SAP Issues and Best Practices
Member organizations share SAP experiences from implementation and beyond during
this August 2011session. Member polls and links to newly contributed Pre and Post Go
Live SAP Support Charts are included.
NOREX retains the original, unedited version in
order to facilitate future networking.
Contact your NOREX Member Care Team for
*Please note that this is a transcript of an audio conference and it may contain misspellings and grammatical er
The names of participants have been abbreviated, and their organizations have been deleted from this transcript.
SAP upgrade experiences
CRM portion of SAP
tion experiences with SAP payroll
Lessons learned with Adobe Interactive Forums in SAP
SAP Business Suite for core financials
Onsite or hosted SAP environment
SAP optional modules
Accelerated/quick implementation strategies
Prep work for new ERP solution
Functional support of SAP
Size of support teams
Adding functionality after implementation
Good morning. Thank you
via a poll to see i
f you are a current SAP
shop, if you are implementing SAP at this time, or
Excellent. Our n
umbers are growing
currently is an SAP user?
(Three more organizations are currently using SAP.)
TOPIC: SAP upgrade
Gordon. We are considering upgrading from 4.7C to the
latest version and would like member experiences and feedback. Gordon, a little bit
more about this upgrade?
Yes, we know that SAP is
their service at the end of the 2012
calendar year. So, we are looking at either upgrading to the
latest version of SAP, or we
are considering changing horses to a different ERP provider. We just wanted to hear
what other members might have gone through who have done this upgrade and see
what we can learn.
Gordon, when you say
Correct. Yes, their support is ending December 2012.
Last year, we did an upgrade from the 4.6C to ECC 6, so not quite the same
scenario that you have. But it took a lot of
it took a lot of effo
rt. We also did a
Unicode conversion at the same time. I do not know if you have Unicode issues as well.
I do not know if you have to worry about that as a school district or not. Probably so. We
use Solution Manager to start building test plans and things
like that, because we have
to abide by all the SO
regulations. So, this upgrade was really a strain on us, because
we had to get a lot of business to testing and approval and things in place to make sure
we did it properly. I mean, that is kind of a quick response, but it took a lot of planning
t, both on the
side and the business side, to make sure everything was
square and everything worked in the new environment.
OK. Did your business side have a relatively good buy
in on the SAP
service to begin with?
Mixed, you know.
OK. Was it a functional upgrade or a technical upgrade?
It was a technical upgrade.
All right, thank you.
We also upgrade
from 4.7 to ERP 6 last year late in the year.
As with any
I found the process to
be pretty intensive, and you have to do a lot of planning
and landscape management. But as far as the actual upgrade of the code, I did not find
that to be all that bad or tough. I guess it really depends on how many clones or
modifications you have in the
system. We also used the upgrade tool from Panaya,
which helped quite a bit as far as identifying what needed to be done and the effects
done, things like where the RFCs are obsolete and are replaced with new ones. It does
a good job of
kinds of things.
Jeff, was that an outside tool? It is not a
Correct. It is a company that this is one of their main tools.
Panaya, thank you.
For either of you gentlemen, did you guys have a third party come in and
help you with that upgrade, or did you do that internally?
We have Accenture help us evaluate our custom developments and things like
that for the Unicode
conversion. But, as far as the upgrade of the SAP system itself and,
you know, adjusting config in our own programs if we found testing, we did that
We had one Basis
us out. It was actually the same person that
helped us implement SAP a long time ago, so that also helped. He knew the company a
little bit and the way the system was set up. But, as in the other case, we did all the
code remediation all internal, so we d
id not have any other help.
OK, thank you, guys.
We also had a 4.7 to ECC 6 upgrade, I think, back in 2007. We were already a
was already Unicode, so we had that hurdle already behind
us. I guess I would jus
t echo, ____ our own. You know, I think a lot of the work was in
the testing and getting the business users in there to the regression test after the
upgrade was performed. So, we did so it mostly with internal resources. I do not think
we had any outside
third parties come in. I believe it roughly was about a three month
project from start to finish.
