Rapid Portal Content Creation using the Homepage Framework
The Homepage Framework was introduced with the release of mySAP ERP 2004 (ECC 5.0). Many of you may already be familiar with this if you have ever accessed the SAP Service Marketplace (service.sap.com), which uses this framework for the main page. Solely through configuration (IMG), it allows you to organize content into an overview page (called an “Area Group” page or the “Homepage” for which the framework gets its name) as well as separate detailed pages (called “Area” pages) for each of the areas shown on the overview page. Furthermore, within the detailed “Area” pages, you may also define “subareas”. Following the framework, every part of the “Area Group” and “Area” pages (icons, headers, text descriptions, links, display order, etc.) is definable through configuration. Yes…if you missed that….it means NO coding is necessary at all.
XSS Homepage Framework for ESS/MSS scenarios
Many users will also get their first exposure to the Homepage Framework concept when first working with the new ESS and MSS versions introduced for mySAP ERP 2004. SAP groups self-services as “XSS” where the “X” is a place holder of sorts meaning that it can represent “E”(mployee) or “M”(anager) or any other self-service options coming from SAP. Therefore, you will see the “XSS Homepage Framework” mentioned in documentation from time to time. At the end of the day, it is the same Homepage Framework we are discussing now. Personally, I am more of the “visual” type, so let me show you how this Homepage Framework appears in practice. The following is the out-of-the-box ESS “Area Group” page and an example of one of the detailed “Area” pages:
ESS Area Group Page
ESS Area Page for Benefits and Pay
As you might guess, configuration of the Homepage Framework for ESS and MSS is now part of their respective IMG steps. For ESS, the same steps found under the “main” path for the Homepage Framework configuration (SAP Customizing Implementation Guide -> Cross-Application Components -> Homepage Framework) are duplicated within the ESS IMG area. However, within MSS, the IMG documentation basically tells you to follow the “main” path to the configuration. (How’s that for consistency? haha) Without getting in depth into the configuration steps here, I highly suggest you read through the IMG documentation…probably more than once…to fully understand the relationships between the components that make up the framework.
Thinking outside the box…but within the Framework
This framework is not just confined to ESS or MSS or any particular self-services applications. Given the flexibility that the Homepage Framework allows, you can easily create content (Overview page, detail pages, etc) without any coding required. We can utilize this quick and easy method for organizing and presenting content in any number of ways that you can imagine.
As a simple example, most all companies have an area on their web site (internet/intranet) that list their various company locations. They might also display a picture of the site, list the address and possibly link to an online mapping service of some sort (ie. Mapquest). In most cases, this will appear as a static web page.
Using the Homepage Framework, we could quickly and easily construct an overview page and detail pages for each location simply through configuration in the backend ECC system (and some minor portal PCD work). These might appear as follows:
Area Group Page
Because everything on these pages (yes, EVERYTHING!) is configurable, we can add/change/delete content through the IMG without the need for any web page maintenance or development. Want to change a picture for a location? Simple. Want to add links to location specific web sites? Simple. Want to rearrange the order the locations display on the overview page? Simple. All of this can be accomplished through the IMG in the backend ECC system.
This same solution could just as easily be applied to company departments for instance. For example, you could create an “area group page” with “areas” defined for Finance, HR, Sales, Purchasing, IT, Production, etc. As another example, you could set up an information page for visitors for use at kiosks. You could even organize specific job functions for casual users or entry level users to lower the cost of training and support by providing an intuitive homepage.
Lastly (and what I find very useful), this framework allows you to quickly incorporate existing content a company might have (other links, other systems, web accessible forms, etc.) until a time comes that they may transition those assets to other locations. Within your area/subarea configuration you may define any number of various links. At the moment, the Homepage Framework allows the following types of links:
- BSP services
- ITS based services
- call a portal (PCD) page
- direct URL launched in a separate window
- WebDynpro application
You should see that even in the worst case where no other link types meet your needs, you could call a simple WebDynpro application to construct whatever link you need, add parameters dynamically if needed, and redirect the user. Therefore, although they might appear limited at first glance, your options for links are really open to most anything that is accessible.
As a final example, for the project I am currently working on, my client has decided not to roll out the standard MSS Personnel Change Requests services. However, they want to keep the PCR area on the MSS Area Group Page but simply change the information for the PCR area to describe their current process and link to their current PCR forms. In this way, they are able to simply re-use the content they have in place now until transitioning to the standard MSS PCR process in phase two of our project. Once again, no coding or development of any kind was required.
Where to go from here?
I am sure you can think of even more examples and possibilities. I simply wanted to make people aware that this option exists. For more information, I highly recommend you download the document “XSS Homepage Framework for Employee Self-Service” by Sibylle Borhauer (Product Manager, SAP AG). This is one of the better SAP documents I have seen, and it steps you through the process of creating your own Homepage Framework pages from start to finish. Although written from the perspective of ESS, the same methodology can be easily followed to create your own Homepage Framework scenarios.
As always, I hope this has helped!