From ERP 6.0 to Business Suite 7

August 6, 2010 by Christiane Stagge

Updates planen, EHPs richtig einspielen: Wir klären auf (Grafik: grasundsterne)

Planning Updates and EHPs (graphic: grasundsterne)

In the first installment of our SAP Updates guide, we gave you an advance look at EHP 5. This second article will tell you how you can upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0 and what it costs.

Let’s start by talking about upgrading to SAP Business Suite 7, SAP’s software for large enterprises. (For a more detailed report, also check out our article “One for All: 365 Days of SAP Business Suite.”) This package covers all the key business processes of major companies, comprising industry-specific functions, a foundation in the SAP NetWeaver technology platform, and a stable core of the following software releases:

Upgrading to the latest versions not only gives you access to a greater variety of functions; it also secures support for new hardware, operating systems, and compliance with current legal requirements. To take advantage of SAP Business Suite 7, you will first need to update your applications to the current releases.

SAP follows a synchronized release strategy to spare customers repeat efforts and long waits. The company’s newest software also supports in-memory technology and contains business intelligence functions and collaboration tools such as SAP StreamWork.

You can view the current release schedule for all of SAP’s components and applications here on SAP Service Marketplace. Please inquire here if you need access to the portal.

Strategy: EHPs instead of updates

SAP has indicated that SAP Business Suite 7 will be the company’s stable, long-term IT platform for large enterprises until 2015. Instead of expensive, complex release upgrades, SAP has been focusing on Enhancement Packages (EHPs) since the end of 2006. EHPs give customers the freedom to decide which specific functions they will install and when. The current EHP4 for SAP ERP 6.0, for example, offers talent management functions for human resources departments and production processes that support outsourced manufacturing.

Wanting to provide its customers with planning security while not pressuring them to upgrade, SAP plans to release a new EHP every one to two years.

Surveys conducted by the German-speaking SAP User Group (DSAG) and RAAD Research show that EHPs are resonating with SAP’s customer base: Around 7,000 clients are currently using at least one EHP.

So far, four EHPs have been released for SAP ERP 6.0, along with one for SAP NetWeaver. They are also planned for SAP CRM 7.0, SAP Supply Chain Management (SAP SCM) 7.0, and SAP SRM 7.0. EHPs are cumulative, meaning that customers who install EHP4 will also receive all of the upgrades from the previous three packages.

In doing so, you can choose to install only the functions you really need. Carrying out the upgrade will not affect your existing user interface, processes, or other core functions.

Next Page: Plan Technical Upgrades

Plan technical upgrades

SAP offers a number of services for planning and installing Enhancement Packages and other upgrades. The Technical Upgrade Planning Service for SAP Business Suite 7, for example, is tailored to upgrade projects that involve more than two legacy applications. First, consultants use SAP Solution Manager to analyze the software landscape to be upgraded. Then they determine which releases are necessary, along with the corresponding hardware requirements. Following the creation of a project plan and other organizational measures, the customer receives a fixed price quote.

If you’d like to read about the experiences other customers have had in their SAP upgrades, check out the SAP Upgrade Experience Database. It contains information on benchmarks, duration, operational downtime, and other statistics from these companies’ projects, as well as their level of satisfaction.

In addition, you can download a guide to upgrading to SAP Business Suite 7 here on SAP Service Marketplace.

Installing EHPs

To install EHP4 and other Enhancement Packages, you must first upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0.

If you still use legacy versions such as SAP PLM 4.0, SAP CRM 4.0, SAP SRM 3.0, or SAP SCM 4.1, you will need to switch to the latest version (7.0) of each application. Incorporating the corresponding EHPs into the upgrade will save you time and the trouble of more than one full system shutdown. EHPs can also be installed following an upgrade, however. SAP synchronizes their release with that of its Support Packages, which help customers comply with all recent legal requirements and adjustments and can be installed independently of EHPs.

Before installing an EHP, however, you can find information on benchmarks, project duration, operational downtime, and other needed statistics in the SAP Enhancement Package Experience Database.