Gordon mentioned that they are considering a different solution rather than
going for the upgrade, maybe moving away from SAP. Any comments on th
at? Is it a
time where it is such a change it is kind of a fork in the road and you could do that just
as easily? Any comments for Gordon on that approach? Kind of quiet, Gordon.
Yes, well, I thought it might be, given the nature of the call. B
ut thank you
guys very much for your thoughts. I appreciate it.
TOPIC: CRM portion of SAP
All right, moving on to Rick. Is anyone using the CRM portion of SAP? How
customizable is it, and how effective is it for a mobile workforce?
is moving toward SAP. It has been deployed in some parts of
the organization but not all over. The CRM portion has not been rolled out. So, I am just
trying to get a feel for how others are using the CRM portion, is it customizable. A bi
part of the way we use CRM is, we have a mobile workforce who do not always have
access to connect to a network, so how are others dealing with those issues?
It is kind of quiet. I have not
had a lot of
with CRM, but I think we
use a limited portion of CRM for our sales force. It is more for contact management
and, you know, managing sales calls, so documenting sales
Reporting, so linking CRM to the BW data or BI data, whatever you want to call it thes
days, is very helpful as far as getting that information into their hands quickly. Now, they
are generally working with laptops. They are not necessarily working off of iPhones or
things like that, and they are not entering sales orders in the system via
depending on how you plan for you workforce to use CRM, that is part of the question
as well. But they seem to like it. It works well. They tell us when BW has not updated
correctly, so we know they are using it. The sales force is generally one
of those, at
least for us, that tend to be a little less technical savvy, so having a tool for them that
they can use is a plus.
Great. Do you think, Jon, that you could possibly be a contact for
someone from the CRM?
I might be
able to get him in touch with someone. Because I know there is also
the middle layer. You know, you have got to deal with the middle layer to make sure
your source system is talking to CRM properly.
Thank you very much for your comments. Anyon
We also use CRM. We started back in CRM 4.0 and just upgraded to 7.0. I can
tell you, the differences between those two versions were, I guess we say a lot of
benefit with the upgrade, just from the user interface experience. It was a lot
7.0 than 4.0. We do use it for our mobile sales force, so they are entering leads,
opportunities, managing activities, contacts. So, they do use it quite extensively there.
We do have Microsoft Outlook integration for activities, so if they enter
an activity in
CRM, it will be replicated over to their calendar in Outlook. That definitely has some
challenges at times. We do not have any of the offline scenarios enabled, so if they
need to log into CRM, they do need any type of internet connection w
ill do. If we do not
have it, they actually have to VPN into the corporate network. So, I think that is about it.
We are looking to leverage some more functionality around service and are looking at
trying to enable
and sales order entry within CRM
, as well, as future projects.
hat was good. Thank you.
TOPIC: Implementation experiences with SAP payroll
Implementation experiences with SAP payroll.
Yes, this is Fred.
Is your organization using
SAP at this time?
hat we are dealing with here is;
we use it primarily for benefits and for
gross pay calculation and training tracking.
We are really behind in terms of upgrading.
We are presently on ECC 4.6, and we are going to 6.0, and
we are trying to get
reasonable estimates in terms of what that is going to take. At this point, it seems like a
very monumental project. I just wondered, why I am bring that up is, has anybody had
that experience in the HR area, of making such a move from
4.6 to 6.0?
They are thinking, Fred. Is this monumental? Would
take this leap?
We actually use HR Payroll on a 47C system for gross pay calculations, a little
bit of benefits. I guess I would just be interested in any feedback
as well, as far as
upgrade, because we are considering that as an option, as well.
I was not involved with it at the time, and it was some years ago, but I think we
went from like a 4.5 HR system to ECC6. I think it was a good move. With the move
ECC6, we were able to implement the employee
, the manager
portal, so people could sit in, leave requests and updates, you know, bank accounts and
things like that. So, I think it is a worthwhile move. How difficult that was, I
We have got a smaller sort of HR and IS teams here, so I think we did have help from a
third party, but I was not around at the time.
