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Designing SAP’s digitally native apps

At SAPPHIRE in May, SAP launched a digitally native app – SAP Digital for Customer Engagement. This application makes SAP software available to individuals to set up within minutes – a first of kind experience for enterprise applications.

My user experience team led the design for the product. The customer for this digital solution was no longer an IT professional in a large enterprise but an individual business user. Our challenge was to design a simple and intuitive product that an individual can try, buy, and set up without tech support. In this way, we were truly striving for the SAP goal to run simple.

This was a major deliverable to be achieved in 60 days. My design team had recently come on board and had to come together quickly to be both creative and effective. I would like to share a few strategies that helped my team succeed.

Hire thinkers and doers
Ours is a fast-paced, innovative project with a lot of work and little time. Not everybody can survive or may enjoy working in such an environment. It’s important to hire people who will see the big picture and understand the business requirements, as well as develop good relationships with product management and development teams. Hire designers who are driven and self-motivated, can make decisions on their feet, and do whatever it takes to make the product successful.

No trust, no team
A team cannot be successful without trust. In our case, it would be impossible to consistently deliver beautiful, usable product user experience if team members do not trust each other’s commitment, competence, and ability to collaborate. By encouraging collaboration, discouraging competition, and seeking and giving feedback regularly, we were able to work together well on a fast-moving project.

Know your customer
It’s important to know who you are designing for. For this product, we had to design and implement a simplified onboarding and set up experience since the target user was a non-technical business user and not IT/Admin professional. Our goal was to make it possible for individuals to set up SAP software on their own within minutes. This guided all our design decisions. We built in features that would offer to create a simple user experience, including set up in 15 minutes; seamless conversion from trial to paid account, and transparent data usage.

Have a clear UX strategy
Our UX strategy is based on five core principles: role-based, responsive, simple, coherent, and delightful. Based on this approach, we created the user experience for the digital product to be simple, quick, and easy for an individual. The designers worked in multiple cycles with different stakeholders to define needs, concepts, and test designs. With a clear strategy, we were able to deliver a well-designed and usable product on time with stakeholder buy-in.

Designing a digitally native application was an exciting challenge for my team. We broke the mold in enterprise software, came together as a team to push our creative boundaries, and delivered a product that sets a new bar in the industry.

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