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Have SAP’s Enhancement Packages lived up to their hype?

Back in 2006 SAP released a new delivery model. ERP6 was released and presented as the “go-to” release within the SAP ERP world. The difference with this version to the ECC5 version released a year earlier was that new functionality would be released via Enhancement Packages and therefore customers would not need to perform painful and costly upgrades to obtain the latest technology. This was a shift in direction for SAP and one that was well received. SAP said new functionality would be released every 6 months, and in 2007 the first Enhancement Package was released. In June 2011 the 5thEnhancement Package was released, and there is talk of Enhancement Package 6 going into ramp up in December 2011. The pace of the releases has clearly slowed from every 6 months, and it seems now Enhancement Packages will be released once a year, or maybe once every 2 years as the Enhancement Package strategy has been rolled out to other SAP products such as CRM and the release dates are now aligned.


What have been the positives?


During the first couple of years SAP released different drops of functionality via Enhancement Packages. New clients moving into SAP ERP would gain the benefits of the new functionality available within the Enhancement Packages. Customers who were upgrading to ERP 6 from a previous ERP version would move to an ERP6 version with the latest Enhancement Packages installed. It is widely acknowledged that the majority of Upgrades to ERP6 were purely technical – so no new functionality were activated or considered as part of upgrade activity. This methodology was to reduce the cost of the Upgrade and to reduce the stress and risk of an Upgraded solution to the business. At one stage I received figures of 90% of upgrades to ERP 6 were purely technical.


The other benefit has been the volume of new functionality being released to ERP 6 customers. In 2011 ERP 6 is now the most widely used version of SAP ERP and one of the main reasons is the new functionality available in ERP 6 and the Enhancement Packages. It is clear SAP has invested heavily in developing the core SAP ERP product. It is important to note that this development has been made at a time when SAP has been investing in other technology, acquiring the likes of Business Objects, Sybase and other large software companies. It is very clear, that the technology, functionality and usability of SAP ERP6 makes this version a much better product than any of the previous versions.



What have been the negatives?


I believe there are two core negatives from the Enhancement Package journey. The first one is visibility. SAP has been religiously providing the documentation around the Enhancement Packages but the messages have not been received by Customers. I believe there have been around 1000 pieces of new functionality released within the Enhancement Packages which is commendable, however how does the Customer know which are the right ones for them? SAP have recently released the Business Function Prediction tool to provide some guidelines and recommendation for Customers as to identify relevant functionality that they should implement based on a Customers transactional data. This is a good tool – but in my opinion SAP is not making enough noise about this tool which in turn is leaving Customers in the dark about some of the quick wins that they could achieve.


One of the main selling points around Enhancement Packages was the “ease of use”. Enhancement Packages would need to be installed, and then the relevant Business Function Set would need to be activated. The messages that I received indicated that rather than performing full system testing to activate the new pieces of functionality, testing would just be required in the functional area of the piece of functionality. In practice this is not the case. After installing the Enhancement Packages SAP are now saying that the system will need to be Regression tested. To clarify, Regression testing is required, even though none of the new functionality available in the plethora of Business Function Sets have been activated. For some customers this is not seen as acceptable. The true cost of moving from Enhancement Package 4 to Enhancement Package 5 can be seen as prohibitive.



My personal view is that the ease of use is there. It is easy to activate a Business Function Set. It is pretty simple, so simple that it is a task I have performed a number of times now. However to get to the scenario where I can activate the Business Function Set, that is a different question, it is not easy. For a typical Customer it could take a week to install an Enhancement Package on a development client. This will mean the client would need to be available to developers, and therefore the activity of planning to install Enhancement Packages needs to be carefully planned.





