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Last year the area of the US that I live in was invaded by the Cicada. These annoyingly noisy insects emerge from the ground every 13 to 17 years and spend one summer driving the local inhabitants crazy with there buzzing noises and damage to trees.

Much like the arrival of the Cicada, another seminal event is about to befall the company I work for: a SAP Upgrade! Now my experience is that Upgrades and Cicadas have one thing in common – they both create a lot of noise. Right now the announcement was made at my company and people are already talking nervously about what a disaster an upgrade can be. Although upgrading any system as large as R/3 will always be a challenge (it wouldn’t be any fun otherwise), there is no reason it has be a disaster. Hopefully that is the story that this weblog series will tell.

The plans are to use the remainder of this calendar year to upgrade our 4.6C R/3 system to ERP2004 (Enterprise Core Components 5.0 and WebAS 640). We will quickly follow this activity with a conversion from MDMP to Unicode. Since this is an event that many other companies will face in the coming year or two, I thought I would share my company’s experiences through a series of Weblogs.

It seems appropriate that I first begin with a little background on where we are now. I work for the Electronics division of my company. This division operates autonomously from the other main division – furniture. We went live originally on 46C in 2001. So for the Electronics division this will be our first real upgrade.

On the other hand, many people working on our implementation team originally came from the furniture division (including myself). Furniture started their R/3 implementation in 1996 on release 3.0C. Those of us that have been around since the beginning have a few upgrades under our belts – 3.0C to 3.0D, 3.0D to 3.0F, 3.0F to 3.1H and the dreaded 3.1H to 4.6C. Personally I have also upgraded a standalone WebAS system from 610 to 620 and finally recently to 640. As you can see we will have a wide range of people with different experiences involved in this upgrade.

Our current R/3 system (4.6C) is fully rolled out at all of our Electronics Facilities (North America, Asia, and Europe). As we rolled out R/3 we implemented just about all the core modules and functionality (PLM, MM, PP, FI, SD, WM, QM, and HR). In addition we also use international HR and we operate in an EU member country. Therefore we have the HR-CE installed (which a considerable number of EU OSS Notes).

We have made an attempt to stay with standard functionality and not modify core SAP. We have done a very good job of this across FI, PP, MM and SD. However we have extensive custom development in our QM module that is interwoven (through User Exits and Interfaces) with the standard functionality. We have the following number of Customer Objects in each category: 696 Programs, 57 Classes, 420 Tables, and 488 Function Modules. Let’s hope they make the transition through the upgrade fairly well because we only have 3 ABAP developers (counting myself) to get through this!

Our landscape on the other hand is not too complicated. We have had a standalone WebAS system for several years where we do BSP, WebService, and other development that uses the latest SAP Technology. We also use the SAP Content and Cache Servers as part of the PLM DMS solution in R/3. We use SAPConsole running on Georgia Softworks Telent for RF access and Loftware for Label printing. We have access to a BW system, but it is really controlled by another group within our corporation. They are just about to perform their upgrade to 3.5 so there should be no problem connecting our upgraded system to theirs.

Like I mentioned earlier we are an MDMP system running with Latin-1, Latin-2 and Thai. During the upgrade we will add Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) and very quickly after go-live convert to Unicode. Our R/3 system runs on HP-UX with Oracle as the Database software. During the upgrade process we will also be replacing all the hardware across the entire landscape.

Table of Contents
The following section will maintain links to all of the subsequent diary entries for easy access. I will follow the posting of this weblog shortly with the first installment for March. During the beginning planning phases (i.e. boring) I will probably only post about once a month or so. But as things get interesting I will try and keep up with more frequent, but smaller, entries.

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