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User Interface Technology

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For Non-ABAP developers , if you want to practise SAPUI5 , the best way is to use the reference service from odata.org. You can use the Netweaver gateway service consumption system from SAP by requesting for credentials if you are specific on SAP system as backend.

 

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Build your model using the service URL. Make sure you are using the correct data service version.

 

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Use Table to display the products. Use the below link to get more properties on Table element

JsDoc Report - SAP UI development Toolkit for HTML5 - API Reference - sap.ui.table.Table

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Add the UI5 table library in your resources

 

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Thats how the output looks like:)

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On March the 12th, we've organized a UX event in Belgium to help our customers understand the SAP roadmap around User Experience, and help them to get on their way. To lure in customers, we invited Andreas Hauser - one of the bigshots at SAP - to perform the keynote.

 

It worked.

 

We've had a really good turn-up of customers, which proves that User Experience in an SAP context is still a very vague topic, and customers still have a lot of questions. Our goal for the event, was to provide practical tips and tricks towards the IT organization on how to support the different technologies and products introduced by SAP.

 

So we set about, showing how typical employees have to work in the SAP system today, using the plain old SAPGui with sometimes, cumbersome transactions that provide an information overload, and not always the information you need.

 

For each of the steps in that scenario, we then dived deeper during separate sessions on how this step could be improved. We positioned the different possibilities according to the target audience, and the available backend software.

 

There's an abundance of solutions available to improve your User Experience, mobilize applications and pimp the front-end, but the main questions still remain.

  • Which solution is the right one?
  • How do we support the technology?

 

So during the event, we explained that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution. You'll have to mix them depending on the target audience, and the goal of the application. Sometimes Screen Personas may be the answer. Sometimes it may be the Netweaver Business Client, Maybe you need Fiori for some and mobility for others. And in many cases, you may require a mixture of different solutions.

 

So how do you set about introducing these technologies, and supporting them?

For each product or technology, we provided practical tips to make a jumpstart, get ahead of business and buy time for the IT organization to learn these new paradigms.

 

You can review the full report on PuurC or review the presentations and slides on SlideShare

 

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I’m sure that many of you have seen the curve in the SAP UX Strategy that illustrates the usage of screens and transactions at our customer base. It starts pretty high with transactions that are widely used in SAP’s customer base and ends with a “long tail” of hundreds of thousands of screens and their transactions used by customers throughout the world.

SAPUXStrategy_Curve.png

When you see this picture for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking that the long tail is not especially important. Depending on the usage profile of your company however, it is anything but.


Of course, SAP does not collect this data to just draw a curve, but to have a lever to prioritize their work and thus improve the user experience for the customer. I can only recommend that you do the same. You need to know your environment and, by implication, you need to be familiar with the usage profile in your company too.



Let’s start with “Why do I need to know what my users are doing?”


I hope you already know that understanding your users, their behavior and their environment is key for you to succeed in providing them with a better user experience. Additionally, knowing the most important transactions helps you to understand where to start. If you are still grappling with the question “why” however,  maybe you could take a look at my blog The eight rules for a good UX improvement project. Alternatively, you could also look into the customer UX strategy topic in the SAP UX Explorer.

 

 

What can I do, once I have created my own curve?


Of course, what we are interested in is not the curve itself but the data behind it. This can be an entry point for embarking on a broader analysis of where your users are. We have recently uploaded two new videos that will hopefully provide you with a few ideas about how to combine your customer specific transaction data with other aspects: How can I identify a good starting point for my UX improvements? Part I and Part II

 

 

The fastest way to get the data we are searching for


I hope you are convinced now that gathering this kind of data makes a lot of sense.


But how can you get it? There are various ways of gathering the information you need. Some of them are pretty old and technical, but have the advantage of being available in your systems and ready to use. Others might require additional software or additional configuration in your environment. In return however, you’ll get very comprehensive data far beyond a simple list of transactions being used.


NOTE: All advantages and disadvantages that I will mention below are collected with the focus on getting the specific data we are searching for. It’s not about rating these tools in general.

 

 

Transaction ST03N (Workload Monitor)

 

Do you know good old transaction ST03N? It’s a very handy tool for analyzing the workload in your systems and identifying the root cause of performance issues. In our case, we only want to use ST03N to find out the number of dialog steps caused by a specific transaction.


Unfortunately, dialog steps are not the best data point for measuring how often transactions are being called. Transaction A might cause many dialog steps while being used for example, while transaction B causes only a few dialog steps. Even if transaction B is called more often, your top list might start with transaction A.


Quick guide to the transaction


Obviously, ST03N is a very powerful tool with a large number of functionalities. As a matter of fact, getting to the information we are searching for requires several steps and/or clicks. Let me roughly describe how to find the data.


  1. Start transaction ST03N and make sure you are in expert mode.
  2. In the upper left pane, search for “workload” and select total (or any individual server)
  3. Double-click on the day, week or month that you want to analyze the data for
  4. You will notice that a new pane appears at the bottom left. Here you need to double-click on “standard”
  5. As the results show up on the right, you need to set the aggregation (above the results) to “application”
  6. You can now select one of the application areas displayed (for example SD)
  7. In the new results, you might need to set the aggregation to “transaction”.
  8. Finally, sort the column “# Steps” to get a sorted list of all transactions in SD


For your convenience, my colleague Marcus Biemueller has created a very informative video about how to identify top transactions using ST03N.


Advantages and disadvantages


+ Comprehensive technical analysis of what’s going on in your system(s) beyond a pure top transactions list.

+ Is already in your ABAP system, so that you can quickly generate a first top transaction list.

+ There is nothing to be activated beforehand. You just need authorization for this transaction.

-  Dialog steps are not necessarily the best indicator to create a top transaction list.

 


Transaction SM20 (Security Audit Log)


SM20 is another pretty classic transaction. It was (and in some places still is) typically used to track security-relevant activities in the system. Of course, we are not interested in all the data and alerts that it might show us. What we are interested in is a tiny side feature that generates a list of the top transactions almost perfectly.


I should stress however that the security log needs to be activated in your system. If it’s activated already, and you have authorization for the transaction, you could give it a try right now. If not, get in touch with your system and/or security administrator. They should be able to activate it for you.


Quick guide to the transaction


  1. Start transaction SM20
  2. Specify timeframe and click “Read AuditLog”
  3. When you receive the results, just go back to the previous screen.
  4. The start screen now indicates that a number of log entries are available
  5. Mark one or multiple of the servers in the left menu and click on the “statistics” tab
  6. Check “transactions” and click “show statistics” at the very top of the screen. (hint: In my test case I noticed that “show statistics” appeared only when I clicked through all other tabs before. So you could give this a try if “show statistics” doesn’t appear)

 

Advantages and disadvantages


+ Is already in your ABAP system, so that you can quickly generate a first top transaction list.

+ Creates an attractive list that provides exactly what we are searching for.

-  Requires the Security Log to be activated in your system

 

 

Alternatives for gathering the information


There are a certain number of other tools available. If these are not already in use at your company, note that a number of pre-conditions have to be met, and configurations performed, before you can use them. As I want to provide a comprehensive overview however, I would still like to mention these.


UPL (Usage and Procedure Logging)

 

As a fairly new tool, the UPL is available in any ABAP-based system and can log all called and executed ABAP units like programs, function modules down to classes, methods and subroutines. It can also be used to evaluate usage of Smartform, Adobe print form and SAPscripts. All with no performance impact on the measured system.


As such, this tool is pretty interesting for custom code management and for us too, as it can report how often specific programs and/or transactions are called. You even can use the SAP Solution Manager system and numerous analytic options provided by its BW.


The UPL How-To-Guide (S-user required) seems to be the best starting point for further investigation.


Process Observer

 

Another option for acquiring the data we are searching could be the Process Observer. This tool adopts a different approach to the other ones I have mentioned. It looks into the processes based on your SAP Business Suite environment, while the other tools look into purely technical activities in the systems. It also needs to be mentioned that its purpose is to optimizing process performance and correctness rather than listing top applications. If you have more of a business background however and want to perform your analysis beyond pure lists of applications and UX, I strongly believe that you should check this out. The best starting point to learn more about it seems to be the blog created by Bernd Schmitt

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and that I have managed to persuade you check your systems and start compiling your own comprehensive list of information right away!  And please don’t forget to add the additional attributes to your top list as described in the videos How can I identify a good starting point for my UX improvements? Part I and Part II. I’m confident that this will set you on your way to creating a highly valuable set of data for your company.


