Right off the bat, I want to say that the new webclient UI is the cleanest and most user friendly UI that I have seen in an SAP product ever. Also, over the years the functionality in CRM has become richer. So, the following comments should not be percieved as a generalization of any sort.
The new UI is a big improvement over the older ones including PCUI, and it is certainly a step in the right direction. However, there are certain problems, that I feel ,needs some attention from SAP to make the user adoption more easy. I am hoping to get a discussion going on about this topic, so that SAP gets some useful input from the “field”, and can incorporate it into future releases. It would also be great if SAP architects and product managers can give their feedback.
1. CRM is not the only SAP solution that a user needs to do business
This is probably the biggest hurdle that I see in user adoption. CRM arguably has a better UI than other SAP products, but when a user logs on to the portal and goes through a business process, different parts of the process will have different look,feel and navigation options.
I would like to know why SAP took this approach, and what is the roadmap (if any) to unify the UI across the different products going forward.
2. Status management is very different across different applications within CRM
I understand that CRM uses different frameworks for different applications, like CGPL for marketing and 1Order for orders,claims etc. While there might be excellent reasons to fit things into an existing framework, this causes some problems to the users. The one that comes to mind immediately is status management – specifically system status codes.
In some applications, “released” is mandatory and in others “approved” is mandatory before a followup document can be created. In some others, “approved” is just a parallel status. Some objects function completely well with “New” status, and it doesnt matter whether we set it to a “released” status at all. This last issue is kind of bizarre, since every other object after this one in the process flow needs a “released” status.
Imagine the plight of a business user who has to get trained in all of these applications to conduct his job day to day.
Another hard-to-understand feature is what is refered to as “Sum status”, which is different from header and line item status. This reads like “Created, released, approved” in best case, and almost totally incomprehensible in complex cases. I am at a loss to see what value SAP sees in having this functionality.
3. Display of long line items in transactions
A good example is the claim transaction. A line of claim has several fields, most of which are useful to a business user. However, due to some limitation of the UI framework, the claim line item is crammed into the width of the screen in such a fasion that you cannot even see half the fields when you first come to the claim screen.
Claims are high volume transactions and involve external business partners in its lifecycle. Since all the fields in standard display are useful to a user, personalization of the line item by removing some fields from the display is not a good solution to this problem. What is really needed is an alternate way to display long line items.
You can click on the claim line and see details in a more organized fashion, but the limitation is that this overview of the line item does not provide an ability to edit any field – all you can do is display. I am very keen to hear what the UI experts at SAP have to propose to mitigate this problem.
4. Navigation from a search page, and back
I do like the new search features including saved searches. The one issue that I face as a user is the navigation from search results, and back.
Say my search returns 10 pages. I keep going through pages, and find the link to the object I want to display, say in the 8th page. After I finish working with the object, I hit the back button. Where do I expect to go? I expect to go to page 8, where I left off. But instead, I go to page 1 of the search. I have to start all over again and find the object I need.
I guess I will stop at this point, and invite other CRM folks to chime in with their views on usability.