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User Interface Technology

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Hello Everyone...Wanted to share some experiences I had while interacting with multiple stake holders around topic of UX and suggested solutions that are brought on table.




All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this blog are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred


Ok so

Scene 1:


A high-tech Analytical app helping root cause analysis of a "space ship" failure.


UX asks:

Users mentioned that we need too many clicks to get the the first level of codes of failure from where we would want to drill down



The Funny:

Lets Change from Click to Hover! This way user just has to keep hovering across menus and hierarchical code list. This wil not require any clicks...A Zero Click UX ... now although it does solve the Click issues, I don't think we really solve the issue at hand, option of navigating to the point of interest, the fastest and easiest.

The too-out-of-box:

Let us give gesture based application control where combinations of hand gesture can help navigate to a "surface" of analytical information.


Well, only thing I can say is..I would love it too. If I could do it now, in current timeline and budget.

The Excel!:

Somehow, excel seems to be the solution for everything. Even in this scenario someone comes up with an idea of Download to excel and then we can do "anything" with it. These are the hardest proposals I find to tackle. Excel is a great application, no second thought about it. However fitting it into larger context of an application supporting various business flow, and technically available on platforms considering all security aspects, maybe not! however again...from UX, excel really rocks in many scenarios in context and many isolated process steps too.

My Take:

UX, in this case is disarming the functionality, It cannot be a design as a generic do-it-all graphs from available dataset.

Ask the following question: What is the analytical application meant for?

Example: It could be application for, or encompass, entry points for Top 5 root cause or Todays Top Failures or Related Failure Codes for Top 5 Codes etc.

Essentially disarming the entry barrier by defining what user would use the application for is one of the key UX activity to be done at beginning of the project.

The funny and too-out-of-box in this case can also be considered based on target platform combined with feasibility aspect of DT workshops.


Scene 2:


A Data entry application to enable Fast data entry and advising to customer on stock availability.


UX asks:

Users mentioned that we need to be able to enter quantities for a material against

1. Sizes

2. Colors

3. Advice Stock Levels configured against Size-Color Combination

4. Across multiple shipping locations


So essentially, for a material there are 3 dimensions: Size, Color and Location. Also for combination of Size and Color we have to Show the Stock for advising.




The Funny Here is Excel!

One of the stakeholders jumped in with a solution of Excel with upload/download options.

Let the user fill in entire order in an excel sheet and on a button click, upload all of the data to backend, see the status as red yellow green and allow download to see detailed status in Excel sheet!

The too-out-of-box:

Lets record voice on the communication between sales-rep and customer, parse the voice to text, do natural language processing and in real time create order entries while advising stock.


Well, again, only thing I can say is..I would love it too. If I could do it now, in current timeline and budget.

The Obvious UX:

Show only what we can on a screen and is relevant. This comes from a seasoned UX, it was observed that 60% of color-size combination does not have stock. So the UX advisor advices to remove the entries for the ones not available and give a hierarchical navigation from material to size to color to stock and then entries for quantities across door. This way it can be made simple, responsive across all devices.

Well, what it does not achieve is the primary ask...Speed!

My Take:

In a call center or in general for any fast data entry scenario, the short cuts and muscle memory of users come into play BIG TIME. Here we cannot have a floating size grid as suggested in the obvious UX above as that will mess up the muscle memory of the users. Example: For a particular material type, the user know that 3 tabs brings them to size XL. So, it has to stay that way, even if the previous sizes have no stock. By doing so even if we restrict the application to desktop only, its really fine, Migrating call centers to all on mobile is not going to happen, in near future at-least.

So, a flat UI, Simplified in Data display with high usage of  keyboard shortcuts to help navigate contexts across colors, sizes and locations, along with apt highlighting and visibility of critical data like stock, with freezing on screen information for all time visibility for say Size, Color, Door in context will be a good start to approach this problem.

I am working on this solution myself and will update once I have a Fast UX proposal to act as generic guide for such use-case soon.

All I bringing on the table is that,

UX per say is way more than drawing some sketches or following a golden-bullet principle!

It has to adapt from context to context. The approach of discovery on other hand can be tried to be made uniform for a team.

And it is surely not about "remove click by replacing with hover or Gesture of Wink"

                                                                                        and again...the later I would personally love!!



Happy UX Everyone!

Keep it effective!

One key question of many customers is, how to setup and configure the SAP Fiori launchpad (FLP) to achive that every end user gets the appropriate tiles on the FLP home page corresponding to the user’s business role.

In the following I would like to describe a method that can help you to control the visibility of tiles for certain use cases - in addition to the best practices described in SAP Help Portal.


Some Basics

Catalogs and Groups Assignment

Which tiles are available on the end user’s FLP home page depends on the Fiori tile catalogs and groups which are assigned to the end user via PFCG roles.  Fiori catalogs and groups are configured within the Fiori launchpad designer.

The following graphics shows which the steps an administrator has to perform on the ABAP Front-End Server to make tiles available for the end user on the FLP home page.

FLPConfiguration Steps.png

The assignment of groups is an optional step. When it’s performed by the administrator, the tiles are directly visible on the end user’s home page within the assigned group. Otherwise the end user himself has to add the desired tiles to the home page from the tile catalogs via personalization. It depends on your end users’ needs or company policy if personalization features are wanted or even pushed, or if the end users should get just what they need via assignment by the administrator. To prevent personalization the administrator can set up a tile group without enabling personalization possibilities (see Creating or Removing Groups).


Tiles and Target Mapping

A Fiori tile catalog can include two components:

  • Tiles which represent the visual part of a tile such as a title, subtitle, information, icon and the semantic object and action for an intent-based navigation.
  • Target mapping which defines the target application (Fiori app, transaction, Web Dynpro application) which is launched for a given intent and device type.. The navigation intent (semantic object and action) can be triggered by clicking on a tile, clicking on a link etc.

Note: The connection between the tile and the target mapping is done via the intent. If there is no target mapping available which is matching the semantic object, the action and device type for a tile, then the tile is not displayed on the Fiori launchpad (neither in the catalog, nor in the group). Navigation to the target application is not possible for this intent.


Separation of Target Mapping and Tiles

Use Case

You want to offer the same tile group on the Fiori launchpad for different user types - but with different tiles visible in dependence of the user type.

For example

  • The manager should have two approval apps within the Travel Services tile group on the home page.


  • The employee should have only one app to create and display his own travel requests within the Travel Services tile group.


Proposed Catalog Setup

To distinguish via employee and manager separate tiles and target mapping into different catalogs:

  • Catalog 1 Travel All containing all tiles (three travel apps),
  • Catalog 2 Travel Manager containing only target mapping for the approval tiles which should be availble for the manager
  • Catalog 3 Travel Employee containing only target mapping for the travel request tile which should be availble for the employee.

Then assign catalog 1 and catalog 2 to the manager and catalog1 and catalog 3 to the employee.


Step by Step

    1. Create a catalog Travel All containing all travel app tiles (no target mapping):tiles.png

    2. Create a catalog Travel Manager containing only the target mappings for approval apps: target_manager.png

    3. Create a catalog Travel Employee containing only the target mapping for the travel request tile: target_employee.png

    4. Create a tile group Travel Services and add all tiles of catalog Travel All to this group:travel_group.png

    5. Create two roles within transaction PFCG and assign it to the relevant users:

    • Employee Role: this role should contain
      • Catalog Travel Services (=Travel All)
      • Catalog Travel Employee
      • Tile group Travel Services


    • Manager Role: this role should contain
      • Catalog Travel Services (=Travel All)
      • Catalog Travel Manager
      • Tile group Travel Services



Both, manager and employee have the same group on the FLP home page, but according to their role different tiles/apps are available within this group. This has been achieved by the assignment of different target mapping catalogs in dependence of the user type. The tile catalog and tile group are the same for both user types. Like this you can reuse the same tile group for different user types and keep the number of different groups small - also if you have a lot of different user types.


Further Remarks

Bundling the target mappings for a certain user role in a PFCG role, it's possible to set up a kind of automated and dynamic tile assignment via the PFCG role assignment mechanism. One PFCG role can contain one or multiple target mapping catalogs,

The granularity of roles and catalogs has to be optimized according to your special use case. Be aware that tile catalogs that are too large can lead to performance issues.

When we, the User Experience focus group of the VNSG organized a workshop for customers about SAP’s UI strategy in 2015, we got so many registrations that we had to disappoint most of the customers. Nis Boy Naeve, who was heading the workshop, promised us to do a second edition. This is what took place last week in Den Bosch at SAP NL.


We started the workshop with 5 minute long presentations from the participating customers which they prepared upfront. Each of them was asked to answer 3 questions:

  1. What does you company do? What are the business priorities regarding user experience?
  2. Can you describe your current system landscape including what is already planned?
  3. What concrete user experience challenges do you have?


