LAS VEGAS—At its annual TechEd event here in September, SAP AG announced that it would stabilize its MySAP ERP suite for the next five years. The plan: Rather than release a major upgrade every couple of years—pretty much the tradition in the software industry, one that requires a major investment to stay current—SAP said it would release incremental upgrade packages that users could choose to implement or not.
As the first tangible to that plan, SAP announced Dec. 4 at its annual Analyst Day event here its initial “enhancement package” for MySAP ERP. The package includes functional enhancements for HCM (human capital management) and financials applications as well as industry-specific upgrades—all delivered in the form of enterprise services that are enabled using SAPs Switch Framework, meaning customers can literally choose which functions to turn on (or leave off).
In the HCM arena, SAP added service-level agreement monitoring and analytics around employee interaction. In the financials area, SAP beefed up its functionality for credit collection management to include credit report monitoring, collections management analytics and enterprise services for integrating to external credit information providers for a smoother invoice-to-cash process.
SAP has also added functions specific to the retail and manufacturing industries, including demand management and POS (point of sale) integration for retailers. In addition, the package integrates SAPs acquisitions of Triversitys POS and Khimetrics pricing optimization software into the companys ERP (enterprise resource planning) software. On the manufacturing front, SAP has integrated MES (manufacturing execution systems), manufacturing work instructions and quality management into its ERP software.
The idea with the so-called enhancement packages is to allow users to upgrade functionality on an as-needed and somewhat continual basis, and at the same time maintain a stable core ERP system. SAP officials said Dec. 4 that the next big ERP “core” release will come in 2010. It will include all the enhancement packages it puts out between now and then, as well as some new features.
“We respond to business innovation at customer sites,” said Shai Agassi, president of SAPs Product and Technology Group, at a press luncheon. “My big view is more functionality on key processes that are not there today.”
As an example of new processes, Agassi cited the role of chief financial officer that is changing today to encompass risk and compliance, an area that was unheard of prior to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that requires companies to disclose the effectiveness of their internal controls, among other mandates.
At the September event, Agassi said he envisioned enhancement packages coming out at a pace of about one or two a quarter. SAP said Dec. 4 in a press release that the packages will be released at a slower clip—about two or three a year. The packages will be topical releases that sit on top of the core MySAP platform and include things like new composite applications, services and functional upgrades.
The enhancement packages will not come randomly, but rather will have a specific topic—travel management or procurement, for example—and users can decide how they want to add them up.
Each package will also include enterprise services for a given business scenario, or process, along with documentation describing the scenario that will be available in an interactive wiki format. To avoid complications with testing and upgrades SAP is working on a test framework, similar to its Switch Framework, which will come out with the individual enhancement packages.
This first enhancement package is available for MySAP ERP 2005 users.