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Where the heck have I been – to visit Orpheous’s wife.

So it has been about 8 weeks since my last blog post and I have been  itching to get back to writing again, but I have been so very busy in  the middle of the go-live of my MDMP Combined Upgrade and Unicode  conversion go-live that I have literally had no time to myself.

That  project has just consumed the last 14 months of my life, and I would  like to give you a brief overview of the project and some of the things I  have learnt on it. Just so that you do not run into the same issues  that I did.

The first thing you need to know is what does MDMP  stand for – Multi-display, Multi-processing. Basically it allows SAP to  display different character sets. In the non-Unicode world there are not  enough ASCII characters to display all the available characters in  languages like Arabic, Cyrillic, Latin, Chinese and other pictoral  languages. So it was decided to give languages different ‘code pages’  and the associated ASCII values were defined by the International  Standards Organisation (ISO) – although that did not stop companies  tweaking them (which caused me great issues) In the Unicode world, there  is enough ASCII values for everyone and so all characters can be  represented – Woo Hoo!!.

For my project, I had a smallish  database, about 500GB on an R/3 4.6c system (the eagle eyed/practised  among you will spot my early pain). This system had over 10 languages in  5 code pages

When faced with such  a sight, the first sane reaction is to run for the hills, the other  reaction is to crack your knuckles and get stuck in – I guess that  pretty much marks me as not being sane.

In a stroke of luck, the  client was subject to rigorous compliancy, this meant that documentation  and process standards were enforced throughout the project. This had  the benefit of ensuring that no-one could go off-piste and do something  unsanctioned. I have seen projects where someone has been left watching  something for too long and done something stupid out of boredom.

Once  I got my breath back after looking at the complexity of the task ahead  of me, I sat down with my Technical Design Authority (who had already  been on the project for a year) to plan how we would tackle this beast.  It was at this point that we started hitting major stumbling blocks,  some of which were not purely technical, but the effects were felt  primarily in the technical parts of the project, and have taught me some  very valuable lessons which are not easily forgotten.

On the  positive side the project did go live, a little later than planned,  about 6 months later than originally planned. This was primarily due to  data issues with the several languages, that meant a great deal of data  analysis needed to be completed by the technical and business analysts.

I will explore these issues in greater detail in some more posts, so  that people can side step the issues that I faced.

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