I’ll start this post guiding you through a “classic” situation from a ABAPer’s daily life:
- You start in a project and receive some Functional Specifications, that you must turn into good ABAP developments;
- After you’ve finished, you explain your applications to Functional Team. They test them and says that everything seems fine (that’s not REALLY what happens, but let’s skip the unit test validation phase)
- Then Functional Team will explain your apps to the user, that also tests and says that everything seems fine.
- 2 days after your Project’s Go Live, your team receives lots of errors stating that “the output values are wrong” and that “values entered on the selection screen are not being correctly used as filters”.
- Everybody realizes that most errors were raised because end-users didn’t really understand how the program works, and your project’s team gets happy because all errors are now “fixed” and system is up and running, ready to aid users in their daily activites.
Have you ever got into situations like this, with similar “errors”? I’m sure that most of you have faced this scenario in most (maybe all?) projects you have worked. We can surely say that the system is up and running, but… is it really ready to aid users in their daily activities? Why the user stated that everything was wrong while the programs were right(from business requirements perspective)?
Well, would you buy something in an webstore that is not easy-to-use? In a webstore where you don’t feel that personal data you entered is being correclty and securely used by website’s application? And what if you HAD to buy things in that webstore because it’s the only webstore that has the product you’re looking for? And what if you had to buy in it every day? Maybe that’s how that end-user is felling about using the recent delivered ABAP apps in his company. I bet that, is his place, you would also say that lots of things are wrong because they look wrong.
I’ve seen many ABAPers blamming users for wasting their time with simple questions. These ABAPers thinks that, as they explained how the program works and made a consistent documentation, the user automatically become an expert in that app, even if things are not complety clear at program’s outputs.
It’s not only about getting and showing the correct information. It is about HOW you present them to the end-user. They are the reason why we’re here, and they must get something that is easy-to-use. One of the HUGE mistakesthat many projects out there are making is to ignore the end-user thoughts.
It’s very common to see a Module-Pool Functional Specification with 5 screens that were designed without the end-user… How can you design something for a user if you don’t know what they need? And I’m not talking about “business needs”, I’m talking about usability.
Sometimes it seems that some companies are building softwares from backwards, thinking first about program structure and data retrieving, instead of thinking about the end-user. What he trully needs? How he will use the application? Which kind of design will aid him at gainning speed in his daily activites? How software design can prevent his errors? These are questions that are, unfortunately, almost never made.
And I know that ABAP programs have some limitations due to the elements that we can add to the program interface, but I believe that developers can create cool designs if they keep open-minded and work together with the users.
Now it’s your time: Have you ever faced situations like that? Do you also feel that thinking about the User Experience can help delivering succesfull Projects?
This is my first post about usability in ABAP, and I’m planning to create posts showing some badly designed ABAP programs and how I believe they could be improved. I’d like to ask you to join me in this analysis, giving suggestions and making comments. You can start developing “usability-driven” by looking at this link, which has a lot of interesting thoughts about usability in ABAP programs, from the “SAP Design Guild” (It’s really worth the click). I didn’t worked on that topics, but it has tons of good information.
Thanks and See you soon!
Ps.: I’ll be also posting this in Brazilian ABAP Blog “ABAP Zombie”, translated to Brazlian Portuguese. Se você for brasileiro e quiser comentar em português, sinta-se à vontade!