You have questions or additional recommendations to share? Just post them in the comments section.

 

All the best,

JJ (Twitter: @JJcomment)

SAP is using iRise’s visualization software to provide advanced view of how software projects will look before they get off the ground.

 

irise scenarios

iRise Inc.’s Enterprise Visualization Platform, which is resold as SAP AG’s Application Visualization software, has now been incorporated into SAP’s ASAP methodology. The platform does something beyond mere prototyping, said Emmet B. Keefe III, CEO of iRise. In what he calls “light speed functional prototyping,” developers can create functioning simulations of applications in minutes in front of assembled business people. The simulation can then be iterated on the fly based on their feedback. For example, a fully-functional mobile banking application could be simulated and look and operate almost exactly like the real thing.

There’s also no coding or scripting involved, so non-technical business analysts, who already use Excel, Visio and PowerPoint to write requirements, can use the platform readily, he added. Instead of using mock-ups and screenshots, they can create much more interactive simulations. Through a three-way partnership between architect, analyst and user, “it transforms the communication with the business users and it also transforms the communication with the architects,” said Keefe.

“In a very short amount of time, they can get to a completed simulation where the business says, ‘yeah, that’s exactly what I want it to look like and how I want it to function, and the architect says, ‘yes, that’s feasible. We can do that within the budget and the timeline that we have.”

The advantage of using a visual platform is not only the speed at which projects can be put into action.

 

 

 

iRise has released iRise for SAP Solutions v2.0 that delivers an expanded set of pre-defined visualization content and speeds time to visualization for SAP projects.

iRise gives organizations a unique way to quickly experience proposed changes to a broad range of SAP implementations before configuring or coding. iRise for SAP Solutions v2.0 contains over 100 pre-assembled visualization assets for many types of SAP implementations.

 

Business analysts use iRise to quickly assemble working previews of SAP configurations, integrations, and customizations early in project life cycles to accelerate time to value and reduce risk for mission-critical SAP projects.

 

iRise can be used as a "virtual sandbox" for companies that want to avoid the time and expense required to code SAP sandbox environments to validate business requirements. For companies that already have invested in sandboxes, iRise can be used as an effective tool for identifying gaps between standard SAP and changing business needs. Visualizations can include non-SAP applications, allowing collaboration on the entire extended business process definition such as legacy applications, integrations, and mobile devices.

 

In both cases business analysts use iRise to quickly assemble a working visualization of proposed extensions or customizations that exactly mimic the look, feel, and behavior of the final system that can be tested by business stakeholders, accelerating understanding and driving fast consensus on what to build. iRise for SAP Solutions is a content module that includes a toolkit of generalized SAP solution-based page templates, masters, and styles that are used to accelerate the creation of visualizations.

 

"Companies that run their businesses on SAP now have a powerful way to speed up these projects," stated Emmet B. Keeffe III, CEO and co-founder of iRise. "Visualizing and fully experiencing SAP before implementation is a proven strategy to accelerate time to value for companies of all sizes."

 

A working preview of proposed SAP solutions can now be assembled in a fraction of the time it would take to set up and maintain a sandbox environment or generate paper requirements documents. Business stakeholders can 'test drive' the visualizations on their own or in collaborative meetings that directly involve subject matter experts. Comments can be logged and acted upon quickly, speeding consensus and eliminating confusion on what to build

 

A screenshot of the iRise studio is shown below.

sap irise vis 01

The purpose of the UX Opportunity Assessment is to rapidly identify business value opportunities and likely timescales/effort to achieve.  Typically this process is most useful when it is run in the earlier stages of a UX engagement, well before starting the UX Roadmap stage.  As a result the decision makers are able to form an initial view on whether there is both demand and enough potential value to invest further in a UX initiative.


NB: A UX Opportunity Assessment should not be confused with developing a UX Roadmap.  The latter is a far more rigorous approach to discover, assess and decide on very specific scenarios, end users, solutions and required landscape components.


Another benefit of this process is that it brings Business and IT stakeholders together to collaboratively discuss a topic with value potential for both parties.


The scope of this blog is not to delve into a full borne opportunity assessment programme, but rather to remain focussed on where, when and how to best utilise this within the UX context.


1. When to use the UX Opportunity Assessment?


As mentioned in my discussion in Blog 04 – UX Improvement Framework, the first stage should focus on knowledge and learning.  Within a UX engagement we also refer to this as enablement.


An UX opportunity assessment can work very well as one of the initial activities, even directly after the kick off meeting/workshop.

  • It sets very broad expectations
  • It validates business demand
  • It brings multiple stakeholders together quickly
  • It helps those involved to then better interpret the SAP UX Strategy and what SAP can offer in light of the discovered opportunities which represent a form of end user demand.


Equally, an UX opportunity assessment also works very well if run directly after the enablement stage of a UX engagement.  This assumes a level of commitment from the customer to continue exploring the value that UX improvement offer.  In this approach the opportunity assessment serves to better contextualise the UX Strategy discussions and formulation.

If your organisation has multiple business units/divisions/LoB who typically are on their own SAP instances, then the UX opportunity assessment can be used very effectively to assess each division before setting up a programme.  I regularly see this work well where one division is driving the UX improvement agenda and the other divisions are not sure whether there is sufficient value from their users.

 


2. Who to involve?


Although I have seen this work when primarily owned and driven by IT, it is clear that there is a better outcome when both business and IT participate.  Another key success factor from my experience is that there should be a sponsor with a small steering group who both commission the process and decide on how to move forward once they review the results.


A general list of roles to involve:

  • Business and IT sponsors
  • Business and IT senior management – get coverage of all the key areas
  • Business Process Owners
  • Business Improvement Managers
  • IT Business Partners
  • Solution / Process Architects
  • Enterprise Architects
  • Super Users


3. How to organise the process?


Firstly the process should validate that there is business demand for an opportunity as well as an initial estimate of both the value potential and the effort / timescale required to realise the value.

 

 

As far as techniques to identify opportunities I suggest using multiple in parallel:


i. Senior stakeholder > 1:1 interviews

ii. End users > End user survey

iii. Super Users / Power Users > Small Focus groups

iv. Business Process Owners; Business Improvement Managers; IT business partners; Solution / Process Architects > UX Opportunity Assessment Workshop.  You can also set up a series of workshops that focus on business or process areas.  For these also consider end-to-end scenarios e.g. procure to pay, order to cash etc.

  • At SAP we use the Design Thinking approach with great success
  • Plan the space; the storyboard of what attendees will go through and contribute to; Agree
    how you facilitate the session and capture the outputs


Note: The use of Enterprise Architects depends on how this particular skilful resource is used in your organisation.


4. An example result

 

UX Opp Ass_Funnel.png


In this example you see that we suggest a process with three steps:


(1) Identify – Gather as much input as possible

(2) Assess – What is the Value Potential vs. Time to Value (Quick Wins; Tactical; Strategic?)

(3) Progress – This is about further exploring and validating the opportunity through either Proofs of Concept or Prototypes.  These should mainly be time-boxed (set a time limit) so that this does not become a programme in its own right.  The purpose is to do some validation on the opportunities to mainly determine Value Potential &
Time to Value.  We are not trying to pilot solutions here.

 

In final analysis, the UX opportunity assessment process can be very effective in building up support or momentum for a UX initiative.

Hello community,


I’m very proud to announce the successful relaunch of our SAP UX Explorer . If you haven’t heard about this self-service tool before, you might like to start with our new introduction video.


Let me summarize the major improvements in the new SAP UX Explorer.

 

SAP UX Explorer is part of the SAP digital experience family

 

SAP UX Explorer now adheres to the new SAP digital experience guidelines. You probably noticed the announcement from Maggie Fox on the new SAP.com earlier this year. Re-inventing SAP.com was just one of many milestones in a journey intended to transform SAP’s digital landscape to make it easier to consume. We are happy to have signed up for this journey a few months back. Supported by Maggie Fox’s organization, we had the opportunity to align with SAP.com and other websites from the SAP digital experience family. Beside the visual alignment, this improvement process also helped us to further simplifying the consumption of our content.


