"The successful upgrade of Siebel,
Rabobank's businesscritical CRM system,
without any disruption to our business
users, has proven our product strategy for
a packaged solution."
Siebel CRM Upgrade
Best Practices at Rabobank
Oracle White Paper
Upgrading a large enterprise system such as Siebel CRM is a significant undertaking
for a business. The larger the deployment in terms of company size, number of
applications, and number of users, the more complex is the CRM implementation
and the more complex is the upgrade process. This paper offers a set of best
practices, based on the actual experience of the upgrade at Rabobank, spread across
five phases to ensure a successful, on time and under budget Siebel CRM upgrade.
Some of the key success factors for Rabobank’s Siebel CRM upgrade were engaging
the right people with the right expertise, ensuring a strategic partnership between
major stakeholders and vendors, and running several trial upgrades.
This paper is intended for both business managers and implementation project
managers within the Information Technology department typically responsible for
deploying and maintaining Siebel CRM instances.
The Scope of Upgrades
Defining the upgrade scope is a critical step to plan out your entire project. Siebel
upgrades can be classified as two major types:
Major upgrade refers to upgrading Siebel CRM application across two
different major releases. For example, upgrading from Siebel 7.8 to 8.1.1 is
a major upgrade. Based on specific business needs, customers can choose
one of the following scenarios when performing major upgrade:
A threeway strategic partnership
between Rabobank, IBM, and Oracle
directly contributed to the major
success of Rabobank’s Siebel CRM
a. LiketoLike Upgrade: upgrade infrastructure, base software, OS
and hardware, without picking up new features and functionalities
b. ValueAdd Upgrade: in addition to infrastructure and base
software upgrade, implement new features and functionalities
Minor upgrade refers to upgrading Siebel CRM application across two
minor releases, but at the same major release level. For example, applying a
Siebel 220.127.116.11 Fix Pack on top of Siebel 8.1.1 is considered a minor
In the case of the Rabobank upgrade, they successfully upgraded from Siebel CRM
18.104.22.168 to Siebel CRM 22.214.171.124 release in 2011. The upgrade was run as a ‘Liketo
Like’ upgrade, with very limited functional changes that are required by the
The Rabobank Upgrade
In the case of the Rabobank upgrade, they successfully performed a major upgrade
by upgrading from Siebel CRM 126.96.36.199 to Siebel CRM 188.8.131.52 release. The upgrade
was run as a ‘LiketoLike’ upgrade, with very limited functional changes that are
required by the business.
Since the Siebel CRM implementation in Rabobank is business critical, additional
changes such as new hardware and move to an activeactive data center
configuration have been performed during the upgrade project to make the Siebel
system and architecture disaster tolerant.
The key business drivers for Siebel 8.1.1 upgrade include lowered TCO, improved
manageability and system stability. Based on the analysis conducted in 2009, the
Steering Committees decided to jointly implement Siebel 8.1.1 upgrade project. In
2011, Rabobank successfully upgraded from Siebel CRM 184.108.40.206 to Siebel CRM
Here are the key indicators to illustrate the magnitude of Rabobank's Siebel
• 22.000 concurrent users during peaks
• 50 million Siebel transactions per week
• 16.5 million customer service requests per year
• 2 million call reports per year
• Many complex interfaces with huge business importance
Siebel CRM Upgrade Best Practices at Rabobank Page 3
• Major financial loss for Rabobank when Siebel is not available
• Usage of other components in combination with Siebel:
o OBPM (Workflow Management), BPEL (Integration Layer),
OBIEE (Reporting), BI Publisher (adhoc reporting)
o WebCenter Content (Content Management)
o IBM DB2 and IBM MQSeries
In terms of server infrastructure, Rabobank has an ActiveActive twin Data Center
where each site has a Siebel Server implementation on P7 AIX 6.1. The DBMS is
DB2 v9 on zNEXT using GDPS. Rabobank took the upgrade opportunity to
overhaul its data center by converting it from an ActivePassive configuration to an
ActiveActive twin configuration due to legal regulations and the criticality of Siebel
CRM for the business. Given the enormity and complexity of this scope, functional
changes were limited to only those enforced by technical updates and by adoption
of minor (low hanging fruit) features. Rabobank did chose to upgrade in a big bang
scenario. Rabobank was able to bring up their new production system over one
weekend. This was largely by adopting certain best practices recommended by
Oracle and Rabobank’s other partner, IBM and perfected with the help of
Rabobank’s seasoned staff.