Maintenance and support

Mainstream maintenance for SAP CRM 7.0, SAP SCM 7.0, SAP SRM 7.0, and SAP PLM 7.0 will be available until December 2015, after which extended maintenance will run until 2017. Meanwhile, SAP has extended mainstream maintenance for SAP ERP 6.0 and SAP NetWeaver 7.0 to December 2015, as well, with the corresponding extended maintenance available until December 2017. More details on SAP’s release strategy can be found here on SAP Service Marketplace.

Next Page: SAP ERP 6.0 with EHP4

SAP ERP 6.0 with EHP4

Operation: New application interfaces grant role-based access to multiple users, while Adobe Interactive Forms digitalize paper documents.

Reporting and performance management: Express planning simplifies and accelerates the corresponding tools and forecasting instruments.

Accounting: In the current release of SAP ERP, accountants can track payment transactions from start to finish thanks to seamless bank integration. Billing processes are also faster, and the application includes a new general ledger and closing cockpit for financial accounting.

Talent management: An e-learning portal and other online training content support employee training managers in teaching their charges new skills and knowledge. In addition, there are improved functions in succession planning and compensation management.

Production: SAP ERP 6.0 and EHP4 automate the process of labeling products (entry, adjustment, and completion of technical product data). They now also support recipe management.

Sales and order management: The latest version now supports eBay sales, and customer orders entered in SAP CRM now also flow directly into SAP ERP.

Next Page: SAP SCM 7.0

SAP SCM 7.0

The new version of SAP Supply Chain Management supports capable-to-match planning based on specific characteristics, and also contains enhanced functions for production and fine planning across multiple plants. Meanwhile, a new forecasting algorithm seeks to prevent poor customer service and identify past structural changes early on.

The application now coordinates material requirements through its vendor-managed inventory (VMI) function.

In addition, SAP SCM supports process-oriented companies (in chemicals, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, oil production, and mining) in planning and modeling their container resources within the production process. In warehouse management, users can now display the structure and organization of storage facilities in a graphical format. The new release also integrates product supply into warehouse processes. Vendors and customers can use a joint dashboard to obtain an overview of orders and delivery status, with an upload and download center enabling them to exchange files. Plus, there are additional selection criteria and new functions for calculating safety stocks.

Meanwhile, users can now track batches in outsourced production processes. Release 7.0 is also compatible with Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS), giving it a standard interface for entering and querying data. Finally, SAP SCM now supports the software SAP Auto-ID Enterprise, in particular SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure and SAP Object Event Repository.

Next Page: SAP SRM 7.0

SAP SRM 7.0

SAP SRM 7.0 now includes a new flexible, customizable user interface that supports role-based access. SAP has also enhanced the authorization model in the application’s self-service procurement component.

SAP SRM’s integration with SAP ERP has also been extended in the areas of purchase requisition, text adoption, revision, and order adoption: When a user accepts a quotation in the application, for example, the corresponding SAP ERP system automatically generates an order.

In addition, SAP SRM now supports model indexes and service hierarchies, and users can access SAP’s SRM-MDM Catalog as a repository for service indexes. They also have the option of importing purchasing info records, contacts, and other content from SAP ERP, as well as publishing catalog content directly on the Internet.

Next Page: SAP CRM 7.0 and SAP PLM 7.0

SAP CRM 7.0

Right when you open the latest version of this application, you notice its new Web-client-based interface: A separate field displays the objects most recently used, and graphical tables also appear on the starting screen.

Contract inception occurs automatically in the latest release, which also enables users to set bundle prices, create follow-on documents, and establish sales targets based on general units and product categories. In “territory management,” administrators can create various authorization concepts, while BI functions from the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio enable users to simulate changes and what-if scenarios.

Those with large volumes of data can scale segmentation in order to obtain an overview of their customers as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, retention programs, reward rules, conditions, and professional call centers can be integrated to ensure optimal customer relationships.

SAP PLM 7.0

The user interface of SAP PLM 7.0 now offers room for material masters, bills of materials, and other documents and changes. Its clear group structures also enable multiple employees to work with the application as a team.

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