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If you’re an SAP SuccessFactors client, you’ve likely heard of the term "instance refresh" (if you haven’t, keep reading). While an instance refresh is far from glamourous, it’s a necessary maintenance task that needs to be completed periodically, especially if you are a client running multiple instances of the same application.

While having demo environments is critical for developing and testing new functionality, it can be hard to keep test environments in sync with a production running application. In this situation, an instance refresh is the go-to solution to keep all environments in sync.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the steps required to refresh your Learning Management Solution (LMS) instance leveraging both the SAP Instance Refresh Tool for LMS, and your internal/SuccessFactors support team. Previously, a ticket needed to be logged to SAP support to perform the LMS refresh, but you now have the power to do it on your own, or with the assistance of your SAP SuccessFactors support partner.

What is an Instance Refresh?

An instance refresh is a copy of the entire application from one environment to another. This includes the database and other web components. When there is an instance refresh or instance synchronization from one environment to another, you are copying one environment to another (for example, overwriting data in a test environment with production data). The main consideration here is that once an instance is refreshed, all configurations and data in the target environment is overwritten and replaced with the data from the source environment. This means that there are both pre and post refresh steps to ensure that any required data in the target environment is backed up before the refresh and then updated after the refresh.

SAP SuccessFactors provides an instance refresh tool which can be accessed by admins with the correct permissions. It’s important to note that we’ll discuss the steps for an instance refresh for SAP SuccessFactors Learning Management Solution (LMS) and not the procedure to refresh SuccessFactors BizX. For a technical review of the instance refresh process please refer to the SAP Knowledge Base Article (KBA) and help documentation.

Functional Refresh Process and Required Steps to Refresh

The first step for any instance refresh is communicate the event to all required parties. This means that anyone who is actively working in the target environment will need notified that any changes they are making will be overwritten after the refresh. While the refresh process only takes a few hours to complete, it will need scheduled beforehand and confirmed by SAP.

The refresh can be scheduled within the tool on weekdays from Monday to Thursday. (Friday-Sunday is not available due to patches and maintenance). The refresh will be scheduled during non-working hours. A typical LMS refresh project spans 2 weeks. The week prior to the refresh is dedicated to performing the pre-refresh steps and back up. The week following the refresh is dedicated to post-refresh steps and validation (see sample list below).

Once everyone is notified about the refresh, you will need to to backup any information in the Test environment that will need saved.

Part of the pre-refresh steps is to backup both test and production company settings and provisioning connections. Because of the number of pre and post refresh steps and because this process often requires multiple parties, it is best practice to setup a task list of all required steps. This is helpful to ensure that all backups are complete before moving forward and can be used to track progress. Below is an example task list for an LMS refresh.

SAP SuccessFactors LMS Instance Refresh Sample Task List

An essential part of an LMS refresh is communication between all business stakeholders. As previously mentioned, all users who are currently working in the test environment will need notified that the environment will be reset. The refresh process must include at least one System Admin to schedule the refresh through Admin Center and coordinate the backup steps. Depending on the target environment you might also include functional end users like instructors or managers to backup courses or report data. On the backend of the Instance Refresh Tool (IRT), SAP operations is involved with the actual migration of the source and target applications.

While this task list contains all the essential steps for an LMS refresh, every instance refresh is different and depends on what information is in the target environment. For example, if there is a report or integration being built in test that is not yet published to production then that would be lost after the refresh. In these cases, there are ways to export of a report or even download an integration file and then there would need to be an additional step to add these back into test after the refresh.

Another consideration is that the SAP documentation and KBA does not include all integrations that are updated in the target environment. Below is a list of LMS elements that are NOT updated from the source environment. Most of these are left out for convenience and are not something you would typically want to copy over from another environment.

  • Connector SFTP Settings
  • System Configuration Settings
    1. LMS_ADMIN
    2. BizX
    3. SSO

The above configurations are not updated because typically you would not want to update a target LMS application to connect to the source BizX or SFTP environments. These are conveniently left in place while using the LMS upgrade tool. All other data including users, courses, and content will be updated from the source.

SAP SuccessFactors LMS Instance Refresh Tips

Again, each LMS refresh is unique, and your specific situation may include additional steps depending on the target environment. The steps outlined in this blog include only the essential steps required when running an LMS refresh. The Instance Refresh Tool provided by SAP adds a whole new level of convenience, but this process will always require proactive communication and an organized approach. By including all the right people and keeping a detailed task list, you can ensure the success of your next LMS refresh.

Need help with a refresh? Our team has assisted many clients refresh their SAP SuccessFactors instances through our support services. Contact us today to discuss your instance refresh needs.

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