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Valuable information can be found much quicker


The new SAP UX Explorer puts much more focus on the search function. Besides “watching videos”, “getting answers” and “browsing topics”, I find that the search function is the most important point to start your exploration from. It can immediately guide you to a specific topic or maybe to a question that you already had in mind.

 

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Topics can be explored and compared far more easily


As stated before, we also simplified the way you can use the Explorer. Many of our users already like the SAP UX Explorer because of three facts:

 

  • They can quickly find answers to UI technology or UX strategy questions
  • They can quickly understand how various topics are related
  • They can quickly compare topics

 

We were forced to realize however that many users did not know how to compare and how to explore the relations. It turned out that these feature were very helpful, but not exactly easy to find. The new design places more emphasis on the relations, with a dedicated section in each topic view.

 

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The My Favorites and comparison functions are now located at the very top of each page, thus making them much easier to find.

 

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New types of information are available


SAP UX Explorer has always been a great source of information. It provided an easy way of finding out about the features, benefits, screenshots, roadmap or learnings available for a certain topic.

 

With the new SAP UX Explorer, you will find even more information, such as:


  • Technical Requirements
    Provides a direct link to relevant content of the Product Availability Matrix (PAM).
  • Blogs
    Provides a collection of relevant blogs posted in SCN or the SAP UX Community.


 

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SAP UX Explorer content remains under continuous improvement

 

After spending most of our last months improving the UX Explorer as a tool, we will now return to enhancing the actual content. As one of the next content improvements, we plan to incorporate architectural and integration aspects.


Stay tuned for more improvements coming soon.

 

All the best,

Jürgen (follow me on Twitter: @JJComment)




Theming and branding of your user interfaces is a very effective method to improve end user acceptance and satisfaction for your SAP business applications. The UI theme designer is the right tool to just do it ! 

Use the new overview presentation about SAP UI theme designer to get a holistic view on the tool including new features and functions based on the version 1.8 delivered with SAPNetWeaver UI Add-On SP11.

Here is a short summary of the presentation and the topics covered:


UI Theme Designer in Nutshell

The SAP UI theme designer enables you to adapt the visual appearance of your SAP business applications according to your needs and according to your coporate identity.

The UI theme designer supports theming across multiple UI technologies and on different platforms. Dependent on your theming requirements and on your skills you can use  the web-based WSYIWYG to adapt theming on a Quick-, Expert- or CSS-level.

 

Theming Process

The UI theme designer enables you to easily build a custom theme in some steps:

Blog_themeDesignerOverview_img2.png

To make the custom themes available for the end users, use the client-specific configuration (see SAP Documentation) or the URL-parameter sap-theme for testing purposes.

 

Features and Functions

The UI theme designer tool allows you to define a preview scope which is dependent on the chosen SAP base theme. In the preview area you then have an instant preview of the selected UI control or application and there you also can directly see the impact of theme parameter changes you performed within the parameter editor.

Blog_themeDesignerOverview_img4.png

With the color palette you can predefine often used/needed colors for easy reuse in Quick, Expert and CSS theming and there are multiple features which support you when editing theming, as for example the color picker as well as filter and search functionality for parameters.

 

Theme Lifecycle & Architecture

Themes built with the UI theme designer can be used across different systems using a central theming repository (theming hub). They can be integrated into the transportation landscape connecting develop, test and productive systems. Furthermore you can export and import themes e.g. for further editing in an external tool.

Blog_themeDesignerOverview_img3.png

Get the UI Theme Designer

The UI theme designer can be installed via the  latest available SAP UI Add-on for SAP NetWeaver respective via the latest Portal Service Pack for NetWeaver 7.30 or later.

For further steps to activate and start the theme designer, see SAP documentation UI theme designer for ABAP respective Working with UI theme designer for Enterprise Portal.

The get a first impression and play around with the theme designer tool you can use the trial version in SAP Hana Cloud.

Further Information

On the last slide of the attached overview presentation there are more links to get further detailed information about the SAP UI theme designer, e.g. SAP Documentation, UX Explorer, Technology Roadmap.

 

Related Content

What's new in theme designer version 1.8 ?

SAP UI theme designer development center

Supported SAP Themes

SAP has released its latest Product Road Map for User Interface Technologies last week and as a UI consultant I'm eager to learn SAP's path with regards to UI technologies. I thought it would be interesting to compare the latest released UI roadmap with the UI roadmap of 9 months ago. Below are my observations, assumptions and remarks. It is by no means meant as a full comparison between the two and you can only tell so much about the progress that has been made in the areas just from the roadmap slides. Nevertheless I think you can find trends if you compare the two.

 

SAP UI evolution.pngThe technology portfolio

The key technologies have not changed since April 2014. They're still SAPUI5, FPM / WDA (Business Suite minus CRM) & WebClient User Interface Framework (CRM). For key tools we now have - besides SAP Screen Personas and the UI theme designer - the SAP Web IDE. The SAP Web IDE was launched last year at SAPPHIRENOW under the name of River RDE and it has gained momentum since. It is good to see that SAP is focusing on developer productivity (and let's pray for not another rename this year). It is good for a number of reasons: apps can be prototyped and developed much faster than before, lowering the barrier for companies to start with UX improvements and/or mobility. It also helps "grey-haired developers" to start with new UI development more easily. Instead of having to learn a new language from scratch you can generate an application, look at the generated code and start modifying and expanding it from there.

 

The UX Strategy

UX Strategy before and after.png

SAP is still going by the "NEW - RENEW - ENABLE" mantra but a couple of tweaks have been done since last year. What immediately shows is that SAP Fiori is renamed to Fiori UX therefore emphasizing that Fiori is more than a set of standard apps. It is a set of design guidelines that is not just used to revamp existing functionality but can be used to design completely new applications upto improving the UX of custom apps (hence why it now spans the entire diagram). Another big change is the addition of UX Design Services on the bottom, also spanning the entire diagram. With this SAP emphasizes the need for a good UX design in order to increase user adoption and productivity. Obviously Design Thinking plays a big role in this. More information about UX Design Services can be found here.

 

SAP Key Tools & Technologies

SAP Key Tools and Technologies.png

What immediately shows is that the diagrams are almost the same BUT they are horizontally flipped. What is up with that SAP?! I guess it makes more sense to have 'older' technologies on the left side to show some kind of evolution. What's more important is the addition of 2 parts: The Fiori launchpad (FLP) on the top and the dotted square named SAP Mobile Platform Services. FLP is now also one of the entry points to access applications built with the mentioned technologies. We´ll get back to this later on. The dotted square with SAP Mobile Platform Services indicates that SAPUI5 apps can be served through the SAP Mobile Platform and consumed in the Enterprise Portal (EP), NWBC and FLP. In EP 7.4 actually FLP is incorporated into the EP framework. On  NWBC the Fiori apps can be launched from the index page but on the longer term the NWBC for HTML version will be merged with FLP whereas the NWBC desktop version will have FLP integrated with it.

 

SAPUI5

SAP UI5 2014 2015.pngIf you look at the UI5 roadmap 9 months ago (SAPUI5 version 1.20 vs 1.26) and check out the "Today" column there are no resemblances, everything is different. Even the Planned Innovations of 9 months ago are not reflected in the Today column. I guess the Today column is too small to reflect everything that has been changed since 9 months ago. In any case it shows that SAP puts a lot of effort into developing and improving the SAPUI5 library and its features (and rightfully so). What you can derive from both roadmaps is that there was, is and will be an emphasis on increasing developer productivity. That not all topics in the Future Direction of 2014 are moved to the Planned Innovations is probably due to feedback from customers/implementation partners. Seeing the developments at my current client I had hoped that more progress was made with enabling SAPUI5 for transactional applications but it still appears to be on the long-term roadmap. I'm curious to learn what progress has been made and what the bumps on the road appear to be.

 

Floorplan Manager / Web Dynpro ABAP

SAP FPM WDA 2014 2015.pngIf you thought your Web Dynpro skills would be obsolete in the near future don't worry. Web Dynpro ABAP is here to stay and it is going strong. Seeing the rapid innovations in the area of SAPUI5, WDA/FPM is more mature and can be considered more of a safe bet. There are still UI elements added and they worked on Fiori launchpad integration. The Personas-like premium features are still in the Planned Innovations column so I guess this costed a bit more effort than initially thought. Tablet support has been moved to Future Direction so they lowered the priority on that one. I assume this is because when talking about tablets you're talking (enterprise) mobility and there are other - better suited - technologies for that, like SAPUI5. Still I think that for data-intensive (e.g. ALV) apps WDA can fill a void here. Also because transactional apps on SAPUI5 is still something for the future. They keep aiming for tighter integration of SAPUI5 in the future so I guess these two worlds will collide at some point, hopefully inhereting each other's strengths (mix the data intensive capabilities of WDA with the responsiveness and mobile-readiness of SAPUI5).

