|I often have the opportunity to speak with customers
who are considering an upgrade to their SAP systems,
and a few common themes are regularly discussed
during those meetings. When an SAP customer first
thinks about making the move to mySAP ERP, I
routinely hear the following questions:
1. Where can we find more information about upgrading
to mySAP ERP?
2. What's the best approach
to an upgrade?
3. What's the biggest challenge
we will face with our upgrade?
This article will answer these questions and provide
you with numerous links and resources for more information.
You'll also learn how to arrange for your own
SAP Service Select for upgrades assessment, and what
this service comprises.
1. Where Do We Find More Information?
The best and most authoritative repository of information
about upgrading is the SAP Service Marketplace (http://service.sap.com).
Given the enormous quantities of information available
at the Service Marketplace, finding the specific
information you need can be daunting if you are not
sure where to look. Fortunately, information specifically
relevant to upgrades can be found at the SAP
Upgrade Info Center (http://service.sap.com/upgrade),
the main landing page for customers planning and
executing system upgrades. The site contains links
to hundreds of documents related not only to mySAP
ERP transitions, but also upgrades to mySAP Customer
Relationship Management (mySAP CRM), SAP Business
Information Warehouse (SAP BW), SAP NetWeaver Portal
(formerly SAP Enterprise Portal), and other SAP offerings
(see sidebar below).
One of the key tools you can find at the Upgrade Info
Center is the Upgrade Roadmap version 2.0, SAP's
upgrade methodology, which contains application, technical,
and project management information to help guide your
upgrade project from planning to go-live. The Upgrade
Roadmap contains phases (from project preparation to
production cutover and support), accelerators (release
notes, documentation, and various links to SAP — a
total of 246 accelerators in all), and deliverables
(such as sample project plans and issue-tracking documents).1
2. What's the Best Approach to an Upgrade?
When describing mySAP ERP, words such as innovative,
open, insightful, and flexible come to mind. I believe
that it is safe to say SAP R/3 was never discussed
in those terms. As more and more customers come to
understand the vision of mySAP ERP and realize that
along with this application platform they get functionality
they have always wanted — a
data warehouse (SAP BW), advanced HR capabilities,
consolidation methods with SAP Strategic Enterprise
Management (SAP SEM), and perhaps most importantly
the SAP NetWeaver integration platform — they
begin to see how different and extensive mySAP ERP
is when compared to SAP R/3. With this realization
comes uncertainty about how to plan upgrades to mySAP
ERP and how to take advantage of all of this great
Customers are always surprised when I tell them that
their upgrades need not be complex, and in fact should
be easier than any other SAP R/3 upgrade they have
ever performed — provided they approach it properly.
So what is the best approach to a mySAP ERP upgrade
project? Customers must ask themselves the following
- First and foremost, what do we want out of
mySAP ERP? Or in more familiar terms, do we want
to perform a "technical-only" upgrade
or an upgrade with new functionality?
- Do we already
have SAP BW or SEM or NetWeaver Portal running?
functions do we need on day one? Can our upgrade
project initially make the move to SAP ERP Core
Component (ECC 5.0), the replacement of SAP R/3,
with a follow-on project to add other SAP components?
- How long do we want our upgrade project
to last, and how much impact do we want this
project to have onour organization?
As a general rule, introducing new functionality into
an upgrade project increases the scope, thereby increasing
some mixture of the project duration, project cost,
or project resources required. It also will increase
the overall impact (or risk) of your upgrade project
upon your organization.
I frequently recommend that customers start
by performing a
technical-only upgrade, but follow
that up almost immediately with a
functionality upgrade. By upgrading technically
first, you bring your entire organization
under the same platform with minimal change;
by adding new functionality in a later
phase, you affect a smaller portion of
However, if your upgrade to mySAP ERP requires
extensive end-user training, and the new
functionality you want to layer on top
affects the same user group as the ERP
upgrade, then I would
advocate doing both transitions at the
same time. For example, if a customer currently
on SAP R/3 4.0B plans to upgrade to mySAP
ERP and is considering implementing mySAP
Supplier Relationship Management (mySAP
SRM) for their purchasing requirements,
then I would implement everything at once
because the differences between SAP R/3
purchasing and purchasing in mySAP ERP
can require substantial training.
