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What next for your ERP system?

I recently attended a SAP partner session in the UK where the focus was Enhancement Packages.

There were some really strong messages that SAP were making and through this blog I intend to share some of them.

  1. Clients are upgrading. The figures that were presented were very strong. It is safe to say that SAP ERP 6 is the most successful ERP platform for SAP in terms of client usage. It is very clearly the most common ERP version out there.
  2. When clients have upgraded to SAP ERP 6 – they have done so as a purely technical exercise. There are some clients who upgraded to make use of new SAP ERP 6 functionality. Other clients have upgraded due to their previous ERP version coming out of SAP Support.
  3. Cost is a key driver – certain clients were finding that changes to hardware and licences were forcing clients to consider upgrading. The standard maintenance for SAP ERP 6 is the longest SAP has ever offered.

These messages whilst strong are just the side story. Since 2006 when SAP ERP 6 was released, enhancement packages have not been front page news. That is not to say that the take up of Enhancement Packages has not been good – far from it. SAP provided some good figures regarding the take up of Enhancement Packages.

The timing of the message could not have been better. In a couple of week Enhancement Package 5 for SAP ERP 6, and Enhancement Package 1 for the other components in the Business Suite 7 are due to go into “Ramp up”.

Enhancement Packages across the business suite are now being aligned – it seems there will be a new release once a year. (Please note this has not been confirmed)

How does this affect you?

If you are an existing ERP Customer you will be in one of two camps.

Currently on SAP ERP 6

OK – if you are currently on ERP 6 you have either re-implemented or upgraded your existing ERP system. You are now well placed to review and then utilise new functionality that is available in the latest Enhancement Packages. The key message to you is to review all of the available functionality and then drip feed the new functionality you require. Apart from the new functionality, the key benefit of Enhancement Packages is that you can switch on specific new functionality, and perform an implementation in isolation. SAP provides tools to confirm the areas that are impacted within each area so a full integration test of the whole system is not required. This will provide a much more Agile methodology to implement new functionality.

Not on SAP ERP 6

I will be clear, there is still a fair chunk of customers who are not on ERP 6. There are a number of reasons why customers are not on ERP 6 and I will not go into too much detail about this. With 4.6 about to go out of mainstream SAP support the volume of upgrades or re-implementations over the coming year will be significant. The message to the customers who are considering ERP 6 is clear.

Review the new functionality within both ERP 6 and the Enhancement Packages to build a business case.

“How are SAP assisting its customers?”

Business Function Prediction.

The last area that was covered was potentially the most beneficial. SAP have created a service to review of an existing ERP solution for an existing customer. The customer can be on either SAP ERP 6 or an older version of ERP back to 4.6. The review will look at the new functionality that is available in SAP ERP 6 and the latest Enhancement Packages. The output of the service is a report that details recommendations of new functionality that the customer could benefit from.

I was personally very impressed with this service. I can see this tool being valuable for a range of customers. It is beneficial for customers who want to write a business case for an SAP ERP 6 upgrade or re-implementation. It will also be beneficial for customers who are on SAP ERP 6 as they can use this service to plan upcoming SAP ERP 6 implementations of new functionality.

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  • With all of the talk in the industry over maintenance fees, enhancement packs are the one area where we can see a return in terms of functionality.  Customers should more strongly evaluate these offerings.