Latest Update: Updated for SAP S/4HANA 1809. Links to the updated UI Technologies Guide, Fiori Launchpad Guide, developer requirements for SAP S/4HANA 1809, and Performance improvements in 1809 have been included.
In the SAP S/4HANA Regional Implementation Group we are privileged to gain insights into & feedback from SAP S/4HANA projects across many customers worldwide. This helps us to see what’s working and what’s not, so that we can make the journey to S/4HANA smoother for everyone. Even though SAP & its customers are now several versions into the SAP S/4HANA journey, we still come across several myths and misconceptions around SAP Fiori in SAP S/4HANA that hinder the journey to S/4HANA for customers. In this blog you will learn how to identify and avoid the top 10 most common misunderstandings.
When it comes to myths and misconceptions, forewarned is forearmed! As a customer or partner, myths and misconceptions are stumbling blocks that hinder your journey to achieving your strategic goals for digital transformation with SAP S/4HANA. Those stumbling blocks can manifest themselves as missing project skills & resources, unplanned activities, and unnecessary time wasted in raising & resolving issues via SAP Incidents.
Most myths and misconceptions around SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA are best avoided by giving them due consideration in your project planning and project team enablement. Knowing up front what myths and misconceptions you are likely to face, will help you make sure your S/4HANA project is better estimated, better staffed, and your project team is better enabled. Even if you are mid-project and have already fallen foul of some of these, understanding these myths and misconceptions can help you redirect and refocus your efforts towards achieving better outcomes sooner.
These are the top 10 myths and misconceptions you want to avoid:
- You can use SAP S/4HANA without SAP Fiori
- All SAP Fiori and SAP S/4HANA UX is active out of the box and/or Activating SAP Fiori is a purely technical task
- There’s a SAP Fiori app for every SAP GUI transaction
- SAP Fiori apps should support every feature from the equivalent SAP GUI transactions
- Fiori Visual Theme converts SAP GUI transactions and Web Dynpro ABAP apps into SAP Fiori apps
- All you need to do is select the Apps, it’s up to the User to organize their Home Page
- Everything will run on mobile devices without any extra thought or effort
- Fiori developers from Business Suite or Suite on HANA are ready to develop on SAP S/4HANA
- HANA means never having to do Performance Tuning ever again
- Assuming User Experience is a minor &/or technical part of your SAP S/4HANA project
You can find more on each of these below. Short on time and looking for how you can prepare your project team so they avoid these? A good place to start is the Getting Started section of Fiori for S/4HANA wiki and the Essential Roles for SAP S/4HANA Fiori projects blog (and attached summary presentations per project role).
1 – You can use SAP S/4HANA without SAP Fiori
Technically true … provided you are ok with severely limiting the business value you derive from your SAP S/4HANA solution.
Why? Well most of the business innovations of SAP S/4HANA, those that bring you the best digital transformation benefits, are delivered in SAP Fiori, such as:
- New innovations, such as machine learning, CoPilot, increased automation & exception processing
- New insight to action paradigm, i.e. embedded analytics aligned to transactional processing
- New/changed business processes, simpler, more efficient, and offering greater business control
- E.g. Flexible Manage Workflows, which lets the business control their own approvals without needing IT or a workflow developer
- New user experiences – simpler, easier, faster, and on mobile devices
- E.g. Pick by Cart for Warehouse Operatives
The Fiori Lighthouse Scenarios and Selecting Fiori apps blogs give more examples of these and how they impact various business roles. You can find more examples to convince your project sponsor and stakeholders in these resources.
Without SAP Fiori, you will still get some great benefits from faster analytics and of course the power of the HANA database, but with SAP Fiori you can do so much more.
2 – All SAP Fiori and SAP S/4HANA UX is active out of the box
All Fiori and S/4HANA UX is installed as part of your S/4HANA solution. However there are some activation and configuration tasks you need to complete. Why?
There are now over 1000 (1K) Fiori apps available for SAP S/4HANA across approximately 140 Business Roles. It’s a good idea to start somewhere (some customers start with as few as 20 apps), but you might not be ready to turn on all of those apps on day 1.
In other words, it’s your digital transformation journey and your organizational change management journey, so you will need to decide:
- Which business processes and business roles will be improved and when
- Which apps should be available for use now vs. later (or maybe even never)
- Which business users will access which apps
- In which situations will they use those apps – in which use cases and in which working environments
- And which devices will they use
All of that affects which apps you will need to activate, configure, and test. Anything you don’t use should be turned off, i.e. deactivated. Why? Controlling your app whitelist to only what you need:
- Reduces risk of users accessing a wrong app
- Reduces risks of data exposure
- Reduces testing effort (fewer apps to configure and test)
- Reduces security administration (fewer apps to authorize)
- Reduces support maintenance effort (fewer apps to manage).
