What's the difference between SAP enhancement packs, support packs?

There are small but important differences between SAP support packs and enhancement packs. Expert Ethan Jewett explains.

What's the difference between SAP enhancement packs and support packs?

SAP delivers updates to its core applications in the form of full versions, enhancement packs and support packs. Full versions are what you might expect -- relatively major upgrades that may require migration from old to new functionality. One example is the upgrade of SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) to version 7.4, which requires (finally) that customers stop using the 3.x-version of BEx queries and begin using the 7.x style of BEx queries.

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Enhancement packs, meanwhile, are updates within versions, but they can be relatively major updates and introduce new features. Usually application of an enhancement pack will include some fairly involved regression testing of affected features, but nothing approaching what is required for a full version upgrade.

Support packages are bundles of fixes to existing functionality and don't usually (but can!) introduce new functionality. They should be even less likely than enhancement packs to introduce regressions, so they require relatively little regressiontesting.

The rule of thumb is that full version updates deliver the most value but come with the highest risk. Risk and value both decrease with enhancement packs, and decrease further with support packs. However, the baseline risk and value of these three types of updates differs among products. For example, support packs for SAP BW tend to deliver more new functionality and therefore come with more risk than support packs for ERP, so you'll need to develop somewhat independent maintenance strategies for different products.

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