 

WebClient UI framework

SAP Web UI 2014 2015.pngFor me it's a puzzle as to what is the future of the WebClient UI framework. It's still being developed as some bullets are moved to Today and new features are added to the Future Direction column. And in the Future Direction there are plans for integration with Fiori and to have responsive UI elements. But this seems quite late if you compare it to WDA where Fiori launchpad integration is already available today. I'm not working with the WebClient UI framework anymore in my new role but I'm still curious as to what the future of this framework is. Right now it seems to be lagging a bit behind (which is ironic because the WebClient UI framework was implemented on Web Dynpro design concepts even befóre Web Dynpro itself was implemented; presumably because they couldn't wait).

 

SAP Screen Personas

SAP Screen Personas 2014 2015.pngScreen Personas 3.0 entered rampup in August and its GA release is expected anytime now. With that SAP removed the Silverlight dependency for Screen Personas. The 2.0 version (the Silverlight version) is still being improved and supposedly at the end of this quarter SP3 for 2.0 will be released. This is independent of the upcoming 3.0 release which will be based on HTML5. The enablement of Screen Personas features for Web Dynpro ABAP is a Planned Innovation and responsive design is also on the roadmap now. I'm curious how this will work together with Web Dynpro ABAP, especially because tablet support for WDA is pushed back priority-wise.

 

SAP NetWeaver Business Client

SAP NWBC 2014 2015.pngFor the NWBC the tighter integration with SAP GUI and SAPLogon has been realised  And now for the future the emphasis is on bringing the Fiori UX into the NWBC for Desktop and even merging the NWBC for HTML with the SAP Fiori launchpad! The side panels for the HTML version are now gone from the roadmap. Curious to know why this is, because the side panel is a great NWBC feature in my opinion.

 

SAP UI client consolidation plan

SAP UI client consolidation plan.pngThis is a new slide and quite an important one if you ask me. When the Fiori launchpad came along I thought this would be the portal of the future but all questions about merges and consolidations were always avoided. Good to see that this portfolio will be simplified in the long term. It's good to see that proven assets of the EP and NWBC will be incorporated in the Fiori launchpad, thereby using the best of both worlds.

 

SAP Gateway

Renamed from SAP NetWeaver Gateway and now has a Java-counterpart: GW Components, meaning you can expose SOAP, JPA and JDBC as OData services. This is used in SMP. More information can be found here.

 

So far my observations. I'm not going into the exotic UI technologies as I know very little about them. One thing I found note-worthy is that Duet Enterprise seems to have fallen off the UI roadmap.

 

If you've read this blogpost so far let me know what you think and what your observations were. Also if you're from SAP and can clarify some of the doubts I have, that would be great!

Anybody who is at least a little interested in SAP must have noticed the huge emphasis SAP puts on user experience. Let’s be honest, not only SAP, but most enterprise software vendors have realized that the expectations of the users had gone up and it is normal nowadays to expect consumer grade business apps. In most cases (with some exception of native mobile apps, etc.) SAP suggests to create these application in SAPUI5, which is SAP’s HTML5 library for responsive web development.

 

I think SAPUI5 is a technology SAP customers should pick up in 2015 for the following reasons:

 

  1. SAPUI5 is SAP’s strategic UI technology. There are many UI technologies available and fully supported (Web Dynpro, BSP, etc.), but SAPUI5 is the way forward. As far as possible SAP will create all its applications in SAPUI5 (mostly Fiori). The SAPUI5 library is out-of-box available in HANA, which makes it the default way of creating UI for native HANA apps. It works well with SMP/Kapsel for mobile scenarios requiring offline mode, extra security, etc. SAP is putting very big effort in improving and extending SAPUI5, so updates are frequent.

  2. SAP Fiori is the new UI paradigm which SAP is rolling out across the entire SAP portfolio including all on premise and cloud software. Fiori is based on SAPUI5. In case you would like to modify out-of-the-box Fiori apps or create your own, mastering SAPUI5 is required.

  3. First time in SAP’s history in my opinion, real outside in development approach is possible. For decades customers installed SAP software and adjusted the UI to (mostly limited) extent. Now customers can think freely about how the UI should look like and it is possible to implement it in SAPUI5. It’s a huge improvement. That’s why Design Thinking goes well with SAPUI5/Fiori projects. Design Thinking helps customers to come up with creative solutions, which then can be implemented in SAPUI5.

  4. SAPUI5 supports responsive design for SAP applications, which means that the applications can run on desktop, tablet and smartphone. This is a strong point of SAPUI5 in comparison to previous UI technologies such as Web Dynpro.

  5. It supports most modern browsers, which is again very appreciated by SAP customers.

  6. SAPUI5 has become a huge library with hundreds of controls, which results in high efficiency when it comes to creating business applications. It supports internalization, MVC concept, etc. all things which make serious business app development possible.

  7. SAP is making good progress in providing development tools to speed up implementations. The best tool is Web IDE, which is available in the HANA Cloud and as a local installation. Check it out, it even has a graphical layout editor.

  8. SAPUI5 application can be themed with the Theme Editor. You can introduce your corporate identity (logo, colors, fonts, etc.) with this tool. Some changes are possible without coding, but full flexibility is also available via css.

  9. SAP has standardized on the OData protocol. SAP Business Suite and HANA applications can be exposed as OData and binding OData to SAPUI5 controls is really easy.

  10. SAP has made SAPUI5 open source under the name OpenUI5. This will speed up further developments and lead to greater adoption also outside the SAP ecosystem.

  11. Based all the reasons mentioned above, IMHO many upcoming business requirements will be best met by using SAPUI5. So I would say: get ready!

  12. Looking at it from a personal or team development point of view: if you are in the business of developing SAP solutions, don’t miss SAPUI5 in 2015, otherwise you may be too late.

Following up from my previous blog on common usage patterns, I now want to share the common UX Pain Points consistently prevalent with most customers I have worked with.

Gaining this type of insight is very helpful in guiding your first efforts to identify UX value opportunities. 

I summarise these UX pain points into seven main categories.  In addition, I find there is a correlation between the common UX pain points and the organisational level of the role.  This is due to the type of use of SAP from the user.

 

Common UX Pain Point Patterns.png

 

 

 

 

 

1. Decision Making

Mainly found in the leadership roles.  These users require outputs from applications to support decision making.  The key pain points are timely data, relevant data and quality of the data.

2. Workflow & Analytics

I group these together from a pain point perspective due to the correlation with the roles that require this type of use.  These are mainly management pain points.  Workflow relates to the impact of late approvals where the delay incurs higher or additional costs, as well as access to multiple systems for different type of approvals.  Analytics refer to the outputs of operational reports and the lack of relevant or accurate data.

3. Coherence

Coherence is a broad term and I want to highlight the following elements specifically.

  • Single Point of Access: Users suffer from a lack of coherence when they need to access multiple different systems or consume multiple different UI technologies using different access points.  The ideal solution is a single access point that integrates access and consumption of all SAP applications.
  • Menu: The standard hierarchy menu [SMEN] provides a general menu that is the same for all users.  A coherent menu solution provides
    a role specific solution with capabilities to support an integrated experience.
  • Navigation: The consistent pain points with navigation are the use of multiple sessions, the navigation options from any point within the system process, and the ability to interact with the role specific menu.
  • Visual Design: Although this may appear superficial, it remains a contributor to fragmentation of user coherence through the different ‘look and feel’ of different solutions.  The reason I add this is that SAP now provides very good capabilities that help to improve visual coherence without the need for much effort spent.

4. Search

In an internal study at SAP we found that up to 20% of the time of a user can be spent searching in SAP.  The UX pain points relate to finding the correct data object where the search engine results are either too restricted, producing limited or incomplete information, or too open, producing 500+ results.  Both these results are problematic and may cause further data quality erosion though the subsequent creation of duplicate data.  Clearly the indexing and parameters of the search engine are relevant, but equally the data quality is paramount.  SAP embedded and Hana search offers great capabilities to our customers.

