(Or Hey, Functional Consultants, Leave That Old Design Paradigm Alone).
Throughout the many years of SAP implementations it has often fallen to the hardy functional consultant to design new screen requirements which have filled the fields in many a bespoke database table. Years of practice and an in-depth understanding of the functional nuances of SAP products have provided them with a well-earned amount of confidence in this area. Often functional in themselves, the resulting designs have worked albeit not as successfully as perhaps they might have in the skilled hands of an ABAP Dynpro designer but well enough and, in any case, no one really minded.
More recently, however, there has been a disturbance in solution delivery; a change in the zeitgeist that I choose to refer to as (pause for effect) the Great Appening. Users are now so much more demanding in their use of technology. They are in tune with the experience now conveniently within their reach. Actions speak louder than screens full of words. This makes the data entry models of yesteryear no longer appropriate to the current and future generations used to consuming applications en masse on portable devices. Why tab when you can swipe?
Still, even in the new User Experience world of Fiori, the tried and trusted method of screen design lumbers ever onwards with functional consultants in general designing screens the same way that they have always done. Except now the shortcomings of this method are becoming more and more apparent to the end user. Screens are being designed to copy old SAP database table filling screens or to mimic SAP transactions that already exist. These screens are from a different time, a time before the Great Appening which is also a time Before Design Thinking.
In the new enlightened era, we look to an iterative method of creating user experiences rather than computer data capture experiences. We spend time upfront finding out how the user really works and how best we can support them in their endeavours rather than how best can they support the system with data.
Our users have changed too, moving on from being grateful to use anything other than a dumb terminal to instant delight at changing mobile-capable solutions and as such our methods of screen creation have to change too.
No one wants to be forced to use complex, dull and over-engineered screens; they want the information they need to complete their task and the swiftest possible way to do so. What’s more, they expect not only to do it quickly but they also want to want to do it in the first place – that is the essence of delight.
Thing is, in a lot of organisations, the area thwarting the new dawn of the Great Appening, the piece that needs to change the most, is the role played by the functional consultant in the design of screens. Functional consultants need to recognise that they shouldn’t have to carry the burden any longer. There are those of us around that can help determine how best to engage the user. Sure, it might take a little more time up front but the results will speak for themselves (sometimes, when appropriate, literally). Delight can be yours and more importantly your users’.
Help make the Great Appening truly great. Become familiar with Design Thinking as a process. Become familiar with the SAP Fiori design paradigm. Become beyond functional.
Road Signs on the Path to Great Appening Understanding
Here are a few places to aid you on your journey-
SAP User Experience Community – Become familiar with what actually constitutes SAP Fiori Design and learn about what SAP thinks about Design Thinking. There are lots of examples around how screen elements work and fit together along with when they should and shouldn’t be used – a really good guide to SAP’s ongoing thought process.
SAP Fiori Demo Cloud – A good place to go and look at how current Fiori apps work that might help to inspire your dreams when it comes to the next opportunity to design in user delight
SAP Fiori apps reference library – A chance to look at what is available today from SAP and to see what is already available in your functional areas.
Design Thinking With SAP – If you want to be more aware of how we can implement SAP differently with an eye to the user experience and iterative design before we even get to development, check out this introduction to Design Thinking with SAP
The opportunity to enable a happy end consumer of our solution is within both your and my grasp. Help the corporate world become a more positive and pleasant working environment. Together we can avoid the Great Appalling and turn SAP experiences into the Great Appealing. Update your ideas of the possible and fully embrace the Great Appening.