Is there any way you could give me a contact that would be willing to speak to
me about it briefly?
I can check around to see. I am not sure who was here at that time.
OK, sure. I appreciate any input that that discussion might be able to provide.
looks rather daunting at this point for us.
Well, I think the reality is
have got to move off of 4.6, right?
Oh, yes. As I understand it, we have to be off by March of 2013, or we do
jeopardize the port to the degree that, if they discover something new that they have no
experience on as far as bugs, that they would
be charging us time and materials. But,
my other understanding is that going forward, if we have problems that they know the
solution for, then we do not pay them, we do not have that exposure.
Do you have something as a bolt
on as far as your, yo
u know, employment
packs calculator and things like that?
OK, we are only payroll for gross. We are not using payroll for net. Yes, that
would be very critical, you are right.
OK. Well, I can check and see if we have got any history or
feedback on that.
will follow up with you
TOPIC: Lessons learned with Adobe Interactive Forums
Adobe Interactive Forms, lessons learned. We are early on in the curve and
would like advice from those who have survived the bleeding edge of Adobe Interactive
Forms in SAP. Dos and don’ts, what have people learned? We sure hope to help you
on this call,
Jon. Can anybody provide a little insight on this?
I do not have all the data on this, because I have been doing mostly the
Oracle database work. But I sit around the Basis people, and they say it is kind of a
problem. I guess something about the
way it is implemented here, they might need
more Windows servers than you expect, like it can only service a limited amount of
users. But I do not have all the data on that, so I guess just watch the number of users
and hardware resources.
as storing the forms once you have generated them?
I think it was just actually for capacity to even handle what is going on.
Another person mentioned once that they could have implemented it differently once.
That is about all I can say.
My whole exposure was just looking into it, and I found out that we, on our ERP
6 servers, do not have it dual
stacked, and they say Adobe Forms needs the Java
stack. So, that was the end of my venture on that one.
We actually are just startin
g down the road of Adobe Document Services, not
on the interactive side, but just for output forms on the ERP side. So, just in the
beginning stages, we do not have a dual stack, as well, on any of our SAP systems
today. They are all ABAP
stacks, and we to
ok the approach of implementing the Adobe
Document Services on its own system, so its own ABAP stack. So, all the other systems
will make calls into that system for Adobe Document Services. Outside of that, that is
about as far as we have taken it so far,
no development even with the new forms.
OK. Yes, we are working on our first form. We have done a proof of concept,
some of the management or the options you can
put in the Adobe Forms or not. We are
the lighter version.
TOPIC: SAP Business Suite for core financials
ou are interested in SAP Business Suite for
and treasury, and possibly AR, along with
Can members share
best practices regarding moving and implementing to a new system? Kevin, you also
chatted, would like any recommendations for SAP implementers. What are you currently
on right now, Kevin?
We are kind of on a home
for AR, and then we are on,
technically it is Enforce
for GLAP and SA, but we have had it for 20 years or more. It
Enforce. It just keeps
getting bought up, so it’s
old mainframe, green screen sys
So it will be a big move.
Best practices, gold nuggets for Kevin? He has more specific
might generate some of those best practices. Critical factors in a successful or
I would just say, do not try to reproduce your current system in SAP, because a
lot of people make that mistake. You have to think like
a German, OK? German
I have to reaffirm that. I worked for Corn
Incorporated for many years
products division. I learned that very quickly. You get so involved with
customizing that it becomes difficult to manage. B
ut you will have to do it their way.
I would also stress that you invest a lot of time in finding that right SAP
systems integrator and making sure they have a bench on board to handle most of your
key areas, and not just pull somebody off the str
Is there an implementer or integrator that anyone would suggest, that they
have had some success with?
continue, Kevin, with your question. Would an
onsite or hosted environment be recommended? Am I moving too quickly, Kevin?
No, you are doing fine.
TOPIC: Onsite or hosted SAP environment
All right. Onsite or hosted environment, what would be recommended?
nyone here have a hosted environment?
I would be interested in that, as well.
