sThis section of the SAP ERP ECC 6.0 upgrade guide offers tips for overcoming the challenges and pitfalls of upgrading to ECC 6.0. You'll find tips that can help you minimize downtime and disruptions during the implementation of the newest version of the ERP software, advice on building an upgrade team, and SAP ERP ECC 6.0 best practices culled from case studies of companies that have implemented successful ECC 6.0 upgrades and their lessons learned.
Overcoming SAP ECC 6.0 upgrade challenges and pitfalls
Many things can go wrong during the course of an SAP ECC 6.0 upgrade. Poorly documented processes, upgrade scope creep and failure to keep the software constant during the upgrade are three common SAP upgrade challenges that lead to system disruptions and increase the time required to finish the upgrade.
System disruptions usually take place in the first 60 days of the go-live during software upgrades. According to Eric Kimberling, president and founder of ERP specialist Panorama Consulting Group, a study by his firm showed that SAP implementations cause less disruption than upgrades from competitors such as Oracle and Microsoft.
However, there are still disruptions common to SAP upgrades, and there are ways for IT managers to minimize business disruptions during an SAP ERP upgrade.
Also, if you're upgrading to SAP ECC 6.0 and are engaged in a separate, concurrent development project to customize your SAP HR system, you'll want to coordinate both projects so that the end product is the same.
Another issue: Say you're involved in a technical upgrade to ECC 6.0 and another department is upgrading an application that is integrated with ECC 6.0. Does it matter whether you ugprade to ECC 6.0 first, or should the integrated application be upgraded first?
SAP ECC 6.0 upgrade user case studies and lessons learned
Reading SAP ERP upgrade user case studies and hearing about lessons learned from SAP users can help you prepare for the challenges of an upgrade project.
Can you make ERP upgrades less disruptive with better planning? An SAP ERP upgrade will bring changes to the rest of your IT infrastructure. Changes in one SAP environment can impact another, and they can also drag down the performance of other software systems. According to SAP expert Paul Hayes, automating the change control process can minimize the impact on other software systems as well as ensure a smooth SAP upgrade.
CHEP, a provider of pallet and container pooling services, learned that lesson when it performed a strategic upgrade that called for an overhaul of its SAP infrastructure, including SAP R/3, SAP BW and SAP SRM. Any one of the upgrades could have caused downtime and transaction failures in the company's entire system infrastructure. The company used change control to protect its IT stack from cascading changes, and to ensure a smooth upgrade path for all three SAP products.
Another SAP upgrade best practice from SearchSAP.com expert Bert Vanstechelman is that after an upgrade to a higher SAP ERP release, avoid using an SAP best practices add-on from the previous version, since it may no longer be active.
Find out about the ERP upgrade lessons learned when Lockheed Martin completed its nine-month SAP R/3 4.7 upgrade to SAP ECC 6.0. The installation was one of nine different ERP environments in the corporation's overall IT infrastructure.
Lockheed Martin had been running six instances of R/3, four instances of SAP BI 7.0 and three instances of EBP. The company has 4,500 users, 1,100 to 1,300 of whom are concurrent users.
Some of the lessons learned during the ERP upgrade project, according to Chris Church, system integration analyst for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, were these:
- IT people need to be available for the weekend and the next week following the upgrade.
- It's important to keep the upgrade software constant for the entire project. In the middle of the project, Lockheed Martin decided to add support pack stack 11 and SAP enhancement package. Changing the mix of the software added two months to the upgrade schedule, Church said.
- Expect password issues. Despite repeated reminders, users failed to heed warnings that passwords were now case-sensitive, and after the upgrade, many users were locked out of their accounts.
- Ongoing communication is critical. The upgrade team continuously updated the service desks and desktop support, sent multiple emails to users, and even created a blog and telephone message system to keep users notified, Church said. They also scheduled a meeting at noon each day on the final upgrade weekend to discuss status and problems.
This was first published in September 2009