Application Upgrades - SAP
Make it stick
Given many of the challenges the IT group is facing at any given moment, it’s easy to see why IT leaders might treat the next SAP upgrade as just another tactical project: Knock it out quickly, then move on to the next thing.
Speed should typically be front and center in any upgrade. After all, the faster the upgrade is implemented, the less the impact on the business and the faster business users can start generating value from the investment. But speed isn’t the only consideration. An upgrade executed with little concern for current and future business goals, no matter how swiftly it’s done, can leave the organization at a competitive disadvantage. While quick-and-dirty upgrade projects allow the IT organization to check the box and move on to the next fire alarm, they may not translate into big value that matches the size of the investment. For companies that want to make it stick, a different approach may be required.
There are plenty of firms that can install the latest SAP upgrade. But will they do it in a way that actually matches up with your business goals? Will they help you pick the right path through the long (and growing) list of SAP capabilities to find the most beneficial mix for your business today and tomorrow? Are they prepared to help you identify and understand the risks associated with one configuration versus another?If those are the types of questions that give you pause, we can help. We make it a point not just to know the technology, but to also know the ins and outs of your business. Learn more about the offering.
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- Tony Bright, Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP
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Balancing strategic concerns with tactical considerations is one of the trickiest aspects of SAP upgrades. In their rush to simply get it done fast, many companies can overlook opportunities to create significant business value in the near term. Or they may handicap their ability to maneuver in the future to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities.
It doesn’t have to be that way. SAP upgrades can be managed strategically while being executed more quickly than if they were being treated solely as software projects.
How we can help
There are plenty of firms that can install the latest SAP upgrade. But will they do it in a way that actually matches up with your business goals? Will they help you pick the right path through the long (and growing) list of SAP capabilities to find the most beneficial mix for your business today and tomorrow? Are they prepared to help you identify and understand the risks associated with one configuration versus another?
If these are the types of questions that give you pause, we can help. We make it a point not just to know the technology, but also to know the ins and outs of your business. We’ve developed a process to assess the potential impact of the upgrade and identify specific areas for improving business processes along the way. Our approach is informed by our experiences conducting hundreds of upgrades for companies around the world.
- Mitigate project risks and business impact
- Lay the groundwork for the rollout of future functionality
- Reduce business downtime
- Minimize the support costs for IT applications and infrastructure
- Begin positioning for Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and web-services functionality
Four ways to get more value now
We’ve assisted some of the leading companies in the world get more value from their SAP upgrade. Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:
Make the case. What are the real reasons you’re performing the upgrade? A business case can not only help your team clarify the mission, it can be instrumental in securing buy-in from important stakeholders in the business. Both can be essential elements in an upgrade.
Plan for the potential dimensions of risk. With an upgrade, the technical risks are usually clear and can be planned for. But that’s only one element of risk. Because the upgrade will also have an effect on the underlying business processes, and vice versa, make sure to plan for that key element of risk as well.
Determine whether your upgrade is primarily technical or functional. With an increased reliance on add-ons and third-party tools, the impact of an upgrade can go well beyond technical elements. There’s also a functional component of the upgrade to account for. Is your upgrade primarily technical or functional? The answer can fundamentally influence your approach to the project.
Upgrade your people, too. Many upgrades can fail to provide the desired amount of value at the appropriate time because the organization’s people aren’t as well prepared to take advantage of new processes and capabilities. After all, it’s easier for them to make a few minor technical adjustments and simply continue to do what they did before. A good change management plan can help facilitate that, so that when you upgrade systems, your people upgrade their capabilities as well.
Application Upgrades in action
- When one of the largest media and entertainment companies in the world needed to upgrade multiple SAP components in operations around the world, we used a standardized approach across the multiple upgrades to keep the project running smoothly. As a result, we were able to help our client mitigate the significant risk of these upgrades and reduce the impact on its resources.
- A large distributor running SAP relied heavily on add-ons and third-party tools – a big concern in their upgrade. We helped the company plan for the impact of these tools on the upgrade process, and conducted a number of production dry runs. As a result of effective planning, we were able to reduce the downtime by 50% from the first “sandbox” upgrade to the final production upgrade. In the end, we used a single weekend outage to upgrade an 8.5TB environment with more than twenty application servers, keeping business requirements intact and leaving a minor impact in our wake.
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