RightAngle Upgrade: Best Practices for a Successful Implementation

Brooke Havig Ken Bourgeois Written by Brooke Havig, Ken Bourgeois

RightAngle Upgrade: Best Practices for a Successful Implementation

Upgrading critical applications has become a common challenge for corporate IT departments. Software vendors can deploy major releases more quickly because of improvements in coding and testing tools and some tie eligibility for ongoing application support to deploying the latest versions of their software. For end-user organizations, software upgrades remain expensive and time-consuming. Companies must at least spend the time to consider upgrades as part of their annual budgeting and planning cycles, if for no other reason than to consider what upgrades are available and the impact on the organization of not deploying the latest version of critical software.

RightAngle upgrades involve carefully considering critical questions that center around assessing your current version and the integrated applications, selecting which version to implement, and creating a thorough test and implementation plan. The process starts by identifying the system issues the upgrade will need to address, how the upgrade will impact other critical applications, whether the existing infrastructure will need to be upgraded or replaced to support the new version, and who is essential to the upgrade project.

Identify the upgrade team.

The upgrade team will be a collaborative group of IT technical partners and business resources with RightAngle functional experience. The team will need the following skill sets:

  • Technical resources that can configure and provision servers, install and configure RightAngle, and support database migration.
  • RightAngle functional resources that understand the current ETRM business processes with the ability to translate that knowledge into functional scenarios to be used as test cases for the new version with the RightAngle skills required to execute scenario-based regression, string, and acceptance testing.

Assess the version of RightAngle currently in production

Start with an assessment of the current production version of RightAngle. Compare the list of RightAngle issues reported to ION, complete and outstanding, to the list of resolved issues included in the target version's release notes. Issues in the release notes should be considered regression test cases. Identify any outstanding RightAngle functional or process issues impacting productivity or limiting business growth. Workarounds may or may not be in place. If there are workarounds in place, are they sustainable? Are critical scheduled tasks performing poorly or faulting regularly? These tasks can be the primary drivers of critical business processes like invoicing and risk reporting, and they need to be stable and run as efficiently as possible. What do users think of the RightAngle user experience? Are they happy with the performance, or is it impacting their ability to handle their day-to-day responsibilities effectively? Finally, consider the applications that RightAngle has been integrated with. Are those applications scheduled for upgrades, and would the upgrade schedules overlap? How is RightAngle integrated with them, and would the integrations need to be updated to accommodate the new RightAngle version?

Review the upgrade's release notes.

ION distributes release notes with each RightAngle upgrade. The release notes will contain a list of all the support cases (bug fixes, enhancements) resolved by the release and descriptions of the new features and functionality the new version contains. Compare the list of support cases your company reported to ION support to the ones listed in the release notes. Ask the following questions:

  • Are any of your company's support cases specifically resolved in the release, or are support cases like yours included in the release?
  • Do any remaining cases in the prospective release address issues relevant to your RightAngle production environment?

Would any of the resolved support cases or new features in the release harm the current production environment or business processes? The new features included in the release could be updates to existing screens and tasks or new functionality. For instance, all accounting screens, reports, and scheduled tasks were migrated from PowerBuilder to .Net in S20. There will likely be change management issues that may be associated with integrating the new functionality into your current business processes. Begin documenting your change management concerns and how to integrate the new functionality into your current production processes.

Planning and preparation

Successful upgrades are the result of comprehensive planning and preparation. The plan must consider and address the following components - new RightAngle non-production environments to support the upgrade, custom code development as may be required, test planning (unit, string, regression, user acceptance), database migration and testing, configuration changes, conversion of middleware as required, upgrades of the production environment to support the new version, change management and user training, deployment and transition planning, and hypercare.

New non-production environments will be required to support the upgrade.

Determine how many additional non-production environments will be required to support the upgrade. They should be able to support the following activities (workstreams) concurrently - trial installations of the server and client components of the RightAngle upgrade, restores of the current production database and execution of the Janus upgrade scripts to rehearse the database migration, any custom code development and testing that may be required, and all phases of testing for the target version. The servers should be configured to support the most resource-intensive RightAngle reports and critical processes like deal maintenance, invoice processing, and snapshots. Once the number of new environments has been determined, develop a timeline and execution plan for building and implementing the new environments. Consider using virtual servers. They may not be needed after the upgrade is completed and will be easier to decommission.

Select and evaluate the candidate (target) upgrade version.

Functional business resources should review the ION upgrade release notes for all available versions to determine which should be targeted for the upgrade. The upgrade candidate version should be chosen based on the RightAngle issues it resolves, their relevance to the business, and the value the version's new functionality will bring to the production environment.

Review the technical aspects of the target version. The RightAngle database structure will likely have been changed to accommodate the enhancements and new functionality included in the upgrade. Evaluate any custom RightAngle reports and integrations in the current production environment and identify the ones that must be updated to accommodate the changes to RightAngle’s core tables. While designing the changes, document the unit and string test cases for the custom development. Develop a timeline to support a full software development life cycle for the changes to the production of the RightAngle environment's custom components. The beginning of the development timeline may depend on deploying a climate to support custom development in the target RightAngle version. Still, it will also be in parallel to other upgraded workstreams.

Evaluate the configuration of current RightAngle production servers.

