to support project vs. production support work.
  • Complex organization or requirements will influence the landscape and instance design.
  • Releases can make features available that impact the use cases planned for the upcoming test cycle(s) and will also influence when you can use tools to synchronize configuration and/or.
  • Data sensitivity and privacy regulations (such as GDPR) should be considered throughout the planning and design.

 

Possible instance landscapes

All new customers are automatically assigned instances both in the Preview & Productive environment. The following table shows an example of the typical instances that are issued to a customer based on the functionality being implemented.

Stack Number of Instances (Tenants) Instance (Tenant) Type
HXM Core (BizX) – with EC 3

Non-Production instance in Productive Environment

Non-Production instance in Preview Environment

Production instance in Productive Environment

HXM Core (BizX) -without EC 2

Non-Production instance in Preview Environment

Production instance in Productive Environment

LMS 2

Non-Production instance in Preview Environment

Production instance in Productive Environment

ONB 2

Non-Production instance in Preview Environment

Production instance in Productive Environment

Employee Central Payroll 3

2 non-production instance for ECP, and allow multiple clients to be created

Development instance can have 2 clients

Test instance can have 3 clients

Production instance

Note: Additional instances to support the implementation may be procured by a customer. These can be procured either in Production environment or in the Preview environment

 

The default configuration for an implementation including Employee Central would be as follows

Diagram Source: Implementation Design Principles document – Instance Management to support project implementation life cycle

The Dev/Test instance would be used for Development and Unit Testing.  The QA Instance would be used for End to End Testing, Integration Testing, User Acceptance Testing, Regression Testing, and Training

 

Getting started

To start planning your Instance Management strategy, document major phases and tasks on a timeline.  Next, you should add release dates and other periods of maintenance.  You should then determine which instance you will use for each task.

By putting it all on a timeline, you will be able to see where there may be overlapping tasks and determine whether the same instance can be used for the tasks.

Next, plan how you will migrate configuration and data into or across the instances and add those notes; this will often uncover gaps or conflicts in your strategy.  Don’t forget about the tools available to help with this – Instance Sync, Instance Clone and Instance Refresh.

A timeline created to illustrate this process looks like this:

Diagram created specifically for this blog post

You can find much more detail about this topic, as well as example landscapes for different module combinations, in the related Implementation Design Principles document – Instance Management to support project implementation life cycle, which is released by the SAP SuccessFactors Product Management CoE with contributions from Danialle Rook (EPI-USE America); Prakash Saminathan (EY) and Narendra Nadkar (Accenture).

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  • Hi Danialle,

    Great summary on a complex topic for which the underlying components are still shifting. If you throw in IAS, with the move towards SAP supplying a second non-production tenant (see KBA 2717185) and SAP Cloud Platform Integration, it’s essential to understand the possibilities. By the way, kudos to Chris Paine for driving the former. I look forward to any future updates.