Recently I wrote a post called “Creating your UX Strategy” about the why and how of creating your own UX strategy for your company. Today, I would like to continue this topic with two additional aspects: your strategic and your technical approach.
Today, many people might say “Hey, just adopt SAP Fiori to provide your users with great applications” or “If you want fast results, just adapt your applications with SAP Screen Personas”. Of course these statements are not wrong. Nevertheless, if you simply follow this guidance you will miss a lot of opportunities to improve user experience in a more precise way for your users..
In any case you need to do the following:
- Understand as much as possible about your users’ current user experience concerns and identify appropriate topics that can help tackling these concerns
- Select from three options how you are going to implement identified topics into your environment.
And please be aware: You have to do the above multiple times to be successful. Refer to point 5 of the eight rules of a good UX improvement project. You shouldn’t try to do everything at once. 🙂
Your strategic decision
Here I’m referring to the decision how far you want to go with understanding your users and looking for appropriate solutions. Usually there are multiple pre-conditions that will influence this decision such as available time or available budget. But don’t get me wrong: I’m not promoting the “quick and dirty” way. We just need to consider the fact that time and budget can be a serious boundary. There are two approaches how you can proceed:
- The analytic approach
Always the best choice is to analyze the environment of your users in more detail. There are multiple methods for this available. A common one is to start with the workload monitor (transaction st03n) of the SAP NetWeaver Application Server. You could generate a top 50 list of transactions/applications that are used in your company and then rate the business value of each. You could then measure the satisfaction of your users for each of the applications in your list and combine it with other ratings like your personal rating of user interface complexity. As a result you will have a nice list to work with and more importantly to prioritize the areas that require your attention the most. Now you can start identifying solutions that address the needs to a large degree based on your findings. Of course, this approach requires some technical skills for the analysis and further skills to perform surveys and execute other methods you might want to use. But the benefit is also clear: the better you know your users’ concerns, the better you can address these concerns. And by the way, do you know the SAP UX Strategy? The analytic approach is also used there by SAP to define which tasks and applications are next in the current move to SAP Fiori.
- The use case/ pattern approach
Another approach is to learn from others and re-use their approaches. The SAP UX Explorer team is currently collecting a set of use cases where each describes a customer and user environment and relates it to those topics that provide the highest potential to improve the given environment. Such topics might be UI technologies, strategic hints, UX innovations from an application perspective or individual SAP services. Our idea is to provide use cases that you can simply map with your users or groups of users and get some quick ideas about how to improve their user experience. The advantage of this approach is obviously speed. You still need to know your users, but you don’t need to deeply analyze them. This unveils also the disadvantage of this approach: It probably does not address all the concerns your users have.
Note 1: As said, we are still in the process of collecting use cases and evaluating structures to help you to compare them. We do have three use cases online (Use Case 1, Use Case 2, Use Case 3). Please understand them to be in a kind of “beta” state. As such, if you have ideas or feedback that help us making the use cases more valuable for you, let us know. 🙂
Note 2: While we currently name this “use case approach” this might be subject to change as the term “use case” is used in many ways and may be misleading. What is your opinion about this? (Update from July 15th, 2015: As expected before, we have changed the term “use case” to “concern” to also be aligned to the understanding of Enterprise Architecture. While I will leave this blog as it is, you will find the new term in the SAP UX Explorer, already)
Your technical decision
Let’s imagine you have started your own UX strategy. Your strategy vision is set, some missions drafted and maybe even some KPIs defined. You did step 1, learned about your users and generated a prioritized list of concerns and possible solutions.Now you need to select the best option(s) for you, to implement your solution(s). If you are following me on Twitter or via SCN, you are probably familiar with the adopt-adapt-develop approach.It’s basically about your technical options to improve your user experience and considers the fact that each option comes with different requirements in terms of feasibility and costs. The different options here are:
Considers the things coming from SAP almost out of the box. This can be UI technologies such as UI clients and UI tools or new or renewed applications that provide a modern user experience. This also includes additional, ready to use content like side panels for SAP NetWeaver Business Client, work lists and landing pages. To me, adopt is the most attractive option. On the one hand the solution might technically be already implemented in your environment and/or is part of your existing license. On the other hand you don’t need to support the solution as you would need to if you develop something on your own.
This is about changing screens to specific needs. It is primarily focusing on your existing screens but can also be an option to adapt new screens you have lately adopted in your environment. Depending on the underlying UI framework of the applications you want to adapt, there are specific tools available that can help you.
Obviously, this option is about custom development. You can always use a UI framework of your choice (depending on your needs) and build your own application. This is often the option with the highest investment. But in return it might close the gap in very specific areas where SAP has currently no solution you could adopt.
That little, additional strategic decision
I hope the above introduces some new and valuable information to help you to improve the user experience in your company. But maybe there is another helpful point. The two strategic approaches I have mentioned earlier assume that you have already started a project. But what can you do, if you don’t have a budget yet? What if you need to promote your idea of improving UX? What if you need to satisfy the decision makers before you can satisfy the users? 🙂
For these cases we are thinking of the tactical approach. You can see this as an optional pre-approach to the others above. The goal is to win supporters in your company and as such the focus is on the concerns of the decision makers, CIOs and business leads. This tactical approach might leverage ideas from the use case or even analytical approaches above, but the main point is to analyze the concerns of the people you want to convince. There are several ways to do this and I’m sure you already have some in mind. Nevertheless, we will also try to collect as many concerns as we can get from decision makers in the next months and incorporate these into the SAP UX Explorer as well. Our vision here is to connect these concerns – similar to what we started doing with the use cases – with topics that can help to eliminate these concerns. I’m sure there is more to come in this section soon.
Do you have something to add? Do you want to share your use case? Do you have other ideas to analyzing your environment? Just use the comment function and share and discuss your thoughts. 🙂
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Talk to you soon,
Jürgen Jakowski (SAP) – Twitter: @JJComment