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Scotts grows SAP, sprouts BW CRM

At the recent SearchSAP.com conference, the international lawn and garden company, Scotts, recounted their recent successful upgrade.

Chicago--The Marysville, Ohio-based Scotts Company is a global lawn and garden supply company renowned for products such as Miracle-Gro and a record of achievement that included $1.76 billion in sales during fiscal 2002. The company is also a satisfied SAP customer that recently tackled an upgrade from SAP R/3 4.0B to 4.6C with the expectation that it would bring more pain to them than a summer drought and ragweed does a gardener.

Their predictions turned out to be wrong, said Jeannie Shimer, the company's director of platform services, whose IT team had some headaches, to be sure, but none as hurtful as they'd prepared for.

"The upgrade was a non-event,'' said Shimer, addressing the 450 SAP professionals who attended the invitation-only SearchSAP.com Conference last week in Chicago. "It was a can of corn, really," Shimer said. She even had a group of depressed techies waiting around for a problem to fix.

Shimer recounted the steps she took to guarantee success and offered wisdom gained through experience, including this suggestion: do not to take SAP's advice when it comes to storage.

"When doing any SAP upgrade, don't trust SAP's recommendations for storage." Shimer warned. "You'll run the prepare script and it analyzes your table spaces. Now, whatever number it gives you, take that number and multiply by three or even four and you'll get the real number. If you take their recommendation, it seems that 9 out of 10 times you have to go back and add space again."

Instead, be liberal from the start, and the upgrade will be faster. You can go back afterward and run a reorg with a reclaim of space on those tables if necessary, Shimer said.

In preparation for the upgrade from R/3 4.0B to 4.6C, Shimer's team underwent six practice upgrades. They analyzed larger tables, and determining the length they ran in the upgrade process helped identify whether adding indexes at the database level would help performance.

In addition, Shimer's team was able to add the indexes prior to the actual upgrade, which saved a lot of time when compared with the time it would have taken to create them during the actual upgrade. In all, the planning and preparation helped cut the total upgrade time from 30 hours to only 14 hours.

Still, there were upsets. One of them was the extensive security rewrites required for BW, CRM and other special applications, and Shimer warned the crowd, which included CFOs, CTOs, CEOs, project planners and SAP managers, to budget time for this task.

BW challenges, upgrade payoffs

The upgrade opened up the possibility for immediate functionality enhancements, most notably a BW upgrade and the implementation of CRM 3.0.

"BW is always going to bring a lot more risks," Shimer said, talking about upgrading SAP BW 2.1C to 3.1C, a key step in Scotts' IT strategy. First, said Shimer, "all systems needed to be portal-related, but they required BW 3.1C to gain full functionality of their portals."

Scotts feeds all of its data, SAP and otherwise, into BW regardless if it is for warehousing or if it is passing through for translation, enabling Web-based global business intelligence.

As part of the upgrade, Scotts replaced its old Sun Enterprise 4500s with Sun Fire V880s, which Shimer says can provide more power for less money. BW reporting will be handled by Crystal Reports.

SAP CRM 3.0 is primarily a sales force mobilization tool, but Scotts is also planning to use CRM Analytics to better understand its customers. This is a move that will be implemented in increments, Shimer said, and gain importance over the next year.

Other new additions were EBP 3.5, an e-procurement solution for direct and indirect purchasing; Enterprise Portals 5.0; and SAP HR/IS, which Scotts will use to replace its current PeopleSoft solution.

In the end, the Scotts upgrade reduced the system load from 65% to 35%, freeing up a lot of power. This increased performance meant decreased I/O waits and faster database response time, Shimer said.

Mark Delgado, section manager at Hitachi in Dallas, found the presentation very helpful. "This presentation really highlighted the need for committed project leadership," he said. "We will also review our Portal situation. Portal solutions is obviously the direction SAP is heading, and we need to stay current."

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