June 19, 2023
Across biotech startups and global pharmaceutical companies alike, Veeva Vault continues to expand market share. With 1,300+ customers, Veeva Systems is one of the largest providers of cloud solutions for the life sciences industry. At the heart of its Research & Development (R&D) solutions is the Veeva Vault Platform, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that enables unified management of processes from early drug development to post-marketing stages.
Whether you're interested in Veeva Vault or already implementing it, it's important to consider what happens after you reach go-live. With a successful implementation, process bottlenecks are eliminated, and time efficiencies are gained. As your business grows, however, your functional groups' needs will change. Furthermore, both industry and regulatory standards are continuously evolving. Maintaining user adoption and technical proficiency requires continuous improvement.
How will Veeva keep its software current? How will you leverage Veeva's innovation to your organization's advantage? In this post, we will deep dive into Veeva's upgrade methodology and identify considerations for your company's Vault release management.
Veeva has a defined, regular upgrade cycle for its platform and applications. The timing that you receive features depends on whether you have a General Release or Limited Release Vault.
In every upgrade, Veeva includes customer feature requests, functionalities aligned with Veeva's long-term roadmap, and bug fixes. While some enhancements are auto-enabled (mandatory), others are elective and require a system administrator to set up. Data model changes are often included to support evolving needs and new features.
General Release Vaults receive significant product enhancements three times a year, with each release designated by its year and chronological version (this year's releases will be 23R1, 23R2, and 23R3). Releases typically occur around April, August, and December, and are communicated six weeks in advance.
Veeva's general and limited upgrades are scheduled for Friday evenings (Pacific Standard Time), minimizing disruption to users' day-to-day work. Before 2023, production Vault downtimes lasted as long as six hours, but recent enhancements have reduced this duration to as low as 30 minutes.
Limited Release Vaults receive the same product enhancements except in smaller batches every 3 to 5 weeks. Limited Releases are communicated one week in advance. Unlike General Releases, Limited Releases are not validated. We find that nearly all customers' production environments are General Release, but sandboxes may be Limited Release.
When issues occur in production Vaults, customers cannot always wait until a General or Limited release to resolve it. For this purpose, Veeva conducts maintenance releases (also known as "hotfixes") to address bugs as soon as possible. These are not scheduled at set times, but customers are typically given 24 hours' notice that there will be a short service disruption. A comprehensive list of fixes is made available on Vault Help. Some examples of fixed defects include:
Your Vault will receive hotfixes regardless of being General Release or Limited Release.
Veeva offers multiple self-service resources for your organization to stay informed on releases.
Every release, Veeva generates a Risk Impact Assessment (RIA) that documents new capabilities across all Vault products. This assessment provides a feature description, Veeva-determined GxP Risk, as well as information about the feature's enablement and visibility. This document is available on Vault Help, Veeva's self-service information hub.
Because the RIA is geared towards all Vault customers, some sections may not be relevant for your organization. We advise customers to use this document as a baseline and expand upon it in accordance with company-specific guidelines.
Approximately four weeks prior to a Veeva Vault Release, your system administrator can create a copy of your current Vault based on the configuration of the upcoming release. This is called a Pre-Release Vault. Because this environment closely mirrors your existing production Vault, this is an optimal tool for assessing validation impact of new features and ensuring that the new version doesn't deleteriously impact previously implemented customizations or workflows. You may also explore configuration/administrator-enabled enhancements and determine whether to implement them for your continuous improvement strategy.
Veeva Connect is Veeva's online customer community. This forum enables customers to connect not only with Veeva's product team directly, but also other life science professionals. You can join product-specific communities to watch release webinars, discuss best practices, and learn about solutions used by other customers in the field. For example, if your organization has implemented the full Veeva RIM Suite, we recommend joining the RIM Publishing, Registrations, and Submissions/Submissions Archive groups.
Lastly, Veeva sends release communications to subscribed users. This can be set up in your Vault by opting into Product Announcements under each desired user's profile. You may also enable Service Availability Notifications to receive information on maintenance releases.
To prepare your organization for Vault upgrades, here are our top 5 recommendations:
With a defined Veeva Vault Release Management Plan, your organization is well-positioned to assess the health of your Vault(s) and determine if there is potential for optimization. However, release management can be complicated and may require expert guidance. ProPharma's R&D Technology team comprises experienced consultants who can help you assess risk impact, optimize your current Veeva Vault systems, and maximize your investment of Veeva Vault solutions. If you are interested in partnering with ProPharma to drive your digital transformation, learn more about our Veeva Vault Support, Training, and Software Implementation Services.
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