Navigating the SAP Fiori Launchpad
I have uploaded the code for this application here: GitHub – kovboyjder/Ztile_navigation: Deep navigation in Fiori Launchpad
Now as much as I hail the improvements of the new user experience using SAP Fiori, I still do see some shortcomings in the architecture. Many of these are topics for other discussions and blogs. However I would like to draw your attention to one particular issue, and that is the navigation. I have previously done PoC’s for clients about the usage of SAP Fiori, and one PoC was to see whether the Fiori Launchpad could replace the need for the Business Client or SAP GUI entirely. I converted normal PFCG roles into catalogs and groups and presented this to the client.
Their feedback in short terms was that for power users, the Launchpad would simply become too cluttered with tiles and even though some of them presented a nice overview for example with values and thresholds, the access to GUI transactions didn’t. A power user will easily access 30 – 50 transactions a day and using the Launchpad to do this wasn’t an answer.
Now I hear you say “Well you have a search bar”, but research has shown that search puts additional cognitive load onto the user so should never be used to replace a navigation structure completely.
In the Business client and to some extent in the GUI we can present the user with a personalized menu with multiple levels using folders in PFCG.
We can even use cockpits to limit the menus presented to the users.
As the Fiori Launchpad is a flat structure, where we are only able to add to different groups, the amounts of tiles easily becomes many. This first of all adds to the load time of the Launchpad to refresh all these tiles. Currently the Launchpad uses lazy loading, basically that the tiles you see only refreshes when you scroll to see them, but still many tiles to update does require time. I see this as the biggest challenge for users adopting the Fiori Launchpad as their primary access to SAP. Please feel free to comment if you disagree.
So what options do we currently have to solve this problem?
Which I think later will make a great contribution to make the Launchpad easier to navigate. However currently as far as I am aware none have been implemented by SAP themselves in their solution (Maybe in the newest edition of S/4HANA?), this means that we have to develop them ourselves. Also adding tiles that leads to transactions won’t give you that nice effect of lists or graphs doing fancy stuff on the page, they would simply be static tiles.
In HCM they have introduced navigational tiles called My Services and Team Services and while these two apps addresses the exact issue of what I am talking about, it is limited to only a few areas within HCM and also it doesn’t adopt the Fiori design guidelines, so it looks different from the Launchpad.
Another option could be just to use the Business Client and link directly to the Fiori apps using PFCG roles, (Yes, this is now available from SAP NW 7.5, Julie Plummer wrote an excellent blog about this) Currently I think this is the best option for us to bring these worlds together, however that would also force you to abandon the Launchpad, which has a lot of other cool features like the search that brings the factsheets up. However that obstacle can also be overcome (See this blog written by yours truly to see how.).
But if you want to keep the Launchpad and still be able to create a better user experience by not cluttering up the Launchpad with tiles, then the only option for now is to develop something yourselves.
And here is where I would like to open up to the floor, how would you do it? The cool way would be just to reuse the PFCG roles and structure it in the Launchpad, but I have a hard time visioning how this could be done.
I developed a small app that acts as a navigational tile, reusing the standard Fiori catalogs, so basically I show all tiles present in a catalog in a little app for itself. I use the standard gateway services, so it is only the frontend that needs to be deployed and then configuration of the application.
The reason why I chose the catalogs and not the groups is that if you add to the group, then the tiles are also on the Launchpad. The gif below shows how it works. Basically you create a tile that you want on the Launchpad, (in my example they are sales, deliveries and invoices) When you click this it takes you to a tile app that shows you the content of a given catalog, in this catalog you can either link to another navigational app showing other tiles or just add in standard fiori apps. This gives you a feeling of navigation to subfolders.
This is a video of how it works. (Sorry for the bad audio, Mic on my laptop isn’t the best)
Currently I have used standard tiles as the generic tile isn’t part of the SAPUI5 library as of yet, it has just been added to the OpenUI5 1.34 library. It would be cool to have something like breadcrumbs to show the user where they are in the navigational tree. Also this isn’t part of the SAPUI5 library yet, but have been added to OpenUI5. So I might just change this in the near future.
What do you think, does this solve the enigma of navigating the Launchpad, what would make you adopt this approach if you were thinking as a user?
Or do you think that the current features of the Launchpad is sufficient to solve this problem?