Navigating Release Upgrades

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Get familiar with the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition release upgrade schedule
  • Learn how to use important release upgrade resources

Release Upgrade Schedule

The SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition Release Cycle

SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition has two major releases per year in February and August. New business processes, enhancements to existing processes, and other technical features are delivered during a major release. SAP automatically pushes the release enhancements and features to customer systems on the dates defined in the Upgrade & Maintenance schedule.

Enhancements to existing processes will only be applied to customer systems where those processes are already activated. This is relevant for the other technical features too - if the feature is not applicable for the customer's active business processes, the feature would not be applied to that customer's system. Activating a brand new business process is completely up to the customer's discretion, and can be done in SAP Central Business Configuration if they choose to do so.

During the six months between releases, smaller non-disruptive features also become available and a customer may choose whether or not to activate them in their own system. If these smaller non-disruptive features are not activated during the six month period in which they are delivered, they will automatically be activated and available to use after the next major release occurs in February or August. Again, this only applies if the feature is relevant to the business processes already active in the customer's system.

By releasing new features as they are developed, our early adopter customers have the opportunity to turn on and try out the features ahead of the next major release. However our customers who want as little disruption as possible between the major release can simply ignore these smaller features, because they will be turned on at the next major release without the customer needing to take any action.

The code used to identify a release includes the last two digits of the release year, the numerical month (02 or 08), and a reference to each subsequent feature delivery as they are rolled out. For example, if the past major release was August in the year 2024 and two feature deliveries have been published since then, the release code is 2408.2.

Release Upgrade Process Flow: Software Upgrade

Software Upgrade in Test System

Customers are notified by email 6 weeks before an upgrade occurs. On the defined release schedule, the customer's SAP S/4HANA Cloud test system will be upgraded to the latest software release by SAP. During an implementation project, partners are responsible for regression testing, which means testing the existing business processes, with a specific focus on customized processes, in the upgraded test system to determine if everything is performing as expected. The Test Automation Tool can be used to speed up this process. During this time, customizing and development transports can be released and imported into the test system. While you can't import a software collection that includes key user extensions (e.g. custom fields, logic) from the development system to the test system, you can forward what has already been imported in test to the production system.

Software Upgrade in Development and Production Systems

Three weeks after the software upgrade is pushed to the test system, SAP upgrades the development and production systems to the latest software release.

Note

You may not be able to import key user extensions from the previous release into the development and production systems after they have been upgraded.

Release Upgrade Process Flow: Content Upgrade

Content Upgrade in SAP Central Business Configuration & Development System

The content upgrade follows the software upgrade. Changes to business process content are released first in SAP Central Business Configuration, where they are recorded in a transport request and automatically exported to a customer's development system tenants and forwarded to the test system.

Content Upgrade in Test System

If an automation schedule has been set up in the Import Collection app in the test system, the content upgrade will be imported into test based on the schedule. If no schedule has been defined, you can manually import the content upgrade changes to the test system when you're ready and complete regression testing of the business processes. Again, focus on the customized business processes and use the Test Automation Tool to speed up the testing process.

Content Upgrade in Production System

If an automation schedule has been set up in the Import Collection app in the production system, the content upgrade will be imported into production based on the schedule. If no schedule has been defined, you can manually import the content upgrade changes to the production system when you've finished regression testing all business processes in the test system.

Note

The new business process content for a specific software release needs to reach the production system as quickly as possible to ensure all systems are on the same release of both software version and content version. Features delivered in new software versions can have a content dependency, which means the features are only usable if the corresponding content version is also available in the systems. In the What's New Viewer, the filter "Latest Reference Content Version Required" helps you identify features with content dependencies. If the business process content is not upgraded before the next semi-annual software release, the functionality, operability, and security of your software may be impacted. Releasing & importing transports is a manual step by default, but you can set up an automation schedule in the Import Collection app so you don't have to decide when each individual transport request is imported or forwarded. Learn how to automate transports here.

Release Upgrade Resources

Notification of new features within SAP S/4HANA Cloud

All users logging into their SAP S/4HANA Cloud system will see a notification banner along the top of the screen after a release upgrade occurs and new features have been rolled out in their system. Selecting "click here to find out more" in the banner opens a sidebar on the right side of the screen with information about the new or updated features. To access the sidebar directly, select the question mark icon in the top right corner, then choose the megaphone icon to find the same what's new information you can access through the notification banner.

