July 2003

The LawsonGuru Letter is a free periodic newsletter providing provocative commentary on issues important to the Lawson Software community.  The LawsonGuru Letter is published by-and is solely the opinion of-John Henley of Decision Analytics.  Visit Decision Analytics at https://www.danalytics.com.  For subscription information, see the bottom of this message.
The LawsonGuru Letter is not affiliated with Lawson Software.

In this issue:
1. Guest Spot: Upgrading on your own: Worth the hassle?
2. Focus: Web Services
3. Reader Feedback
4. Worthwhile Reading
5. Survey: Will Lawson Survive the ERP Shakeout?
6. Lawson Tips & Tricks
This month, I'm excited that Eddi Staffini is providing another timely and informative article. Eddi writes about his experiences with performing the Lawson upgrade process internally, rather than utilizing Lawson or one of the upgrade partners.
Eddi last wrote in the February issue about the DVP process. Anyone involved in an upgrade should go back and re-read it, since the DVP is an integral prerequisite for a Lawson v8 upgrade.(see https://www.danalytics.com/guru/letter/archive/2003-02.htm)
As a reminder, I invite articles from anyone--whether a Lawson employee, client or partner--with an opinion or topic of interest. Simply send me an email at mailto:letter-editor@lawsonguru.com to get started.

1. Guest Spot: Upgrading on your own: Worth the hassle?
(by Eddi Staffini. Eddi is the Programming Manager at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC, and is a member of the Lawson Mid-Atlantic User Group executive board. This editorial reflects his personal opinions only and not those of Sibley Hospital, the board or group members. You can reach Eddi at mailto:estaffini@sibley.org)

Many Lawson clients have already started their upgrade planning, if not the upgrade process itself. But, for those who haven't, the first question to consider is: "Can or should we upgrade on our own?" I don't have that answer, as each of is different. What I do have is experience--we did perform the upgrade ourselves, and I can categorically state that we would do it again without any hesitation whatsoever. Let me state up front that this is not intended to be a technical article detailing how I solved the problems we encountered, I don't think this is the right forum. I am more than willing to try to answer any question as best I can, but on a private level; you can reach me at the e-mail address above.

When we started the upgrade process in January of 2002, there were rumors that Lawson might deny support if we upgraded on our own. I talked to my Client Account Manager, my Account Executive, several Upgrade Project Managers, and as many people at CUE as I could. Not one of them ever stated that Lawson would deny support for clients who performed their own upgrade. Of course, if it ever came down to that, I was willing to fight.

Cost was our primary motivation for deciding to upgrade on our own. We simply did not have the budget that Lawson requested in their initial proposal. When I tried to open a dialogue and see if we could reduce the cost, I was told that not only was it unlikely, but also that the initial proposal was for services only--differences training would be an additional cost.

Quite frankly, I also felt we could do as good a job as Lawson--if not better. Our Lawson support team here at Sibley Hospital is comprised of three individuals: me, my technical guru, and my application specialist. Despite our small size, I was very confident in our abilities. We had all done system implementations before; I knew we could do this.

We are an AIX (4.3.3) shop running Oracle (8.1.6). We needed to upgrade everything except the operating system: Environment, 7.3.3 to 8.0.2; Applications, 7.2.4 to 8.0.3; Oracle database, 8.1.6 to; Logan to IOS, SEA, CCS, EDI and peripherals. We also upgraded from BSI Tax to Tax Factory. We planned and we tested, then planned and tested, and then planned and tested some more.
Our first step was to compile a preliminary upgrade hierarchy and ran it by everyone we could at CUE. By the time I came back, I at least knew what to do--if not how to do it. We had a number of advantages: I had been planning this since the decommission announcement. I had the luxury of having a box big enough to house my Prod and Test environments under 7.3.3/7.2.4, as well as my new 8.0.2 environment housing my Source and Target 8.0.3 product lines. I also had a vanilla install. We do not modify any Lawson programs and have only a few cloned and changed programs. Finally, I knew not to attempt upgrading from LID to Portal.

The first step was to attend the upgrade seminar. Back then it was still a one-day course, and I came away with more questions than answers. We decided to simply jump in and get started. We first upgraded the database, which was easy. We then installed a brand new environment and I got my my first indication that we were making the right choice. We really wanted to migrate our laua security, so I called GSC and asked them whether I could do a secdump from the old environment and a secload into the new one. I asked three techs on three different occasions and was given three different answers: yes, no, and yes but with the caveat that only part of the data would come across. I quickly realized that very few of the GSC support people had experience with the new environment and I decided to call only as a last resort.

So, using a combination of Lawson utilities and good old-fashioned manual entry, we were able to clone the new environment to be a mirror copy of the old one. Next, we installed the new COBOL compiler, Server Express. Finally, it was time for the IOS install, after installing and making sure that Apache, Java, Perl, Tomcat and IE were all at the required version level. This part took the longest and tried our patience the most, but we were eventually successful.

The application upgrade took longer than expected, but was not as complicated as feared. Our first attempt took 6 days to complete, but we lost almost two full days waiting for Lawson to come up with a patch for an AM program with index problems. Within a week, we were cutting POs, AP and PR checks, and a little more than a week after that. our taxes were even correct. Actually, everything we tested was working--if not the first time, with minor corrections. It was almost scary. We contracted with various consulting firms to conduct differences training and every trainer we brought in commented on how well set up we were and how smooth the system worked. I was ecstatic.

Until we actually went live.

All our testing was performed under MSP5 and ESP5. Three days prior to starting our final upgrade, we encountered a GL issue where some drop downs would incorrectly return a "No Record Found" message. We placed a support call and were told that it was a known issue and that it was resolved in ESP6. I knew better than to change ESP level three days before going live, but I installed the service pack nonetheless. I simply didn't have time to fight with Lawson to give me the individual patch. My bad.

