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Here are some statistics that you might find surprising about enterprise software deployments: 50% of application functionality is not used, 25% of reported performance problems aren’t real, and 30% of performance issues are caused by user behavior. A carefully planned approach to user training is often seen as the solution but here’s one further surprising statistic: 45% of end-user training is delivered to the wrong need.

SAP Education is working hard to help our customers overcome these challenges. I recently caught up with Stephen Budd from Knoa Software, an SAP Partner specializing in user experience management, which helps customers to start deriving additional value from SAP by putting the focus on how to help the user rather than the system to perform effectively.

Can you tell us what user experience management is?

Organizations that have invested in SAP are familiar with tools like SAP Solution Manager that help them monitor applications and their supporting infrastructure. There has always been a gap however in providing real data on what the actual end user experiences during their interaction with SAP applications. This ‘Visibility Gap’ is costly and prevents organizations from delivering the full potential of their applications, users and those that support them

Please explain a bit more about what this visibility gap is.

Let me answer that with the following analogy. Recently I was on a flight where I had been unable, for some unexplained reason, to access the system to check in on-line. I ended up at the back of the plane in a middle seat stuck between two gentlemen who between them could have taken up two seats each. It wasn’t a pleasant flight. For four hours we fought for elbow space on the arm rests and to find sufficient room to eat and drink without spillage. I had brought a newspaper with me to help pass the time but there was no chance I was going to be able to read it.

The pilot was blissfully unaware of this. He sat in his cockpit in charge of the plane. As far as he was concerned all was well – the flight took off and landed more or less within the published times, he flew at the right altitude and all the instrumentation was obviously reporting all systems were healthy. Did he know about my experience? No. From the facts at his disposal he thought he had delivered the perfect service.

In an SAP context the instrumentation in the cockpit are the tools that IT and application teams have to provide monitoring information on databases, applications, servers and network performance. The ‘visibility gap’ is where they remain unaware of the actual end users experience of these applications and what the results are of those experiences. How many errors are going unreported? Are different users experiencing slow response times? Is IT continuing to support or even enhance functionality that isn’t used or needed anymore? Identifying and overcoming these issues is essential if we are to improve business performance and have a real impact on the bottom line?

SAP User Experience Management (SAP UEM) is all about providing decision makers and stakeholders with the information they need to bridge the visibility gap, providing them with the data needed take the necessary action to optimize employee performance and ultimately realize value from all of their assets.

Why do you feel there is a need for User Experience Management?

Customers whom we speak with relay similar stories: they have invested heavily in their SAP systems and want to leverage that investment to drive maximum value back into the business. Many of them have KPIs on application adoption, User satisfaction and user productivity gains relating to the systems that support them. IT is often surprised by the poor scores and results against these types of KPIs. Just like the pilot of the plane I mentioned earlier, based on the information displayed by their system dashboards they have just delivered the perfect flight. How can the users be dissatisfied and disaffected?The person receiving the service however has a completely different view of which the pilot has no knowledge.

Training is one way of helping achieve better User performance, but who do you train and what training do you deliver? Without the insight that SAP UEM brings, it’s a very difficult question to answer. Typically an approach is to provide the same ‘standard’ training course or courses to a wide audience and then provide ‘self-service’ support on-line to while the support team moves onto its’ next location.  Is that actually what is needed to achieve rapid user acceptance and improve productivity – probably not. Especially if that approach leads to your most productive users being diverted from doing their job to support others who didn’t receive the training they really needed.

Identifying who actually needs training, in precisely which area, such as specific business processes or transactions, and delivering specific training to that point of need as early as possible will accelerate adoption of the system and increase User productivity. Measuring the impact of that training afterwards is equally important, especially for companies interested in implementing a continuous improvement program.

By being able to monitor and capture an end users’ real experience at the desktop as it occurs enables organizations to have, for the first time, factual evidence on the real performance they receive from the application. As opposed to the performance we believe they are receiving based on limited simulations created using application monitoring not specific user experience monitoring tools.

So once we measure a user’s experience, what can we do with that information?

We have already mentioned the more focused use of training budgets but other areas where SAP User Experience Management provides tangible benefits and has a direct impact on user productivity is in application support, user and technical support, and business process operations. IT support teams are
answerable to the business through service level agreements (SLAs), and costs are associated both in meeting these SLAs and in the form of penalties when they are breached. How many times do we hear from an individual user or a user community that ‘The system is slow…’ and what is the right measurement of performance, the published SLA or the users’ expectation?

By measuring the performance of an application or business process at the user desktop then customers can accurately base decisions and take action using facts relating to the execution of the complete process not perceptions based on two or three different and possibly irrelevant viewpoints.

User and technical support teams also have a financial cost associated with the number of support ‘tickets’ raised and the time to resolution. A process which usually only commences when a ‘ticket’ is raised by the user, which is not necessarily when the error occurs for the first, second or third time. Providing support teams with real-time alerts on user problems, including what the user was doing at the time and other relevant information, such as the user or system error code generated, reduces the time required to solve the problem. This reduction in the time and cost of support has a direct impact on the cost of service, improving not just support desk productivity but also the end users.
Since implementing SAP UEM, one of our larger US customers has reported:

  • 5% reduction in help desk time for support calls
  • 10% reduction in the number of calls to the help desk
  • 25% reduction in end user call time with the help desk
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I leave it to those reading this to quantify the financial benefits that these figures would deliver for their business.  

Are organisations using these insights to improve business performance, cut costs or increase user satisfaction related to their SAP applications?
Actually, the answer is ‘all of the above’. We find that by taking a strategic approach to implementing a user experience management solution, SAP UEM customers have seen a rapid return on investment.

No two customers are the same, but it’s not unusual to see up to 10% productivity gains and upwards of 20% improvement in satisfaction ratings within the end user community. This, aligned with a more targeted utilization of training budgets and significant cost savings from the productivity gains in help-desk and functional support through the faster, more efficient resolution of support tickets has seen customers achieve payback in as few as 12-18 months. 

Thank you Stephen.

Register for the Knoa Webinar

I hope this blog has whetted your appetite. If you’re hungry for more information on this topic, please join the upcoming webinar hosted by Ian Anstey, EMEA Managing Director at Knoa Software, entitled: “An Introduction to User Experience Monitoring”. Click here to register.

We hope you can join us then!

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