In the recent DSAG conference Jim Hagemann Snabe confirmed that there is a new delivery methodology. There will be “a constant stream of Enhancements” which sounds very interesting from afar.
The following is a quote from the sap.info website – http://en.sap.info/ehp-update-dsag-hana/58477
“Snabe announced that Innovations 2011 will be launched for SAP Business Suite 7 on November 8, immediately before SAPPHIRE NOW 2011 in Europe. However, from 2012, there won’t be any more upgrades. Instead, there will be an enhancement every quarter. Unlike enhancement packages (EHPs), enhancements comprise one small, specific feature and don’t offer a full range of functionalities – but these enhancements become available regularly throughout the year and companies can decide for themselves which ones they want to install and which ones they don’t need. Time-consuming upgrade projects therefore become a thing of the past. Snabe promised regular enhancements until 2020.”
How does the current process work?
Over the last 6 years SAP has been releasing new functionality via Enhancement Packs. They were marketed as a simple way of delivering new functionality without the hassle of going through an Upgrade. This sounded great, as customers who had recently Upgraded has endured a painful experience, and were clearly put off by this exercise. However the simplicity was not as it seemed and the methodology of moving to a from core ECC6 to an Enhancement Pack version was more complex. The problems started with the technical changes that are required. Enhancement Packages firstly need to be installed which involves a minor upgrade to the SAP environment. Once the Enhancement Package has been installed you have the ability to activate the relevant “Business Function Sets” which house the new functionality released within the Enhancement Packages.
During the installation new functionality is implemented therefore after the Enhancement Package has been installed the full system needs to be Regression tested – similar to that of an Upgrade. This is where the current process falls over – before you can even think about activating new functionality you have to go through a mini upgrade which increases the cost of deploying to activate the new functionality.
What does the new process mean?
Ok, I can only go on the information that has been released. It is not clear at the moment what the actual process to consume the new functionality will be. Within the announcement the word “Enhancement” is still used – but this is fine as this will relate to the new functionality. There are references to no Upgrades being required until 2020. If this is the case, this will be amazing. CIO’s would have planned to upgrade their ERP system in the medium term, however it sounds like this will now be more in the long term 8 plus years. Further to this, the new license deal provides more stability for them. The key to this being successful is the method customers consume the new functionality. If it is as simple as downloading some specific functionality, through a simple process then I can see customers breaking down the door to invest time researching the new functionality and implementing the functionality that relates to their specific needs.
SAP has a free service called the Business Function Prediction. This provides a simple review of the current transactions and processes a customer uses, and then references that against the new functionality available within the latest Enhancement Packages. If this could be rolled out to the new quarterly releases then this would provide customers and consultants alike some simple insight into the new functionality. The new functionality could be planned in a more efficient manner aligned to customer specific release strategy reducing uncertainty and reducing costs.
It is clear more information is required. Customers have raised their concerns around the current process and I would hope they have taken notice of the feedback from the current adopters of Enhancement Packages. Once customers have installed Enhancement Packages, the popularity of the new functionality has been significant currently. I can only assume that if SAP get this right the uptake of the new quarterly Enhancements will be even wider and prove the key decision makers within SAP right.