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Personas at the UK & Ireland SAP User Group conference


With barely enough time to recover from TechEd Berlin (see Peter Spielvogel‘s blog TechEd 2014 Summary – SAP Screen Personas, Fiori, and the simplified UX) I was off to the UK & Ireland SAP User Group conference for two more days of talking about Personas. I had two full sessions at the conference this time. The first was my usual intro to Personas including a live demo of what we’ve built and live demos of screen tailoring and script writing. If you’ve seen me speak before much of this will have been familiar, but this time there was the twist of doing the screen tailoring and scripting demos using Personas version 3, the version currently in ramp-up. The audience of about 70 was a good mix of people – at few were live already with version 2, some knew nothing at all about Personas, but most knew of it but hadn’t yet tried it at all. That seems a typical mix for the audiences I speak to, and for most of the them the most interesting thing always seems to be the demo of our live development, showing exactly how much you can do to make SAP systems easier to use. One person afterwards said, “it blew my mind!” There was also a lot of interest in version three, especially from those people already actively using version 2. The two things of particular interest were the theming, which will save some people a lot of time, and the ability to run flavours in SAPgui. Being able to more easily mix tailored screens and standard screens without switching between SAPgui and browser has the potential to make Personas usable in many more scenarios.


My second session was slightly unusual. I was asked to speak in the “Audit, Control and Security” stream about Personas and security. The primary interest seemed to be whether Personas, and especially scripting, allowed users to bypass standard SAP security. The simple answer to that, of course, is, “No it doesn’t.” Even if you don’t see the SAPgui transactions running, but instead they’re running in the background driven by scripts, all of the expected authority checks still happen. There’s no escaping them 🙂 . I also talked about user access to Personas functionality and to flavours and how that is all managed. This was a smaller audience (40 or so) and most had never seen Personas before, and they were very interested.


Outside of the two speaking slots there were many conversations afterwards or in the queues for food or coffee. There seems to be a lot of interest in Personas and in how people can use it to improve the experience for their users, but not too many active projects still. Getting started seems to be difficult for many. If you’ve got a Personas project running in your organisation, how did you get it started? It seems there are many people that would appreciate help and advice about that – please contribute in the comments below!

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  • Steve Rumsby:

    Really enjoy your blogs.  I'll have to look into SAPGUI being able to run Personas Flavors.  My team is looking into using Personas as the single entry point for users instead of a mix between Personas and SAPGUI - having access to flavors in SAPGUI will solve that problem.  Could you go into more detail as to how flavors will be handled in SAPGUI?

    Regarding how we got started:

    1. Our Basis team installed Personas up to version 2 SP 3 (sorry can't go into detail as I'm not a Basis Expert)
    2. Created Personas Environment in the Development System.  Note: you can have multiple environments for one client.
    3. Assigned Personas Roles to End Users
    4. Created Personas Flavors on Screens - some example:
      1. SMEN
      2. MM01
      3. XK01
    5. Worked with Functional Consultants to finalize screens

    Very high level - hope its somewhat helpful.

    • Personas works in SAPgui only from version 3, which is currently still in ramp-up. You also need SAPgui version 7.40. Personas version 2 is browser-only.

      Given those pre-requisites, once Personas is installed in your system SAPgui acquires an extra item on the menu bar to access Personas flavours. Flavours still need to be developed in the webgui but they work in the Windows and Java GUIs, including scripting.

      Right now, Personas support in SAPgui is a little behind support in webgui but I expect that to get better in future service packs.

      You're right that having a single entry point is a good thing. Having to switch between SAPgui and browser would produce a very disconnected experience. It is for this reason that my developments so far have been in situations where I can use Personas for everything. NWBC is another way to provide a single entry point, mixing SAPgui screens and Personas screens via the same client.

      Personas version 3 gives you two more options - SAPgui for Windows/Java and webgui. Both have good enough performance to be the primary interface for standard and personalised screens. This opens up the option of using Personas in situations where you can't really use Personas 2, such as for users that use many transactions but you only want to simplify one or two.


      • Steve,

        Thanks for your reply.

        You said: 

        "This opens up the option of using Personas in situations where you can't really use Personas 2, such as for users that use many transactions but you only want to simplify one or two."

        Why is Personas 2 not conducive to allowing users that use many transactions (in Basic View) in combination with a couple "flavored" transactions?



        • In the early days of Personas, performance was a big issue. Today it is much improved, and pretty much comparable to the performance of webgui, but still slower than SAPgui. Casual users won't really notice, but switch heavy users from SAPgui to Personas (or webgui) even using just the Basic View, and they will likely have issues with performance. This makes it problematic to give such users access to one or two tailored transactions from their regular large set.

          You can use NWBC to provide a single interface to both SAPgui and Personas. However, if you don't use NWBC already that's not a small project and is anyway a change of UI. Also, Personas, even in Basic View, has a slightly different look and feel from SAPgui.

          All of this means, for me at least, I much prefer applying Personas to the full set of transactions a user uses, giving them a unified look and feel. This is obviously only practical when the set of transactions is quite small.

          Being able to run Personas 3 in SAPgui makes it applicable in a whole new set of contexts. You can create flavours for individual transactions and give them to all users, whether they use just a handful of transactions or hundreds. Make those flavours the default and users will get them automatically without even realising Personas in involved.

          Does that make sense? I don't have the Personas capable SAPgui (7.40) rolled out to our user base yet, so I have no live examples of this. I am building a list, though, and will report back in due course on what works in practice 🙂


          • Steve,

            It does make sense.  Because our users are completely new to SAP, I don't see Personas 2.0's performance as being a deal breaker however.  Also, I don't have a huge problem with the look and feel going from Basic View to custom flavors.  But then again I'm not a GUI designer by trade =)

            A much more specific question:  the following buttons on the SAPGUI toolbar are not present in Personas 2.0 SP3.  Do you know if they'll be included in Personas 3.0?

            • Creates New Session
            • Customize Local Layout
            • Generates a Shortcut