5. Complexity

Complexity here relates to the user interface.  There are 4 consistent pain points in addition to the topic of coherence:

  • Fields: SAP GUI reflects a design paradigm that transposes the configurability of SAP.  As a result there are many fields that may
    never be relevant for you.  This stands in stark contrast to what is required from a consumer grade user experience.
  • Layout: The layout of the screen – where different objects are placed - influences the ability of the user to intuitively complete the transaction.  This was not a primary design principle when SAP GUI was designed.  The value opportunities come from reducing the risk of data entry errors or reduced the time and thereby user productivity.
  • Flow: Flow is about the sequence of completing a transaction.  SAP GUI provides a flow, but based on the underlying configuration complexity.  It is therefore not optimised for any particular role.  As a result there is a gap between how the user needs to interact and how the user wants to interact and this increases the risk to user productivity.
  • Screens: Many transactions in SAP GUI runs over multiple screens.  The more screens and pop-up windows a user needs to complete the longer the transaction takes to complete.  We have already seen that radically reduced number of screens can increase user satisfaction as well as improve user productivity.

6. Access

This pain point relates to the ability of a user to use SAP when they need to.  In this regard mobile access to SAP provides the desired capability.  This will also trigger the need for security and other supporting capabilities. 

7. Context

Context here relates to the context that supports a user to be more successful while busy with a transaction in SAP.  The pain point in this case is that a user may need to undertake additional actions in the system or with other people before they are able to proceed within the system.  For example to create a sales quote, the user may need to run a credit check.

  • Display: Provide additional context within the UI Client and not a separate screen.
  • Master Records, Reports & GeoTags: Displaying specific details relevant to data objects in the main transaction e.g. a map of where a shipment needs to be dispatched to, or a 3D CAD diagram of a material object like a pump and assembly instructions.

ASUG.jpg2014 saw a significant raise of interest and focus on the topic User Experience also across the north american market. This has led to the fact that in 2014 the great collaboration between the American SAP User Group (ASUG) and SAP was also extended with a special focus on the topic User Experience.

 

With support and direct contact into the SAP UX area the ASUG formed the ASUG SAP User Experience  and Interface Influence Council (need to be a member to see the details page) under the chair of Damean-BF Chen in May 2014. This was accompanied by an ASUG WebCast series that lead into TechEd 2014. Towards the end of the year the Special Interest Group User Experience (SIG UX) was founded also headed by Damean-BF Chen. Feel free to join these groups if interested.

 

In the course of these activities a new ASUG WebCast series is being set up - focusing completely on the topic User Experience - which is planned to lead into SAPPHIRE 2015 / ASUG Annual Conference 2015 in May, but continuing with further topics afterwards. This series kicks off with the

 

"ASUG User Experience Community Launch Webcast -
Overview, UX Updates, Webcasts, and Meetups"

 

 

on February 6, 2015 for which you can register now - as long as you are an ASUG member. Below you can get an impression on what to expect during this kick off call.

 

"Join that WebCast for jumpstarting the hot topic of User Experience (UX) in 2015. This is a key topic for SAP Customers and ASUG will have a very special focus on this topic this year.

 

During this webcast you will have the opportunity to  hear from Sam Yen (SAP Chief Design Officer) and Geoff Scott(ASUG CEO). Sam and Geoff will discuss the importance of UX, SAP’s and ASUG’s focus on this topic as well as the upcoming offerings  for ASUG members. Additionally, Sam Yen will share some key UX updates during this session.

 

You will also be introduced to our ASUG User Experience Community volunteers along with key SAP UX contacts. You will learn how to best participate in this exciting community for UX education, networking, and influence.

 

In this session we will announce the launch of an educational UX webcast series to be held every two weeks. These webcasts have been crafted based on customer feedback, and they will lead up to UX community meetups at events such as 2015 ASUG Annual Conference and SAPPHIRE NOW as well as ASUG Chapter meetings."

 

So feel free and encouraged to join ASUG and us in this Kick Off WebCast.

Ingo

 

P.S.: This WebCast is only accessible for ASUG members as mentioned in the text.

When nothing will make a UI delightful other than taking it away, how is the Internet of Things(IoT) changing the UX alternatives available to SAP customers? How might you start to fit the rapidly changing world of interconnected IoT devices into your UX strategy?


I'm a citizen of the world. I like it that way. The world's wonderful. I just think that some people are pretty badly represented. But when you speak to the people themselves they're delightful. They all want so little.

Billy Connolly


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Image courtesy of fotographic1980 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I’ve been watching with interest the Consumer Electronic Show 2015 and its aftermath over the last few days and reflecting on how the Internet of Things is impacting on UX and UI strategy and roadmaps.

 

The UX Roadmap .... Beyond Screens

In 2014 IT spending priorities on mobility meant any serious attempt UX roadmap needed to at least consider the device question, i.e.

 

On what devices will people access this User Interface?  Smartphone and/or tablet and/or desktop?

 

In 2015 the UX Roadmap needs to consider the impact of IoT on UX. Why?

 

It’s not just that Gartner is placing digitization firmly into their Top 10 list of IT spend priorities  ; or that Internet of Things (IoT) is rated by the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show  as “the hottest topic in tech” ; or the popularity of the IoT booth at last year’s SAP Teched&&dCode. 

 

Naturally with such a high focus there are many SAP customers are working on their own IoT projects and connecting into SAP using Gateway, HANA or the HCP.  If you are interested in IoT yourself you might consider participating in SCN's own Internet of Things community.

 

But if you’ve had your head down in the UX space, you may not be aware that SAP is already providing a bunch of IoT solutions such as:  SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service, SAP Connected Logistics, SAP Connected Manufacturing, SAP Connected Retail, SAP Precision Marketing, and SAP Augmented Reality solutions for service technicians and warehouse pickers.   These solutions are being championed by SAP Customers such as BMW, Harley Davidson, Hamburg Port Authority, John Deere, Kaeser Kompressoren, Volkswagen, Toyota, SK Solutions, University of Guelph, and others. You'll find some of their stories on SAP's Internet of Things video collection on YoutubeNaturally there’s more to come and if you want take a look at what’s happening then this Teched&&dCode online session "Harnessing the Internet of Things" is a great place to start.

 

We are also seeing SAP customers bringing their own custom Internet of Things solutions, built in-house or with partners, and connected to SAP solutions utilizing SAP capabilities such as HANA, HCP, Gateway, Process Orchestration, Event Stream Processor, and Predictive Analytics.


In other words, we are increasingly seeing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions providing real business value in the enterprise... and that has some not so straightforward consequences for user experience.  For starters, often a major reason for introducing an IoT solution is to significantly change the user experience:

  • to capture data that could not be captured before;
  • to make that information available on devices that may never have been possible before;
  • to use data as evidence to reveal insights that may only have been hunches before;
  • to use insights to drive actions and reactions at speeds that may only have been seen in science fiction movies before.

 

So how does IoT fit into the enterprise UX roadmap?

 

Unsurprisingly, many IoT devices themselves have user interfaces.

 

Consumer IoT devices  are full of IoT user interface examples such Google Glass, goPro cameras, Fitbit bracelets, and Nest home automation.

 

But the challenges of UX on IoT devices are not trivial - never mind whether the screen real estate is as small as a Smart watch or as large as a Smart Vending Machine - the device may not even have a screen; the solution (& code) may be distributed across multiple devices and multiple users; some of the devices may not have input or output capabilities; there are lots of different technical standards involved, etc.


[There's excellent blog on the O'Reilly site with more insights into the challenges of UX and IoT]

 

If you feel like you’ve just got your head around SAP Fiori or Personas, you might be wanting to put your fingers in your ears and pretend IoT has nothing to do with UX.

 

Even if you are deeply fascinated by way the Internet of Things is impacting on the design of the user experience, tackling the UX on IoT devices themselves might not be the best place to start.  After all I'd suggest most customers are more likely to buy than build the devices - it's unlikely you'll build your own Smart Glasses when you can buy Google Glasses or a Sony EyeAttach.

 

So now what?  In my best Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy style ... DON’T PANIC.

