SAP upgrades: The real dos and don'ts

There is plenty of ERP upgrade advice around, but too often you end up paying for truisms, so what does it really take to ensure your core systems refresh goes ahead smoothly?

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According Jon Reed, ERP consultant, author and SAP analyst, there is no shortage of SAP ERP upgrade advice available to companies and IT departments today.

One problem: "Most of this advice, as truthful as it is, has reached the point of cliche," Reed writes in a new report on SAP ERP upgrades.

"Yes, we know that upgrades need extensive testing. Yes, knowledge transfer is critical. Yes, an effective change management strategy must be implemented. Yes, the better the user documentation, the better the upgrade," Reed writes.

"But there's a lot more to a successful upgrade than plugging away with some common sense principles and hoping for the best." (A free copy of the report is available; a short registration is required.)

Reed interviewed a range of industry analysts, project advisors, ERP upgrade consultants and SAP users who presented at trade show sessions (after upgrading) to determine what separated a successful SAP ERP upgrade from one that was anything but.

Here are just a few of the dos and don'ts that Reed offers in the report, as well as a few lessons learned from SAP user companies that have made the transition.

Dos and Don'ts: Vendor selection and pre-launch

Don’t: Assume that your SAP experience means that the SAP upgrade process can be handled solely in-house.

Do: Treat the SAP upgrade as a whole new implementation. Re-evaluate technical needs, skills requirements, and the extent of system customization.

Don’t: Upgrade just to avoid extended maintenance fees from SAP.

Do: Establish business drivers for the SAP upgrade, such as: instance and database consolidation (goal: cost savings) or improved CRM functionality (goal: top line growth).

Customer Lesson: Indesit, an international consumer appliances company, justified their SAP upgrade with the goal of increased visibility in their global supply chain to reduce the cost of raw materials and pursue new markets.

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