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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Dos and Don'ts: Technical upgrade considerations

Don’t: Assume that your custom code and interfaces will work in ERP 6.0, even if they were built using established user exits. They will not.

Do: Test all used custom code and third-party interfaces in a sandbox environment or (better) with an upgrade simulation software that can save you a lot of time.

Bonus: Seize the opportunity to reduce redundant (or no-longer-relevant) custom objects during the upgrade process. You can even start cleaning your code well before the upgrade.

Customer Lesson: Agilent began their SAP upgrade with 14,000 customized objects. After the upgrade, they were able to reduce that number to 7,000.

Dos and Don'ts: Upgrade Skills and Training

Don’t: Cross your fingers and hope that a bit of internal training will be sufficient for those IT staffers in lead roles for the upgrade.

Do: Bring in outstanding consultants in specialized areas that are integral to your SAP upgrade.

Customer Lesson: Kraft Foods supplemented their internal team with "All Stars" in key areas tied to the success of their upgrade, such as: Netweaver technical, Unicode conversion, new GL configuration, and BI upgrades.

Don’t: Assign responsibility for change management and upgrade training to the IT department.

Do: Create an internal change management and training team, one that has a reasonable budget as well as executive involvement and buy-in.

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