From a personal point of view, Enhancement Packages have not lived up to their billing. I think SAP has done a poor job in promoting Enhancement Packages and the relevant functionality. Customers also need to be accountable, as they should be more pro-active in finding out the hidden treasures within their shiny new ERP6 system. My real concern with Enhancement Packages focuses around the volume of effort required to install Enhancement Packages. It is clear once this has been done, ERP6 users have a wide variety of new functionality that is only a few clicks away from being activated. That is the clear benefit of Enhancement Packages, and one that has not gone away. I await with interest what will occur after Enhancement Package 6, and would love to know how the successes of Enhancement Packages are viewed within Walldorf and SAP’s senior management team.

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  • No matter how EHPs are hyped/announced being as easy to install they are technically system upgrades – as going e. g. from 4.7 to ECC 5.0 because

    – the kernel is exchanged to a higher level
    – the basis components are exchanged to a higher level
    – you have to regenerate all programs (SGEN)
    – SAPehpi is listed under “Upgrade tools” in SMP
    – you have to implement an “upgrade fix”
    – the upgraded phases are almost identical to a general upgrade

    IMHO EHP4 could as well be listed ERP 7.0 or ERP 8.0, this wouldn’t make a difference.

    I think that EHPs were a marketing trick to deliver new customer demanded functionality, although it was said, that there will be no “new ERP version” before 2012 (investment protection).


    • Markus – your more technical points are spot on.

      From a CIO’s view – if he bought ERP6 licences in say 2007 – he will now be in standard support for a much longer period with the ability to call on new functionality under his current licence agreement.

      It feels like the every 6 month approach to Enhancement Packs was the wrong decision, and SAP have revised this.

      • > From a CIO’s view – if he bought ERP6 licences in say 2007 – he will now be in standard support for a much longer period with the ability to call on new functionality under his current licence agreement.

        What would have prevented SAP to do that despite releasing new version? They did that in the past, I know quite a few customers who are still running 4.6c which is still valid as starting release for upgrades. 🙂

        • Hi Markus – as far as I am aware 4.6c is not in mainstream support.

          It will be in extended support – where an extra X% is added to the licence cost.

          It left mainstream at the end of 2006 – so 2007 was a time to get a new deal on SAP ERP licences

          ERP6 now leaves mainsteam at the end of 2015.

          • > …as far as I am aware 4.6c is not in mainstream support.


            > It left mainstream at the end of 2006 – so 2007 was a time to get a new deal on SAP ERP licences

            you’re right – but I don’t see what would be the difference between having an ERP 6.0 with extended maintenance till 2015 by having an ERP 7.0 or 8.0 or whatever too.

          • Some people have said Enhancement Pack 4 from a NetWeaver point of view was totally different and therefore could have been ERP 7.

            I think SAP have been reactive. The Upgrade from say 4.0 to 4.6c was a big jump. SAP released lots of ENJOY transaction codes, and so by performing simple technical upgrades the users were really impacted.

            5 years later and the release of ERP6 – they wanted something to remove the fear around Upgrades, and so came up with the Enhancement Packs.

            It provided confidence that you were not buying something that would be replaced a year later (normally during the actual upgrade timescale). Further to this, SAP was saying you did not need new licences to get the new functionality.

            Sooner or later Enhancement Pack X will turn into ERP 7 or ERP 8 with new licences – extended mainstream maintenance and so on. Could this be business by design?

  • As Markus explained, regardless of what SAP says, EhP installation is technically an upgrade.
    People don’t ask right questions whenever something new is introduced. This is not SAP’s problem. This is an issue with the customers and the community. And whoever asks such questions are in minority and they’re ignored.
    If customers activate new functionality X and if they think unit testing of X alone would be sufficient, then it shows the ignorance. This is customer’s problem. “No Pain, No Gain” is not something new. 
    There are people in this community who believe SAP should innovate. How? by delivering new functionality every 90 days. Recently I was surprised to read a comment suggesting a company who delivers “updates” 3 times a year is “innovating” faster than company such as SAP.
    As you suggested, the customers are NOT using a lot of existing functionalities. And yet this community is asking for more and more and more and more. This is true for technical functionalities as well. Both SAP and Oracle delivered “Compress for OLTP” a year ago. This feature would reduce the DB size considerably. How many customers are using this feature? I don’t believe a lot of customers are using it; at the same time, they talk about the compression factor of “Columnar databases” and associated advantages. They’re ready to talk about two birds in bush than a bird in hand. And good news for them is that anyone can talk about the birds in bush. To talk about a bird in hand: You should have real knowledge.
    And SAP coined new hype recently and it became popular: “Innovation without disruption”. If customers believe this is going to be true, I wish them good luck.
    Bottom Line: S/W is very complex. Very few people understand S/W. Those who don’t understand S/W don’t even make an attempt to learn it but try to manage the resources.