I was really surprised by the maturity of the customers in the sense that they were very aware of the main lines of SAP strategy and they were busy with Fiori (planning, starting, implementing, etc.). Almost all of them are using Enterprise Portal and one of their main questions was how to combine Fiori with the Portal and other SAP and non-SAP systems. One aspect is the technical integration and another one is the challenge of creating a consistent user experience.


After the presentations SAP took the stage to give an overview of their UX strategy and to reflect on the questions. Nis Boy Naeve, Tobias Gollwitzer, Ingo Deck and Carola Steinmaier were running the show. I especially enjoyed the conversation we had about Fiori 2.0. Ingo explained how the notifications will appear in the upper right hand corner of the Fiori launchpad. At this point we asked about the future of Fiori My Inbox and we were told that this app is here to stay. Some of us were interested in the integration of workflows from various systems, e.g. SuccessFactors. They stated that SAP is in the process of developing connectors based on HCI and PO. Another interesting topic was about the “New, Renew, Enable” slide, which I think everyone busy with SAP UX has seen already. It has been now changed to “New, Renew, Empower”. While Enable was focused on the tooling, Empower is broader including education, best practices and UX design services.




To my surprise many customers were not aware of Fiori cloud edition and the Fiori demo environment. Here is the URL everyone should check out: https://www.sapfioritrial.com/


We had a detailed discussion about how to provide consistent UX to SAP users at the moment. It is today’s reality that there is no Fiori application for everything and this is not even realistic for the future either. Providing a single access point is possible via the Fiori launchpad. Users can see tiles in the launchpad and the technology behind the tiles can differ. Some tiles will launch Fiori apps, some others will launch web applications with Fiori look and some tiles may just point to ULRs. Web applications can be visually aligned with Fiori with enablement tools such as SAP Screen Personas and UI Theme Designer. A good example for this visual harmonization is the SAP Screen Personas Flavor Gallery: https://personasgalleryimagineering.us1.hana.ondemand.com/PersonasGallery/


Carola gave a live demo of the new launchpad, which contained two new features:

  • Menu on the top of the launchpad to jump to groups directly, without scrolling down a lot.
  • Link area which allows the possibility to add links to the launchpad without creating a separate tile for each URL.


Few other points which I learned from the Q&A:

  • The Give Feedback function in the launchpad sends data to SAP. This will be a service on HCP, which customers will be able to subscribe for.
  • The SAP Business Client can open the Fiori launchpad as entry page, but side panels are not supported in the Fiori UX. The main benefit of integrating the Business Client and the launchpad is that this way transactions can be opened from the launchpad in the native client.
  • Collaboration functionality will be added to the Fiori UX, but knowledge/document management will not be added to the Fiori launchpad. This part of the Enterprise Portal is not covered by the launchpad.
  • UX as a Service is a bundling of HCP based tools such as Splash, Build and Web IDE.


The afternoon part of the workshop was even more active for the participants, as they were guided through the process of creating a UI/UX roadmap in groups. Each participant really liked this part.




Tobias gave his recommendations how to create your UX-roadmap via Standardized Approach and he facilitated small exercises with the groups. After completing few of these exercises, each team had a roadmap. For round up each team presented their UX-roadmap and we all could ask questions and comment on them. It was interesting to see the differences. We discussed that one of the main challenges in creating a roadmap for multiple years is the fast changing nature of UI technologies.






The evaluation of the workshop was amazing. If you know the Dutch culture, you know that such high scores are difficult to earn.



I would like to say thanks again to Nis Boy Naeve, Tobias Gollwitzer, Ingo Deck and Carola Steinmaier from SAP and my partner in the focus group, Henny Claessens, for creating this workshop for VNSG customers.

From time to time, the subject of “prototypes” crops up during conversations with customers about UX improvements. During these conversations, I pick up different views. This is what I will focus on in this blog. I would like to share my thoughts and considerations about this subject and provide an idea about how to identify a good scope to start a prototype.


The difference between a prototype and a proof-of-concept

You might be wondering right now whether or not I’m talking about proof-of-concepts rather than prototypes. So let me start by recapping the difference between the two concepts.

A proof-of-concept has the purpose of proving that something can be done. You might for instance want to prove that a specific UI technology is capable of supporting a specific design idea.

A prototype has the purpose of simulating the subsequent implementation of the idea. With the terms “low fidelity prototype” or “high fidelity prototype”, some people define how close this prototype should be to the final, real implementation. A proof-of-concept might be part of a prototype practice or a prior exercise.


Arguments for prototypes

Why are prototypes important for our UX improvements? I see three major arguments:

  • Risk mitigation
    From a business perspective, each project involves different types of risks. One is that the project will end up providing something that nobody wants. Or even worse: The complete project fails because of technical issues or insurmountable implementation challenges. The prototype helps us to discover obstacles at an early stage of the project, where costs for fixes are still small.


  • Quality improvement based on user feedback
    Prototypes can also help to improve the quality of the final solution. Design thinking for instance includes prototyping as a central element to interact with users and to gather valuable feedback about acceptance and usability aspects that need to be addressed.

  • Increased speed and decreased costs
    You might wonder why a prototype should help to get things going faster. Just imagine that you discover fundamental functions missing in the middle of your implementation phase. Going back to the design table and re-coding your development will cause a serious setback in terms of time and money.


The value of a UX design prototype?

In the context of UX projects, prototyping is often perceived as a pure design prototype and early activities such as wireframes and mockups. Before I get to the additional sorts of prototypes, let me review why the UX design prototype is quite important. Actually, there are still many people out there thinking that a design prototype is not necessary in their project. But there are good reasons for executing design prototypes:

  • Fail often and early
    From a business perspective this might sound terrible, because failing is connected with costs. But in reality, failing early also means failing cheap, as early stages of the project are much less cost intensive. There is a huge difference in costs, between just wiping something away from a paper mockup and throwing days of coding away to just recode.


  • Increase accuracy of project estimations
    In early stages, the design prototype can help to sharpen the accuracy of your project estimations. It can of course even help you out in very early stages where you even not have a project, yet and still need to persuade your management.


  • Increase your ability to set priorities right
    Sooner or later you will have to set priorities. The design prototype helps you to understand which UX improvements have the most positive impact to the users long time before one line of codes was developed. With SAP Splash and Build for example, SAP provides a good toolset to help you with a clickable design prototype without the need to code.


  • Establish a common sense across different teams
    A design prototype is not the task of a designer only. It is a task performed by a group of people across the organizations. Users, designers, developers, key users, process owners and others build the prototype together. This is not only a great chance to identify concerns, challenges and road blocker of later project phases. It also helps increasing the acceptance of the later solution, as it comes from all instead of just one.

Sorts of prototypes in an UX improvement project

Prototypes are also very useful in other phases of the project. For example a development or adaptation prototype can help to understand whether the teams are well prepared to deliver the real solution. During the implementation phase too it might be of interest to prototype the activities necessary to successfully deliver the solution to the users.

The following list provides more details of the sorts of prototypes I have in mind.



as part of the design activities

  • Gather early feedback from users
  • Support the iterative process of creating a UI guideline with something visual
  • Bring the design to perfection without any code development (reduction of costs)
  • Shared vision of design across end-users, stakeholders, designers, developers and others
  • High quality guidelines for developers


as part of the

or adaptation activities

  • Evaluate the best
    development framework(s)
  • Get familiar with the development framework(s) and capabilities
  • Check the availability of necessary development skills in the enterprise
  • Prepare teams being able to develop according to given design guidelines
  • Clear understanding of necessary development framework(s), skills as well as technical requirements for development
  • Feedback about technical boundaries
  • Solution that can be used of implementation prototype
Implementation prototype
as part of the
implementation activities
  • Evaluate technical deployment options
  • Understand transition impact to running business and users
  • Verify available operation and support skills in the enterprise
  • Prepare teams being able to implement, operate and support the solution
  • Clear understanding of relevant implementation and operating skills
  • Clear understanding of technical requirements for productive operation
  • Feedback for about implementation boundaries

Though development and implementation prototypes might be close to the real solution, they are often not intended to go-live. This is why these are often referred to as “throwaway prototyping”.


On the other hand, going live with a prototype can be a feasible approach if it is clearly defined as such from the start. This is typically called “evolutionary prototyping”. The advantage here is that the time expended on the prototype is not completely lost. The disadvantage though might for example be the quality of the code, as you might rely on code that was being built during the early stages of your project when the coding was still at a rudimentary stage of development.

Note: There is a serious risk of a prototype that was NOT intended to go live actually going live. Important functions might be missing or the quality might not be sufficient, all of which put the user acceptance at risk. To avoid this risk, it is very important to make it extremely obvious to everybody (including the users) if a prototype is not a productive implementation.