We found that ESP6 had two major flaws. First, it corrupted every comment (now called an "attachment") table throughout every system. Basically what happened was that, when selecting an individual comment, you would actually get all of them. Our first live PO went from a few lines to eighty-seven pages. We found that new comments worked correctly, so we recreated those comments that we use most often and moved on. To this day we are not able to use old comments, and despite Lawson's repeated claims that they would provide a fix, I have not seen nor heard from them.

The second major issue was that we could not run a physical inventory. We could run cycle counts for specific bin groups or classes, but not a full inventory. I knew the problem had to be related to the new service pack, as we had tested both of those areas extensively without any issues. I reported the issue to Lawson; after almost three weeks of arguing and applying CTPs and doing EZ-View sessions, someone at the GSC finally took the time to follow my advice and perform a test with more than a handful of records. Much to their surprise they were able to recreate the issue and accepted it as a bug. A couple weeks later, we installed a patch and were able to successfully run our first physical inventory. Take away those two problems for a minute and we would have had a remarkably clean upgrade. We certainly have had our share of minor issues throughout every application since going live, but nothing remotely critical.
Looking back, I am very glad we did things the way we did. From getting a better understanding of how each system functions and how everything ties together, to being able to better support our users, to good old pride in doing something difficult, it was a very positive experience.

2. Focus: Web Services
At CUE in April, I got to meet with some folks from Lawson's technology group who are working on adding web services capabilities to Lawson.  I truly believe this will change the way you work with Lawson some time in the not-so-distant future.  [Read More...]

"We aim above the mark to hit the mark."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

3. Reader feedback

Send your comments to mailto:letter-comments@lawsonguru.com.

In the last issue (https://www.danalytics.com/guru/letter/archive/2003-06.htm),I wrote about some problems I think Lawson has with the quality of their software.  Here's a response that I received, which was typical of what I've been hearing from you:

- "I am a Business System Support Specialist for the Lawson HR Suite.  We have been live on Lawson since 1/1/1998, and we installed v8.0.2 in October 2002.  I just finished reading the June 2003 Guru Letter and have to say that your statements regarding Lawson's software quality are right on the money.  I have no specifics to add, but I also find the current levels of CTPs to be excessive; especially for an organization that has the full HR and Financials suites in place.  For years, I have thought that Lawson needed some type of quality control on their product.  Many of the coding errors are so obvious that you have to think that no one every really read the code.  It is hard to believe that Lawson has any internal coding standard review processes in place."

I also asked if Lawson offered an automated patch download and install tool, which "diagnosed" your system and installed the appropriate patches, would you use it? 

- "Due to the Level of testing we must perform to ensure the patch has not broken something totally unrelated, I don't think we would want automatic patches.  If Lawson could isolate the patch to the specific program(s) that are causing the defect, I might be willing to give it a try."

- "I would like a better install tool.  At the same time, I want some control over what is installed.  I only want it to install those patched I need to install.   I do not want to install a patch that fixes an issue that we have created a workaround for and, as a result, breaks our workaround.  If I need a yearend patch, I only want to install and test yearend patches--not all patches released."

- "Why would I trust Lawson to provide an automated patch download and install process;  I try to minimize the pain of introducing even more bugs by reviewing each patch before I install. Sometimes this is not possible and I do a lot of praying and just apply the (*&*&% thing. But unless we want to open up a 'Department of Spiritual Support', we will continue to 'trust but verify'."

4. Worthwhile Reading

No Tolerance for High Maintenance
Fed up with rising costs of software maintenance, CIOs are finding they have the power to negotiate better terms up front and get more bang for their buck.
CIO, June 1, 2003

Enterprise-Apps Market Squeeze
It's becoming a buy or be-bought market, giving rise to speculation on how it will all shake out.
Information Week, June 16, 2003

How to Know if E-Procurement Is Right for You
While some companies have achieved price reductions through online sourcing, the focus of e-procurement initiatives today is process efficiency. Here's how to decide if, what and how you should buy electronically.
CIO, June 15, 2003
Good Hosts
Enhanced services and richer technology mean that ASPs may deserve a second look.
Information Week, June 2, 2003

The Summer of Our Content
Most workers are drowning in documents. But is "content management" the answer?
CFO, June 2003

5. Survey: Will Lawson Survive the ERP Shakeout?
OK, I'm neither a financial whiz nor a stock prognosticator, so I'm the wrong person to ask! But I've been asked for my thoughts on the Peoplesoft, J.D.Edwards, Oracle takeover shakeout.  [Read More...]

6. Lawson Tips & Tricks
Share your tips. Send them to mailto:letter-tips@lawsonguru.com.
If you're running 8.0.3 or higher applications, you may find that IC130 jobs no longer run.  Chances are that a previous IC130 didn't complete.  Obviously, you'll want to make every possible attempt to recover the job.  But, if you've done that and you still can't run IC130, you'll need to clear a hidden IC company flag first.

Paint a form against ICCOMPANY and include the company field as well as the IC-RUN-ST field.  Make sure the field attributes DO NOT include required field, as you'll be entering a 'zero' into it.  Use that painted form to change the status from '1' to '0' (zero).

Alternatively, if you're comfortable with SQL, you can use an UPDATE query such as:


The LawsonGuru Letter is a free periodic newsletter providing provocative commentary on issues important to the Lawson Software community. The LawsonGuru Letter is published by--and is solely the opinion of--John Henley of Decision Analytics.  Visit Decision Analytics at https://www.danalytics.com. To subscribe, send an email to: mailto:letter-subscribe@lawsonguru.com To be removed from the subscription list, send to: mailto:letter-unsubscribe@lawsonguru.com

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