Evaluate current production server resource usage – CPU, memory, and storage – especially concerning the database server. Compare the production server configurations to ION’s web, service monitor, and database server recommendations. Consider ION's recommendations as the minimum resource configuration settings for the servers. The database migration process will likely cause the database to grow, especially if migrating to version S20 or later. Confirm that database server storage will be able to accommodate material database growth. Consider the storage associated with the temp DB and folders that hold database backup files. They will also need to be able to accommodate database growth and larger files. Determine if the existing servers can be upgraded or need to be replaced. Develop a timeline for changes to the production servers.

Database migration

The migration of the production database to the target version could be the most significant component of the deployment timeline, especially if the conversion is taking the production database into S20.x or later. Migrations into S20.x or later will convert the accounting transactions into a new format and transfer them to new tables. Janus scripts must be rehearsed multiple times in one of the environments dedicated to the upgrade to identify any potential issues and estimate the runtime of these scripts to support the upgrade. Document and report errors to ION support. A specialized script may be required to resolve data inconsistencies between the current and target RightAngle versions for the Janus migration script to run successfully. Document the run sequence and associated runtimes of the Janus scripts and any specialized scripts ION provides for the upgrade. This data will help document the deployment timeline's database migration component. Review the performance of the migration scripts. In some cases, the scripts could take hours to run. It may be worth testing the migration scripts with database logging on and off to assess the impact of logging all migration's database transactions on the performance of the Janus scripts.

Middleware considerations

The production instance of RightAngle will include integrations with third-party data providers and other corporate applications. These integrations will facilitate the flow of data to and from RightAngle through trades and confirmations, prices, truck tickets, scheduling, etc., and facilitate the movement between RightAngle and other corporate applications, like SAP. These integrations may rely on a middleware layer. If they do, the middleware configurations for the integrations may need to be updated to reflect changes in the RightAngle production servers.

Testing

Testing is critical to the success of any project, and RightAngle upgrade projects are no exception. The testing timeline begins with the first test installation of the target upgrade version. It continues through the testing of custom code components, regression and acceptance testing of the upgrade, and dry runs of the final draft of the upgrade's deployment and transition plan. Define a test timeline and plan for the following:

  • Rehearse installations of the upgrade's client and server components. Document timing, errors, and remediation steps. Anytime the installation fails or has a problem, document the issue, and schedule another installation to document remediation steps.
  • Rehearse execution of the upgrade's Janus SQL migration scripts. There may be more than one script for the migration. In general, one script per significant version and one per patch. Be prepared to execute them several times. The Janus scripts may fail because of data inconsistencies in the source data—report errors to ION so they can provide a particular standard conversion script. Document the conversion scripts, errors, and error correction scripts to determine the run sequence for all SQL scripts. Record the script runtimes.
  • Smoke test an installation of the RightAngle upgrade version after a successful database migration to confirm that the upgraded version and migrated database are working as expected. The smoke test should include common day-to-day reports, processes, and maintenance screens to confirm the migrated data is accessible.
  • Identify critical functional items and functionality in the upgrade's release notes. Unit test each one to make sure that the functionality works as expected.
  • Define and execute regression test cases to ensure the new version does not affect critical RightAngle reports, maintenance screens, and processes. Document inconsistencies and determine if they need to be remediated.
  • Document substantial changes to the upgraded version's reports, screens, and processes. Include them in a change management plan if the functionality is new or differs substantially from what is currently in production.
  • Unit test changes to custom reports, screens, and integrations.
  • String test changes to integrations.

Deployment plan

The draft of the deployment plan will be the aggregation of the plans, timelines, and considerations documented during testing and system evaluations. These plans encompass cutover, setup, and hypercare requirements for the upgrade. It's crucial to pinpoint decision-making milestones to determine when a choice to proceed or roll back is necessary during deployment. Socialize the deployment plan with the teams supporting the middleware layer and the applications integrated with RightAngle. Documenting these discussions will better prepare you for any problems and allow you to note any issues that must be accounted for in the deployment plan. RightAngle upgrades require a strategic and holistic approach, combining technical complexities with business functionality. Detailed coordination of each step discussed ensures a successful upgrade and minimizes disruptions to critical business processes. As your organization navigates the evolving landscape of software upgrades, a well-executed plan becomes the foundation for staying current with ETRM applications.

In conclusion, embarking on a RightAngle upgrade presents a valuable opportunity for companies seeking consulting services and advanced analytics solutions in the dynamic energy sector. Leveraging the expertise of experienced functional consultants during the implementation process is crucial for maximizing the benefits of the upgrade. By adhering to best practices, careful planning, and thorough consideration, organizations can ensure a seamless transition to the enhanced version of RightAngle.

This upgrade addresses the challenges of older versions and introduces performance improvements and expanded capabilities. RightAngle has become a powerful tool, empowering businesses with the necessary features to make informed decisions, streamline operations, and foster growth in the energy sector.

Furthermore, integrating managed services ensures ongoing support and maintenance of ETRM applications, allowing companies to seamlessly navigate interfaces and embrace cutting-edge technologies. The upgrade also facilitates software selection, enabling organizations to stay at the forefront of technological advancements in energy trading and risk management. Businesses can unlock their organization's full potential with enhanced analytics and functionalities.

Don't miss the opportunity to optimize your business processes and stay ahead of the competition. Upgrade to RightAngle today and position your organization for success in the ever-evolving energy landscape.

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Kent Landrum

Kent Landrum

Partner
Ken Bourgeois

Ken Bourgeois

Principal

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