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The upgrade path

Having assisted many clients through various system upgrades, we stand by the following opinions. 

System upgrades can bring significant advantages to a business, they can eliminate existing weaknesses, and can remove the need for existing enhancement burdens. 
However if the upgrade is not handled correctly, all the implementation and support work done to provide a stable and controlled environment will be jeopardised. 

In exactly the same way that SAP should not be implemented as a purely IT project, but must have full business involvement and acceptance, exactly the same can be said of the system upgrade process.

With the exceptions of the minor upgrades to improve or correct technical difficulties (i.e. that have no impact on the application functionality or end user processes), it should always be assumed that the significant system upgrades are driven by the need to: 
    - Improve existing business processes
    - Allow for new business processes to be conducted
    - Incorporate new  technology to provide genuine business 

In each of these cases, the business will be impacted by the upgrade. Such changes will certainly affect end user activities which will require retraining, and may also affect current controls and procedures which would therefore require an element of process re-engineering. 

As a result, the same project structure that was adopted for the system implementation should also be adopted for any subsequent upgrades. 
    - The new functionality must be tested and analysed to assess the 
      impact of the current As-Is process. 
    - A new To-Be process model must be built.
    - The new process models must be tested through all three levels i.e.
            i)  Test that the new process works within the module
            ii)  Integration testing should then check that the end to 
                 end process still works
            iii) User Acceptance Testing should check that the new 
                 process model still satisfies the business requirements. 



Last modified: September 01, 2003