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After a couple of years working with ABAP, WF and SD and challenged myself to learn something new that could have a significant impact on SAP’s customers and so I decided to go into UX, with Screen Personas and Fiori.

At first, some years ago, Screen Personas and Fiori were totally different technologies, not related at all. More recently they had converged and today both Screen Personas and Fiori (powered by the SAPUI5 development technologies) are used to build outstanding user experiences both for traditional desktop use and mobile platforms.

Since the companies still have lots and lots of scenarios where people work exclusively on their desktops to make business processes work everyday, Screen Personas is a terrific tool for radically improving user experience, provide substantial productivity increase and make the use of SAP ECC much, much easier. With that in mind it’s also to see where companies can make more money through workforce productivity while, at the same time, spending less training and support money. And all of this without spending much money, in fact, spending considerably less money than it would be required without the use of Screen Personas.

Below you can see two screens, one built with Screen Personas and another with Fiori. I bet that you probably can’t tell which used each technology.

So, let’s ask ourselves: what’s the main point in building a better user experience on a widely used business software such as SAP ERP, or ECC ?

As we have already seen, from the companies’ point of view, when you make your software simpler and faster you gain user performance. This means: the same person can do twice the work, or the same work in half the time. In fact, in many scenarios, this can get even better

Second, the software is easier to understand and to use, so you are going to spend less effort training and support your staff. With Screen Personas, it’s easy to make SAP software almost self-explanatory through the use of various visual hints, simplifications and automation of previously manual tasks that users had to make by themselves even in simple tasks. Also it’s possible to totally remove the necessity to make users know transaction codes to do their job because it’s possible to visually give access to anything the users need to have the work done.

So, going back to the original matter, I see that lots of people still think that Fiori is a newer technology and because of this is going to replace Screen Personas. This is not true!

SAP has an active team working to improve Screen Personas. There’s also an active user community, with people from companies all around the world, who meets monthly to share experiences, best practices and success stories about high impact scenarios built with Screen Personas.

SAP offers clear directions on when and where use Screen Personas or Fiori and I think that customers must be aware of this: if you want to improve the UX of a scenario not yet delivered in Fiori by SAP and this scenario already exists on your SAP ERP system, both standard or “Z”, then the most powerful and fast way to have the UX transformation done is through Screen Personas, given you don’t need this scenario to be mobile-enabled.

I’ve already built things with both Fiori and Screen Personas and I can seel clearly that there is a time and place right for each one. Using Fiori in a scenario like the one I just described will get the job done, but probably with lots of additional work to re-write business logic. Screen Personas begins from existing SAP ERP screens and business logic, so you can just build a new powerful user experience on top of this already existing stuff.

You can see below a cockpit screen I’ve built with Screen Personas for a customer service team. In this scenario, the user has easy and quick access to the five different processes in the ERP that should be needed to answer any inquiry from any customer of his company:

From this cockpit, the user has access to different transaction without the need to now their codes, so he can be trained in a fraction of the time. Also, Screen Personas make it possible to navigate from one transaction to another and back without losing context and thus making the work significantly faster.

This kind of project can be done in a fraction of the time that would be needed to do the same work using ABAP, for example. I’ve made use of some ABAP code on this, but with Screen Personas and some JavaScript it’s been possible to attain much better results in significantly less time.

It’s important to begin right, using design thinking to find the right business problems and validating the right solution, before building. With this is mind, you will have astounding results, will make your users extremely happy and motivated to experience the software and will have a huge impact on your company’s bottom line if you choose the right scenarios.

So I want to finish with this suggestion: go and try it! Trying Screen Personas will be extremely easy, because it’s a simple-to-install add-on, given that your ERP system is relatively up-to-date your basis consultant can make it in less than half a day. From here you should now choose a small but relevant scenario with help from someone from the business side and build it with Screen Personas. I’ve already successfully done it in less than a week, just to prove the concept and raise awareness about the technology inside the organization.

I have to advise that you’ll have one problem: your users will instantly want to begin using it, and they will begin telling their co-workers that is exists. So, very soon, everybody that uses SAP ERP in your organization will begin to ask you to have their processes improved with the kind of UX that Screen Personas makes possible.

And, on the other side, your company will measure that the work is being done faster and you are having all kinds of benefits because of it.

Tell me your story of transformation in the comments and let me know how I can help sharing more of my experiences!

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5 Comments

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  1. Tamas Hoznek

    Thank you very much Douglas for sharing your experience and highlighting the possibilities customers have with the use of SAP Screen Personas.

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  2. Christopher Solomon

    Nice blog! I really cringe when I see users/customers get trapped into thinking this type of thing is an “either…or” discussion. Thankfully, you help clear some of that up. In the end, WE HAVE OPTIONS!!!…..this is all part of SAP’s over-arching UX strategy….”New-Renew-Enable” (chant it along with me!) …that they have been trying to embed in our heads for years now. Sadly, many people still don’t seem to “get” it (and SAP’s communication at times does little to help). But thankfully….we have folks like you….spreading the good word across the land! Thanks and keep sharing!
     

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    1. Douglas Cezar Post author

      Hi Christopher, thank you very much for your ideas!

      I agree, SAP customer have “almost free” options to radically improve their UX and, with that, have all kinds of benefits and still they’re not making use of this.
      I think that’s somehow because the great benefit of this kind of thing is directed to business areas and, sometimes, IT may fear losing some control and, in a few cases, there are people who unfortunately worry about having less work to do, because things have become more simple. I think that everybody should embrace it because the bottom line is that, if the business works better, everybody wins!

      Thank you for the motivation and let’s work to make these technologies reach as many people as we can!

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  3. Kenneth Moore

    I don’t believe the reason Screen Personas is not being widely used is because of IT job protection.  Several reasons it is not being rolled out are

    (1) It is a piece-meal solution.  If you are going to radically change the UI, you want it across the board.  Not a hybrid solution where some areas have a new UI and others don’t.

    (2) It is a project which requires time, training, communication, development, buy-in and rollout.  It is not almost free.

    (3) Is the benefit really worth the effort of number (1) and number (2)?  It has to be driven by the business, not IT, or it is more likely to fail.

    (4)  You are adding an additional layer of complexity and most likely bugs.

    Personally, I like the solution.  But people want a uniform solution, not piece-meal.  Hard sale.

     

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