 

There’s at least one relatively straightforward way to start factoring IoT considerations into the UX roadmap, and it’s something that should be a fundamental part of any UX roadmap already, and that is….drumroll please…

 

Should this User Experience include a User Interface (screen) at all?


It’s all very well talking about UX being “delightful” but there are plenty of scenarios where it doesn’t matter how simple or clean or desirable the technology… sometimes a screen is a just another screen that gets in the way of what you want to do.

 

We all know there are some user interfaces that no amount of simple is going to make delightful.


ID-100184516.jpg

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


You only have to think of doors and login screens. Most of the time all they do is get in my way.   You can make doors and handles aesthetically beautiful.  You can put a fancy Pinpad on the door. You can put interesting graphic designs and Single Sign On onto login screens.  But fundamentally they are there to shut me out. There’s a certain “guilty until proven innocent” odour to their behaviour. In other words, as a user experience they lack empathy.  What I want is for the door to recognize me instantly without having to twist keys or type in digits or push heavy lumps of wood, glass or steel.  What I want is for the login to recognize me and log in instantly.

 

The only way to make them delightful is to get rid of them altogether. You can now get door locks that fit a standard house door with near fields communications (NFC) built-in so that they automatically recognize you as you approach the door by a key fob tag (such as August Smart Lock), unlock as you approach and lock again once you have passed through.   As for login screens the biometrics such as the iPhone6 Touch ID fingerprint reader is a step in the right direction, but it still needs to remember which thumb I used, and if I only use the phone for work, the touch recognition times out over the weekend.


A close relative of the undelightful screen is the undelightful field entry ... if you can't remove the user interface entirely, at least minimize the amount of typing the user needs to do.

 

A friend recently gave me a preview of a new UX his organization was building for ordering items over an internal product catalogue.  They’d created a really nice set of user interfaces using the latest OpenUI5 capabilities and put a lot of thought into the design, particularly the search.  It reminded me how painful searching itself is.  Certainly Google's semantic search capabilities has lifted everyone's game but it's still a long long way from reading my mind and understanding what I am looking for.

 

For instance, when it comes to searching, simple is standing in front of the display and pointing to the one I want.  From a user experience perspective it begs the question, if we know the user is standing in front of the product in the shop or on the factory floor, why would I make them search for or type in a code?  Why not use an RFID reader or barcode reader or Smart Glasses and remove not just the search but maybe get rid of a search screen from that context altogether?  Which of course is what is happening in some stores and many factories.  I've even seen local stores which provide RFID readers in store for customers to check the price of an item without having to look it up in an online or paper product catalogue.

 

There's a near endless list of please-don't-make-me scenarios in enterprise user interfaces, perhaps not all of which can be solved by IoT - timesheets anyone? - but IoT is certainly improving user experiences by removing or reducing user interfaces.  For instance any IoT device that contains sensors that capture data and communicate it to another machine, such as anti-collision systems where sensor-enabled cranes talk to each other in real-time.

 

Oh, and the punchline is... part of the joy and fever-pitch excitement of IoT is that just about any object can become a machine.  If you are still getting your head around this, there's an excellent TedX presentation on Enchanted Objects that gives some real but unusual use cases - such as umbrellas that give weather warnings and pill bottles that report if you've taken your medication, and a real SAP scenario from a German soccer club 1899 TSG Hoffenheim using sensors in shin guards and even the soccer ball itself.


UI alternatives for SAP Customers

From a UX roadmap perspective, using technology to avoid less than delightful user interfaces is nothing new to SAP Customers.

 

Even if you cannot or don't yet want to avoid a user interface altogether, there are plenty of well-known SAP capabilities that provide useful pre/during/post processing options that can significantly simplify the user interface to be built. I'm talking about capabilities such as SAP Process Orchestration (and its predecessor Process Integration), business rules engines such as SAP Decision Service Management and BRFPlus, SAP Business Workflow, Post Processing Framework, and even our old old friend batch jobs.

 

What the Internet of Things is doing is introducing a vast array of devices that can capture an amazing variety of data in astounding quantities, and communicate it at staggering velocities.  SAP customers already have access to capabilities that can capture that data - at last year's SAP Teched&&dCode the IoT Booth was demonstrating sending sensor data directly to HANA and HCP, and it should be no surprise that SAP's delivered IoT solutions are using existing SAP capabilities in productive IoT solutions.

 

I wandered into the SAP North Sydney office last week and some of our presales folk were playing around with some IoT scenarios – just for some practice with the technology. Since my sister gave me (at my request) an Arduino http://www.arduino.cc/ microcontroller board for Christmas and I’m starting to play with that too, so I was curious to see their prototype.  They had set up a child's train-set, and put light sensors underneath each piece of track, so that any time a section of track was moved out of position, the sensor would report immediately it, and an alert was given telling the train controller to fix the track. Cute stuff!

 

Sensors of all shapes and sizes have become so cheaply and widely available, that it begs the question...

 

If all user interface "xyz" is doing is capturing data: Why does a user need to be involved at all? Why can't we get a device to do that?

 

And there you have at least a starting point for adjusting the UX strategy.  If a device can do it, why build a user interface for it? If a device can do all or even part of it, that reduces the user interface that needs to be built, or at the very least is a basis for justifying lowering the priority or complexity of the build.

 

Or from a slightly different perspective, the Internet of Things makes us ask harder questions about the real value that the user brings to the user interface.

 

Last year Sam Yen, SAP's Chief Design Officer, stated there is a serious worldwide shortage of user interface designers. So while there are many other ways that IoT impacts on UX and UI strategy, a good starting point for those of us working in UX and UI is knowing where to focus our efforts, and perhaps even more importantly is knowing where not to.


Other impacts of IoT on the UX roadmap... beyond the device

There’s another key way in which the Internet of Things affects the UX roadmap:


IoT dramatically increases the importance and relevance of Insight to Action user interfaces


If you used any smart fitness device like Fitbit, they all come with insight to action user interfaces - how many steps did you do today, last week, last month, plan your next week etc. Most of this is information you might never have bothered to capture before - but now you have it, it can have life-changing affects.

 

Even more important is insight to action when it comes to the enterprise.  The Nanjing Connected City video shows an thought-provoking example of insight to action re the traffic routes of whole cities.  And of course we are also talking about doing business better, faster, more efficiently, such as preventing failures before they happen.

 

So if you've only been looking at transactional Fiori apps, you might want to take a look at what's been happening in the analytical apps such as Smart Business Cockpits, and get thinking about your UX strategy for simple, consistent insight to action user interfaces.

 

For instance, you might want to think about what additional stakeholder discussions you need to include in your UX strategy to figure out what insight to action content fits with all that IoT captured data.


Why start factoring IoT into the UX roadmap now?

 

Perhaps you are thinking - "we don't need to worry about that... that's a long way off for us"? Even if you are working at latest of the late adopters the starter approaches I've suggested to integrating Internet of Things into the UX roadmap are good foundations for UX strategy. 


And beyond that? Well CES 2015 was swamped with Internet of Things devices which is appropriate because when people talk about the impact of IoT words like "tsunami" and "tidal wave", and the statistics that go with that are staggering .... even Gartner is saying 4.9 billion connected devices by end of this year; 25 billion by 2020.  Cisco is estimating it at 50 billion by 2020 and the economic impact is being measured in trillions.  So a "long way off" might just be a lot closer than you think. 

 

 

 

 


Ok, so you know that some of your company’s users are not entirely satisfied with their user experience or user interfaces. And you realize that you need to learn more from these users in order to understand how they work, what they do and what they are actually dissatisfied with. So basically you have a plan of action and have a good idea about how you will proceed.

 

But there is one thing you do not have: The buy-in from your top management.

 

In my opinion, this is one of the most challenging obstacles you will face, and normally the first one. Without the support of your top management, you might feel quite alone. And I can tell you, being alone is about the worst thing possible in a UX improvement project, because it requires more than just you to be successful.

 

 

Gather arguments: Be prepared to persuade

 

If you already know how user satisfaction can be measured and how to turn this into an execution plan for a UX improvement project, you are already on the right track.