Anyone looking into a hosted environment rather than onsite?
I do know there is a local client here in the State of Kentucky, and the
University of Kentucky is looking to partner with Dell to host their solution. That is
ongoing as we speak, but
they spoke at the SAPPHIRE Conference.
So, they would host their SAP through Dell?
We do not host any of our SAP systems with anybody today, but we do
outsource, I would call it, the Basis and
Security functions to Capgemini. I do know that
they also have a big hosting practice, as well, so I can say what we have been doing
with Capgemini has done well so far, just as a point of reference.
TOPIC: SAP optional modules
Which optional modules are needed and what features do they support?
Optional modules, what do you mean by that, Kevin?
Well, they have their core module, and then I know they have one for
document storage, where they can keep images and other documents. They also have
one for consolidation, budgeting, planning. There was a third one they mentioned, too.
e use any of these?
When you say optional modules, you mean optional modules just to
implement? Because I think those are included in core ECC, if I am not mistaken.
One of the recommendations I would make is to get in contact with SAP.
have services that come out. You talk about what your business requirements are, what
you are currently doing, and they are very good at identifying, you know, the things that
are included. Most of these things are included with your licensing anyway,
and they will
say, hey, you might want to use this module and this module to handle these items.
The key thing is the configuration effort required to take advantage of those
/quick implementation strategies
Recommendations for accelerating the time to implement. Are there any
tips on ways you can accelerate this implementation? Is it easier to go right into the
latest and greatest release, rather than having to do some upgrades that some of you
I do not know any of the details, but I saw where, when you want to use the
cloud, they have some, what they call,
implementation strategies. I do not
know anything about it, and I plan to look into it, but I am not sure what th
at means, and
I am not sure how realistic that is. But, I have seen that. I think Amazon has been
certified by SAP for providing hosting services, and there is a methodology which they
or something like that. I do not recall the d
etails. Has anybody
seen that at all, at least the presentation of it?
I guess not.
Are there any hidden activities or costs of which we should be aware?
Pretty quiet, Kevin.
I hope that is good.
I was not real close to it, but the consultant fees that we incurred
you know, we went through several different types of consultants, and their time was
extended as the project was extended, so those were some hidden costs that we were
OPIC: SAP implementers/consultants
we cover implementers for you, Kevin? You had
that in the
I was hoping to get some names of some companies to keep on my short list.
Right. Any other names?
You might check Fujitsu, used to be Rapidigm. We have used them across a
couple of companies that I have been involved with. They seem to have a pretty good
core of people.
Anyone else? We heard about Capgemini earlier, and Dell earlier.
I will toss out that we outsource our Basis and Security to a company called
group:basis out of Milwaukee.
Were you p
retty happy with them?
Yes, they have done a pretty good job for us.
Another, I think, fairly big name in that space is Intelligroup. I know they do a lot
with upgrades. I am sure they do implementations, too. I have never used them, but
they have been around for a while.
All right. Let’s move to Betsy.
We had very similar questions to Kevin’s. We are in the process of vendor
selection to replace our financial and supply chain packaging, and some very similar
questions to what Kevin had.
Good. Anything specific here that you want to ask?
PIC: Prep work for
new ERP solution
Is there any type of prep work activity that we can do getting ready for the
implementation process before we actually start to roll out?
You have made a decision already, you are definitely goin
No, we have not. But, we know we are going to be doing this, so we want to
get some prep work done. Like, we have starting mapping our current systems and our
business processes. We just kind of want to make sure we are on the right path.
I think your master data needs to be as clean as it can be, also.
One thing, for anybody implementing, depending o
n what your model of
make sure you have people that are either inside your company, or if you are
going to u
se some outsource, make sure you have good people that understand both
the business and how the system works.
Maybe some training would be in order.
Training, is there a successful training resource folks used?
I found the SAP traini
ng to be very good.
Thank you, Jeff. Anything else on prep work?