SAP Help Portal: What's New Viewer & Release Assessment Scope Dependency Tool

To access detailed documentation about features and changes within line of business, navigate to the SAP Help PortalWhat's New tab. There, you will see the Release Assessment and Scope Dependency Tool (RASD) and What's New Viewer.

The What's New Viewer is a comprehensive list of all new and changed features for a release. You can use the different filters to focus on the content relevant to you and export the information or share with colleagues. Because the What's New Viewer is the master list of all changes which may or may not be relevant for the business process content active in a customer's system, it requires the user to know what is already turned on in their SAP S/4HANA Cloud system.

The RASD is provided as a free tool for all SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition customers to give a clear understanding of exactly how a release will affect the content deployed in their unique system. The RASD compares the release upgrade information against a customer's actual landscape to provide the "day 1 impact" of a release.

Because partners are not employees of the customer organization, they are only able to use the RASD if they log into the tool with an SAP user ID and password from an employee inside the customer's organization. The RASD is essential in focusing the post-upgrade efforts of testing, change management communication, ensuring employees have the correct business roles and catalogs assigned to their users to access the correct applications, and other tasks. The RASD is also integrated with SAP Cloud ALM, so you can create a upgrade-related tasks in SAP Cloud ALM directly from the RASD application.

Activating features delivered between releases: SAP Central Business Configuration

There are two methods of activating features delivered between releases: via the SAP Central Business Configuration system or directly in SAP S/4HANA Cloud (customizing tenant of the development system). In both cases, you need the relevant permission assigned to your user to access the system and/or the app. SAP Note 3366956 provides detailed instructions.

In SAP Central Business Configuration, the project should be in the Product-Specific Configuration phase. Select the Configuration Activities tabGeneral SettingsActivate New FeaturesActivate Features link. You will be redirected to the configuration activity where a list of the available features are displayed and you can choose to activate/deactivate them. Many features are not reversible once they have been activated. SAP Central Business Configuration will automatically prompt you to assign the change to a transport, which is then released to the customizing tenant of the development system. From there, you can release the transport to the test system in the Export Customizing Transports app, import in test with the Import Collection app and forward to production, and finally import in production with the Import Collection app.

Activating features delivered between releases: SAP S/4HANA Cloud

In the SAP S/4HANA Cloud customizing tenant of the development system, select the Implementation Activities app, located in the Business Process Configuration spaceActivate Features. Expand the General SettingsCross ApplicationActivate New Features → select Activate Features. This brings you to the same configuration activity that can be accessed through SAP Central Business Configuration where you can see a list of the available features and choose to activate/deactivate them. Since you are already in the customizing tenant of the development system, you only need to assign this change to a transport in the Export Customizing Transports app. Import the change in the test system with the Import Collection app and forward to production, then finally import in production with the Import Collection app.

Release Navigator for SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition

The Release Navigator for SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition is an aggregator of release resources across different SAP websites. It's your one-stop shop to access websites like the Release Assessment and Scope Dependency tool, targeted line of business-specific information, early release webinar sessions, and many more resources.

Get a guided tour to learn how to use all features of the Release Navigator in this tutorial.

Accessing the Release Navigator within an SAP Cloud ALM Project

In addition to the direct link, you can access the Release Navigator in your SAP Cloud ALM project through the Cross-Project Analysis app (formerly Releases & Timelines). Select the Timelines tab, then click the latest content upgrade displayed in the calendar. You will see the option to choose the What's New Viewer and Release Navigator from the drop-down menu.

Additional Resources: SAP Road Map Explorer & Customer Influence

The SAP Road Map Explorer is where you'll find the future planned enhancements. While SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition only has major releases twice per year, you may see the planned enhancements divided into quarters, because that's how product management and our developers determine their workload, and the smaller, non-disruptive features can be published ad-hoc between releases.

Many of the features you see in the Road Map Explorer have originated as requests from customers or partners in the Customer Influence & Adoption website. This website enables customers and partners to request enhancements to SAP software. Campaigns with the most votes let our product managers know that a particular feature is highly desired from our customers. Customers can also get involved in early adopter and beta testing programs through this website.

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