At SAP TechEd Berlin, Leo Apotheker, co-CEO reinforced the message that the enhancement packages will significantly reduce the amount of testing that customers need undertake as part of an upgrade. However, consultants disagreed.
Jim Spath of Black and Decker for instance said: "There is no way we would apply any new code without full regression testing. Our compliance procedures would not allow it. The risk that it breaks something is too great." Christian Guenther, senior consultant at RealTech added: "While some organizations can get away without significant testing, you really don't know what will happen until the package is implemented. In one case I have worked on, the client ended up with a confusing interface they had not expected. That meant we wasted three months implementation time."
However, it may not be all downside risk. Oliver Kohl, solution architect at MIBS said that "Once enhancement packages have been implemented, they cannot be uninstalled but remember they do bring enhancements that you probably don't want to configure unless you have a highly customized environment." This could be good news for customers that are embarking on an SAP project or which are relatively new to SAP and have not coded many customizations. How much relief this provides in the wake of the planned maintenance price is another matter.
Apotheker emphasized the value that customers will get from the maintenance price rise. He said the value that can be got from the solution manager alone more than justifies cost increases because customers will achieve a better rate of TCO.
The current level of uncertainty and economic pain being experienced by companies across all industries makes introduction of any price rise problematic. As Apotheker noted, no-one wants to see a price rise. Instead, he continues to hold the line on value delivery as the justification for the price increase. There was no talk of price reduction or cost increase deferral, despite continued rumbling among customers.