Upgrade Project Phases and Best Practices
It is recommended that an upgrade project be divided into five phases: 1) Planning
& Definition Phase, 2) Assessment & Analysis, 3) Development & Test Phase, 4)
GoLive Phase, and 5) Post GoLive Phase.
I. Strategy Planning Phase
Upgrades must be a part of the company’s longterm business goals and of
technology vision. Business goals may include implementing new business
processes to increase user productivities, promoting products, generating revenue
and increasing market share. Technology vision may include streamlining IT
investments, minimizing down time, and reducing total cost of operation. Such
initiatives and goals identify business drivers and set priorities which are used in the
planning and defining the scope of the upgrade.
Strategy Planning Best Practices
In order to uptake new platform and technology with reduced risk, Rabobank
defined a risk mitigation strategy for their Siebel 8.1.1 upgrade project:
Siebel CRM Upgrade Best Practices at Rabobank Page 4
• Perform a liketolike upgrade to move to the new platform and
technology, then uptake new functionalities in the future
• Implement high available architecture over two data centers to protect
business continuity of production system
All stakeholders in Rabobank had active involvement. They were fully engaged and
had a continuous representation in the project meetings and they were committed
to the success of the organization for the longterm.
Moreover, the threeway strategic partnership between RabobankOracleIBM
directly contributed to the major success of Rabobank’s upgrade. On behalf of
Rabobank, IBM managed the project under responsibility of the Rabobank Steering
Committee and provided key resources for architecture planning, project
management, and delivery management. Oracle as the product solution vendor
provided indepth product knowledge, architecture, and operation support.
II. Assessment & Analysis Phase
The upgrade assessment provides valuable input into subsequent steps as well as a
detailed rendering of the level of effort involved to complete the upgrade. Several
activities need to take place during this phase: gap analysis, configuration
assessment, defining implementation scenarios, and trial upgrade.
1. Gap analysis refers to an exercise where business owners run through all
of their existing endtoend business processes against the outofthebox
installation of the new version and document the gaps. This produces an
exact scope for business process engineering requirements which will
become the basis for test planning and golive validation. Key
functionalities were discovered during this phase for future test planning.
2. Detailed repository and configuration assessment need to be done in order
to estimate the level of complexity of the repository upgrade. It is
recommended that the development team analyzes the configuration
changes and estimates the amount of development effort required to
resolve repository changes. During this time the database administrator
needs to analyze the schema changes and other database related impact in
order to estimate the system impact during production upgrade. In
addition, risk assessment is part of this exercise. All this information
combined will help in estimating resources, timeline and costs.
3. Determining implementation scenarios is very helpful to prepare for the
upgrade testing and execution.
Assessment & Analysis Best Practices
In addition to the above, the Rabobank upgrade team performed the following
steps in order to scope out the entire project:
Siebel CRM Upgrade Best Practices at Rabobank Page 5
CRM is considered a missioncritical
system of an organization. Upgrading CRM
systems periodically not only allows
customers to take advantage of the
advanced research and development in
computer hardware, software and
business process engineering. But
perhaps most importantly, allows
customers to enhance their business
processes and operational efficiencies to
stay competitive and ensure continued
success of their business.
• Determine the complexity of the upgrade based on the Siebel modules
implemented, number of integration points, number of interfaces, total
number of scripts, and number of userinterface scripts.
• Run several trial upgrade exercises prior to the actual GoLive date and
track and resolve upgrade issues meticulously.
• Assemble a crossfunctional upgrade team that is proficient in the
technologies introduced in the latest release of Siebel 8.1.1 and
understands Siebel architecture and performance best practices.
Stakeholders must be available to help on the entire project. Efficient and clear
communication among all different parties is required to ensure the project can be
III. Upgrade Execution & Testing Phase
The upgrade phase is the longest phase and it has a tendency to become even
longer if not managed properly. During this phase the software is upgraded and it’s
critical to track and resolve issues quickly and effectively. If defect fixes in features
with multiple dependencies are not tracked and tested correctly, they could
potentially create landmines during final testing and deployment when it’s too late
to solve problems without jeopardizing the whole schedule. It is recommended
that a solid defect tracking system be used effectively for even the minor bug fixes.