How to find the best scope for a prototype                                        

The final question remains: How to find the best scope for a UX improvement. I’m going to focus intentionally on an example of an evolutionary prototype, so that we can look into all different arguments of the selection process.

I believe a good approach would be to do the following:

1. Understand what is used most frequently (create a list of top applications)

There are various ways of gathering this kind of information. One would be to ask the business directly. Another one is to perform a usage analysis in the application systems. The blog “How can I identify the top transactions in my environment?” provides a few pointers for this.


2. Identify the cases with the highest impact to filter your list
There might be no direct correlation between the call frequency of an application and the monetary impact of this application to the business. You should double-check your list with the business management in order to identify the monetary impact on the business. There are other parameters you could double-check and rate at this point. For guidance on this approach, see the video
How can I identify a good starting point for my UX improvements? - Part I and Part II.


3. Filter your list by the cases requiring design thinking activity
Steps 1 and 2 should provide you with a good list of top applications. You have probably developed a gut feeling about which of these entries will become candidates for adaptation or development activities. As a result, these are suitable candidates for design thinking activities as well.


Note: It also makes a lot of sense to start design thinking activities in the case of pure SAP software adoption (adopt case) to always put the user at the center of your analysis. Though this effort will require less time compared to adaptation or development scenarios, since there would in theory at least be no development and only a small amount of adaptation activity needed.


4. Filter your list by cases requiring specific, missing technology skills
Does your list contain UI tools or UI frameworks that your teams are not familiar with yet? In this case, you should put your focus on a scope that incorporates these tools and frameworks. Though there are a lot of different technologies out there, the tools and frameworks you should concentrate on are: SAP Screen Personas, SAP Web IDE, Floorplan Manager (FPM), SAPUI5 and Web Dynpro ABAP (WDA).


5. Filter all the rest of your cases in the list by mapping them to users and teams
Another dimension that is very important to me is the target group. Take the opportunity to learn in a convenient environment with a small group of users that are cooperative, probably a bit technology minded and willing to provide you with constructive feedback. This is necessary to be prepared for the bigger roll-outs of your solution where you don’t want to endanger user acceptance.


You might have experienced yourself that there are various ideas as to what prototypes are. We can at least distinguish between three sorts of prototypes that reflect design, development or implementation activities. In my opinion they are all equally important.

It is also important to make the right selection on the prototype scope. As well as gathering as much information as possible in order to improve your solution, you also need to ensure successful adoption of it in the user base later on. As mentioned in step 5 above, this includes how and to whom you start rolling solution out at the end. A small group of users honoring what you are doing and providing valuable feedback is the best way of preparing yourself for upcoming implementations across your enterprise.

If you have any ideas or thoughts about this topic that you would like to share, please use the comment section.

With regards,

JJ (Twitter: @JJComment)

SAP is generally considered to be the leader in business applications thanks to its market share, the breadth and depth of its software portfolio, and the functional completeness of its solutions. One area, however, where SAP takes criticism is the user experience (UX) of the software. SAP software is undoubtedly rich in functionality, but in the past, end users were expected to be knowledgeable, often even trained, to be able to use SAP solutions to their maximum benefit. At the same time, we live in the age of consumerized IT; where great user experience is expected by default. SAP has recognized the growing gap between new user expectations and the reality of their software and has made user experience their highest priority.

The cornerstone of SAP’s journey to improve user experience is SAP Fiori and SAP Fiori launchpad (FLP). FLP is the central point of access for all SAP Fiori apps. It is a real-time, role-based, and personalized aggregation point for business applications. It was developed based on SAPUI5 and follows core SAP Fiori principles.



Architectural Options


SAP is implementing SAP Fiori UX across the SAP software portfolio. This implies that the central access client to SAP Fiori apps (SAP Fiori launchpad) is expected to support all scenarios that

SAP customers may have to run SAP applications. Whether applications are predominantly hosted on-premise on Java, on an ABAP stack, or in the cloud, SAP Fiori launchpad must cater to all of these scenarios. This is why SAP has created the following three deployment options for SAP

Fiori launchpad:


  • ABAP frontend server

The ABAP option was the first created by SAP; therefore, currently, it is still considered the most proven option. In this option, SAP Fiori launchpad runs on SAP Gateway, providing all three SAP Fiori app types (transactional, analytical, and fact sheet) with other supported UI technologies.


  • SAP Enterprise Portal

The SAP Enterprise Portal option is based on a portal framework page, which has been specifically created by SAP to enable SAP Enterprise Portal to host SAP Fiori launchpad.


  • SAP HANA Cloud Platform (SAP HCP)

SAP HCP is a key strategic platform for SAP, and as such, it is under continuous development. SAP Fiori launchpad on SAP HCP is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that enables the SAP Fiori cloud offering, where the business processes may run in the cloud or on-premise.


Scenarios and Corresponding Roadmaps


SAP customers can make use of various UI clients to connect to SAP systems.

The following are some of the main clients:

  • SAP Enterprise Portal
  • SAP Business Client
  • Mobile clients


Most customers use a combination of these clients, but may still rely on one or another more heavily. Relatively few customers use all clients. SAP has made it clear in its UI technology roadmap that all these clients will be consolidated into one client UX in the future: SAP Fiori launchpad. The actual implementation of this SAP Fiori UX is still in progress by SAP. The roadmaps of UI clients describe the transition paths.


Setting Up SAP Fiori Launchpad


As previously mentioned, SAP Fiori launchpad can be deployed in three ways:

  • SAP Enterprise Portal
  • SAP HANA Cloud Platform


Just to take the most common option at the moment, the setup on AS ABAP consists of the following steps:

  • Initial setup
  • Configuration hierarchy
  • Login and logout pages
  • Configuring user access
  • Configuring Catalogs, Tiles, Roles, and Groups


Real-Life Examples


We see 3 main types of use of FLP in real life:

  • Renewing the SAP Enterprise Portal user experience with SAP Fiori launchpad
  • Running your application entry point in the Cloud
  • Renewing the User Experience for ABAP customers




Since the introduction of SAP Fiori launchpad to the market, SAP Fiori has taken a big step forward to be the de facto SAP clients’ user experience. The overall concept that SAP Fiori launchpad delivers—a simplified and modern UX, personalized access points, responsiveness, and ease of use—will remain the same, but we expect the experience of SAP Fiori launchpad to get regular updates and adopt new design paradigms and capabilities.


Are you interested to learn about these subjects in greater detail? Aviad Rivlin and I captured our experience and recommendations in an e-bite.

The meeting consisted of two parts: knowledge sharing based on learnings from SAP TechEd and an interactive workshop around the topic of design.


The first presentation was given by Vincent Weiss about Mobility. He immediately jumped into the exciting topic of wearables. Vincent talked about the challenge to design apps for such small screen sizes. He pointed out that Augmented Reality is an area which SAP is paying attention to, e.g. based on Hololens from Microsoft. There are concrete SAP AR solutions already available: SAP AR Warehouse picking and SAP AR Service Technician. SAP is developing new ones such as The Perfect Meeting App, which is based on the Apple Watch and C4C. Vincent talked about the roadmap (https://websmp106.sap-ag.de/~sapidb/011000358700000791112012E.pdf). In my opinion the fast development of HCPms is key here, the support for more Kapsel plugins, Windows 10, improved authentication and the plans to provide application building capabilities for people who can’t program. With Fiori mobile services SAP is going to have the full end-to-end development cycle covered: extending Fiori, building new, testing, deploying to the SAP Mobile Place. Regarding point for improvement, Vincent mentioned that at this point in time the documentation is still not sufficient.



The second presentation was from Roel van den Berge about SAP Build and Splash. He set the stage by explaining the lack of designers at most customers and the fact that SAP would like to help customers to improve the user experience of their applications. He introduced Build and positioned it as an open source, collaborative design tool which makes it easy for anyone to create interactive prototypes, get feedback from users and jumpstart development without writing a single line of code. He showed the Splash site (https://www.experiencesplash.com/splashapp/) and emphasized that it is a portal around UX methods, design services, guides and courses, gallery, etc. SAP Build allows business analysts to take photos of sketches done on flip charts, import the pictures and extend them gradually, have it tested by end users, and eventually import the project into Web IDE, where developers can add the detailed programming logic. Another approach is to start from an example app, clone it and modify it. Roel gave a great live demo of this latter approach: he picked a template in Splash and modified it in Build. In the end he had a fully functional Fiori app showing the list of VNSG meetings and some details of them (based on mock data).



