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Author's profile photo Michael W Shea

Are you the next “Citizen Designer”? Design Better Experiences in your OEM solutions.

Design Thinking is a major component of SAP’s UX strategy.  SAP has invested a lot of time and resources over the last 12 years to revolutionize our customers’ user experience.  Build is the latest innovation in that journey. Build provides knowledge, tools, and inspiration that will help you create apps that your users love.

Last year SAP unveiled the Build beta program and the results were nothing less than spectacular.

The participants in the Beta were vast and broad. Business analysts, app developers and end users from over 850 companies and 1100 partners tried the product out on projects ranging from Time Entry, to Maintenance Requests, to Warehouse Management apps and beyond.

Build is an awesome tool for business users, and it is also an ideal solution for SAP OEM Partners to:

  • Bring design thinking to their customers
  • Create exceptional user interfaces,  vs. Traditional user interfaces that are not user friendly, not intuitive and slow
  • Deliver Cloud-first mentality
  • Drive better user experience
  • Help customers separate on-premise systems from UX innovation

Build is all about getting the user experience done right, the first time.  It allows all people (technical and non-technical) to participate in the development of next generation solutions.  The solutions may be extensions to traditional SAP applications, extensions to OEM Partner applications or net new OEM partner applications.  Build is available in SAP’s HANA Cloud platform, the PaaS offering for building, extending, and integrating partner solutions. But it can be used to build apps for the cloud and on premise environments.

Forrester Research has conducted a study that puts dollar amounts to what we all know.  The earlier that you identify a problem in the app lifecycle the less costly it is to fix.  A problem with the design may cost 75 times more to fix if identified after it is deployed compared to identifying it in the discovery phase.  This is especially true in the design of the user experience.


Build is geared towards business analysts — often referred to as “Citizen Designers” — as well as traditional developers.  “Citizen Designers” are those people who may not have the traditional design or development experience, but they are the ones that know the business and the user community extremely well.  They know how they think, what types of things they need to do on a day to day basis and have great ideas on how to streamline and transform their customers’ business.

So what can “Citizen Designers” do with Build?

Create prototypes. A prototype allows designers, both technical and non-technical to create mock ups of screens to test out the usability. The mockups can be from PowerPoint or Visio or even be drawings on a piece of paper and scanned into an image. The images are then uploaded into the tool for the prototyping stage.

There are many types of prototypes, Freestyle (blank page for general prototyping), Responsive (when designing for multiple device types), Object page (tab views) and master detail.

Design screen to screen navigation.  Using the editor in the tool, designers can create hotspots on the screen images to design the navigation between the pages.  This may simulate actions like selecting a row on a list to view the detail, a back button or a submit button.  This allows the developer to design and understand how the users will interact with the system.

Explore Build Prototype Gallery.  Designers can browse and select from gallery of UI design patterns and templates to leverage in the prototype.

Create User Studies. Studies allow the designer to collect feedback about the usability of the prototype from a group of many users. After the designer creates a prototype, tests it and determines it is ready for publishing, they need to solicit feedback from the larger audience of users.  They enter a list of email addresses of those that will participate in the study.  The users will receive an email containing a link to the study to perform.  The users then log on one by one to perform the tasks associated with the study.  These tasks will be business specific things like “approve leave request”, “Create Sales Order”, ”Manage Products”, etc.  They system collects all kinds of metrics about how the user interacts with the system and how usable it is.  Some of metrics include: the number of participants, Average time to complete study, freeform comments, general sentiment of how they like / dislike the experience.  It also includes a heat map that shows where users were clicking on the screens.  This can be used can identify and illustrate problem areas or show the effectiveness of the design and user experience.  These metrics are used to determine which parts of the application are easily understood and which parts need further refinement.

The continuous process of prototyping, testing, gathering feedback and refinement is followed until the solution is ready for full development and deployment.

Deploy to SAP HANA Cloud Platform.  Once the prototype is developed, tested and validated by the end user community, starter code can be exported out of Build and imported into SAP Web IDE for further customization and enhancement.  The SAP Web IDE is SAP Web based Integrated Development Environment and is used to develop Fiori HTML5 Applications.

The completed application is then deployed to the Fiori Cloud edition on SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) for application execution, integration and hosting.  Additional mobile features and capabilities can the leveraged using the Fiori Premium Edition.

With Build, SAP Web IDE, SAP Fiori, cloud edition and SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP OEM Partners can reinvigorate customer excitement in their deployed applications. They can easily create mobile extensions without disrupting on premise systems.  And most importantly, they can give customers the user experience that is designed to increase their productivity, make their lives easier and will drive net new sales.

For more information on SAP Build, SAP HCP and the SAP OEM program, please email me at

For a free trial of Build, please visit :

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