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I take a high level approach when speaking with http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/weblogs?blog=/pub/u/8428 [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken], Solution Manager for SAP Business Suite on how the new Enhancement Package 5 can provide businesses with new functionality on-demand. I learn what new possibilities lie with the latest Enhancement Pack and get Christian’s perspective on what he sees as the future of Enhancement Packs. Below is an account of our conversation.

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What are the essentials of this new form of software delivery?

We want to enable our customers to consume new functionality in an easier and faster way. In the past, customer software upgrades happened every 5 -6 years mainly because the project was quite cost intensive, usually there were functional changes, and customers had to spend a lot of time adjusting those changes, testing and training their end users. Therefore an innovation gap came up between what we developed here at SAP and what the customers were able to digest .

With enhancement packages we now enable customers again to consume new functionality on a more regular basis. The idea of the improved software lifecycle is to get new functionality inactively into the customer’s system. We want to do this as part of the regular maintenance, which most of the customers do on an annual basis. Whenever customers need new functionality, they can get the bundle of inactive new functions as part of their general maintenance. Essentially, this will allow for a dedicated activation of new functionality in a very on-demand and granular kind of way.  Our goal is to enable customers to benefit from the latest SAP developments.

In the past we had upgrades. Let us consider one example:  If a customer had an SAP R/3 4.6C system, they went to the newer version of SAP R/3,  4.7 (Extension Set 2) after the upgrade functionality changed in the system. With SAP R/3 Enterprise 2.00, the architecture of inventory management in the treasury area was fundamentally changed, insofar as it was possible to update parallel depreciation areas. This change in the architecture required a migration and an initialization of all depreciation areas if customers implemented a release change to this or a higher release. Furthermore users needed to be retrained. Even though customers were happy with the existing treasury functionality you had no opportunity to keep on using it because the functional changes at that time were mandatory.

And that’s the big change. So with enhancement packages directly after the installation all new functionality is switched off – hence no existing user interfaces or processes will change  . There are no process changes or UI changes for any end user after the installation. This allows the installation together with the support packages as a maintenance activity, and later on the selected activation, on-demand, when the customer needs the new functionality. Please keep in mind that the usual regression test must be performed also after the Support/Enhancement Package update.

 

 What exactly is the difference between Support Packages, Enhancement Packages and Release Upgrades?

Customers can get different kinds of packages to enhance their solutions.

  • For corrections and legal changes we have support packages which are part of standard maintenance. Most customers apply these on a yearly basis.
  • We also offer as part of the maintenance the optional enhancement packages. Customers can pick and choose from the new functionality that is offered through the latest enhancement
  • The last category of delivering software is through a standard release. The point when a customer needs to make an upgrade.
  • The current strategy for the next couple of years is to offer optional enhancement packages. Another way to look at it: pure support packages are focused on corrections and the enhancement packages focus on new functionality.

 

What is included in the latest enhancement packages for SAP Business Suite?

When we talk about enhancement packages, we only talk about enhancement packages for SAP ERP, which is the core enterprise resource planning solution from SAP. We plan to deliver the first enhancement packages for other applications like CRM, SRM and SCM together with enhancement package 5 for SAP ERP in July of this year. These new core and industry specific functionalities include UI simplification and service oriented architecture enablement, whereby the latest services are delivered.

With SAP enhancement package 4 for SAP ERP among other things we:

  • Enhanced Financials with Financial Supply Chain Management and Treasury & Risk Management
  • Improved E-recruiting and Performance Management in the Human Capital Management area
  • Introduced a new service Procurement scenario
  • Enhanced our 25+ industry solutions

 

If a customer wants to install an enhancement package what do they need to do to prepare for the project?

Installing an enhancement package is comparable to a normal maintenance project plus some extra efforts.

Read the guides. Prepare for the enhancement. Ensure the administrator can perform all the work that needs to be completed. Afterwards, some adjustments will likely be made because clients typically modify or enhance their SAP solution. Regression tests should also follow (depending on the customers’ requirements), which ensures the most important processes work.  Based on our statistics, the average timeframe is approximately two to three months.

 

What do you see as the future for enhancement packages?

 

We plan to start Ramp-Up for Enhancement Package 5 for SAP ERP in 2010. With Enhancement Package 5, we improve overall implementation procedure and individual tools. We also have some cool testing tools available now that allow targeted testing. That was a very common request from customers. In case new functionality will be activated, one can see exactly what happens and what parts of the application need to be retested. Check out the enhanced tool available through the SAP Enterprise Support offering: Business Process Change Analyzer.

We also improved the installation procedure. It is now easier and faster.

Another important point is switch framework, or visibility into the business functions. Until now it is only possible to switch on new functionality, it is not possible to switch it off. This requires customers to set up a test system or sandbox where they can try and see what the new functionality is and if they want it. If customers are sure, it can then be carried out in their own productive landscape. To not force customers to have this additional system, we started to have some reversible business functions. It is not that all functions are reversible, but we have a first set of 30-40 different functions. If this is well-received by our clients, we will plan to offer more and more of those reversible business functions in the future.

 

Can you share any measurable benefits with the readers about how others have succeeded as a result of enhancement packages?

In the educational institutional environment, we have a number of clients who successfully installed enhancement packages. Some of those benefits include:

  • enabling more student-services without increasing personnel budget
  • enhancing student experience through an intuitive portal interface
  • 50% decrease in time to process application, therefore increase in applications processed per staff member
  • reducing paper cost
  • a decrease in data entry effort to create/update student records
  • real-time online reporting

 

Anything else I’ve missed or you would like to mention?

We now have more than 7000 customers using enhancement packages productively. That’s a great success as it proves that customers are now able to regularly consume new functionality.

 

Where can someone go to find out more about SAP Enhancement Packages?

EHP Info Center:

http://service.sap.com/erp-ehp

SAP.com EHP Info:

http://www.sap.com/solutions/business-suite/erp/enhancement_packages.epx

Business Suite 7 Innovations 2010 Overview:

http://www.sap.com/solutions/business-suite/innovations2010/index.epx

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