The third presentation (actually by me) was about Fiori and Fiori launchpad. I covered all the news in this space. I started with Fiori 2.0 and explained the concept and the gradual delivery SAP is aiming at. I introduced the Fiori Overview Pages, which is a new solution to structure content in the Fiori Launchpad. Watch this movie to get an impression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_gpY1f1vPc I explained SAP’s strategy regarding the single UX for clients based on SAP Fiori launchpad. I explained the Fiori launchpad deployment options (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/f0b8f7bc-244b-3210-3ea2-cf9a3c3bc908?QuickLink=index&overridelayout=true&60155312143403) and various techniques to make Fiori mobile. Fiori cloud edition is of course a main innovation in this space. SAP is making possible to run Fiori in the cloud on HCP. As next step even the OData provisioning will be on HCP (via HCI) and then not even a front-end (gateway) server will be necessary on premise. Lastly we discussed the impact of S/4HANA on Fiori.



The second part of the meeting was the interactive part. We formed 3 groups and each group worked on answering the following questions:

Q1: Please give 5 examples for great design in real life. Give 3 reasons why they are great.

Q2: What is missing in your organization to create great design and how the situation can be improved?

Q3: How do you see the role of Design Thinking in your organization?


After the team work, we re-joined in the auditorium, the teams presented their answers and we discussed them.


Here is my summary to the answers:


Q1: The great designs mentioned were: Apple, Tesla, Google Search, Egyptian pyramids, Gaudi’s architecture, one-button control in Mercedes cars, touch screens, swipe on mobile devices, light-emitting bicycle roads, smart boards, smart thermostat. The participants mentioned reasons such as innovative, simple, consistent, sustainable, easy to use, beautiful, suitable for the time we live in, accessible, fast and unique.



Q2: The most common items mentioned were: involvement of users, out-of-the-box thinking, multi-disciplinary teams, iterative way of working, making the business case, adding a UX specialist to projects, close cooperation between business and IT, looking for deeper understanding. An open culture is a huge benefit here.


Q3: The opinions were very different in this area, so we had good discussions. Somebody argued that Design Thinking “doesn’t fit into our processes”, while someone else had great experience with DT applied to the future of their business, but the follow-up, the actual realization of the ideas generated remains to be a challenge. Many people found that getting the end users involved can be difficult. They are busy, may not be willing to join workshops. Explaining and demonstrating the added value is key here. Some people found asking the questions behind the questions is the most important. This means not jumping into development immediately, but first investigating the real demand.


We got very positive feedback for combining presentations with an interactive workshop. For sure we will consider this approach for our upcoming events in 2016.


Agenda for 2016:


May 26, 2016

  • Sapphire recap
  • State of mobility in real life – customer stories

September 29, 2016

  • State of Fiori in real life – customer stories

December 8, 2016

  • TechEd recap
  • Look into the world of graphical design


Special thanks for Henny Claessens for organizing this event with me.

Hi all,

You might have already noticed that the SAP UX Explorer just got released in version 3.0 and has some additional features. Therefore I would like to give you a short overview on how to use some of the features of the SAP UX Explorer.

I'm planning to update this section from time to time with new information. If you have a certain idea on your mind, that you would like to see covered in this document, please give us feedback uxexplorer@sap.com.

To follow all updates on the SAP UX Explorer,  I recommend the related Blog Latest News on SAP UX Explorer by my colleague Juergen Jakowski.

To stay tuned about upcoming topics and features you can subscribe to our SAP UX Explorer newsletter.

All the best,




How To:


Topic Toolbar

The topic toolbar is available on every topic detail page. It is located in the same line as the topic title on the right side of the page and consist of multiple blue icons. The icons allow you quick access to different functions as:

  • Explore topic in Semantic Viewer
  • Share topic
  • Print topic
  • Discussion in SCN (not available for every topic)
  • Add topic to favorites

Saving topics (MY FAVORITES)

You can save topics to access them at a later time, to compare or print them. On any topic detail page, for example “SAP Business Client for Desktop” click on the favorite icon to add the topic to the “MY FAVORITES”.

Repeat this step for each topic you like to save. The star icon is going to change from an empty to a filled star.


To access the saved topics, just click “MY FAVORITES” in the black header.


To remove a topic from “MY FAVORITES” you can select “Remove” in the “MY FAVORITES” behind the topic name or click on the filled star on the topic detail page. The star is going to change back from a filled star into an empty star icon.



Comparing topics

On any topic detail page, for example “SAP Business Client for Desktop” click on the star icon to add the topic to the “MY FAVORITES”. Repeat this step for each topic you like. Next to “MY FAVORITES” you see a number indicating how many topics are in the list “MY FAVORITES”.

Then click on “MY FAVORITES” and select the check box in front of the topics you like to compare. If you have selected at least two topics the “Compare” button is going to be activated. Then click the “Compare” button to compare the topics.

You can compare up to three topics side by side in the desktop and tablet version. (This feature is not supported on the mobile phone version.)



Print Preview

You can print one or multiple topics of the UX Explorer.


To print one topic, select the printer icon on any topic detail page.


To print multiple topics, add them to “MY FAVORITES” first. Select the checkbox of the topics to be printed in “MY FAVORITES” and click on “Print Preview”.


The topics are listed below each including all facets. You can then select the “Print” button to print the topics. If you don’t want to use all the available facets, you have the option to select only the facets you are interested in. You do this by clicking on “Show options” above the first topic. Here select the check box of the facets you would like to include in the print preview.

Sharing a topic

You can share a topic of the UX Explorer directly from within the topic using the sharing icon from the topic tool bar. Here you have the option to share it via social platforms as:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Twitter

Or you can send the link of the topic via e-mail. If you use the e-mail function provided here, exactly the URL shown in the address bar of your browser is going to be used, for example with a certain facet expanded. In addition is another e-mail function provided at the bottom of the page that will always use the URL to the initial topic overview page.

(Note: An account with the social media platforms is required.)




Accessing the Semantic Viewer

The Semantic Viewer is a tool to visualize the topics of the semantic network of the UX Explorer.


On any topic detail page, for example “SAP Business Client for Desktop” click on the map icon. A new window is going to open and the Sematic Viewer is displayed. (Only supported in Chrome browser at the moment).

I recommend to walk through the Online Help of the Semantic Viewer the first time you are using it. You can access the "Help" in the slide out menu at the right under the Help tab (?).


With TechEd Barcelona coming up next week I was preparing my questions and things I want to find out while I'm there. Following my previous blogpost on the subject (New SAP UI Roadmap - What's changed since 9 months ago?) and the positive comments I got on it I thought I'd write another one with my findings. I compared the UI Roadmap of April 2015 with the most recent one (http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/c0e5d250-3e9a-3010-97a0-a0c7f48b5bd8?QuickLink=index&…).



There are no changes to the Table of Contents. No mentions of new technologies and no current technologies have fallen off. Of course it would have been a big surprise if there were any. There are also no changes to the UX Strategy apart from some new images and textual fine-tuning. SAP is going strong with the new-renew-enable paradigm. The key UI technologies and how they relate to each other have not changed either.



Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.18.02.jpg

There's been a little shuffle of the trends on the left side and one addition (highlighted). I do think it's an important addition and I recognise it to some degree. People see the power of simplicity in Fiori apps and want that for their processes too. After implementation of the basic (and indeed simple) Fiori app I too often am requested to build a list of features into an app that make the app more and more complex. Before you know it you'll be building a complete transaction again and that's something you should not want. If you're building a Fiori app, always keep in mind the Fiori principles (simple, coherent, responsive, role-based and...I always forget one...ah yes: delightful). Especially the simple and (thus) delightful often get overlooked. If you need to build a transactional app, consider one of the other key UI technologies, such as WDA/FPM.



April 2015October 2015
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.29.55.jpgScreen Shot 2015-11-06 at 11.27.08.jpg

By far SAP's hottest UI technology these days. You can tell from the many shifts of items in the columns and the continuous adding of new items. What I think is really great is that the transactional enablement of UI5 is shifted from Future Direction to Today. A lot of steps have been made in that area and I expect to get more details at TechEd. Something to watch is the use of Smart Templates. This will help to make the creation of new Fiori apps a lot easier. Much needed of course considering that S/4HANA will be completely Fiori. You can imagine the need to convert all the current screens into simple Fiori apps. it's good to see the Demo Kit and documentation are getting improvements as well. Layered configuration / personalization is also very welcome. It will give developers the abilities to provide (key) users with options to optimize their app to their liking like we know from WDA/FPM (I imagine).

Future Direction seems stable but the 3 remaining items in there are very generic. On the next slide you see some elaborations on the subjects. For instance for new controls: "Tree, Tree Table, Analytical Chart and many other control improvements". I know that Tree Table was a customer requested feature and I'm curious to see how they will make it happen and if it will work for mobile.



Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 12.43.52.jpg

On the Description slide in the latest roadmap a couple of lines were removed. E.g. from the Key capabilities list: "Embraces “open source” framework(s)". It makes you wonder whether SAP decided that they're not embracing them anymore. My educated guess is that they haven't but just thought it's not really a key capability of the Web IDE. From the Benefits list we see that the line "Enables business experts and designers* via highly efficient tools" is removed. With the beta of Build (www.build.me) released you would think that the (planned) prototyping capabilities of Web IDE will be shifted to Build (in that case I'd remove "prototyping" from the tagline). Why SAP decided to release another tool instead of integrating it with with the Web IDE puzzles me and I'd like some clarification on that decision.


In the previous roadmap a slide was dedicated to the building of new apps and one to extending existing apps. These slides are gone in the newest roadmap (presumably because they were not adding much value on top of the Description slide) and new slide about Web IDE Plugins was added.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 12.28.00.jpg

The fact that the Web IDE is a modular platform (much more than merely a tool) is one of its biggest benefits IMHO. You can even add your own plugins allowing you to add your own features to the Web IDE. The graphical viewer of the OData Model Editor was a much requested feature and I'm happy that they've added it. Next step hopefully is to the ability to edit the model in the graphical view.


Floor Plan Manager / Web Dynpro ABAP (FPM/WDA)

April 2015October 2015
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 13.43.17.jpgScreen Shot 2015-11-06 at 13.44.14.jpg

Many think that SAP UI5 will replace Web Dynpro ABAP eventually. I'm still not sure whether this will happen or not but based on the UI Roadmap I see no pointers in that direction. For instance the "Tighter integration of SAPUI5" was and is still in the Future Direction.

The Future Direction for FPM/WDA has not changed but some of the planned innovations have been realised today such as the integration with SAP Fiori and the implementation of a (first version) of Screen Personas for WDA/FPM. Keep in mind that there are still WDA/FPM applications being used in e.g. Simple Finance (and I'm sure at S/4HANA as well). At first glance (which is a Fiori launchpad tile) you might think it is all Fiori/UI5 but in fact a lot of applications are still based on WDA/FPM. Having a tighter integration (such as intent based navigation) is in that case of much value, allowing contextual navigation from one object to another without limitations, regardless of the UI technology. I said it before and I'll say it again: Web Dynpro ABAP is going strong and it is here to stay.


Web Client UI Framework

April 2015October 2015
Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 14.39.31.jpgScreen Shot 2015-11-06 at 14.40.10.jpg

Dear to my heart, although I haven't touched it in quite some time now. I see only 2 planned innovations realised (Open links in new tab/window & Quick navigation between search criteria). Furthermore I guess they wanted to throw me off by shuffling and grouping some texts but you don't fool me SAP! Honestly I don't see many things realised and that makes me wonder about the amount of effort to be invested in on-premise SAP CRM. Especially with the addition of hybris to the cloud suite of SAP it makes you wonder whether there will ever be a CRM 7.04 or 7.1. Looking forward to discussing this with my peers at TechEd (especially in Expert Networking Session EXP27289 (SAPCRM meetup by Gregor Wolf)).


UI Theme Designer

For the UI Theme Designer one benefit was added: Apply corporate identity. Self-explanatory I'd say. No doubt a much requested feature.

As for the roadmap:


April 2015October 2015
20151107 09.32.04 screenshot.png20151107 09.32.28 screenshot.png


The Integration with Web IDE has been realised and is available as a shortcut from the WebIDE Home Page. There are a couple of new features in the Today column. On the other hand I see no features moved from Planned Innovations to Today. In fact one of the features (Integration with Git persistency for HANA Cloud Portal) is pushed back to the Future Direction. Perhaps a shift in priorities due to customer feedback.


SAP Screen Personas


April 2015

October 2015
20151107 09.47.16 screenshot.png20151107 09.47.23 screenshot.png


The purpose of this tool is clear: improve productivity through personalization of ERP screens. A lot of work went into realizing the integration with other SAP UX Solutions (much like you see happening with other UI technologies (e.g. WDA)) and I think that is a good sign. As long as companies are still using the 'old' ERP screens, SAP Screen Personas is a valuable addition to your toolset. Something to watch is the future planned Mobile rendering. That means 'old' ERP screens will be somehow be mobilized. That could mean for instance reducing (a lot of) fields on VA01 and then be able to create a sales order on your iPhone. Looking forward to seeing how this would work out. Another very valueable planned innovation IMHO is the Usage analytics. This is of direct benefit to UX researchers/designers saving them a lot of time interviewing key users as they can (hopefully) directly see the most used features on a screen, allowing them to better design new screens.


SAP browser support

One new browser will supported as from SAPUI5 version 1.32 onwards: Microsoft Edge.


SAP NetWeaver Business Client


April 2015October 2015
20151107 10.09.53 screenshot.png20151107 10.10.00 screenshot.png


One of the last products to have NetWeaver in its name (I feel another name-change coming up!). Actually a lot of work was done in the past 9 months. Support for various platforms was realised as well as integration with Screen Personas 3.0. Seems all of the currently planned efforts are put into enabling NWBC for SAP Fiori UX which sounds logical. Not sure I'm reading this right, but "SAP Fiori with SAP GUI native experience" doesn't sound like something to look forward to


Portals & SAP UI client consolidation plan

New compared to the previous roadmaps is the addition of the roadmap slides for the Enterprise Portal (EP) and SAP HANA Cloud Portal. As such I cannot determine a delta but the trend you see in other areas is happening here too: integration with the Fiori launchpad and the Web IDE.

20151108 08.33.53 screenshot.png

There's no delta here apart from the fixing of the description. But I think it is still an important topic because of the many entry points you can now choose from. What the user will see is the Fiori launchpad. How this is implemented (in a browser, NWBC, EP, etc.) is up to the desire of the customer. In my opinion there are (still) a lot of flavors to choose from and you'd have to be an expert to give an advice about which one you should choose. I had hoped for a more concrete path towards the 'portal of the future' by now. Right now it seems everything will remain as it is (apart from that it will all look like Fiori) and I think that's not very good. Ideally I'd like to see one product (e.g. SAP Portal) with different deployment options (e.g. Cloud, on-Prem full & on-Prem light) much like was done with the Sybase Unwired Platform, Sybase 365 and Syclo Agentry into SMP. Take the best features of each product, bring them to the other products and simplify the way you offer it to customers.


SAP Fiori launchpad

April 2015October 2015
20151108 09.14.50 screenshot.png20151108 09.15.03 screenshot.png


In any case this is at least the face of the 'portal of the future'. Lots of work is done in this area and I hope to see a lot of it next week. From experience I can say that the simplified setup, config and admin processes will be welcomed with open arms by a lot of customers. Also the Push notifications will come in quite handy. Looking forward to learn how this will be implemented and what is required (perhaps SMP, ABAP Push Channels?). I can imagine that the Enhanced launchpad user experience with SAP Fiori UX 2.0 concepts will be sped up because from what I've heard people are extatic about Fiori 2.0.


I'm not going into the Specialized UI Technologies (Visual Business/Enterprise, Adobe IF & WDJ) as very little has changed in these areas (yes, WDJ is still dead ). The other topics at the end (SAP Fiori, SMP & Gateway) have their own roadmaps. Perhaps food for another blog!


Thank you for reading this blog post so far. I you have read it, please approach me at TechEd next week and tell me what you thought of it. If you haven't read it, approach me anyway Don't forget to take a picture and enter the Catch a Mentor and Know a Mentor Missions


During SAP TechEd you might wonder what happens inside the SAP Mentor “fish bowl” on the show floor. In this blog post, I would like to welcome you into the fish bowl and share with you the conversation we had with Sam Yen, Chief Design Officer at SAP. We had the opportunity to ask Sam questions about UX, design and SAP Fiori. Sam also brought along  Stefan Beck from the SAPUI5 team to answer some of the more technical UI5-related questions.


The topic leads for the session were Jocelyn Dart and myself and as you can see we had a great number of SAP Mentors participate.




The meeting opened up with Sam giving us an update about user experience design.


Key Highlights

Sam is very proud of the design team that won the Red Dot Design Award for the Fiori 2.0 design concept. This puts SAP in the company of previous winners such as Bang & Olufsen, BMW and Apple. He explained how this is particularly significant given it falls outside of the usual software design awards.


Sam sees user experience as one of the critical success factors for the future of SAP. This was highlighted in the SAP S/4HANA launch earlier in the year at the NYSE and user experience continues to be one of the top priorities for SAP customers.


One of the biggest challenges facing any organisation is how to scale user experience. Sam explained how this is a challenge that SAP also faces particularly with respect to bringing the SAP Fiori design to S/4HANA, even with a 1:100 designer to developer ratio, which is considerably better than the 1:1000 ratio at many companies. SAP is releasing products such as Splash and BUILD to help their customers (and their internal team) to tackle this problem. The reality is that for the on-premise version of S/4HANA, there will still be non-Fiori screens at least initially. SAP is working hard to extend the SAP Fiori UX across all of S/4HANA and is looking to tools such as SAP Screen Personas as a tactical way to do this.