I guess it depends on your organization. It sounds like, if you have got a really
good handle on your business process, you are pretty much in control of this. If
else, it really depends on the state of your employees, as far as their readiness for such
a change. So, my point is, there could be an organizational assessment and
coordination before you start of what you need to do to make sure that as you prog
through your change to SAP, that your organization and skill sets and all that are being
assessed, make sure they keep up with that change. That is something that we could
have done a little bit better than we had and regretted. I definitely see the b
enefit of it.
What happens if we do not change it is, you consultants end up staying longer than they
need to, versus getting your people appropriately ready for the system.
TOPIC: Functional support of SAP
This is Jeanette’s. Is the functional support part of the business or part of
IT? What issues arise from each model? Let’s take a poll on that one. If you are not on
the web portion and you want to participate, just share what it is that you do. Functiona
SAP support staff resides in IT, or it resides in the business unit, or a combination.
Well, I can give you my input. I mean, I have got 35
and I can tell you unequivocally that you need the support and sponsorsh
ip of the
functional that you are serving, and that they have to be really involved. Because
otherwise, it is looked at as an IT project, and you know, IT people do all of the work,
and the users do all of the complaining. You need to get them involved, an
d you have
got to make sure their management is supporting the project from start to finish, or it will
fail. Because it is impossible to have all that expertise in the IT group. They have got to
be an integral part of the project and put a lot of skin in
the game. That is the only way it
succeeds, based on my experience.
We do have the majority saying a combination of IT and business units.
I will qualify my statements. The people in IT have really got to be familiar with
business function in principal otherwise it is going to be difficult for them to relate to
the user community. So it is not all or nothing at all. It is very important that the technical
people have a basic understanding of the business function in this pr
I wanted to add onto that. When we went to SAP basically people came out of
the business of being on the SAP functional team. I was doing production scheduling
and demand planning in the business before being in IS & T so we kind of took pe
from the business that knew the process so we could then interpret the business
process into SAP language.
Thank you. Great comments folks. Our poll I will close with 60% saying a
combination of functional SAP support being both busines
s and IT and a lot of
confirmation on that. Two people mention that it resides in IT. Any comments from the
two that selected that option?
I selected the resides in IT because for us functional support, the SAP
competency center sits in IS & T. N
ow saying that we do have different types of users
either as key users or what we call business system change leaders so if somebody
requests a change we have those people sort of validate that is a reasonable request,
that there is a good business require
ments behind it before business systems, the
functional side, actually looks at how do we configure that or do we have to do a
development and things like that. As far as the official supporting, making config
changes and things like that, that is done wit
I can second that motion although it is kind of a hard question to answer
because it is quite a blurring across the lines. You go from people who really know the
innards of how to make SAP work and know a bit about the business and then
it kind of
blurs over to the people who are mildly updating the configuration and are more
powerful business end users to very business sided people who might do a little bit of
SAP changing. It is really important to have the broad spectrum because you n
power users on the end user community to work closely with the business analysts that
are in IT.
TOPIC: Size of support teams
Thank you, great points. How about the size of support teams folks
compared to solutions installed? What e
xpertise is required on them? Does anyone
a comment on the size of support teams or a ratio with the solutions installed
meaning maybe the different applications installed? I think that is what
they are getting
Yes there seems to be some
disparity in terms of what is needed for support. I
understand that SAP is a very complex application and software is a very intricate
structure. I am thinking about you need a Basis support person. You need a
APAB programmer and then on top of al
l of that
people that understand the
business function. It just seems to me in terms of our experience with just managing HR
and gross pay
it seems like we have an inordinate amount of
support to do that. I was just trying to get some input in terms of supporting SAP for a
company about our size. We have 7500
8000 employees but we only support the HR
function. I am just questioning that beca
use it seems like we have an excess amount of
support, even more than I would think is necessary.
I would say that part of the problem is probably the fact that you need all of the
various expertise and since you are only utilizing one particula
r function point it may
seem a little heavy handed. In our case we have multiple systems on multiple
landscapes and we still need just those
. So in our case it is probably a pretty
lean support for the size of company and system
l only have problems
here and there and that same expertise can then address the various systems.
