February 23, 2012 // By: Alexandra Osmani
SAP Support Packages contain quality improvements for the SAP system – delivered either in individual packages or grouped into a Support Package Stack every three to four months. SAP uses Support Packages to deliver bug corrections and legally required software adjustments, such as for human resources and financial accounting, to its customers by replacing the affected objects in their SAP systems. And this is precisely where the challenge lies.
Large organizations − such as financial services providers − tend to have complex SAP application landscapes that have been custom-modified to a high degree. If modified SAP objects are newly imported with the Support Packages, they must be compared with modified objects in the customer’s system to avoid any customer modifications being overwritten. If no such comparison takes place and if customer modifications are not adjusted to fit the requirements of the changed SAP standard objects, then program and application errors can occur. Before an upgrade, it is therefore vital to check carefully which custom developments and modifications are affected by the Support Package you wish to import.
SEB AG, the German subsidiary of Sweden’s largest bank, SEB, employs some 1,200 people to serve its corporate, real-estate and institutional customers in Germany. Among other software solutions, the company runs SAP ERP 6.0 with Financial Services and was also planning to deploy the SAP FS-CMS (Financial Services – Collateral Management System) component, which requires a current Support Package for productive use. Because SEB AG also needed to upgrade its software to reflect error corrections and legal stipulations – such as those relating to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) – it decided to upgrade to Support Package Stack 16.
At the time of the upgrade, the latest Support Package in the company’s application components was Support Package 05. Adding to the complexity of the challenge, SEB also ran MARK, a mortgage bank-specific software solution that is an extension to SAP Banking but contains numerous adjustments to the SAP standard.
Because SEB anticipated modifications in almost all of its relevant business transactions, the company elected to test its entire set of business transactions in order to be sure of identifying all the affected modified SAP objects . The test run for the Support Package import revealed 1,400 modifications requiring comparison in the program area and 250 modifications to the data model (data dictionary). On this basis, the comparison process was likely to involve a major time effort. innobis AG, an SAP and IT services provider based in Hamburg, provided the expertise required to carry out the comparison rapidly and efficiently and to reset modifications that were no longer needed to the SAP standard.
Hartmut Haar, director and head of SAP support at SEB AG, explains: “We are strongly aligned to SAP Banking. Our SAP application landscape is very complex and deviates from the standard in many places. So the process of importing Support Packages always involved a major effort to adjust and process the modified SAP objects. We’re now doing our utmost to reduce this effort by resetting modifications to the SAP standard wherever possible. During the last Support Package upgrade, we succeeded in returning two thirds of all modifications to the SAP standard. This obviously required additional resources, but the extra investment made now will help us save time and money in the long run.”