After this introduction, we launched into the list of more than 20 questions we had for Sam (due to time constraints we only got through a portion of them).


Q1: What is User Experience as a Service (UXaaS) and what does it means to SAP and its customers?

Sam explained how UXaaS augments the SAP Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering. It covers the Discover (Design Thinking), Design (Design Doing), Develop and Deploy phases


Splash is targeted at the discovery phase, BUILD at the design phase and other HCP (HANA Cloud Platform) tools such as SAP Web IDE at the develop and deploy phases. Now you can use Splash templates as starting points for your BUILD prototypes and take your BUILD prototypes into SAP Web IDE to kickstart your development.


Q2: What is SAP Splash? How is it different than BUILD?

Splash is targeted at the discovery phase, while BUILD is available for the design phase. Splash contains learning materials, galleries and templates. You can then import these into BUILD to start prototyping and user testing.


Q3: How is SAP seeking to wrap up all the various solutions, including ERP, cloud solutions and various acquisitions (Concur etc.) into a consistent and unified user experience?

The vision is to use SAP Fiori UX across all SAP software. Both SuccessFactors and Ariba are good examples of this happening with existing solutions. SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C) is a great example of SAP Fiori UX being applied to a new product. The majority of current effort at SAP is going toward increasing SAP Fiori coverage within SAP S/4HANA.


Q4: What is SAP Fiori, cloud edition? How is it aligned with the overall SAP Cloud and UX strategy?

Customers face a challenge with a new architecture and lifecycle needs for SAP Fiori (e.g. Frontend/Backend servers, Service Pack levels etc…). With SAP Fiori, cloud edition, SAP will manage the frontend server for the customer and the customer will just need to include the add-ons to enable the gateway to connect to the backend on-premise systems.


Q5: What is the roadmap and timing for SAP Fiori 2.0? What advice do you have for customers currently building their own SAP Fiori apps to fill gaps and custom solutions? Which areas are worth staying away from due to changes in SAP Fiori (for example, it would appear that notifications is something that is worth waiting for)?

SAP Fiori 2.0 will not be delivered as a big bang. It will start with some new interaction patterns. Then new theme and visuals (2016) followed by a refreshed SAP Fiori Launchpad later in 2016 (notifications/personalisation). Advice for now is to look at smart templates first and use SAP Web IDE as much as you can.


Q6: What plans is SAP putting in place to encourage customers to stay up to date with UI5 releases?

The SAP Fiori Launchpad is key to the SAP Fiori user experience. It is the central point for SAP Fiori apps and other UI technologies (Web Dynpro ABAP, SAP Screen Personas, etc.). We are looking at how we can become more flexible with versions (e.g. apps and SAP Fiori Launchpad on same or different versions). There is a new SAPUI5 release strategy which is based on a 3-year cycle: 1 year of innovation + 2 years of stable maintenance. Currently, traditional apps are being developed mainly on version 1.28 in SP13 and SP14. SAPUI5 version 1.30 is available with UI add on 2.0, versions to come are 1.32, 1.34, 1.36. 1.36 will be next stable version then UI add on 3.0 will have 1.38 (innovation).


Q7: SAPUI5 v1.30 introduced good accessibility support (e.g. for screen readers). Are there plans to down port those improvements to older versions (e.g. v1.28.*)?

The short answer is there are no plans to down port. Down porting is risky for a stable release, but that would depend on the need from customers to do so. Also it doesn’t really help if the apps themselves have not been created to be accessible anyway.


Q8: We know the SAPUI5 platform is including accessibility capabilities. Is SAP committed to getting all existing delivered SAP Fiori apps up to WCAG AA/US508 standards?

We can't commit on behalf of the app team but there is a great opportunity with Smart Templates to make sure they are accessible out of the box.


Q9: During TechEd Bangalore (March 2015), we learned that the SAP Web IDE development team is working on an on-premise version of SAP Web IDE.  Any update on this?

With SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition there will be an on-premise version of SAP Web IDE. However, it’s still being determined if there will be a standalone version for developers that can be used when not connected. This is honestly quite difficult for SAP as we are asking customers to move from any database to SAP HANA and from on-premise to cloud. An on-premise version of SAP Web IDE is slightly counter to that direction. What is a bit contradictory is that customers don't seem to mind cloud-only options from other cloud companies, but seem to expect an on-premise version from SAP. [Mentors made the point that SAP Web IDE is expensive for independent developers and if you are not connected you can't develop on the cloud.]


Q10: The design process itself is as important if not more so than the outcome (the UX design). Can you elaborate on how the design process(es) within SAP has changed now? And do you feel it is in a place (or headed there) so that SAP can be more proactive versus reactive to coming technologies and "disruptions" from a UX perspective while also not simply jumping to whatever "flavor of the month" trends in design are happening at the time?

80% of our focus is on today's problems, 20% is looking forward (e.g. SAP Fiori 2.0) Looking to the future we want to bring more context and personalisation. There is potential for the UX to be more personalised, able to predict what you need or anticipate it, as well as apps could be suggested to users based on context and time sensitivity. There is a move from back office to operational (with the Internet of Things) and more front office engagement e.g. Hybris Profile.


Q11: What advice would you have for a UI / UX developer to stay current in an ever evolving SAP world?

Design isn't just for designers. IT needs to understand and embrace design. If they don't, the business will look elsewhere. SAP is trying to help the industry to "get” design. Having designers is good but with limited numbers, design needs to be part of everyone’s job. That is why SAP is releasing tools to expand and scale design.


Q12: What are the biggest challenges and how can the SAP mentors help?

We already have good customer co-innovation programs, but we need something more structured with mentors. We would like to make a commitment to start a work stream with the mentors. Customer success stories are very compelling and valuable. [We will be following up on this.]



Unfortunately, we ended up running out of time and didn’t quite get through all the questions. At least that means there are still some questions left for TechEd in Barcelona! We rounded off the session with some photos and a group selfie in support of the #One4 campaign.

one4 (4).jpg


A massive thank you goes out to Sam and Stefan for taking an hour out of their busy schedules and joining us in the SAP Mentor fish bowl, especially since it was the morning after the SAP Jam Band where Sam had been rocking out with the Fiori Rocks Band on the show floor. I hope this has given you some insight into what goes on in the mentor room and it’s great that we can share our conversations with the community here on SCN. If you have any questions or comments please share them below.

Future of SAP User Interface with SAP S/4HANA


After watching SAP TechEd Las Vegas, these are key points to be noticed with user interface technologies after S/4 HANA.

If you see, SAP strategy is all future developments are on SAP Fiori UX and SAP UI5 is UI technology for S/4 HANA.

All SAP UI clients (Mobile, Portal, SAP Business Client, and SAP Logon) will be consolidated to SAP Fiori Launch pad.

Nevertheless, SAP did not stop developments on FPM/WDA and Personas.

SAP future innovations of UI technologies other than SAP UI5:

FPM/WDA:  SAP Fiori launchpad integration, SAP Screen Personas implementation for WDA/FPM, Fuzzy search etc...


SAP Screen Personas: Responsive design, Theming and Mobile rendering etc… and No new development on SAP GUI.

But when you move SAP from on premises to cloud, you cannot use all user interface technologies because you should not have requirement to install SAP GUI on desktops in Cloud.

SAP S/4 HANA on Premises Edition:

· Fiori Launchpad in browser and SAP Business Client (Local Client) are available user interfaces.

· Both supports Fiori screens, SAP GUI for HTML, Webdynpro screens

SAP S/4 HANA Cloud Edition:

· Fiori LaunchPad in browser is only available which supports Fiori screens, SAP GUI for HTML, Webdynpro screens.

Below picture from SAP TechEd presentation from Johannes Wasserfall will give overview of UI technologies to be used based on devices.


Do not forget that SAP UI5(Fiori) is future of SAP UI technology and recommended technology.

In a previous blog post we introduced “User Experience as a Service” (UXaaS). UXaaS is SAP’s cloud offering of tools and content that will enable customers to scale great user experience in their organization by enhancing the value returned in each phase of the product development lifecycle. (DISCOVER, DESIGN, DEVELOP, DEPLOY).

In the product development lifecycle the Discover and Design phases are critical, as the costs to address UX issues in the Development and Deploy phases increase dramatically.

Second Blog post photo.png


For example, one reason why we live with enterprise systems that are out of date is due to the serious financial cost (and hassle) of rolling out these updates for these systems.


Another reason why we don’t address issues during the Discover and Design phases relates to the lack of formal design training, and design skills, possessed by development teams. This causes yet another hurdle in an organization’s ability to scale user experience.


