Bridges to S4: The Easiest Path to UX Transition
Recently I was reading a blog from a gentleman who has dedicated his life to wine, food and travel. This post was focused specifically on wine and wine tasting. He mentioned that he had been blogging, judging and consulting wineries for over ten years. So when friends and guests had wine, they would always ask if the wine selection was acceptable. It troubled him that anyone would be ashamed of their wine selection, if it suited them fine before an expert entered the equation.
In the UX space, we have a similar conundrum when migrating or rebooting our legacy applications, websites or transaction codes into a more modern user interface such as SAP Fiori or Screen Personas. Process owners, end users and application architects can be sensitive to changing their user interface because it is within their comfort zone or something they have direct ownership in as the design is concerned.
Imagine a process owner who used Microsoft Access to craft a solution with top notch forms and reports. Data used to be exported from SE16 to a spreadsheet and merged with the access database. To simplify the process, the process owner figured out how to make a direct connection SAP ERP tables in SQL Server. They were so proud of how efficient it had made their job. Their work stream had been simplified to an Access form and a button that needed to be pushed once a week. So, you can imagine that this person wasn’t pleased to find out their solution needed to be incorporated into the SAP ecosystem.
SAP is changing up their wine menu with S4. The process of slowly deprecating T-Codes and pushing functionality into the Fiori Launchpad has started. The experts herald a more modern UI, with attractive charts and graphs to digest data quickly; one that is more intuitive for most end users. I want to emphasize most, because if you are a user who knows little about SAP and haven’t lived and breathed the SAP GUI for a decent portion of your career, then it will be more intuitive. However, if you use a specific set of transaction codes in the SAP GUI that have been deprecated, then you might feel the transition is not so smooth.
There are bridges to get to S4 instead of jumping in head first with the checkbook at the ready. Soothe the checkbook/transitioning pain and supplement your SAP investments with free products like SAP Screen Personas and the out of the box Fiori applications. There are use cases for both and there is not much sweat equity needed to install either.
For the wine taste and the beer budget, Screen Personas is a great solution to utilize existing transaction codes and personify them to an improved user experience. SAP screens can be modified to combine transactions, add or hide fields, make backend calls to improve processing times, and automate data entry where possible. An example would be for call centers. Sales Representatives need to either create or update sales orders rapidly. Typically these centers use just SAP GUI or they have a third party tool help them get the job done as fast as possible. Here is an example of how this might appear for a call center based off of a standard SAP transaction:
Fiori applications are commonly thought of as mobile only. While mobility plays an important part in the Fiori paradigm, it is not the only capability of the product. For example S4 has a great deal of applications that use the SAPUI5 desktop libraries, especially for charts and graphs that tackle a decent dataset. When considering a mobile solution, SAPUI5 and the Fiori Launchpad should be the first option so your solution is strategically aligned with SAP. There are great out of the box applications that use your current SAP investments, such as the Approve Requisitions application which is very popular for those customers not yet using HANA:
Eventually we all want a world where the only thing we need to do our jobs is a mobile phone and,perhaps, a laptop that only needs to run a browser for the more difficult jobs. SAP is pushing hard to make this happen with S4 with the Fiori Launchpad. Taking the bridges offered by SAP for keeping your favorite flavors with Personas, and supplementing your tastes with Fiori will make a S4 transition more palatable for end users.