In one of my last year's blogs on Upgrade of S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (3 system landscape), I touched upon the topic of Decoupling where upgrade/update of Software vs. Content are delivered separately. In this blog, I would like to use a hypothetical scenario to describe in more details how decoupling works, which personally I believe, it is another effort of SAP trying to improve in the Cloud ERP world, delivering innovations in a continuous base yet allow customer to "consume" these new innovations as needed.
Imagine there is business functionality in Purchasing where an approval step is required when total value of Purchase Order is over certain dollar amount. To make things flexible per different customer's need, there is a Configuration Activity where customer can decide the dollar amount based on different Purchase Order Type. For example, direct material purchases may have high amount, while expense type of purchase probably requires approval at a lower amount.
To provide that functionality, SAP delivers new approval screen, new logic in code and new table structure. Examples of Purchase Order Types are included in table with initial value * in the Amount so that this functionality is only in use when customer choose to maintain the actual amount in the table. In other words, by default if customer don't do anything, this functionality will be bypassed with the initial * value.
What Decoupling means is that the initial value in the table with examples of Purchase Order Types and * value in Amount is delivered by SAP as "reference" content. It is deployed to S/4HANA System from the SAP Central Business Configuration tool. Customers can at a later point, define the Amount for Purchas Order Types when they are ready to utilize the functionality. This customer specific data in same table is considered as "active" or "business" content.
Let's assume that in the next update or upgrade, this functionality is improved. Now, not only customers can control the approval by Purchase Order Type, they can also control it via Material Type. For example, directly purchase of raw materials can have a different threshold compares to other Material Types. (See #3 in picture below).
To make that feature available to customer, from Software side, screen, code and table need to be updated. As for the initial value of reference content in the configuration table, it also needs to be adjusted to include * value in the new Material Type column. (See #1 in picture below). So, by default the original functionality and the enhanced feature won't impact customer if they choose not to implement it.
What happens to customer who already have implemented the older version of functionality? Updated content with initial * value in the new Material Type field of the new structure will be in a Transport Request, deployed from SAP Central Business Configuration to S/4HANA system during an update or upgrade. (See #2 in table below). Existing functionality of different $ Amount is still applicable to Purchase Order Type only. Customer can at a later point decide to include additional control at Material Type level, or they can choose to operate as it is.
Now with that understanding, hopefully the respective Activate content update and upgrade tasks will make more sense to you when managing your transport request from updates and upgrades when you preparing for the next delivery of SAP innovations.
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