Dec 21, 2016

Siebel Usage Pattern Tracking

Siebel application development is a complex process and involves many business teams.

As app developers, we need to understand the business process, map the process to what is available in a Siebel vanilla application (OOB), and negotiate a way forward for optimal usage of the product. This entire process spans 3–6 months or more and requires working closely with Business SMEs, Siebel Experts and Process Experts.

Because of the complexity of requirements and involvement of several business teams, there will likely be communication gaps, and the final end product will often be different from what is expected.

When the final product is delivered and the costs involved in the process are calculated, there is a need to track how users are using the application. The management team will seek to determine:

  • 1. How many people are using the new app?

  • 2. What are the adoption issues, and have those issues been successfully addressed?

  • 3. Are users adopting new features and enhancements?

  • 4. How can we best determine the ways an upgrade or patch update is affecting end-user     applications?

  • 5. What kinds of testing should the QA or business team be doing?

  • 6. Which areas of Siebel are heavily used, and which are never used?

Proposed Solution:

Siebel Usage Pattern Tracking, a feature introduced in the 15.5 version, is a framework module that packs immense potential. Usage Pattern Tracking allows administrators to review details about when and how often users are accessing the features in a Siebel application. The data collected using this tool can be imported into other reporting applications, such as OBIEE. In addition, IP2016 provides built-in integration with OBIEE and Siebel reports for usage analysis. Using this tool, it is possible to track:

  • Total number of login/logoff sessions in a period of time, quantifying the time spent on the application

  • How many fields are really used in an applet

  • The Siebel views where users spend the most time

  • The performance of the view and in turn the application, by querying the Siebel records from UI

Benefits:

Once we have UPT enabled, we then need to look for actionable areas within the UPT report, such as:

  • Are any UI improvements required to accommodate a heavily used view?

  • Are there any remote users who aren't using Siebel?

  • Who are the heavy users of the Siebel application?

Benefits of the UPT tool include:

  • Provides reliable information that can be used to change application configuration and features, and to simplify the user interface

  • Allows administrators to identify and gather information about when and how often users access the features in any Siebel application

  • Enables the top business/management teams to identify the areas where users can be trained, and identify the scope of enhancements/fine tuning needed for optimal performance.

  • Allows teams to experience the Siebel application behavior and monitor use of a Siebel feature after application upgrades or during development

  • Can be used to prioritize projects and change requests

  • Provides a solid foundation for continual analysis of user adoption rates, by group, geo or process, and which groups may need additional training

  • Facilitates the planning of regression testing to make sure highly used functionality is not impacted by any new features or changes

  • Can be used for resource management, allowing efficient allocation of resources to areas that need performance improvements

  • Aids in performing a diagnosis or problems and issue analysis by allowing navigation to be tracked and problems easily replicated using UPT data

  • Lets the Release Management team know the best time to take downtime for a global application based on usage patterns

  • Allows the Infrastructure Team to scale up resources for highly used components, based on data detailing the heavy usage of some features

  • Achieves all of these improvements without affecting performance, response time overheads or the user experience

Usage Pattern Tracking:


The above figure shows how the development team and Biz team can track user sessions. User sessions are captured and are stored in CSV files which during non-peak hours can be loaded into Siebel tables using batch jobs. No user session is interrupted and no performance impact will be observed when UPT is enabled.


Sample Tracking Data Captured in Siebel:


This table shows how UPT stored data can be reviewed from Siebel UI, where team members can see the logged in user and the operations he performed in different Siebel views with start and end times. From the above snapshot it is easy to analyze the views visited by the user and the amount of time spent on each view. This helps to identify areas where changes are needed, and to plan future enhancements or features.

Actions Performed by User:

The above image illustrates a user's actions on a particular object, in this case Account List Applet, including the time taken for each operation. This information is extremely useful in targeting performance improvements.

Tracking a User's Session:

This pie chart reveals the number of times a user accessed the application in a given time frame. By comparing this data with usage information from other logins, it is possible to determine the frequency of usage among groups.

Our Take:

In an ideal situation, implementation of the Siebel UPT provides a powerful tool for adding efficiency, targeting resources and fine-tuning systems. However, there may be challenges along the way.

In our case, we implemented version 15.6. Subsequently, Oracle released eight patch sets and version IP2016 ( Innovation Pack 2016) which offered a wide range of new advanced features, and fixed various bugs reported in earlier versions.

Immediately after our upgrade we were not able to use the application for PoC due to the limitations of the Linux OS. This was identified as a bug and brought to the attention of Oracle, which fixed the problem in the 15.8 version.

If any of our readers have experienced this same kind of issue, we advise that you upgrade to IP2016 as soon as possible.

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A major goal of this blog is to connect with other developers and share experiences. Have you benefited from this hidden treasure in Siebel OOB to overcome challenges and magnify efficiencies in your organization? What issues have you faced with the Siebel application, and how did you address them? We value your comments and your insights.


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This post is written by Srikanth R. Keesara, a Senior Siebel Architect at SoftClouds. Srikanth has over 11 years of experience on CRM in general and Siebel in particular. He has experience working in Siebel versions 6.3, 7.5, 7.8, 8.0 and 8.1.1.14 — plus IP2014/2015 and IP2016. Srikanth has worked on multiple technologies and holds certifications in Salesforce CRM, Oracle CPQ and Oracle Commerce Cloud.