User-centered design is accessible to our customers through UXaaS.  Splash addresses the Discover phase of the product development life cycle, providing non-designers with easy-to-consume learning materials, as well as a gallery of enterprise applications that can inspire. Splash empowers organizations to find the best solution for their end users, on their own, prior to designing or developing a new application.  (See Splash for yourself at www.experiencesplash.com)


From Splash, BUILD can be accessed. BUILD allows users to quickly create interactive low fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes.  BUILD also provides validation tools enable organizations to share prototypes with end-users for feedback, iterate on this feedback, and quickly get a prototype into development as a result of BUILD’s embedded UI5 starter code.  (Try the future of SAP prototyping for yourself. Visit www.build.me to sign up notification regarding our public beta release.)


Splash and BUILD are only part of UXaaS story. To learn more about the UXaaS vision, visit this blog post by Alex Joseph.


Also, watch this presentation from Tech Ed in Las Vegas on UXaaS.

Have additional questions or thoughts? Leave them in the comment section below.                 

The UX Explorer is an online tool that is aimed to provide transparency in the area of user interfaces (UI) and user experience (UX) everybody is looking for. It provides information that allows you to clearly understand the availability and capabilities of UX innovations, UI technologies and services. It also indicates the values of these specific items and how they could be adopted in customer environments. To learn more on the UX Explorer watch this video by Juergen Jakowski as well as visit the UX Explorer homepage.


Recently the SAP Fiori Overview Page was added to the UX Explorer. In order to access the SAP Fiori Overview Page on UX Explorer you can click this link or go to the UX Explorer homepage and type "overview" in the UX Explorer search box and select the "SAP Fiori Overview Page" option.


On this page you will learn what SAP Fiori Overview Page is, its features, screenshots, answers to your questions, roadmap and more.


2015-10 OVP UX Explorer_.png

For more information, please visit SAP Fiori Overview Page.

-- Raz

In his keynote at SAP Tech Ed 2015, and a recent Blog post, Steve Lucas discussed the digital disruption. He states that SAP’s role in this digital disruption is to enable “organizations to become a Digital Enterprise that is simple, agile and responsive.” The technologies supporting this transformation are SAP’s S/4 HANA and HANA Cloud Platform.

In a blog summarizing his Strategy Talk from Tech Ed, Sam Yen discussed how “consumerization of IT, a simple and intuitive user experience is no longer a ‘nice to have’. It’s table stakes.”  Further, Sam discussed how Gartner reported that user experience is the number one topic of interest for SAP IT leaders.  Specifically, the issue our customers face, and another challenge of SAP is “How do we Scale User Experience in the Enterprise?” when enterprise UX is not as simple as consumer UX. 

“User Experience as a Service” (UXaaS) is SAP’s answer to this problem.

UXaaS is SAP’s cloud offering of tools and content that will enable customers to scale great user experience in their organization using the DISCOVER, DESIGN, DEVELOP, DEPLOY lifecycle.

Introducing UXaaS.png



SAP Fiori and WebIDE have already successfully established themselves as the tools that SAP customer and partners use to rapidly Develop and Deploy solutions. 

At SAP Tech Ed 2015, SAP announced two new products SPLASH and BUILD to address the critical Discover and Design phase wherein the opportunity to delight users is the highest and the cost to make changes the lowest.   



Splash was created to support non-designers with a gallery of inspirational application prototypes and design thinking artifacts that can be quickly downloaded and leveraged for new applications.  Users can “learn by doing” through easy-to-consume, bite sized guided learning materials that are fully integrated with BUILD for the design phase.

Splash Blog Post.png


BUILD is the integrated research and prototyping tool that enables business owners to create interactive enterprise application prototypes without a single line of code. Users can start from an application discovered in the Splash gallery, upload hand-sketches or even drag and drop UI components from scratch. BUILD then enables collaborative refinement of prototypes leveraging real sample data and a set of user research tools including studies, surveys and usage analytics. The last step of BUILD speeds the handover to developers with code generation for WebIDE. 

BUILD blog Post.png

From Design through Deployment, the future of enterprise UX is here.  We are excited to add BUILD and Splash to Fiori and WebIDE to support SAP’s Hana Cloud Platform.

We want you to be a part of this future and to try these new products for yourself.  Visit SPLASH at www.experiencesplash.com and also visit www.build.me and sign up for the public beta release of the product. 

Follow us on Twitter  @BuildwithBuild and @SAP_SPLASH for the latest news and updates.

You can also read Sam Yen’s entire blog post here to see more about SAP’s UXaaS strategy. 

We welcome all of your questions and input in the comments section below!

You might wonder why I’m using such a strong headline this time. From time to time, I hear or read statements saying that SAP’s user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) is so bad. In most cases, they unfortunately don't provide any further information about which application they are using. Nor do they provide information about their intention when using the application, or the intention of the employer when providing this application.


And of course there is no information about this because this is exactly what needs to be gathered in intensive user research work at the customer. This environment cannot be described with 140 character Tweets or with a few sentences in a forum. At the end of the day however, these simple, negative statements remain, regardless of the root cause of the user’s dissatisfaction.


I have to admit that this frustrates me a lot. And not just because these statements claim that SAP is the reason for the user's dissatisfaction. It is also frustrating to see these unhappy users despite there being so many ways to improve their user experience.



Picture 1: Evolution of SAP's user interfaces from early 80's to today



Maybe it also frustrates me that people often look at user interfaces of SAP that were developed over 10 years ago and compare them with state of the art design guidelines. Or they use an application in a way that is not intended.


It’s a bit like complaining about iOS 1.0 while Apple already provides iOS 9.0.  Or complaining that my family car can't handle off-road dirt tracks.



Some interesting facts

SAP Software was (and for many still is) intended to be standard software


  • SAP has had user research labs for decades in Germany, USA and other locations, where user requirements in terms of user interfaces have been gathered. Providing standard software means satisfying the needs of a large number of users with completely different usability needs. In most cases, I believe that SAP provided a good compromise between these parameters in the past.


  • While customers were looking for standard software, they also often modified the software to adapt it to their needs. The needs were often more in the area of features and functions rather than in usability.


  • In addition to the SAP standard, customers also developed their own applications based on the SAP platform to provide their users with additional functions and features. There are hundreds of thousands of customer developments out there, which are still in use, even if the features and functions provided could have been replaced in the meantime with the SAP standard offering better user experience. At the end of the day, this replacement often doesn’t take place for various reasons that are – to the customer’s decision makers – more important than user satisfaction. Upgrading SAP systems just for the sake of user experience does not justify an investment for many decision makers for example.


Most decision makers didn’t really care about end user satisfaction for a long time


  • There is no doubt that there are still many enterprise end users out there who are unhappy with the SAP user interfaces they are using. Especially if we are talking about user experience - which user interfaces are just part of - there are many more important factors beside the UI. If you are interested in reading more about the difference between UI and UX, I recommend this blog from my colleague Adi Kavaler.


  • In the past, companies didn't implement business software to satisfy their end users. They implemented it to make their business more effective, faster and more profitable. IT was the medium to technically support business processes. The users had to do their work regardless of whether they were satisfied with the software.


  • Customers adopted business software especially with a focus on a specific type of users. These users (we call them power users) were THE experts in their business processes and required complex features and functions to satisfy their need to master the business processes.


  • In the past and still today, end users are often not asked for their opinion and about their requirements. The reason for this can be found in both IT and business departments. While IT might be afraid of receiving requests for requirements that can't comply with, the business side is afraid that end users are talking directly with IT. It is a fact today that the IT people at many customers do not have the opportunity to interview real end users directly. I can confirm this with most of the customers I meet up with.


User types have changed


  • Over time, new users have been introduced to the business software. Many of these users performed tasks or business processes that they were not THE experts in.


  • An important point. There are many cases where there is no need to be an expert, but the need to perform a task in the process remains. I’m not an HR expert for example, but I need to create a leave request. I’m not a purchasing expert, but I need to accept incoming invoices that are connected with my role. There are many similar examples where users use software for pretty simple tasks on an occasional basis (e.g. creating a leave request). We call these users casual users.



User expectations have changed


  • In a similar fashion to these changes, another change plays a significant role. With the rise of the smartphone and improvements in browser-based technologies, today's users have a private IT environment that is often more modern than their IT environment at their office desk. In addition to this, applications that are used in the private environment, such as Amazon  and Facebook have changed the ways users expect to work with software. Nowadays, if I’m processing simple tasks, I want them to be supported by a simple application. I don’t want to do any learning or study user manuals in order to perform simple tasks.



Times have changed, but users are still working with old applications


When user interfaces get bad ratings and users are unsatisfied, this is often connected with casual usage types. But why?


I guess the simple answer is that the importance of satisfied end users and the improvement of their user experience is still not enough in focus with customers, and is seen merely as a cost factor that has no monetary value. But this is not true. In fact, especially in the case of casual usage types, this investment is very much worth the effort, as it increases productivity, data quality and acceptance of the software. At the same time, it reduces the amount of incoming customer support messages and the amount of user training required.


