You might have heard that there is a new and fancy add-on product on top of to the SAP NetWeaver Portal called Enterprise Workspaces.
But what is it about?
In a nutshell: Enterprise Workspaces allow end-users to easily select corporate assets that they need for their daily work and structure them on pages using a self-service approach and enjoying a contemporary user experience. They can either do it for their own in a kind of virtual desktop that is called “Personal Workspace” or share content within a team in “Shared Workspaces”. Read also SAP NetWeaver Portal, enterprise workspaces to learn more about Enterprise Workspaces.
Now, how can a regular business user benefit from using Enterprise Workspaces?
Before we answer this question let us think about content and content creation in general in the portal. Usually content in the portal is what we call “managed content“. Managed content is mostly provided by central units: be it central IT, central business units or other organizational units. They decide about the content to be exposed in the portal, assemble it on pages and assign it to roles. After this process end-users are able to consume this content.
Lets take the example of a portal role containing relevant information for the business unit “Sales”. This role contains on the one hand unstructured content like short articels, PDF files and links to web-sources and on the other hand structured content like BI reports, dashboards and even transactions sales colleagues need for their daily work.
Asking sales persons about how useful the content is they might state “Well, this is covering approximately 80 percent of the content I need for my daily work. But in addition I need a report that is somewhere else in the portal and also I have two transactions that I need on a daily basis that are not integrated into the portal at all. I would love to have everything in one single place”.
This is exactly where Enterprise Workspaces comes into the game. Instead of providing only managed content (that is undoubted necessary in a portal!) in addition end-users can re-combine corporate assets that are called “modules” in Enterprise Workspace pages: Self-managed! They can pick modules from the module gallery that shows all the modules the user has permission for and add them to the page using drag and drop.
So instead of only providing managed content the workspace content administrators also expose already existing content or newly created content based on PCD iViews or URLs to the end-users. All of that is done in a governed approach. The content available in Enterprise Workspaces is managed using the module template UI. Here the necessary metadata and permissions are managed. The illustration below shows the dependencies between content, module templates and module gallery. For details about how to create a module read the Leverage existing SAP NetWeaver Portal content in Enterprise Workspaces of Aviad Rivlin.
The sales colleague now can add all relevant reports, transactions and so on to the Personal Workspace and has everything he needs in one single place. Also he can decide ad-hoc what in addition is needed or can be dropped from the page.
But how can he get access to the two transactions that are not integrated into the portal at all?
Enterprise Workspaces allow the module creator to define which properties of the module are exposed to the end-user. Usually this is only the height and the title. But the module creator can also allow the end-user to change e.g. the transaction code to be launched in the settings of the module on a page (see illustration below). This gives the end-user in this case the flexibility to launch whatever transaction from the connected backend system (of course in the boundaries of the users backend permissions).
To integrate any URL based content Enterprise Workspaces come with a generic module called “URL module“. It allows an end-user (!) to set the URL that should be launched in the module – be it a link to the intranet, a website in the internet or a non-SAP report in the companies landscape.
As mentioned in the beginning there are two flavours of Enterprise Workspaces: Personal and Shared Workspaces. Of course the same mechanism as described above is also valid for Shared Workspaces. In Shared Workspaces a virtual team can share information and applications. Shared Workspaces are decentrally managed so a workspace manager within the shared workspace can accept or reject membership requests or add and remove users manually. In our sales example Shared Workspaces allow colleagues of the sales department to share for example a dashboard showing the current sales figures that they have to track. This information can be enriched with documents, information written in a TextPad or links to other sources.
To come back to the original question how regular business users benefit from Enterprise Workspaces. There are several characteristics of Enterprise Workspaces that give direct value to business users:
- Agility – End-users can decide on a ad-hoc basis which content they need and add it to their portal without IT involvement
- Flexibility – End-users can structure the content on pages in the way they need it, parameterize modules and share content within a virtual team
- Efficiency – End-users can leverage of already existing corporate assets and mash them up in a new context
I hope you understand better now how Enterprise Workspaces empowers end-users to work more efficient. In the coming blog we’ll talk about how to adapt the look and feel of Enterprise Workspaces.
So stay tuned!