SAP users ready upgrade plans

SAP pros attending the recent SAP TechEd 2006 conference in Las Vegas are side stepping new technologies as they plan upgrades in the near future.

LAS VEGAS -- SAP executives touted a common theme at SAP TechEd 2006 in Las Vegas, upgrade your systems to use the latest technologies, including enterprise search, Duet and the Business Intelligence Accelerator, and it seems many are beginning to heed the upgrade call, albeit for different reasons.

Brenda Frankenhoff leads an IT team of eight personnel at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, where she battles a slew of outdated legacy systems. They are working towards a mySAP ERP 2005 upgrade in 2007, but already have a few SAP modules such as SAP Financials (FI) and SAP Controlling Configuration (CO) in place.

We have to figure out what we need, what we already have, what's available, and what we should plan on adding in the years ahead.
Lisa Brass,
SAP team leaderGoodyear Tire and Rubber

"We've learned our lesson," she said. "Going forward, we want to stay on the latest update."

Frankenhoff said she was attending TechEd to understand the SAP roadmap to prepare her team for the upgrade. The Discovery System, a newly announced ready-to-use sandbox for system design, is another area of particular interest to Frankenhoff. This could be a great tool for her team to play around with, she said.

While SAP showcased the new BI Accelerator appliance, which was announced earlier this year, some attendees said they could use more thorough information about the appliance.

"BIA sounds interesting, but SAP should talk about ROI a bit more," said David Pope, Sr. SAP consultant at Columbus, Ga.-based Aflac Inc. "BI implementations in general are a pain, and you need a strong business case to justify them. It would be helpful with an honest discussion about cost return thresholds where SAP users should start considering BI."

Lisa Brass, application admin team lead at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio was looking for information about how a service oriented architecture can affect the company business processes.

"We're working with separate functional teams in bringing everything together," Brass said. "We have to figure out what we need, what we already have, what's available, and what we should plan on adding in the years ahead."

Duet and SAP Enterprise Search interest Brass, but new technologies will have to wait until the core ERP backend systems are addressed and other more basic needs are met, she said.

Someone who is looking at Duet is Seck Wong at PepsiCo in Chicago, Ill. Wong said he provides high-level advisory for PepsiCo's massive $1.6 billion, seven year SAP project.

PepsiCo is making the move from old legacy systems to SAP division by division, starting small and using the lessons learned as they tackle increasingly larger undertakings, Wong said. Meanwhile, he needs to stay abreast of the SAP roadmap and keep a close eye on new technologies like Duet.

"SAP is the software of today," Wong said. "Coming here works as a good reality check, and I like what I'm seeing here [at TechEd.]"

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