As a result of the current situation, casual users are still working with SAP applications…


  • …which were created a long time ago based on design guidelines from the past
  • …which were created with a focus on power users and their complex needs
  • … which therefore force casual users to use an application that can be used to complete a dozen complex tasks at once, but the one minor task they want to perform costs the same number of clicks



SAP can help to satisfy users                                                                                    


For a while now, SAP has been offering SAP Fiori and SAP Screen Personas as the key elements to improve the user experience for both casual users and for power users. There is an informative video that shows how different a SAP Fiori-based applications is, compared to its predecessor based on SAP GUI and Dynpro ABAP.


My colleagues from the SAP UX Design Services also offer consulting services, which constantly identify valuable UX improvements that can be performed by the customer and prove how user experience impacts costs. By using the design thinking approach, they include “real” end users in the improvement process, gather the “real” needs and design the appropriate solution. These solutions normally involve using SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and other options provided by the SAP standard.


Some people reading this might say “this guy wants to sell SAP services”, but I would like to add that a customer can do all of this without the help of my colleagues. It’s just a question of resources and skills, and whether or not the customer wants to build them up in-house. We have plenty of material available that helps to persuade management to invest in UX improvements and to create a customer UX strategy that is the basis for a good UX improvement.


With these “self-services” as well as SAP Fiori and SAP Screen Personas, everybody is able to make end users happy.

Are there proof points for happy users?


Here are some proof points of happy customers and their happy users. Obviously, I can only share stories from customers who are reference customers.


SAP User Experience Customer Success Stories

Additional SAP Customer Success Stories

Additional Testimonials (filter for UX at the bottom left in product category)


From my work with the German SAP User Group (DSAG) and the American SAP User Group (ASUG) however, I know that there are a lot more. If you are interested in finding more happy users, without any SAP marketing being involved, I would recommend you to get in touch with these groups directly. Both host special interest groups focusing on user experience.



Are there more happy users?


At the beginning of this blog, I referred to casual users and stated that these users are the ones to have in focus for any UX improvements.


At the end of this blog however, I want to highlight that power users do still exist. Numerically, these users might become the smallest portion of all users in a company. But they are still there. You can easily identify many of them. Typically, they ask whether SAP GUI will keep going, and they become nervous if they hear people saying that one day SAP might stop SAP GUI. These users are satisfied with the old applications, also satisfied with SAP GUI and scared of simple applications that limit their options to master their business process.





The key is to understand what each specific user needs and then to provide this by evaluating the SAP technologies and applications available to satisfy these needs.


From today’s perspective, I would NOT say that SAP did everything completely right when it comes to user interfaces over the last 43 years. But at the same time I can say the same about the customers.


The point is: Times have changed many things around us, including how we experience software and how we all rate the importance of it. At all times in the past, I think that people at SAP and at the customer did what was appropriate and correct at the time.


It is important to understand that the requirements of the past and their related user experience solutions might not be appropriate and satisfying for everyone today.


This is why SAP has invested in the SAP UX Strategy, SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and much more over the last few years. And this is also why more and more customers also invest in user experience know-how to drive the change at their side.


To close, I would like to make the following request to all who say that SAP’s user experience is bad:
Please forward this blog to your IT department.




First let me start off with what I am calling “SAP’s new UX Strategies”. What I am referring to is Fiori, Personas 3.0, and SMP native and hybrid applications. As I will discuss further, projects for these products are very different than your typical SAP project of designing reports or interfaces, writing customer functions to process custom fields or custom IDOC segments, etc. These are all things I have worked on before, and I can tell you, it is very different than the Fiori projects I have been working on lately.


One term you will hear again and again from the SAP experience community, top design schools, and companies working on projects and products all over the world in all industries, is Design Thinking. Wikipedia defines this term as “design-specific cognitive activities that designers apply during the process of designing”. It is a framework or process by which designers can solve complex problems, and a quick google search will show you many diagrams of the steps involved. The one I will use is shown below, and was obtained through a document by the Stanford University Design School, or “d.school”.

Deisgn Thinking Process.png

To focus today’s conversation, I really want to concentrate on the first three steps. Every SAP developer has gone through the prototype and test phase, but these first three steps are new territory. In a later blog, however, I plan on addressing how these last two steps have their own quirks in these new UX projects, but that is for another day. This blog will discuss the importance of understanding, and devoting time to, the Empathize, Define, and Ideate steps. With these processes, terms, and types of projects in mind, let’s dive in.


In my opinion, empathize is perhaps the most important step. The key skill here is listening. Listen to the people you will be working with and designing for and understand their process, their pain points, and what types of outcomes they desire. Whether you are designing new screens in Personas, developing new mobile applications in SMP, or creating a custom or extended Fiori app, your options are almost limitless. You can make it look, feel, and behave exactly how you want, so it’s important to know the goals of the application and the eventual end-users before you ever create a mock-up or write a single line of code. The same Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford I was referring to earlier lists how to empathize and they say to observe, engage, watch, and listen. Maybe you are tasked with creating a mobile application for an SAP transaction. A good start is to watch users interact with that transaction. Listen to what they have to say about it, both good and bad. Understand what process it is you are there to work on, and understand what the current state is. Engage the end-users and ask them questions about what they do, how they do it, and a few things they might change if they could. Engage not only the end-users, but all project stakeholders. This could include shop floor technicians, business users, approvers, managers, HR teams, anyone. Get the fullest picture you possibly can of how things are done today, and understand the desired outcome of the project you are undertaking. This process takes time and effort, but it is important to know all of this up front so you can create an accurate definition of the problem and goals you are out to achieve. A good tool for the empathize phase, and one that serves as a great summary of the process, is the empathy map. An example is shown below. This image comes courtesy of Machteld Faas Xander.

Empathy Map.jpg

The concentration is on the user and what they are thinking, seeing, saying, doing, feeling, and hearing. By keeping this focus on the user and their needs, as well as the desired outcomes, and top challenges, the empathize phase will give a great start for defining the project.

After the empathize phase, after your project team has a clear understanding of the users they are designing for, the challenges they face, and the goals they would like to accomplish, it’s time to develop what the Stanford Design School calls a “point-of-view”, or POV. They define this POV as “the explicit expression of the problem you are striving to address.”  What challenge are you tackling and why? By the end of the define phase, there should be a clear enough vision put together from all of the information and data collected in the empathize phase to set the team moving towards determining the solution. From the definition phase, the team gains a focus on the user-needs and goals they are setting out to achieve. As the Design School says, your problem should be discrete and not broad, so that you are not trying to do all things for all people. A properly executed design phase will provide the right amount of direction for the team to enter the ideate phase.

As the name implies, the ideate phase is where you start to hash out ideas and potential solutions. The first two phases, emphasize and define, have all been about understanding the challenges, and framing them to understand the goals of your project. The ideate phase is where you turn the challenges and goals into an end-product, a mobile application being an example in the context we are talking about. It is important not to judge ideas early on in the ideate phase or think any idea to silly or stupid to be worth mentioning. Sometimes an outlandish idea leads to a more reasonable one that is a very effective solution. There are all sorts of techniques used to approach the ideate phase, with the most common one being brainstorming. It’s an effective tool that lets the group build off of each other’s ideas, allowing more solutions to come about than if one person just thought about the problem quietly to themselves. From the ideation phase, it is not important to come out with a single solution, but perhaps a few, each of which can be prototyped and tested for refinement.


Brainstorming image courtesy of clixmarketing.com.

To me, these steps that I have outlined are relatively new when it comes to SAP projects. From my past projects, I might know that a customer wants to create an interface to update equipment records, and I create a batch process that does so, or they want to be able to run some report, so I add a few select options and check boxes, and fetch the necessary data. These types of projects are fairly confined to the typical way of doing things in SAP. There is not a huge focus on user experience and the many ways that a problem can be tackled. But developing custom applications for customers, that is blue ocean territory. And because we are not only developing the back end functionality, but also the presentation layer, the mechanism by which the user interacts with our solution, a lot of time has to be spent on understanding the user and their process and needs, and the potential solutions are almost limitless. UI5 provides a framework by which we can build our solutions, but it is far more flexible than building a report for the SAP GUI. For that reason, it is important to incorporate these new steps, and the Design Thinking process into your SAP UX projects. By not doing so, you not only open yourself up to more rework late in the process, but you don’t allow yourself to fully utilize these new, flexible, customizable products to their potential, ultimately doing the end-users we set out to help a disservice. But if these steps are implemented properly, and time and effort are spent learning and designing, as opposed to jumping right into building and testing, you can create simple, beautiful products that enrich the user experience and drive customer satisfaction to an all-time high.


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