Oracle E-Business Suite version 12.1 will be entering Sustaining Support on December 31, 2021. This means that Oracle will no longer provide statutory updates, bug fixes, or new product certifications, which greatly limits the value customers get from their Oracle Support dollars. While Oracle is offering a high-priced extension for 12.1.3 through Advanced Customer Services (“ACS”), it can be more cost effective to perform a basic upgrade. Now is the perfect time to make the switch to the newest major E-Business Suite Release, 12.2, which will be the last major upgrade your business will need to make.
E-Business Suite 12.2 provides significant benefits to maximize the value of the suite. These include new functional capabilities, SaaS-like dashboards called Enterprise Command Centers, improved integration capabilities, and technical advances to reduce patching downtime and facilitate your path to E-Business Suite in the cloud. The most important thing to remember about 12.2 is that it leverages Oracle’s new Continuous Innovation Release model. This means that instead of a major upgrade every 3-5 years, Oracle will release new features annually, usually in September, to minimize the disruption of maintenance. We here at Syntax believe this is the best approach to managing E-Business Suite and will yield an improved ownership experience for EBS customers.
Upgrading Oracle E-Business Suite
When upgrading, organizations can choose from two approaches: a technical upgrade that limits changes to the bare minimum for compatibility, or a functional upgrade that can include any number of minor or major changes to the way your organization’s business processes flow through EBS. When deciding upon an approach, the industry of an organization or the extent of the EBS products implemented can also come into play.
1) Technical Upgrade
A technical upgrade is the fastest, least disruptive, and most cost-effective strategy for upgrading to the latest version of Oracle EBS. This type of upgrade focuses on behind-the-scenes changes needed to get on 12.2, which include upgrading the database and middleware software and E-Business Suite application software. However, this upgrade approach significantly minimizes any functional changes to business flows or adoption of new functionality. Users will still get the benefit of the new 12.2 user experience, including better ways of working with the user interface, but will not have to go through significant retraining.
This approach minimizes the involvement of the business, as organizations won’t have to significantly rework their existing reports, concurrent programs, or third-party software interfaces. They can take their time adopting new features of 12.2 and develop a more gradual rollout strategy. However, organizations will immediately have access to the features of E-Business Suite 12.2 that minimize future downtime such as online patching.
A technical upgrade is best for organizations that want to get the most out of their support dollars and take advantage of all the features of Oracle Support, but don’t want to deal with the business disruption of a more comprehensive upgrade with lots of functional changes. Many organizations running E-Business Suite 12.1.3 can quickly and easily upgrade to 12.2 in a matter of a few months. Oracle provides many out-of-the-box scripts that facilitate the upgrade process, including what tasks will be required from the business during the process.
2) Functional Upgrade
A functional upgrade will expand the steps in the technical upgrade to add new functionality, change existing functionality, or update data structures such as the chart of accounts. This type of upgrade is commonly used by customers who may be on an older release of E-Business Suite, such as 11i (184.108.40.206) or R12 (12.0.6). There are significant enhancements in several product families, including Advanced Supply Chain Planning, Discrete Manufacturing, and Process Manufacturing, that may also be of interest to customers in those industries. Many of these functional enhancements can eliminate custom-code in older systems and provide more streamlined processes.
One of the primary reasons we see customers undertake major functional upgrades is when an organization’s chart of accounts design no longer meets its needs. While this scenario sometimes requires a complete re-implementation of E-Business Suite, there are third-party products on the market that can help customers avoid this situation. We always recommend holding functional workshops during the scoping phase of an upgrade to identify user concerns and business process gaps, even if the intent is to move forward with a technical upgrade.
Thinking about an Upgrade to Oracle EBS 12.2?
If you are evaluating the efficacy or value of upgrading to EBS 12.2,it’s important to take a few things into consideration.
First, the upgrade will require changes to your custom code and EBS development processes, so it’s important that your CEMLIs are ready for the transition. Oracle provides scripts to identify the necessary changes and partners like Syntax can help your development team evaluate and implement them.