    • Hi Bala – thanks for your comments.

      With Enhancement Packs that are two phases – installing and activating.

      The activation of a business function set, can be done in a painless method. I know this to be the case as I have done this a number of times. The level of functional information around the Business function sets is very good as well.

      The issue – and main bug bear for me is the install of the Enhancement Packs. As both Markus and yourself have detailed – each install is similar to a technical upgrade.

      I dont think it is a question of customer or consultants not asking the right questions – SAP in their marketing have clearly stated it is very simple to activate Business Function Sets.

      What they dont go on to highlight is the effort required to perform the install.

      • > What they dont go on to highlight is the effort required to perform the install.

        Oh – they do!

        It’s as easy as “just” setting up Solution Manager and “just” configure it properly and “just” use the new SAPehpi with the Stack XML to “just” run the upgrade.
        –> How to install Enhancement Package 5 for SAP ERP 6.0



        • Very good.

          I have attend Partner sessions where Enhancement Packs have been “positioned”.

          You are right SAP detail how to do the install – but it is not as simple as the positioning.

          It feels from experience, that the more and more consultants now have experience of the install and can advice accordingly.

  • Great blog on a number of levels. I have been fortune to be part of the RU program for EHP1,2,4,5 and have got to see the “truth” of the enhancement packages both good and bad.

    SAP is still marketing EHP’s as “Innovation without distruption” which is not true. Not as much disruption as an upgrade but a lot more than the comparable competitors updates (ie Workday)

    For me personally BY FAR the biggest disappointment has been the speed of the development cycle. SAP needs to release at a bare minimum solid new functionality requested by their customers for their on-premise offering every 9 months just to keep pace in the marketplace. I believe SAP needs to articulate a clear EHP release strategy for the next 2-3 years so customers can plan accordingly. Workday for example has consistently delivered 3 updates a year since the beginning with the last containing  65 customer enhancement requests. For SAP HCM there isnt even a formal process for an enhancement request so you can see SAP has a lot of room for improvement.

    Customers have been slow to adopt as well as they have heard the stories of the software being “glitchy” when released. This is partially true but RU customers do a good job of working out the kinks so when GA comes the product is typically in good shape. They have also started to have some external customers/consultants help test future EHP’s as I tested some specific HCM functionality in EHP6 in March for example.

    Excellent article and important area for SAP to address as it is a key part of their product staying competitive in the marketplace.

    • Hi Jarret –

      On a personal level the volume and more importantly the quality of the new functionality within the Enhancement Packs is very high.

      When you consider the size of the ERP beast, and then take in to consideration, that SAP now market Business Suite 7 – the size is considerable.

      If there were a way to activate specific functionality through OSS notes then perhaps that would be ideal. The technical issues highlighted by Markus would not be an issue, and specific functionality could be installed without disruption.

      SAP have a very good team of Product Owners who are very forward thinking. They are also receptive to ideas from customers and consultants as any new functionality has to meet a customer requirement.

      I agree SAP should provide a new roadmap for the new 2 – 3 years in the ERP space.