Performance, Scalability and Reliability (PSR) testing must be conducted after the
functionality has been verified. The PSR test environment must resemble to the
production environment in settings, configuration and the database for the results
to be meaningful.
Particularly during testing all stakeholders must be readily available to troubleshoot,
resolve issues and make decisions. Biweekly or even daily test review meetings are
recommended to make quick decisions and progress.
Upgrade Execution & Testing Best Practices
The Rabobank team put focus and a lot of effort on the following factors:
1. The performance of new Siebel release needs to be the same as it was on
the old Siebel release or better.
2. The scalability of the new system with the new software is able to handle
22.000 concurrent end users.
3. Stick to the disaster tolerant requirements
Siebel CRM Upgrade Best Practices at Rabobank Page 6
The development team had full commitment, engagement and support from Oracle
and other stakeholders. Short lines with all functions of the Oracle organization as
well as at the executive level, ensured that roadblocks were lifted as quickly as
IV. Go-Live Phase
The GoLive phase ideally lasts the shortest possible time required by IT
Operations team to upgrade the production technology infrastructure and Siebel
CRM software. This will minimize impact to your business. Usually a (long)
weekend is chosen.
One should engage the right resources with the right skills to manage issues during
this phase. Get buy in from different parties and all stakeholders and involve them
in the golive journey.
Go-Live Best Practices
Like every successful upgrade project, Rabobank had defined a set of criteria that
must be met before upgrading the production software. Some of the most common
GoLive criteria include; business process acceptance by the business owners,
passing of all functional and PSR tests, updating and testing of all operations scripts
and processes including any database related updates. Finally, reviewing all known
issues before going live; and their associated risks.
Next to this, Rabobank also preferred to review the open bug list of all their
vendorsupplied software, including their Siebel CRM software. Typically, the CIO
reviews summary reports from all stakeholders before approving the project to Go
During the GoLive weekend, it’s crucial that a crossfunctional support team
including vendors is oncall 24/7. It is recommended to have technical members
of the most critical stakeholders present onsite.
Rabobank suggests having a dedicated resource to monitor alerts and document
changes and decisions. To have a standby team oncall to handle certain business
processes that had to be performed manually or with exceptions and to have
backup team oncall in case of personnel emergencies.
Rabobank choose a big bang upgrade in one weekend. One of the risk mitigations
was the fact that the old Siebel environment was still fully operational. In case of
blocking issues during the upgrade or at the initial hours of usage a fall back,
although with major consequences, was possible within hours.
Siebel CRM Upgrade Best Practices at Rabobank Page 7
V. Post Go-Live Phase
The first week after the GoLive weekend is the most crucial period for any CRM
upgrades. No amount of testing can substitute for all possible reallife user
behavior and scenarios. It is important that a robust monitoring system is
implemented that can allow IT Operations team to monitor the hardware, software
and business process availability and performance of your CRM system. Daily
reviews are not uncommon.
Post Go-Live Best Practices
Make sure specialists are on site, work in shifts and plan hot fix moments upfront.
Be sure you can fix the issues, test out the fixes and implement them in a really
short cycle. Make sure everyone understands signoff criteria; this will ensure the
project can be closed cleanly.
All functional leads of a great project team maintain a “lessons learned” log
throughout the project. During the PostGoLive period, the project manager
must conduct an allhands lessons learned session. The issues, proposed resolutions
and followup action items must be documented and tracked to help improve the
next upgrade cycle. The project manager is responsible for tracking project phases
and ensuring project meets key milestones.
Rabobank’s success is attributed to such strict adherence to learning from their past
mistakes and retaining old time veterans to return for future upgrade projects.
CRM is considered a missioncritical system of an organization. Upgrading CRM
systems periodically not only allows customers to take advantage of the advanced
research and development in computer hardware, software and business process
engineering. But perhaps most importantly, allows customers to enhance their
business processes and operational efficiencies to stay competitive and ensure
continued success of their business.
By following the best practices and recommendations in this paper, Oracle
customers can achieve smooth, wellplanned, undercontrol, ontime and under
budget upgrades of their Siebel CRM software.
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