Cornerstone OnDemand Quarterly Releases: How Will You Survive?
Whether you are a client who recently went live or a client who has been with Cornerstone for years, Release Management can be one of the toughest parts of managing a Cornerstone system. Cornerstone OnDemand conducts four major releases a year with minor patch releases every other week. The four major releases provide functionality updates, UI redesign, and completely new functionality. Some of the updates made are optional, while others are mandatory for all clients.
The updates are also spread across the various modules, so if you are a client utilizing multiple Cornerstone modules then releases require even more attention. The most frequent question we get from clients is how do I make release management less overwhelming? Here are some pointers and best practices in approaching a release.
1.) Don’t Panic
Keep in mind the list of updates may look long, but once you review the list you may find that only a small percentage impact your company.
2.) Be in the Know
Once the release announcements go out, go into Cornerstone’s Client Success Center and start following the Release Community. Become active in the community to stay in apprised of changes during the six weeks prior to deployment. Start reviewing documentation, videos, and curricula when they become available.
3.) Have a Plan
Set a plan of action in your approach to Release Management. Successful clients create a project plan, document who needs to be involved, and identify where on the timeline they need to be involved. They treat release management as a formal responsibility, not an ad hoc activity.
4.) Determine Impact
The approach on impact should be based on functionality and what roles in the system are impacted (i.e. Learning Assignment Tool only impacts Learning and System Administrators where Goals UI Redesign impacts Performance Administrators, End-Users, and System Administrators).
5.) Attend the Cornerstone Webinars: The webinars set up by Cornerstone provide useful information and demonstrations while allotting time for questions to be asked. Attend only the ones that pertain to the modules currently implemented by your company.
6.) Testing, Testing, and More Testing
Once functionality updates are reviewed and it is determined how your company will be affected, start reviewing your test scripts. Determine what scripts may need to be developed or what scripts may need to be adjusted for testing. Start testing once the release goes into the stage portal and all configuration adjustments are made. This will help in understanding the functionality right away and ensure it is working as expected. Report any issues found to Global Product Support right away. Testing does not only occur when the release goes into stage. Testing should also occur once the release goes into the production portal.
7.) Communication is Key
Determine who will be impacted by the changes and communicate early. If end users are impacted in any way, make sure to send announcements out and update any help guides that may be available to them.
The biggest hurdle when it comes to Release Management is establishing how your company will organize and plan for it. Following your established governance model is key. Governance boards, steering committees, and executive teams should be aware of updates in the release, how the company will be impacted, and what your team is doing to ensure a smooth transition.
No one path will be the same for each client in the approach taken on release management. Knowing what will work best for your company will be central to your defined strategy. Remember the end goal of every release is to make your Cornerstone OnDemand deployment better. You will survive!