  • I just finished working at a customer who wanted to perform a mini-upgrade by activating some of the business functions with EhP4.  In their case, which is a very typical one in my opinion, they were already live on ERP 6.0 and had EhP4 installed for quite some time, but they had never actually activated any of the functions.  The scope of the project was to task each team (supply chain, finance, projects, HR, JVA/PRA) with implementing a business function.  Each group researched the relevant release notes (easy to find and sort through), identified the functions that contained some appealing functionality, and then spent about 3-4 months implementing them.  Note that not all of that time was dedicated to the EhP work…  there were a variety of other initatives part of the project so EhP was tucked in as part of the scope.

    Anyhoo…  my experience was that the individual functions were as focused as I could reasonably expect them to be.  Focused testing was all that was required…  maybe some integrated scenarios (PS settlement to CCA and FXA in my case) but we did not require a full blown regression test.  In their case, the EhP was already installed so I can’t comment on the time to load it…  but the activation process was definitely a minor task.  The Basis guy probably spent all of 30minutes activating a dozen functions.

    In my opinion, EhP are legit and they live up to what SAP is preaching about them.
    – The scope/functionality of each EhP is small, at least by SAP’s standards.
    – They are easy to activate, test, and implement.
    – They are well documented (about as well as I would expect them to be…  others may feel differently).
    – They can be implemented rather quickly.

    So why aren’t more customers being pro-active and implementing EhP?  My first guess is that customers view an EhP as an upgrade activity, and for a variety of reasons the typical SAP customer has been doing nothing but technical-only upgrades since 4.6 onwards.  So both IT and the business side have been conditioned for the past ~8-10 years that an upgrade is an IT-only function and doesn’t require thorough research, business involvement, or testing. 

    • I think you have touched on my main points.

      It is easy to activate, and the benefits are easy to realise.
      Customers seem to overlook activating the functionality – there is a fear factor

      Hear is a question for you Nathan, do you think you could convince your client to install Enhancement Package 5, and then activate some more Business Function Sets?

      They might be interested in the functionality – but not the install costs and regression testing.

      • First off, it would help if they had at least a nominal amount of interest in EhP’s to start with and we’re both in agreement that is a problem at the moment.

        If they didn’t I would start by making the case that EhP’s are clearly SAP’s delivery mechanism going forward *(note1)* and if the customer ever wanted to implement new functionality in the future, then they better gain some competency (and confidence) with EhP’s as soon as possible. 

        Secondly, I’d recommend for them to…  get this…  TRY ONE OUT.  Ever heard of the expression to cut one’s teeth?  Just surf through the documentation and try and find a single functional improvement in a single business function.  Then activate it in your sandbox and go review what is delivered.  Example:  OPS_PS_CI_1 merely contains a few usability improvements for PS.  It does introduce some new tcodes, new config, and some new fields added to PROJ and PRPS…  but if you don’t configure them, they shouldn’t cause a problem to a live system.  One of the few features it adds is that it provides an [Intermidiary Save] button on the Project Builder so that you can save your work without exiting the transaction (i.e., save as you go along).  So, even if you just wanted access to this little button that requires no config and probably only an hour’s worth of testing, you can get it.  But you first have to walk up to the water’s edge and dip your toes in to see if you can pull it off or not.  That’s not too much to ask in my opinion.

        * I’m still waiting for the first rumor of ERP 7.0 to come out but haven’t head one yet…  so for the foreseeable future, EhP is the only way to get new functionality.  That said, SAP introduces new functionality via add-ons (SAINT) and used to do so via Enterprise Add-Ons (EA-FIN, EA-FS et al) so there are other components out that we have to deal with.  Regardless of what SAP calls them, they are (simplisticaly) all just bolt-ons to the core suite.

      • Perhaps SAP should be providing customer stories of the success they achieved via Enhancement Packs.

        Any customer that participates in the Business Function Prediction, should be re contacted to see what if any new function was activated.

        I agree the install activities are restrictive – however once this is overcome the benefits are there.

        It could be an idea to align Support Pack implementation with Enhancement Pack installs to reduce the BASIS effort, and business regression testing. Again – nice for this messaging to come from SAP !!

