The end of April marked the culmination of the new upgrade to the SAP R/3 system, necessitated by the fact that SAP would have discontinued its support of the existing version of the system at the end of 2009.
To those unfamilair with SAP R/3, it was launched in 1992 and has dominated the business applications market since then. SAP R/3 has distinct functional modules, covering typical functions in an organisation. The most widely used modules are Financials and Controlling (FI/CO), Human Resources (HR), Materials Management (MM), Sales & Distribution (SD), and Production Planning (PP).
Of these, all but Production Planning are in use at UCT. The initial implementation of SAP R/3 at UCT took place between 1996 and 1999.
The first phase of the upgrade saw the existing SAP system moved simultaneously to new hardware and to a new operating system (SUSE Linux). This was successfully completed at the end of November last year.
More recent has been the upgrade from the existing SAP R/3 4.6C system to the mySAP Business Suite, modified to cater for the Internet age. The mySAP Business Suite also supplements the R/3 software with additional products and components.
"The UCT upgrade was a technical upgrade explicitly structured to introduce as little new functionality as possible," said Prof Andy Duncan, project manager in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor.
"The key is to get the upgrade to do everything we were doing on the new system before taking on any new functionality.
"Though the project team has encountered a number of teething problems, the big issue is the way forward.
"We now have many additional opportunities to get more benefit from our SAP system and a series of additional project proposals have been drawn up and submitted to our planning and budgeting process for possible implementation in 2008 or later."
Several of the new features are technical, especially on the financial side. Others will be welcomed by the university community, features such as the employee self-service facility on the new version of SAP.
For example, staff will be able to enter leave requests and view their payslips online. When leave requests are submitted they're automatically routed to line managers and the human resources department.
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