Editions of this series: 1 – Get Ready for SAP Enhancement Packages (2): The differences between enhancement packages and release upgrades – 3 – 4
Why do I start this blog series?
In numerous conversations with customers, user groups and partners, I had the chance to get insights on how these stakeholders understand and perceive enhancement packages. I would like to inform the SAP sommunity and share this experience as well as outline key information. Sometimes factors are overseen or misunderstood. I would like to take the opportunity to to proactively provide answers on frequently asked questions.
In this first part of my blog series ‘Be ready for enhancement packages’, I will introduce enhancement packages, explain for WHO this is a relevant topic, and why. In proximate parts of this series, I would like to address more specific topics, such as the following:
– Which is the right timing for installing an enhancement package?
– Which testing activities do enhancement packages provoke?
– How to embed enhancement packages into an SAP ERP 6.0 upgrade / new installation?
– What’s the difference between enhancement packages and release upgrades?
– What are equivalent support package stacks?
SAP ERP is the main application of SAP’s solution portfolio, launched in year 2005 and constantly enriched with new and enhanced capabilities and enterprise services.
What is an enhancement package?
To simplify implementations for all corporations using SAP ERP, SAP has changed the shipment methodology for all enhancements: Since December 2006, all enhancements are shipped annually with enhancement packages instead of further SAP ERP releases. if you are using or plan to use SAP R/3 or SAP ERP, then you should get familiar with enhancement packages.
Why enhancement packages?
In order to be in a good starting position for driving new implementions, customers always needed to go through technical upgrade projects. These were often difficult to sell to the business – especially because the business value was only obvious after a time consuming analysis of current needs and new features.
The idea behind enhancement packages is to move away from the upgrade methodology and to rather use synergy effects with existing maintenance cycles. The time slots that a customer plans for his (often annual) support package stack update are predestinated to technically include new functions – just those portions of new functions that the customer likes.
The enhancement package methodology also enables SAP to bring functional enhancements to the customer much quicker than before. The reduced cycle times from development to productive customers use are shortened. Thereby, customer feedback may arrive faster, so SAP can adjust new functions earlier.
What’s the price for an enhancement package?
There is no price tag for SAP enhancement package for SAP ERP. They are covered with the standard maintenance agreement for SAP ERP – just as further releases were covered. As before, only licensed parts of the application may be used. Once a dedicated part of the application is licensed, the capabilities behind may be used on any release or any enhancement package.
Which is the right timing for enhancement packages?
Customers who are preparingtheir next support package stack implementation on their SAP ERP 6.0 system. (Many customers do this once a year.)
Customers who planning an upgrade or a new installation to SAP ERP 6.0
What’s so special about enhancement packages?
The enhancement package methodology changes the way how customers bring functional enhancements to their SAP ERP system. Instead of doing large upgrade projects every several years, this new methodology allows customers to split this effort into smaller, more regular portions. The regular maintenance cycles shall be used for implementing enhancement packages.
All enhancements are hidden behind switches (using the Switch Framework Technology from SAP NetWeaver). Therefore the pure installation of an enhancement package does not lead to a different system behaviour, as long as all new functions are kept ‘switched-off’ (inactive). Only the activation of so-calles ‘business functions’ will lead to visible updates in the user interfaces, transactions, customizing interfaces, etc.. However, since the installation is the point of time when all new coding is entered, modification adjustment (SPAU, JSPM) (if modifications exist) and regression testing have to be done! Since the installation of the enhancement package is supposed to be done in one step with implementing the underlying Support Package Stack, there is no namable extra effort for SPAU or regression testing.
To configure and use the new functionality that comes along with an enhancement package, the customer picks and chooses the relevant business functions and switches these on. At that time, no further coding is entered, no further regression testing or modification adjustment is needed. The activation leads to a change of the system behaviour in the activated functional domains only. These parts are precisely described by SAP. Only for the activated business functions, configuration, acceptance testing and end-user training needs to be done. All other parts of the application remain unchanged.
Example: One customer installed some selected parts of enhancement package 2 in order to use a small piece of functionality within Travel Management. The project was completed after a few 4 weeks only. Other business processes that were executed on the same software component, e.g. payroll, were not affected at all. These end-users did not even realize that something in the system has changed. At the same time, travellers could directly use the new Travel Management feature. The implementation of enhancement package 2 was perceived as even simpler than implementing support packages! Without the enhancement package methodology, this customer would have been forced to wait for the next release-upgrade (more than a year away) before the new feature could be used.
Where can I get further information on enhancement packages?
An information center around SAP enhnacement packages for SAP ERP is available on SAP Service Marketplace, alias ~erp-ehp. This is the central point of access for information around the enhancement package strategy, the technical concept, and of course the functions that are shipped with each enhancement package.
I am open for any other topics you would like to hear about.