        • > It could be an idea to align Support Pack implementation with Enhancement Pack installs to reduce the BASIS effort, and business regression testing.

          That was done with EHP3. We were told (at early times of EHP3) that instead of applying support packages we should implement the EHP. We did – and since we had no clue what kind of “technical usages” we had to select and nobody from SAP told us, we installed all of them.

          SAP refrained from advertising them as such because much more preparation needs to be done. It’s not a replacement for SPs but it’s a full upgrade of the full system.

          • Do you think there is a way for SAP to release new functionality within the support packs?

            Would that work?

            Is there a half way house between SP’s and Enhancement Packs? – perhaps that is the ideal sceanrio – so all the functionality from the Enh P’s but the ease of install of SP’s.

            Have we found the answer?

          • They used to and stopped doing it.  I don’t know the exact reason but to me it makes sense to logically break out code corrections versus new functionality.  By combining them, customers are forced to accept the functionality that they may not want, in order to get the code changes that they need.

            I think the concept of delivering functionality via some sort of add-on method (either EA, EhP, or add-ons) is a good approach. My only surprise is that Michael said it took so long to technically install.  That’s ridiculous.

          • > My only surprise is that Markus said it took so long to technically install. That’s ridiculous.

            Wow – that’s a strong word. Thank you for the insult, offense taken.

            Don’t know if you have ever had the need to bring a SolMan up to a required support package, get SMSY properly configured, get the proper stack XML and eventually upgrade the system – while you as administrator of 60+ systems have a thousand other things every day to do.

            I’m having an open OSS call to upgrade a BW with SEM-BW to EHP2, it’s been pinging back and forth almost 4 (!) weeks between primary and development support, installations of Lifecycle Manager and half a dozen people on the call before I could actually do the upgrade. And this is a single system upgrade, not even a ‘Solution’ with more systems.

            If you are consultant and get hired for a specific EHP upgrade only, you can work on it non-stop. “Normal administrators” can’t, and I just think, that’s it’s not right, to constrain customers, to use a tool (SolMan) propagated as a tool to help, which in the end needs more time to set up and configure than the actual upgrade itself. I just don’t have time to keep myself busy with SolMan, it’s a burden.

            I’m doing upgrades since SAP R/3 2.2D so I know what I’m talking about. EHP installations are, just and solely because of SolMan, more work intense compared to classical upgrades.


          • To clarify…  the fact that the Ehp would be that difficult to install is ridiculous.  Not you.  I’m not a Basis guy so I’m not privy to what it takes to install, hence my surprise.

            The intent is that these should be quick and that’s the first I’ve heard that some element of an EhP isn’t quick or small. 

    • > So why aren’t more customers being pro-active and implementing EhP? My first guess is that customers view an EhP as an upgrade activity,

      It’s not that they SEE it as such, it *IS*.

      If you know that you have to first install/update/configure your Solution Manager, a full blown system in order to get the packages and that you need to patch the tools and the system itself to even start with the upgrade I can very well understand, that not more customers invest that time (and hence $$$) in an upgrade.

      The installation of an EHP is out of my experience 2 – 3 times MORE work than ‘classical upgrades’, at least that, because of the fact that SolMan was added and needs be kept alongside.

      If I would get a document called “How to install EHP5” with 44 pages where roughly 30 pages describe technical prerequisites of Solution Manager, I would think twice, whether to invest that time and money in something, where I actually KNOW, that will bring me more money or optimize my BPs.

      Another point what I can tell out of my experience is the fact, that the documentation is only available in ENGLISH. You can argue that nowadays everyone responsible for a business process in a company should know English. Wishful thinking, but it’s simply not the case. If I as administrator show our responsible people the SAP-English documentation (the powerpoints from of new functionalities, all I get is raised eyebrows.

      When we implemented EHP4 there were regression and we had to act to get rid of them.

      My point is:

      – from a technical point it’s 2 – 3 times more work than classical upgrades
      – from a business work a full regression testing has to be done anyway if you implement an EHP