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Author's profile photo Udaya Bhaskar Perecharla

Insights on SAP CRM Upgrade: Based On Learnings & experience from Upgrade Journey

Insights on SAP CRM Upgrade: Based On Learnings & experience from Upgrade Journey

Technology is evolving and growing very fast in the last 5 years and we notice high technology tide waves rising with so much of information in all the platforms. This has pushed all IT Companies (Implementation Partners, Product Development) to catch up on the velocity and deliver the products that can compete in the industry. CRM domain is no exception to this and in fact this is one of the fastest changing & emerging area incorporating the latest industrial advancements. In Particular, SAP CRM is going through a big transformation to be more agile and flexible solution.

SAP CRM Upgrades are going to be continuous process in near future providing added functionality with each releases. Hence as CRM Consultants, it is imperative to understand more about Upgrade journeys and keep ourselves abreast with all the information. In this article, we will discuss more on what’s inside Upgrade Journey and the key learnings and difficulties to avoid in more Q & A discussion.

Need for Upgrade? How to assess the Upgrade Complexity.

As we spoke at the beginning, Upgrades are required to provide/bring the enterprise IT Platform at a higher state to realize the corporate vision and strategy in meeting the business needs.

Upgrade Programs typically go through the below listed phases and may vary as per client needs.

Project Preparation/Assessment Phase



Deployment & Hypercare

In the assessment phase, SME’s determine the version to be upgraded to, analyze any process changes driven by upgrades by reviewing the Release notes, and determine upgrade complexity.

The upgrade complexity is majorly determined –

1) Backlog between the current version and latest release in the market

2) AS-IS/To-Be Analysis: Project team should understand the AS-IS(n-1 Version) solution and need to verify the process with nth version to identify any gaps.

Upgrade driven Changes in the Business Processes & UI – In case you are planning to upgrade from CRM 5 to 6/7/7.2, this is considered complex upgrade for the reason, it’s just not upgrade but UI Re-Implementation. Similarly, if the upgrade introduces any new statuses in the business process or introduces/recommends a new way of performing the operation.

      • BP Status management is replaced with BP Life Cycle Management from CRM 6.0
      • CRM Marketing transactions are NOT supported in GUI and users are asked to use UI Views
      • Create UI Configuration for Prod Set Types & Marketing Set Types
      • AET tool is recommended over EEWB enhancements

3) Solution Customization & Custom Object Inventory List – Most of the cases, we notice the crm system is heavily customized and tailored to suit the client specific requirements. In such cases, we need to be extra cautious in determining the upgrade impact during pre-assessment phase.

Also, we need to look at how many standard code modifications are performed and the list of custom objects. The complexity is many a times proportional to the number of code modifications and custom objects in the system. Sometimes, Implementation Partners perform the impact analysis on the custom objects with In-house tools. Infosys has Panaya tool for ECC Upgrades and Inhouse Tool for CRM upgrades. SAP too provides assessment tools and for this you need to have Solution Manager in place.

SEA – Scope and Effort Analyzer, CDMC – Custom Development Management Cockpit.

For more info on the above, you can refer SDN Community.

4) System Landscape – Make a list of CRM servers in the landscape. In general, there will be two landscapes (Production & Support). Each landscape again consisting of Dev, QA, UAT Boxes. This may vary based on your client set up.

5) Integrations & Interfaces – Make a list of existing interfaces with NON SAP & SAP Applications and review the existing interface design with any possible upgrade impact

      1. CRM –>BI : Sometimes upgrades do enhance the CRM BDoc structures by introducing new elements in the structure, this may sometimes cause issues in the data flow
      2. CRM->ECC: Same as above and also we need to watch for CRM Upgrades requiring any forced ECC Upgrades( Patch/Version)
      3. Third Party Integration: Upgrades also sometimes enhances the IDoc Structures and if IDocs are used in the landscapes, we may need to assess the impact
      4. CRM/Trex: Most of the times, we tend to miss considering Trex Upgrade along with CRM. This is not a mandatory requirement, but in some cases we have noticed discovering hard errors during UAT Phases which require TREX to be upgraded to latest version

6) OS/DB Upgrade: Most of the cases, CRM upgrades happen stand alone. Sometimes we club OS/DB Upgrades in parallel with CRM Upgrades. Hence, it’s extremely important to align with Infrastructure team & meticulously plan both the upgrades and onboard the required skillset.

Note: Ensure the Upgrade Project timelines and schedule is communicated and aligned with all the IT Folks( including Non SAP) & do not conflict with Year End Freeze/other Infrastructure upgrades.

Realization Phase starts with Sandbox upgrade. This helps the application and Basis team to get a firsthand experience of the nth version and also provides an early opportunity to discover any unknown items. It is recommended to make a list of Key Processes & perform sample execution in sandbox to ensure/detect no or any loss of functionality. The common tasks performed in this phase are as follows.

      • Sandbox upgrade
      • Dev Box Upgrade
      • SPDD/SPAU – This is very important task and is critical for the upgrade success.
      • Deletion of Unprocessed BDoc’s – This has to be performed before Server upgrade
      • Key Business Process – Validation
      • Syntax check of Custom DDIC, ABAP Object – To validate any inconsistency in the objects
      • Developer Unit Testing & Remediation of Objects
      • New Developments( If any) – In case of CRM 5 to 6/7/7.2, there will be new UI Screens and EEWB migrations.

Note: It is recommended to plan & execute for Upgrade Rollback/Back Out in this phase. In some cases, we have encountered situations with Show Stopper defects in Prod server after Upgrade. Hence it’s important to rehearsal rollback exercise

Compare the UI Repositories: BSP_WD_RT_REP_COMPARE; Check for Web UI Frame work Check: WCF_CC 

The above is an indicative list and may change per your client requirement and the kind of upgrade being performed. In case, if it’s a version upgrade, you may not have any new developments developed from Scratch.

Testing Phase is very critical and the duration varies based on number of test cycles you have and the quantum of Test scenarios within each process. It is recommended to get an alignment from the Release Management & governance team on the testing scope during pre-assessment phase. In some cases, we may not require to perform extensive testing when it’s a pack upgrade to immediate release with very minimal impact. At the other hand, if it’s a version upgrade with more impact/ new functionality to the existing solution, we may need to consider and include performance testing as part of the scope.

Note: Ensure existing Prod defects are considered out of scope in the test strategy document. Also, it is recommended to have a server identified to mirror n-1 version to be referenced to validate defect for existing/upgrade defect.

Deployment: Prepare the cutover plan well ahead and get the buy-in from all the stakeholders and especially on the planned downtime.  The cutover should be very detailed, listing out tasks as per the sequence with owners and date/timestamp information. It should also contain the business validation scenarios to be performed after Upgrade.

It is recommended to perform a mock cutover when the cutover involves many tasks and is a complex upgrade. 

Note:  In case your client has direct SAP Contact On premise/remote, get the SAP Team informed/on boarded with the project team at least a week before Prod Upgrade. 

HyperCare: Plan for daily stand up meeting with Key IT & Business to know & act on the upgrade issues swiftly. Also, it is suggested to have off hours support plan during the initial 2-3 weeks to attend any critical issues. This is especially needed when the client business is 24/7 round the globe. Plan for lessons learnt & improvement meeting with IT & Business before the closure of the Hyper care.

Note: Involve & align Prod Support team during the course of the upgrade program as early as possible so that transition is smooth during Hyper care.

In this article, we have provided overview of Upgrade journey with information on key milestones and learnings from our experience. Hope this information will be useful and helpful for Project Managers and first timers to get an understanding on CRM Upgrade.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Excellent Blog. Very well written.