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SAP enhancement packages are not just for ERP 6.0

During a recent roundtable discussion with SearchSAP.com, SAP executives gave some insight into their plans for the year.

SAP will by next year extend its enhancement package offerings across its business suite, company executives said...

in a recent interview.

Enhancement packages are an important piece of SAP's strategy in continuing to develop software the way companies work, SAP ERP and CRM executives revealed at a recent roundtable discussion. Customers are looking for harmonization of business processes and don't care what the modules are called or how they're organized, they said.

Enhancement packages are functionality that SAP ERP 6.0 customers can currently download when they want it at no extra charge. Three enhancement packages containing 600 capabilities are now available for SAP ERP 6.0 customers. A fourth is due out later this year. SAP executives said the company will extend the enhancement packs strategy to other modules like CRM by 2009, but they did not address a timeline or which modules would be first to get enhancement packs.

"Customers don't care how it's organized," said Philip Say, SAP vice president of solution marketing. "There's a drive to get some consistency in terms of the packaged running of core processes."

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SAP recently announced that there are more than 10,000 customers running ERP 6.0, putting the release among the most rapidly adopted in the company's history. A total of 60% of those customers have upgraded from older releases, according to Say, and the rest are new customers. That uptake is akin to what SAP saw when it released 4.6C, he said.

SAP said enhancement packages and the ubiquity of ERP software are the major drivers in the adoption of ERP 6.0. The looming end of support for 4.6C also continues to be a factor in upgrades, according to analysts.

Say hopes that enhancement packages will sway customers who might be shy of upgrades.

"By the time they get up and running, we've released a new version of software," he said. "That notion of an upgrade today, for us is kind of a thing of the past. [Enhancement pack implementations are] a lot shorter than going through an upgrade."

Customers can adopt the new functionality in a six- to seven-month time frame, according to Say.

"The delivery is seamless," SAP spokesman Saswato Das said. "You're getting that power of what used to be in an upgrade. I think that property of the product is very powerful."

To those who are thinking of waiting for a full point release -- don't hold your breath, SAP advises.

"We say, you could wait for a while, but there's not going to be one for a while," Say commented.

He didn't say when there would be another release and didn't address former SAP executive Shai Agassi's promise two years ago to hold off on one until 2010.

SAP's top-three visions for ERP are self-service for managers and employees, enabling employee universal access to certain reports and some access to manual reporting, and bringing about cost savings through supplier and customer enablement.

"We're radically underestimating the ubiquity we have in terms of where we're reaching," Say said. "There's a whole other cloud of users."

SAP's focus will be on mobile deployment of CRM -- and maybe even ERP -- and its business suite.

"SAP's continuing to invest in the ERP category," Say noted. "This is where a lot of the most exciting stuff is happening."

And rest assured, you're with "the Cadillac of applications," as Vinay Iyer, vice president of solution marketing for CRM, put it.

"We think we're onto something pretty big," Say said. "We're pretty pleased, but there's still a lot of room to grow."

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