Second, there are many enhancements to the functionality of Oracle EBS with the newest release. Take into consideration whether or not your teams are prepared for the new capabilities and features of 12.2 before beginning an upgrade. At a minimum, we recommend getting users excited about the user interface enhancements, as they are the most directly impactful in their day-to-day work. We also recommend walking business teams through functional feature changes and enhancements so they are aware of them, even if the upgrade will be technical in nature.
Third, both IT and the business should be aware of new procedures and expectations, such as edition-based redefinition and online patching. These features reduce business downtime but may require tool changes for DBAs and developers, such as EBS automation tools for patching, cloning, and support.
Finally, think about the 12.2 upgrade as an opportunity to modernize your infrastructure by moving to the cloud. This is an easy decision if your hardware is outdated or your OS is de-supported, but it’s also a no-brainer if your business does a lot of M&A work and you need to be able to quickly and easily spin up project environments. There are many options for leveraging the cloud with E-Business Suite, including hybrid models that utilize both hardware and software database storage. Think about this approach for environment burst capacity or disaster recovery, or how you can incorporate both! And Oracle now makes it easy for customers to take advantage of hybrid models with subscription licensing for both the application and database tiers (until recently there was only an option at the database tier).
Deciding What’s Right for Your Organization
There are many reasons why organizations choose to upgrade Oracle EBS to 12.2. Every business has their own set of unique circumstances, including strategic direction, system integrations, and functional requirements, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to upgrading. One factor that is common across industries is getting the buy-in of both the business and user communities to get the most impact out of your upgrade dollars.
Here are few thoughts to keep in mind as you decide the best route to take for your organization:
Don’t let perception influence your decision – use facts
There is always system bias in organizations – both positive and negative – oftentimes based on previous experience. There have been many changes to the way Oracle develops and maintains EBS software, so it’s important to dispel any inaccuracies and properly convey correct information.
For example, you should ensure your business knows that EBS has a long life ahead of it (Premier Support through 2032 at a minimum) and organizations will not be forced to migrate to Oracle Cloud Applications. It’s easy to pull together data in regard to the number of new and enhanced features that are typically released each year.
Another negative preconception is that upgrades are “really hard” and “everything will break”. Oracle provides detailed scripts that dynamically build extensive runbooks for both technical and functional personnel participating in the upgrade. Using these scripts, in combination with engaging an experienced partner like Syntax, greatly facilitates the upgrade process and all but ensures a smooth transition.
Are you happy with your chart of accounts?
Businesses and business needs change frequently. Systems need to keep up. If your organization does not feel that the design of the chart of accounts r meets their needs, there are ways of making modifications to it without a full reimplementation. This is one of the primary reasons why organizations are unhappy with their ERP platform and tweaking it can oftentimes save millions of dollars in implementation expense. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Re-think and reevaluate your customizations and development processes.
If your organization has put in a lot of time and effort creating customized processes for Oracle E-business Suite, an upgrade could potentially negate the need for them and save you significant dollars in maintaining them. This doesn’t mean you have to do all of this work during the upgrade, especially if you want to get your EBS upgraded quickly to remain on Premier Support. However, it’s important to identify opportunities for standardization and build them into your ERP roadmap. It also helps justify the cost of an upgrade.
We find that many organizations have started adopting more agile development processes, including managing their roadmaps using modern SDLC tools. As more and more customers move toward a best-of-breed strategy for their enterprise applications, this approach becomes even more critical. E-Business Suite 12.2 facilitates a more modern release cycle and better ways of managing development. An upgrade to 12.2 is a great time to integrate this functionality, if you haven’t already.
Regardless of your business circumstances, upgrading to Oracle E-Business Suite 12.2 will enable your enterprise to operate more efficiently with a brand-new user interface, new functional capabilities, a better integration platform, and back-end enhancements to reduce downtime and improve availability. Combining this upgrade with a migration to a modern cloud platform can provide a SaaS-like experience and future-proof your solution for the next 10+ years.
Syntax has over 40 years of Oracle ERP experience and over 25 years providing cloud and managed services for Oracle E-Business Suite and JD Edwards applications. We provide automation-driven, best-of-breed private and public cloud offerings on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), as well as our own purpose-built enterprise data centers. Contact us today to discover how we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your Oracle environments and applications.