Upgrading to NetWeaver BW 7.3 - Our story part 4, how Project Santa became Project Valentine

8 March 2011

John Appleby

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

If you’ve been following Philippa Holland’s excellent blogs on Project Santa, then you will know what this is all about – and if you haven’t then you should go and read her content first! You can check  them out on her profile page. The short version is we put a BW Integrated Planning solution for a major part of our Order to Cash process in – the part that allows us to build project plans, assign people to them and produce the financial budget vs actual reconciliation into place. And Project Santa ran in parallel with the BW Upgrade project.

The multitrack approach

Please be careful if you ever do this, but we continued to develop Project Santa on the old NetWeaver BW 7.0 system whilst we were upgrading our productive landscape. And then we pushed all our transports from 7.0 to 7.3, being very careful to only transport custom code. If you transport SAP standard code then you are in big trouble.

It’s an approach that works fine, but of course Project Santa had no idea if their solution would work on BW 7.3, especially considering that SAP rewrote large swathes of Integrated Planning between BW 7.0 and 7.3. It turns out it didn’t.

Project Santa becomes Project Satan

As it happens, Project Santa was then in quite a bit of trouble. Planning layouts didn’t work, formatting was broken, JavaScript all over the place and we had gone from a mostly working system (with bad development data) in 7.0 to good data and a broken project in 7.3. And to add to this, Project Santa was starting to be disbanded as the various graduates working on it started to leave for chargeable work.

Hackers of the world unite – do as I say, not as I do

SAP Active Global Support simply weren’t able to respond fast enough for our needs and we needed to get Project Santa live. And it turns out that my colleague and Planning Capability lead and I still have some technical skills left. So we would drop into SAP’s codes, find bugs and make manual fixes and then sometimes send them back to SAP for them to put into the product.

I’m a bit frightened as to what this means to our system when we apply SP02, because repairs to SAP standard code aren’t really good practice, but we did what we needed to do.

SAP come to the rescue

SAP had been quietly watching our progress via the Blogs, via Twitter and SAP Messages. Lothar Henkes – Senior Director of Product Management for NetWeaver BW, actually reached out to us and took ownership of the growing collection of SAP messages we had. It turns out that SAP’s primary product support were struggling to take on BW 7.3 as it’s subtly different to BW 7.0 and they took ownership of all our SAP messages into the BW development team whilst we were raising support issues at such a pace.

This made a big difference and allowed us to shape the SP02 release a bit, ensuring that all our major issues would be fixed in that timeline.

SP02 brings NetWeaver BW 7.3 to life

I have a real sense that SP02 will bring NetWeaver BW 7.3 to life. We’ve not installed it yet, because Philippa Holland and Steffen Schwark are running the SAP UK Tech Tour Demo Jam (hosted by the enigmatic Craig Cmehil) off our live system and they won’t let the technical team patch it before then! So it will be a week or two before we can tell whether it fixes all our issues – or potentially worse, creates a new bunch of regression problems.

But Lothar and his extended team seem to really have a handle on it. I’m pretty sure that SP02 will fix the vast majority of our problems, some of which are stuck in the depths of Java and SAP have not been able to release a hotfix for.

Project SantaValentine goes live

Some 6 weeks after expected, Project Santa actually managed to go-live, rebranded as Project Valentine. I’m not sure the team had all come to love it by then but it was character building for them and they learnt a lot more than had the project been all smooth sailing. And probably they will run screaming out the room if they ever hear the words “Ramp-Up” again in the middle of a project.

Check out parts one, two and three of this blog series.

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About the author

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I've always been passionate about new technology. I cut my teeth helping global financial services and consumer goods companies build data warehouses to manage their business - especially when they wanted to run faster.

These days, I travel weekly across continents, helping clients differentiate themselves using analytics technologies. This then involved building a team to design the solution, make it work and lead it through to successful completion.

I believe that in-memory computing is radically changing the face of business so you can ask me about SAP HANA, or about any other data platform like DB2 BLU, Hadoop or MongoDB for that matter.

I'm passionate that giving back to the community reaps long-term rewards and this has shaped the last few years of my career - being a contributor to knowledge sharing websites as an SAP Mentor; and a sometime advisor to Wall Street investors on emerging technologies and those companies bringing to market new innovations.

When I'm not busy designing in-memory apps, you may find me pounding the pavement to the beat of music in the hilly suburbs of Philadelphia, or traveling the world to meet new people and new cultures.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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