Many of you will operate two Chris21 databases. Your Live system and your Test system. This is the recommended minimum so that you have one system to do your testing in, rather than making unnecessary changes in your Live environment.

While this two database configuration is sufficient, a much better set up is to have four Chris21 databases. Four Chris21 databases will provide efficiencies for both the Payroll department and the Chris21 Administrator or IT department. Below is a suggested setup:

  • Live – this is your production Chris21 database.
  • Test – maintain your test system as the exact same version as your live system.
  • Development – this is the system you should apply upgrades and updates to.
  • End of Year – critical for Payroll so that they have access to last year’s data if need be.

These four Chris21 databases each have their own specific purpose and if used correctly will allow you to manage Chris21 in the most correct and efficient manner.

Importantly, your Test, Development and End of Year Chris21 databases should be installed on a different server from your Live system. This is critical as it will eliminate any downtime to your Live system during upgrades. You need to shut down services during upgrades and sometimes while testing. If all of your databases are on the same server you will lose access to your Live system as well.

I want to explain in more detail how each of your Chris21 databases should be used. The Live system should only be used for entering live data so that one is self-explanatory.

Test environment

Your test system should be a faithful copy of your Live system. This means that the version number and any updates should be the same as those in Live. It’s important that these systems are identical so that you can troubleshoot any problems that you may discover in Live. If you can isolate and fix a problem in Test then you can be sure that this fix can be safely applied in your Live system.

Development environment

Use this environment to upgrade to new versions of Chris21 and also to apply any updates that may be required to fix issues. Once upgrades and updates have been applied, you can use this environment to thoroughly test for any potential issues. As a minimum you will want to run a full payrun and check results for accuracy. For this reason it is a good idea to copy your Live data to the Development database prior to the upgrade so that you have fresh data to test with.

If your testing is successful you can then upgrade your Live and Test system.

End of Year environment

The End of Year environment can be very useful for Payroll. As a payroll officer there will be times when you will want to run reports over the previous year’s data. The End of Year environment is ideal for this. During EOY processing you will come to the step where you need to clear data ready for the new financial year. It is just prior to this step that you should copy your data to the End of Year database.

Another advantage of having an EOY database is that you can access archived data. What I mean is that if you are regularly archiving your data throughout the year, you can always use your EOY database to access data that may have been archived rather than having to restore this data into your Live database. See my blog Chris21 Archiving – the Pros and Cons for more information about archiving and Chris21 housekeeping.

I hope this article has given you some insight into a best practice approach to your Chris21 database management. This setup will let you manage your upgrades and testing will as little impact as possible on your Live environment. You may do things differently and that may work well for you. If so, leave a comment. I would be interested to hear about it to get a different perspective.