 

BUT STOP. Don’t think that you can persuade management with this alone. To be fully prepared, you need a number of additional “selling points”:

 

  • As-is numbers
    You need to explain what the problem is. Talking about dissatisfied users is generally not enough. You need more hard facts. Perform user surveys and review the top 50 transactions / applications in your current setup. Identify those with the highest business value or rate them (roughly) in terms of UI complexity. You could also review the amount of incoming support requests and work out a categorization based on caused costs. With numbers and feedback from users, you can obtain valuable data points to help identify problems that can be illustrated in numbers (e.g. transaction XYZ has high complexity and produces a lot of support activity. At the same time however, it is one of the most used transactions in the company)

 

  • A rough vision and idea of the outcome
    You don’t need to build a complete UX strategy just yet. If you want to “sell” a UX improvement project to your company however, you need at least a rough idea of what you hope to achieve. Have a vision that has the power to impress but remains feasible and realistic (e.g. “A modern software environment provided by a highly professional IT department, offering applications that are a pleasure for the users to work with”). You should also be prepared to talk about the possible results (e.g. reduced support costs by 201x, or x users transitioned to a modern user interface)

 

  • A high-level execution plan
    You can simplify your plan by categorizing it into three general options. You could either ADOPT things out-of-the-box from SAP, ADAPT things that you have adopted from SAP or simply DEVELOP new things using tools and frameworks provided by SAP. If you already have the as-is numbers, you could probably start to (very roughly) sort your actions into these categories and start tailoring your plan to the needs of your users and your environment. If you want to learn more about this topic, see this video: “Typical transition paths for SAP UX improvements”.



Make UX exciting: Know the types of arguments that management is listening to

 

Let’s be serious here. A business exists first and foremost to make money. Unless you work for an IT company, you company’s core business is certainly not to operate IT, provide a good experience for your users or to develop user interfaces itself. IT is something your company needs in order to perform more efficiently.

 

Your first aim therefore must be to indicate why your company’s business can make more money by improving user experience.

 

 

Keep realistic: Be careful when talking about user productivity

 

I know, increased productivity is one of the arguments most frequently used to justify investment in an UX improvement project. And of course, there is huge potential in this domain, especially in business areas where a small number of tasks are repeated again and again.

 

Depending on the individual user however, the working environment and the typical tasks can be quite different. If most of the user’s time is spent on meetings, mails and other things, improving a user interface to gain a measly five minutes per day might not make much of a difference. So be careful when using productivity as your argument if you aren’t really acquainted with the user environment and user tasks. Being unrealistic at the beginning will hit you like a boomerang once you have to prove the success at the end of the project.

 

While stressing the need for care, I am not suggesting that you should leave productivity out of the equation altogether. If presented methodically and realistically, productivity can in fact be your trump card.

 

To play the productivity card, bear in mind the following points:

 

  • Have a plan for what people can do with the time they save
    Just ask yourself the following question: What would you do with five minutes saved per day? Would you just pick up another coffee, or simply relax after hours of meetings? Maybe you would check your mails. But does this improve productivity in a monetary sense? You need to have an idea how the newly available time can be used. If it is not used for tasks that are connected with real business processes, you have probably hit upon a snazzy UX improvement with zero business relevance.

 

  • Consider all aspects of user experience, not just the user interface
    Improving user experience can amount to a lot more than just looking at user interfaces. Based on the example above with a user’s day full-packed with meetings, mails, Excel sheets and the like, you have a springboard for improving user experience right across the spectrum. 

 

In both cases, SAP can only provide a limited amount of out-of-the-box help during this part of the improvement process, as a customer-specific analysis is required. SAP can help you with UX consulting services however.

 

 

Use facts, reliable numbers and a healthy ROI: A good way to satisfy decision makers

 

Beside productivity, another winning argument is reducing costs. Please remember that UX improvements require investments as well however. You have to put your numbers through a Return-on-Investment (ROI) calculation and have an idea of a break-even period. To stay realistic the break-even period in a medium-sized UX improvement project should be around 12-18 months, although your company might see certain benefits much earlier.

 

Here are some examples of UX-related cost reductions:

 

  • Reduced correction costs
    Simpler screens result in fewer input errors and ultimately in increased data quality.  You should ask your business organization what percentage of their time they spend fixing bad data.

 

  • Reduced error handling costs
    Realistically, bad data will not always be fixed upfront. There are cases where bad data will be fixed when errors occur (e.g. unexpected errors, incorrect reporting, product sent to the wrong customer address or wrong customer). Depending on the case, this might impact your support or specific business users, and will generate process costs. While correction costs are painful enough, costs arising from errors are a source of real discomfort for the business.

 

  • Reduced training costs
    Simpler screens are easier to use and will ideally be self-explanatory too. As a result, training costs can be significantly reduced. While many argue that this only impacts on new users, you need to keep in mind that your improvements might also be new to your existing users. Reducing to a minimum the amount of training required to get them productive with the new solution might be another argument you could use.

 

  • Reduced user support costs
    Simpler or let’s say better tailored screens will cause less user-driven support messages. It might sound strange, but less interaction and options on a screen means fewer ways to do something wrong or get into a muddle and need support.

 

  • Reduced development costs
    This area of costs is obviously connected to user interfaces developed within your company, but can also be roughly connected to cases where you plan to adapt existing user interfaces from SAP. If you want to develop your own, case-specific applications, you can reduce costs significantly by considering methods like design thinking. In addition to talking about  technologies and screens, also use the UX topic to attempt to involve modern methods that are in sync with your idea for improving user experience. These methods ensure that you have a much more detailed idea of what you need in your application BEFORE you start building it. Using development resources to build early prototypes or to repeatedly patch up your application as new requirements come in later on is not the right approach, and has a negative impact on costs.



Convince your CIO and business leaders: The reputation of departments

 

Are you proud of the great things you have achieved for your company? Your CIO and the business leads will be proud too if they can make their business even better or making their employees that bit more motivated and happy in their work.

 

Talking about the CIO, wouldn’t it be great if s/he could do these things:

 

  • Announce that user satisfaction has increased over the last year by x%
    If you do it right starting from the beginning, you already have a number of figures. You know how your users feel after conducting a user survey. If you use this feedback and translate it into improvement activities, it will not be difficult to help your CIO to sing the praises of the IT organization.

 

  • Act rather then re-act
    I guess your CIO doesn’t like surprises. So help him/her to understand the concerns of the users AND the business. Being prepared and having methods and solutions ready before people make complaints in the first place is surely the best way to demonstrate the strength of the IT organization.

 

  • Announce that s/he is successfully cooperating with the business
    No CIO wants to be just a service provider. If the IT masters UX methods such as design thinking, it becomes a valuable partner for the business. And as we know already, this is the key for success in any UX improvement project.

 

With regard to the business, wouldn’t it be great if the leaders could do these things:

 

  • Announce that user satisfaction has increased over the last year by x%
    They will like doing this even more than the CIO did.

 

  • Announce that productivity and profits have increased
    Once again, this is about real numbers and good KPIs. While most of them are already known to the business and are already constantly measured, you might add some new data sources like “numbers of reduced clicks” and “number of reduced screens”.


You can position an UX improvement project to provide these benefits. If you get the chance to import UX methods into your company and have the time to make a plan based on real feedback from real end users, all of the above is possible.

 

 

Let’s summarize the facts:

 

  1. You don’t have the support of your top management? Then work on it. Without the support of top management, your chances of successfully implementing UX improvements are compromised.

  2. Be careful not to make assumptions, especially when it comes to productivity. Base your arguments on measurable facts (like user survey results) and figures (support costs, training costs and the like).

  3. In addition to cost savings, user satisfaction and productivity, stress how the improvements will also enhance the reputation of various departments in the company.

  4. Finally: Think big but start small. Start with small projects and cooperative users to gather experience, strengthen your case and be prepared to prove the value of your proposal and acquire support for further improvement steps

 

Let me know if this helps you. Do you have other arguments? Or do you have difficulties in discussing the topic of UX in your company?  Is certain information missing, or is there information you would like to share? Feel free to use the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

All the best,

JJ

 

Jürgen Jakowski - Twitter: @JJComment

Bild4.jpgYou might have seen or heard it already - perfectly placed to close this interesting year 2014 - the call for proposals for the ASUG Annual Conference 2015 is open again - since Dec 8 with a deadline on January 5. And YES especially the deadline might be - at least for some of you - a critical information as for lots of you that might fall directly into vacation time... so why bother this year?