The same expertise can address the various systems?
Yes, so you have a DBA in your case he works out of HR. in our case it is GL
retail side, it is everything. It is the same DBA.
That is consistent with what I h
ave seen at other organizations, at the
consumer products division in Corning that I worked with before. They have essentially
the same kind of people but they are
supporting all functions with SAP; manufacturing,
requirement, planning, order processing, financials, inventory, customer relations
management, you name it. It seems like with the same staffing supporting across the
board functions with SAP because they
are fully integrated.
We are almost done folks. Let’s get through our topics. Fred, did we cover
this; challenges and staffing for maintenance of SAP apps?
I would say so.
I guess I would just add or stress the level of e
xperience can make a huge
difference because SAP being so big and a little bit mysterious if you are a novice
coming in there you can spend a lot of time just trying to figure out where you need to
be in the first place whereas somebody with experience wou
ld have seen the problems
before and know exactly where to go and get that much further right off the bat.
I think that is the problem. I think that is part of the issue here as well is that
I think I have another one
here that I am not sure if I included in the agenda.
Who has implemented SAP Net payroll
We are not using it be we are considering
really, someone said earlier, SAP dangles that carrot in front of you and says even
though you are just using HR we are giv
ing you all of the modules. It is included in the
software program. What they don’t tell you is implementing those things and the various
levels of licenses associated with it. We are looking at the feasibility of implementing
SAP total payroll so we don’t
have to deal with the interfaces and hopefully there is
some benefit there. We are not sure. So if I could get anybody else’s experience in
implementing SAP gross and net payroll.
While they are thinking about that we did get a chat from Dan
ny at AAF
saying; I don’t have it in front of me right now but I could supply the org chart for the
implementation. Danny, N
will definitely follow up with you. We appreciate that
very much. Back to seeing if we can get some feedback for Fred. It is a
little quiet. Why
is it so quiet?
We don’t use their payroll.
That could be our situation. Is anyone on who uses their payroll or may
have a contact for Fred offline? That is our problem here Fred. We are going to take
that one off
line for you
see if we can get you some networking.
A big county in the state of _____
. Are they on the
They are not on right now but
follow up with Jeanette and Joan. Joan
was going to be on. I know she has got many years of experience with many of the
applications but I don’t see her on. Something must have come up. We will check with
them and see. Jeanette had to leave early.
There may be a common thread there. That is why I brought it up.
Sure, we will check with them. They are a big county as well.
initial implementation, Jeanette was asking; how do companies approach adding
TOPIC: Adding functionality after implementation
I would just say probably one of the things that you will want to do is create a
sandbox system where the functional analysts can work with the user and they can
configure it and try it out. Take a look and see if it fits their needs. See what they need
do in the configuration. Then it is not affecting anything that you are currently working
with in production or development environments.
Great point. Thank you very much Jeff. We had Rick as the question; is
anyone using Duet OR? Have curr
ent integration with SharePoint using
please describe your integration solution and how you obtained it. Does anyone have
any experience using Duet OR? Does anyone have integration with SharePoint
try that angle. It is pretty qu
iet. Does SAP embrace that at all as an
opportunity to have some integration with SharePoint and with their applications or
? It is pretty quiet. I guess that sends a message. We have a topic. Gordon I
don’t know if we are going to have another sc
hool district on today with the size of our
group but we will certainly try. Any K
12 school districts in the group with SAP?
open it up to any additional topics before we end today’s call. Did I miss anybody in the
chat that had a topic? I think we
got them. I wish we would have got something for AAF
on the SharePoint integration. Final comments and topics? We have not
for a while. What do you think folks? Would you
to see more of these or
should we drill down to certain spec
ific areas of SAP?
I think we should continue. I wou
d hope maybe we could have a more in depth
discussion on some of the issues.
you to give us your evaluation and tell us more specifically what
of SAP you would like for a future SAP WebForum. Thank you.
End of discussion
LIVE SAP SUPPORT CHART
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LIVE SAP SUPPORT CHART
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users, and business team. 1 Page
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