SAP Upgrades: Now or never

By Nathan Dukes

Staying with an old SAP system carries more risk than upgrading to a new SAP system, according to Iain Macleod, ERP Solutions Director for CSC Australia.

Iain says a number of customers have waited through two or three upgrade cycles, and now find themselves behind the competition.

These SAP users have more reasons to upgrade now than ever before.

“If you are not on the latest version then the older solution can start to lose the business a competitive edge. If competitors have adopted more current versions, and you haven’t, then the organisation is not taking advantage of what is available in the market, potentially making the business less efficient than the competition.” Iain said.

According to Iain, customers should look to upgrade now while the value proposition is high.

The technological benefits of upgrading could potentially offer customers the ability to reduce their infrastructure footprint, improve efficiencies, and incorporate new solutions, particularly in the Business Intelligence space.

“The product set has increased over the versions; with the addition and integration of BusinessObjects and Outlooksoft analytics products acquired by SAP. You can also now bring in more links and greater integration to processes upstream and downstream on the new version, like MII.”

However while the technology has improved greatly, Iain says this shouldn’t be the main driver for undertaking an upgrade project.

“[CSC has] been working closely with SAP trying to make sure that its not just a IT and technology project, but a business case based project which shows the end user, the CFO or the COO the business benefits.”

By treating a project as a business investment, Iain said an upgrade can become a springboard to future business improvements, leveraging the power of the technology.

“This can also have big implications in the non-ERP environment with Analytics, Business Intelligence and eSOA. Ensuring the organisation has an opportunity to make the SAP environment a more holistic business solution”

For some customers, the key drivers for upgrading will be the prospect that their current maintenance and support contract with SAP will expire.

“If you don’t upgrade, and the systems is at 4.6 C, you’re already paying more maintenance than necessary and you will potentially be out of maintenance support completely by the end of 2010.”

But uptake of the newer versions has been strong.

Last month it was reported that more than 40{db8ca4bbfe57dc8f9b6df9233a3a6c04f4968125edf9bb330d4f787c3a87cd09} of the ANZ market had already upgraded to the latest version of SAP ERP. Iain is more concerned with the 60{db8ca4bbfe57dc8f9b6df9233a3a6c04f4968125edf9bb330d4f787c3a87cd09} who haven’t upgraded yet.

“A large group of those currently use SAP 4.6C or 4.7, products which are now at least four or five years behind. SAP has been constantly communicating what the product, licensing and support models are to customers, so they understand the benefits,” Iain said.

CSC has recently completed two large government upgrades, where they have taken advantage of new general ledger functionality and cash reporting.

With partner CSC, the Australian Department of Defence has won the Best SAP Upgrade award at the SAP Customer of Excellence Awards in both 2008 and 2009.

Referred to as the ‘Roman’ Upgrade Project, this has been recognised as one of the largest and most successful upgrade projects ever undertaken in Australia.

“CSC has successfully completed 10 upgrades in the last 18 months, and because of our delivery track record and experience, customers can rely on us to get the project completed quickly and effectively” Iain said.

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