Mobility at SAP has been a hot topic over the last few years, and I have participated in some implementations with customers who are brand new to the topic. Each implementation comes with its own set of challenges; and explaining the various options that SAP offers and finding the right “fit” is not always easy. For one customer, I was engaged on a mobile pilot program for a large state government. They had not utilized any mobile technology, and asked SAP to help them prototype applications using different options that SAP offers. Check out my video for a quick overview of the project:
This customer was new to mobile technology, and was unaware about the solutions that SAP has to offer. They had heard about various approaches, but wanted guidance on how to simplify the process from a technical standpoint, and make beautiful, intuitive screens that their users would love.
This was a “pilot” approach, and the customer had many questions:
- What solutions does SAP offer to build fully customized applications?
- What are the best applications to prototype, what will get the most use?
- I’ve heard that Mobility Development can be difficult, how can we build custom mobile applications that do not take months to deliver?
SAP delivers with Mobile Options:
Let’s address the above concerns one by one:
What solutions does SAP offer to build fully customized applications?
One great thing for SAP customers is that they have options when it comes to custom building mobile solutions. There are a plethora of choices, in different flavors, development languages and UI. The first step was to decide which options to use. After discussing it, and reviewing the variations, we could not pick just one technology – so we choose the top two options for the UI technology – Jquery Mobile and SAPUI5.
Each one comes with their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, but both of them offer a rich user experience that integrates well with SAP. The decision also made sense, as our users now have two options to choose from when looking at mobile applications.
What are the best applications to prototype, what will get the most use?
The first thing we had to decide is what type of users will we want to target for the pilot. The obvious choice at first glance is management. Who better to test out our mobile applications than those users that will need to buy into it? The second decision is what type of applications to build. After holding meetings with various stakeholders we decided to prototype the ESS/MSS applications. Leave Approvals, Requests, Time, and other Human Resource tasks are done on a daily basis, and it would be convenient to have them mobilized.
I’ve heard that Mobility Development can be difficult, how can we build custom mobile applications that do not take months to deliver?
This was a difficult question, and one that we had to consider throughout the entire process. To further complicate things, we were prototyping two different technologies. How can that be simplified?
When developing the applications, I chose to use the Model-View-Controller approach. This DOES simplify the development tremendously. We now had a clear separation between the business logic (Model), the user interface (View) and the mobile events (Controller).
The second approach was to create documentation and training for the customer’s development team. We spent time reviewing one of the live applications, and going through step by step how it was created.
To reinforce the training, documentation with step by step instructions was presented – this will be used during future development.
The End Result:
The pilot was met with positive feedback, and the customer now has the skills, knowledge and prototypes to continue on their mobile venture. The jQuery Mobile applications answered questions about both the limitations and capabilities of the technology. SAPUI5 was well received, and it has opened new avenues into the potential for Fiori and custom SAPUI5 development down the road.
The mobility pilot is just the tip of the iceberg, and has caused a lot of excitement with the customer. They’ve realized the mobile capabilities within SAP and have a better understanding of the options available. It will be interesting to keep an eye on what comes next.