UK organisations are among the slowest to adopt the latest version of SAP’s core ERP product, according to Martin Riedel, head of SAP’s global upgrade office.
Speaking in a session on upgrade paths at the SAP UK user group conference in Birmingham, Riedel tried to encourage users to upgrade by saying that some organisations had delivered an upgrade at 20% to 30% below budget.
He also outlined the software supplier’s twin track strategy of offering stability and innovation with new product upgrades.
The current version of SAP’s ERP platform would be the last major release, said Riedel. “There will be no ERP 7,” Riedel said, adding that the current version of its integration layer software Netweaver 7.0 would also remain constant throughout future releases.
SAP is moving away from its previous business model of rolling out an upgrade every 18 months. Instead it is splitting releases into “Enhancement Packages,” which offer new functionality, and Support Packages, which offer bug fixes and support legal changes.
“With enhancement packages the choice of what you take is yours,” said Riedel. “With support packages, you should deploy them as fast as possible.”
Enhancement Packages are included in the normal SAP maintenance costs and each will offer improvements in the user interface as well as new functionality. Standard Maintenance for Enhancement Packages will run until March 2013 at a minimum said Riedel.
“We are allowing you to pick your Enhancement Package, pick what you want within the Enhancement Package and then activate it,” he said.
Riedel went on to tell delegates, "I want to add aword of caution. This is a one-way street. Once [an Enhancement Package]is in, it is in. That is why you need a clear undersanding of its impact on your organisation."
SAP is providing free and paid-for tools to allow organisations to work out the impact of enhancements, but Riedel said the free tools at least were based on impacts on unmodified SAP systems, so organisations needed to take preparation seriously.
He concluded by spelling out the roadmap for enhancements over the next two years. Enhancement Package 2 has now been delivered and Enhancement Package 5 will be rolled out in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Speaking after the session, Alan Bowling of Northern Foods, the new SAP UK user group chairman, said conference delegates would be pleased becuase "SAP has a clear product plan and we have got a very clear presentation of their roadmap for the future."