Upgrading your SAP System – Pitfalls and Processes for Success

Why Upgrade?

What compels a firm running multiple versions and multiple products of SAP to upgrade its ERP and other usage types? The (not always) obvious reason is the need for new functionality, which can better support company business needs and help them thrive in an ever growing competitive landscape. Basically, they want their business to run better than other businesses in their market. So a brief note on the release strategy for SAP applications, which follow a “5-1-2” maintenance concept: “5″ years of mainstream maintenance; “1″ year of extended maintenance at an additional two percent of the maintenance fee; and finally, “2″ years extended maintenance at an additional four percent fee. Not cheap, but it may be cheaper than a big upgrade project. After that, if you still don’t want to let go of the SAP release, there is always customer-specific maintenance, which is expensive.

I am sure that most of the decision makers are not aware of this information, and that is why I’m  writing this post.  SAP customers need to know of the additional investment they would have to make to keep their SAP system, running status quo.  I would encourage you, and your bean counters, to do the math on considering your SAP installations. After that, I am sure you would be compelled to focus on the upgrade (if not now, when?).

New Functionality

The main reason for upgrading has almost always been the additional functionality.  There are other reasons as well, like instance consolidation, virtualization, and requirements based on hardware, software and O/S.  Every SAP release brings new features, challenges and opportunities.  The need to upgrade is mostly driven by business needs, which in turn require new functionality in your SAP environments.  This empowers your company by transforming your processes and moving your company to higher levels of efficiency, richer reporting with new and improved analytic tools like BIA and HANA, and ability to make timely and informed business decisions.  The choice must be made whether to implement and develop the new functionality or perform an upgrade. This is not always an easy evaluation and the amount of customizing you do will certainly drive this decision.  This is the so-called “solution gap” and you have to ask, is the solution gap large enough to justify the SAP release upgrade?  And since SAP upgrades are time consuming and usually complex, is it worth investing time, money and resources to address this solution gap with an upgrade?

Yesterday’s Technology

SAP systems need to be constantly customized and enhanced in order to support evolving business needs. The time will come when the installed instances will no longer be able to suit your needs.  Staying on the same release is unsustainable from an infrastructure point of view as you will be required to stay on older hardware, software, and O/S.  If you have systems with many external touch points, it becomes more difficult over time to keep these working, especially if you are running much older SAP software. [Read more...]

Integrate SAP Service Desk with a Third-Party Service Desk

When companies implement SAP, Solution Manager (Solman) is also included in the installation.  Companies need to make a conscious decision of what they plan to use from Solman.  One of the features in Solman is the Service Desk ticketing system.

SAP service desk is usually getting introduced in an environment in where an existing Third-party Service Desk is already in use.  Because of this, companies need to make a decision on how they will integrate SAP Service Desk with their existing Third-party Service Desk.

In this blog, I will describe Service Desk integration scenarios and DataXstream’s involvement in the Service Desk integration space.

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SAP Upgrades, Solution Manager, Test Plans, and Testing

In this entry I’ll pull together a few threads from previous posts (testing, documentation, upgrades and offshore development) and throw in some Solution Manager (SOLMAN) functionality.  These pieces can be fitted together to help accelerate a project and testing preparation via use of the SAP Test Workbench.

Nowadays SAP wants you to use SOLMAN to manage your landscape and use it as the main conduit to interact with the mother ship in Walldorf.  Lots of SAP installations use SOLMAN as a way to generate developer keys and as a document repository: valid uses, but only a small fraction of the available functionality.  Let’s explore some more of that SOLMAN magic.
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SAP Solution Manager (SolMan) Services

“Included with your purchase is a Thingamajig.  You may not understand it, but trust us, it is very valuable to you.  In fact, you must use it!”  When it comes to SAP, this thingamajig is SAP Solution Manager (SolMan).  DataXstream understands how to implement and leverage Solution Manager’s rich tool set to facilitate systems transparency and collaboration during SAP implementation.  Whether your SAP solution is just getting started or is mature, there are many tools and features within Solution Manager to help improve the management of your SAP solution.

Helping You Get the Most out of your SAP Arsenal with SolMan

DataXstream can help you get the most out of SolMan.  We provide a variety of services to deploy and configure SolMan, and we also educate others on how to best utilize it. These services consist of:

  • Analyzing customer SAP initiatives and mapping out a corresponding deployment plan for Solution Manager to streamline those initiatives.
  • Sizing, installing and attaching Solution Manager into the various SAP landscapes.
  • Configuring Solution Manager to support a new implementation. This includes configuring implementation functions; setup roles, authorizations, and work centers; establishing project management for blueprinting, documentation, testing and training; and finalizing promotion cutover.
  • Configuring Solution Manager to streamline and document an Upgrade or Expansion initiative.  This includes refining “new implementation” documentation to support any revisions, creating and rolling out configuration templates, instituting Change Management, and performing risk mitigation.
  • Incorporating legacy application integration and support into Solution Manager to build a holistic view of the SAP environment.
  • Deploying “Run SAP” industry best practices to manage and support the heterogeneous environment, including incident management, change requests, diagnostics and root cause analysis.
  • Integrating SolMan’s Service Desk with a Third-Party Service Desk.  This is done by being able to call the SAP Service Desk API’s.  These API’s can be exposed as WebServices that can be called by the Third-Party Service Desk.  To learn how DataXstream integrated SolMan Service Desk with CA (formerly Computer Associates) Service Desk, read Steve Park’s blog.