 

Pretty simple reasons as always – there is no better chance to share thoughts, experiences, learnings, do’s and dont’s with a large community by providing insights into your projects, approaches, implementations.. while at the same time having the chance to learn from and socialize with others that face the same challenges as you.. and to get hold of all the SAP experts on site at SAPPHIRE NOW. And if your submission is accepted, you even get a complimentary conference pass.

 

What is DIFFERENT this year – there is a new ASUG track for USER EXPERIENCE you can assign your proposals to. Thanks to the rising interest inside the ASUG community – forming an ASUG User Experience and Interface Influence Council as well as a Special Interest Group User Experience – this new track now allows to group all UX  or UI technology related content and make it easy for the audience to follow this hot topic.

 

It is pretty easy to submit your abstracts and you will find this new track directly when you are in the submission form at the top:

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Besides that – if you are assigning your submission to other tracks – you can still indicate a high focus on User experience of your content by choosing a submission category UX further down below your abstract.

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So I want to encourage you to grab that opportunity and submit your stories that are related to User Experience or SAP User Interface technologies.

 

No matter if it is related to providing single access points for users with NWBC, SAP Portal or the Fiori Launchpad, or your first steps with SAP Fiori apps or Screen Personas to make life easier for your users. Or even your own experience putting your hands down into the Floorplan Manager, the UI theme designer, the SAP Web IDE, building apps with SAPUI5 or OpenUI5… just go ahead and share it. We have also seen great value for the community out of customer presentations around understanding UX and implementing it in the DNA of an organization with all its challenges.. so the area UX is broad and the topic is really hot based on all the feedback we got from ASUG and all around the world. So make use of that opportunity.

 

Kind Regards and hope to meet you at SAPPHIRE NOW / ASUG ANNUAL CONFERENCE in Orlando, May 5-7, 2015

Ingo

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And following this great post by Aviad Rivlin, I also want to point you to these two blogs by Tammy Powlas that might provide helpful tips and tricks for a successful submission:

Principal theme of my work within the last months was UI technology and user experience. This was challenging because you it is not only a technological topic. One of the best presentations of SAP’s UX strategy and UX strategy in general is published here and explains that design innovation is in the intersection human value, business value and technological feasibility as seen here:

innovation.JPG

 

At an DSAG meeting Jürgen Jakowski Jürgen Jakowski explained it very well:

  • adopt
  • adapt
  • develop

 

From my understanding “adopt” means that you implement an SAP solution (think of Fiori for example). Adaption means extending this solution or reducing existing pain point with and technology like Personas. And In this blog entry I will discuss the last aspect of development and I will look at SAP’s technology portfolio and I want to show how this can be used to create beautiful solutions that have business value. For the creation of those solutions ABAP developers have to change their mindsets: they have to learn new frameworks, new paradigms and sometimes programming languages. Yesterday it was normal to learn about the R/3 styleguide for ABAP dynpro, to create solutions whose UI was stateful tightly integrated into the application logic – but this is not state-of-the-art any more.

 

“Redefine Normal Every Day”

The motto “Redefine Normal Every Day” is part of an ALS awareness campaign by Zumba Fitness in the US. In Germany this is campaign wasn’t branded and I learned about it at a sports event last weekend – and in fact as a consequence I decided to write this blog entry. I found this motto very inspiring because of the following reasons:

  • In the last decades as SAP consultants / developers we told the end users that the UIs of SAP Business Suite are standardized and so “normal”. And of course custom dialogs have to fulfill these dialog standards as well because of consistency reasons. As a consequence many ABAP developers are experts when it comes to build dialogs exactly this way and this often means according R/3 dialog standards.
  • The second aspect why this motto inspired me is that UI5 is completely different from other UI technologies of SAP: it is Open Source and you can develop application with a completely unique and extraordinary look & feel and new user interaction patterns.

 

Especially JavaScript and HTML5 offer many possibilities to create an extraordinary (= far from normal) user experience. In my opinion everyone should know the following visualization which I usually show every single UI developer in our UI development projects:

budget.JPG

In my opinion the four visualizations are absolutely amazing because it uses positions, size and colors to display different dimensions of entities. With cross over you can display detail information. The different patterns and diagrams encourage the user to explore the data and graphical effects remember me of computer games which makes the whole visualization fun.

 

Improving Man-Machine Interaction

Above visualization not only beauty – it can promote curiosity and encourages the users to explore and understand a data set. This is a perfect example how an optimized and extraordinary UI can lead to better understanding and decision support which can be also used in business applications.

Visualization and to some effects gamification are only one example who a UI can improve man-machine interaction. But I think there are more examples which I explain in the following.

 

The speed of the UI can have a significant effect on interaction patters. It is absolutely necessary for exploration of huge data sets but also necessary if data from different systems are collected. This is absolutely common for call-center and front-office users who need all information about a certain customer. Traditional stateful UIs like CRM Web UI or Floorplan Manager are sometimes slow and we need AJAX-like techniques to access the necessary data.

 

Decision Support = Analytics + Rules + Visualization

Another interesting aspect of new UIs is enabling of decision support. What does this mean? The application shows a visualization of a business object (and perhaps context data) and applies business rules. The result is a precise message for the end user – think of following traffic light symbol for example:

red-24180_640.png

Using NWBC sidepanel you can display of context information of a certain business object, apply business rules and even visualize the result using graphical representation. The decision support tool can be added to any ABAP dynpro and WDA screen using configuration (wiring) and you don’t need to enhance existing ABAP dynpro tools.

 

Slicing Processes and Realtime Alerting

In this subsection I would like to introduce two interesting technical features: with Configuration Framework as part of Floorplan Manager framework you can create configurable UIs. This allows to develop applications that can flexibly adapted to the skills of a specific user team. With these techniques you can develop applications that are customized to specific skills and task of a certain group of users. This can be profitably if much of work can be performed efficiently by the staff and only very complex business transactions can be assigned to expert users who work with expert UIs.

Another interesting capability of SAP’s technology portfolio is the support of ABAP Push Channels via web sockets which allow bidirectional communication between client and server.  This can lead to realtime applications and alerting which will be topic for a future blog.

Differentiation

The examples above showed that new UI technologies as part of SAP’s technology portfolio have outstanding properties and allow to develop completely new UIs which can help you to differentiate from competitors. And this should be besides simplification (using SAP Fiori apps & Personas) a possible cornerstone of UX strategy: develop outstanding UIs which to innovate your business. Therefore you should do the following:

  • Identify pain points in your business. Try to find out whether new UI can lead to better man-machine interaction and improves the business process?
  • Are the business processes where a new UI can lead to a huge improvement so that you are better than your competitors?

 

Dealing with Different Speeds

With UI5 and some parts Floorplan Manager SAP separated the UI from the backend – it is exactly the Vishal Sikka’s concept of “timeless software”. One core principle is that you can change the UI independently. This is a huge advantage even in the development phase: one the OData  service is stable you will make any changes without changing the backend. So the UI frontend has a different development speed compared to the backend.

 

When developing business applications it is often necessary that the business logic can be changed quickly. In our development projects we decided to use the chance to renovate the backend and to control the backend process using rule systems created using BRFplus since this is very easy and agile to change. With solutions like DSM you can even perform hot deployment into production.

 

I think this a general best practice: usually we have best of breed systems landscapes and the backend systems are not that agile compared to systems at the “edge”. Today you can put edge innovation systems as well as backend systems into the cloud which gives you more agility. But the speed of the slowest systems (and in many cases they will we onPremise) dictates the speed for changing the system landscape. So it is a wise decision to get more agile in the backend and separation of business processes and business logic is the right step since the latter can be changed very easily. In the last year I wrote many blogs about this topic and even on a very detailed technical level so feel free to read some of them if you are interested in this topic.

 

Summary

So let me come to a conclusion:

  • In the center of SAP’s UI strategy is UI5 and can use it to develop Fiori-like Apps and use it even in Web Dynpro in HTML islands. So this technology is a cornerstone of SAP’s UI technology so UX strategy.
  • Besides UI5 the SAP technology portfolio offers many interesting technologies which can help you to differentiate from your competitors. In my opinion the combination of different technologies is most important since you can benefit from synergy effects: HANA can speed up the OData services and so the UI tremendously using search functions. And another very promising technology are business rule frameworks since you can need them also to enable decision support but you can also use them to make the backend more agile.

 

So the synergy of all mentions technologies in the blog entry can help you to differentiate from your competitors and you makes it possible to “redefine normal every day”.

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