3. What's the Biggest Upgrade Challenge We Will
Most customers moving to mySAP ERP are upgrading from
SAP R/3 version 4.6C and below. One of the largest
challenges these customers will encounter is migrating
their custom modifications, including user exits, customer
programs, customer fields, and customer transactions
(see Figure 1).
|SAP Upgrade Survey Results,
Indicating mySAP ERP Upgrade Challenges
For example, as a Unicode-compliant system, mySAP ERP
is designed to support multilanguage capabilities in
a single system. As a result, this requires a more
intensive ABAP syntax check. Even if your organization
is currently not converting its systems to Unicode,
you may have to modify many of your custom programs
and fields to conform to this new standard.2
On average, the modification adjustment time will account
for approximately 30 percent of the total upgrade time.
This 30 percent includes not only the ABAP syntax check,
but also the time and effort spent reverting custom
code back to the Unicode standard. The more custom
programming you have means the more adjusting and testing
required to upgrade.
SAP provides standard tools to help with ABAP program
error recognition, along with a wide variety of consulting
services to identify and correct custom code issues.
Transaction code UCCHECK, for example, identifies custom
objects — including programs and fields — that
will not pass the Unicode ABAP syntax check. Transaction
code SCI identifies issues with performance, security,
and syntax in customer-specific programs.
address the challenges of upgrading customization-rich
industry solutions, SAP has introduced
and enhancement framework" technology
with the mySAP ERP 2005 release.3
Customers on SAP R/3 version 4.6C
can take advantage of a couple OSS notes
that will allow them to download the functionality
provided with UCCHECK and SCI. By downloading
and running these programs in your current
environment, you can get a great head start
on your upgrade projects.
Next Steps: SAP Service Select for Upgrades Assessment
After reading this article and visiting
the SAP Service Marketplace, you likely
will decide you still need more assistance
in determining your upgrade roadmap
to mySAP ERP. To help SAP R/3 and mySAP
ERP customers plan and answer their upgrade-related
questions, SAP Services has developed the
SAP Service Select for upgrades assessment.
The assessment is designed to help you
answer four questions about your company's
- Is our organization technically ready to
- What are the functional and technical
benefits of upgrading to mySAP ERP?
- How long
will our upgrade takeand what resources will
we need to upgrade our system?
- What do we
do with our user exits and custom programs?
Customers interested in the Service Select for upgrades
assessment can contact their SAP Customer Engagement
Manager (CEM) for more information. From there, we
will set up a call with you to figure out exactly
where your company stands in the upgrade process.
We want to get inside information into your business
process flows, your major pain points, what systems
you're currently working with, and what your
upgrade plan entails.
Then we move into a preparation phase, where
we actually install
some programs into your system and execute
reports that provide additional information
and show us where we should focus our assessment
efforts. After an onsite visit, you will
receive a detailed project blueprint, a
resource plan with both internal and external
requirements, and an issue-by-issue process
The Service Select for upgrades assessment
allows us to look at the
functionalities of mySAP ERP and let
you know precisely what you can take advantage
of, based on your specific needs and pain
points, to streamline
your upgrade and business processes.
Upgrading to mySAP ERP need not be
a time-consuming or resource-straining
ordeal. With careful planning, the right
tools, and adequate support, your company
can successfully plan and execute your
upgrade project to quickly reap the benefits
of the mySAP ERP solution. SAP Services
has extensive upgrade experience and can
assist with your modification adjustment,
upgrade project management, and functional
I also urge those of you who manage or participate
in your organization's major SAP upgrade
projects to attend the mySAP ERP for Managers
where I am a featured speaker, to gain
a comprehensive understanding about moving
to mySAP ERP and to ask me any upgrade questions
you may have.
1 - For an introduction
to the Upgrade Roadmap
methodology, see "How SAP Solution
Can Smooth Your Next Upgrade Project" by
Doreen Baseler in the January-March 2005
of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).
Unicode is a coding system that provides
a unique number for every character,
no matter what the platform, program, or
language. For more information, visit www.unicode.org.
3 - For more information
on this technology, see "A New and Improved Approach
to SAP Industry Solutions: How the Switch
and Enhancement Framework Now Consolidates
SAP Industry Solutions with the ERP Core" by
Karl Kessler in the July-September 2005
issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).