Archive for May, 2009

R12 – The Worst Oracle Release Ever?

May 19, 2009

Star Date 2009, these are the voyages of the Starship Oracle……sorry too much Star Trek at the weekend. The new movie is great and I’m not a big Star Trek fan generally. So I’d recommend Star Trek for anyone to see (its a great movie), but would I recommend Oracle R12 and is R12 the worst Release of Oracle ERP ever?

Looking back over the last decade or so there have been some fairly classic (and truly atrocious) releases of Oracle ERP)

MPL 7 and MPL 8 way back in the 90’s were  not great, but then again it was fairly cutting edge stuff in many respects so you needed to admire what Oracle was doing. I remember Oracle Support phoning me and asking how I got the autoinvoice running so fast…….the good old days although not quite the idea of how Oracle Support should be working……

The first truly atrocious release for me was the 10.6 Release. That was swiftly followed by 10.7SC which was so full of bugs that if it had been a dog, it would definitely be put down. And trying to modify forms on a PC when you were doing mods to the invoice workbench (and no documentation)…….well you do look back and smile. I believe Oracle did apologize for this version (should Larry have been flogged?)  and funnily enough AP was a real issue…..I remember asking a client (with a straight face) to log onto the character version to void checks, as the GUI didn’t work yet.

The next release for me that was a standout was the early 11.5.0 (or was it 11.5.1). Now to actually put an Order into Order Management you had to apply a patch, then another, then another……….The beauty of the patch that wiped out the flexfield setup, phoning up Oracle and having the response (yes we know about that) was certainly a response that floored me. It was another classic release for all the consultants around the world just trying to deliver a good result for the clients.

Now looking at 11.5.9 and 11.5.10, these were actually pretty good releases. Not bad, stable and upgrade wise pretty OK. We went to 11.5.10 in 2005 and it wasn’t actually that hard.

So what do I reckon to R12? We thought we’d be safe by waiting a year or so after release of R12 before diving in. With a slow burn upgrade, that would give a decent time for all the suckers to dive in, find the bugs and get them resolved on our behalf before we had the heartache of doing this ourselves and actually going live 2.5 years after initial release.

We started seriously on 12.0.3 and overall it wasn’t bad. We then went to 12.0.4 and then up to RUP5 on Finance and HRMS. On the Procurement, HRMS and some Financials, its actually been a pretty good release, even on the initial 12.0.3. Most major stuff in HRMS Suite and Procurement Suite actually worked !!!

However onto the bad. What’s really disappointed me on this release is the quality of the Accounts Payable module. We’re now on 12.0.4 (RUP5) and we’re applying quite a few more patches to resolve very serious problems. The news is the same from other companies where month end closing, accounting and reconciliation have been causing a lot of heartache. For us we found the accruals were converted wrongly between 11.5.10 CU1 and 12.0.4. The Trial Balance has been hit and miss, the accounting had issues, invoice workbench had issues…………We’re lucky we caught these pre go-live and testing heavily is an absolute must for any R12 release.

The support on this has also been extremely patchy, especially when it gets into Payables and SLA related issues, where we seem to be passed round Oracle Support. Getting issues resolved has been a slow and painful process, with our upgrade taking an extra 3 months longer (like many other companies).

What really shows the quality is the critical patch sets for Finance. These are coming out on a regular basis and fixing some pretty major issues that have been causing a lot of pain to many, many clients. I think in term of AP, Oracle has had a quality issue overall. The idea that clients are sitting and have lots of time to apply these patches is a really frustrating view – testing by both IT and Users does take a long, long time and the patches frustratingly still cause more major issues – “Can we get a patch for the patch please is a common, recurring question”. We are afraid to put in patches, as a previous one actually stopped our AP/PO matching completely…..

So was R12 a good or a bad release? I’d say R12 was a very good release, let down by Payables and Subledger Accounting module. Everything else was overall pretty good and pretty easy to upgrade. Now I know that Payables was re-architected and Subledger Accounting is a superb idea and will be great for us in future, but R12 really should have been released at least 1 year later, to provide a more stable and higher quality initial release.

Would I recommend Oracle R12 Upgrade to clients today? Absolutely yes. It has got a lot better and if your starting an upgrade now I think you’ll have a smoother path than those other clients who started earlier. There is a lot of very good new areas of R12 and Oracle is heading in the right direction, but it is also a huge step to take for any organization so caution and careful planning are recommended.

In summary, 2009 and 2010 are going to be ideal times to upgrade – more R12 literate people, less bugs and very good functionality overall in R12. It is the right time to consider moving to R12 (in consultation with your business users) for those who have not considered it currently.

So what about 12.0.6 and 12.1? Anyone been brave enough to take the jump on these yet? What are your experiences (good and bad for R12) ? Is anyone upgrading from a lower 12.0.2 or 12.0.3 to the latest R12.0.6/R12.1 due to problems caused.

Please do share your views as others will really benefit from the mistakes (and lessons learned)