OnePurdue Sets Goal for Completion of Annual SAP System Upgrade - 10/12/10

The One Purdue team launched the annual SAP system upgrade on Sept. 10, when it produced a copy of the entire SAP production system. The system replica serves as a test ground for the changes the team will incorporate the weekend of Dec. 3-6, marking the upgrade’s final installation and implementation.

OCT. 16 — DEC. 6

3 p.m. Saturday through 4 a.m. Sunday:
         Oct. 16-17
         Oct. 23-24
         Oct. 30-31
         Nov. 6-7
         Nov. 13-14
         Nov. 20-21
         Nov. 27-28

6 p.m. Friday through
8 a.m. Monday:

         Dec. 3-6

6-8 p.m. Tuesdays:
         Oct. 19
         Nov. 2
         Nov. 9

6-8 p.m. Monday:
         Nov. 15

After Dec. 7, the schedule should return to 3 p.m. Saturday through 4 a.m. Sunday, and 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays.

In the interim, except for announced downtime, Purdue staff should experience no disruption or change in their usual access and use of SAP, said Jim Skiles, IT Enterprise Applications’ SAP integration manager.

However, Skiles added, staff should be aware that, due to the interconnectedness within the system’s various testing stages, OnePurdue had to establish a cutoff date for resolving all but the most urgent issues affecting its production mode. This year, Nov. 10 is the date that the team will temporarily freeze work on all other system issues. Regular maintenance will resume Dec. 6, the day following the long weekend implementation of the annual system upgrade.

Purdue’s ever-evolving SAP system – composed of the Human Resources/Payroll, Finance, Supply Chain and Business Warehouse pieces – receives a similar “tune-up” every year at this time, when the team installs an enhancement pack containing thousands of fixes, some purely preventative, and all supplied by SAP, Skiles explained.

“The upgrade contains fixes to problems that SAP users from around the world have experienced throughout the year,” he said. “Although the University may not have encountered the problems, the upgrade is intended to prevent them from occurring.”

Among the SAP system changes included in the enhancement pack are those that allow Payroll to process federal- and state-required year-end tax information and to print employees’ tax-reporting forms. That, Skiles said, is why the upgrade is performed at year’s end.

Having performed a system upgrade each year since the University implemented SAP in 2007, Skiles believes that since then the OnePurdue team has grown more confident in its handling of the upgrade process.

“We’re not as worried about the system being broken,” he said, “and from that perspective, we’ve learned where to focus our testing efforts.”

Skiles expects all Business Services SAP systems to remain operational until 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, when the team will shut them down for the weekend upgrade implementation. Assuming the operation goes according to plan, Purdue staff will enjoy a resumption of the smooth-running system by start of business Monday morning, he said, doubtful that anyone outside of OnePurdue will be aware of differences in the system. But, he adds, the differences are what keep the system operating at its maximum functionality.

The various teams and their leads include Pam Bower for Finance, Lester Burch for HR/Payroll, Will Seeger for Supply Chain, Hans Sigg for Reporting, Kathy Rainwater for BASIS, Rob Campbell for Portal, Bonnie Wharton for Application Development, Jeff Smith for Security, Harry Smith for Business Warehouse, and Pat Dice and Jim Skiles for the Integration Team.