And of course as it’s also your system environment – you have some related choices to make about how you want to run it. Such as:
- Whether you want to allow access from anywhere (Internet) or just within your VPN/Corporate network (Intranet)
- Whether you want to run Fiori on mobile devices or on desktops
- What’s the right level of security for different devices, different access paths, different business contexts
And that brings us to a related misconception…
2b – Activating SAP Fiori in SAP S/4HANA is only a technical task
Yes of course there is a primarily once-off technical process to activate apps en masse via tasks lists as per the SAP Best Practices guides (as explained in Getting the Good Guides) or UI Technologies Guide and the Best Practices for Content Configuration section of the Fiori Launchpad Administration Guide. That’s just the start of your SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA journey.
While most Fiori apps work as-is once they have been activated – e.g. most embedded analytics – a few require additional functional configuration. Plus most Fiori apps SAP delivers provide multiple extension and flexibility options that let you tailor the app to your specific needs for that same business role/task combination.
This is also why you should consider all the related apps in a delivered business catalog – not just the apps that appear as tiles on the Home Page. Fiori apps employ a very flexible and high reuse intent-based navigation approach that lets you tailor the user experience to the business role by adjusting the target of a button, hyperlink or tile. Adjusting these target mappings also adjusts your security authorizations, which are largely derived from the tiles assigned. Knowing which apps work together towards the whole user experience is critical to both the user experience and to your security design.
So the majority effort is in:
- Enabling the project team to understand the new user experience, extensibility options, and how to take advantage of common features as part of their business process design
- Assessing functional fit of Fiori apps to your to-be business processes, business roles and tasks
- Governance over user experience extension options and custom developments to fill any functional gaps
- Optimizing the user experience for your business roles across all functional silos and common features
And that means you not only need to enable your functional team, you need at least 1 dedicated resource enabling, driving, and guiding user experience efforts across all functional and technical silos of the project. You can call that person your UX Lead or UX Architect, and you can find out how they fit into the team in Essential Roles for SAP S/4HANA Fiori projects blog. You can find out more about what a UX Lead/Architect does in misconception 10.
3 – There’s a SAP Fiori app for every SAP GUI transaction
Take a hard look at the Fiori Design Principles: Role-based, Adaptive, Coherent, Simple, Delightful. You can’t deliver any of that with a simple facelift of SAP GUI!
Every Fiori app SAP delivers – and every Fiori app you might choose to build – involves going back to the drawing board. SAP calls this Design Led Development and it involves:
- Deeply understanding the business role and business context (use cases, working environment) to gain insights into how tasks can be made simpler, easier and more effective
- Ideating and prototyping with real users to design a new app that brings effective innovations or, as a minimum, meaningful improvements
- Only then can the new app be built from scratch
This means you will often find that Fiori apps:
- Decompose complex one-size-fits-all SAP GUI transactions to several Fiori apps
- Recompose specific features from several SAP GUI transactions to one Fiori app.
- Provide options that were never possible in SAP GUI
There are already over 1K Fiori apps already for S/4HANA alone. Will every SAP GUI transaction that SAP has created over the last 40 years be converted? That’s difficult to say.
Certainly there are some good reasons for letting go of some of the past. Some SAP GUI transactions or parts of transactions are no longer be relevant or superseded by new innovations and simplifications. Some complex transactions will require more thought to simplify – particularly those that currently very sophisticated graphics. And some administrator transactions may always be back of house.
If you are coming from Business Suite or Suite on HANA you can use the Fiori App Recommendations Report to give you a jumpstart in working out which apps you should consider first based on your current SAP GUI transaction usage. You can also run the Fiori Apps Recommendations relevance report yourself from the home page of the Fiori Apps Library by taking a snapshot of your current SAP GUI transaction usage as explained in the SAP Fiori App Recommendations instructions.
4 – Fiori Visual Theme converts classic SAP GUI transactions and Web Dynpro ABAP applications into SAP Fiori apps
What Fiori Visual Theme does well is to remove the clunk factor when navigating between the Fiori apps and classic apps. However Fiori Visual Theme is effectively a facelift for classic apps, it changes the appearance, but doesn’t make major changes to the operation or behavior of the underlying SAPGUI transaction or Web Dynpro ABAP application.
Even now with over 1K Fiori apps now available for SAP S/4HANA, realistically many business roles will still use at least some classic apps.
So you will need to set some expectations with your business, most importantly:
- Classic apps are not guaranteed on mobile devices
- And there are some other behaviour implications for specific features
Why aren’t classic apps guaranteed on mobile devices? SAP GUI for HTML and Web Dynpro ABAP frameworks were largely written before such devices existed. Sometimes they work on device, sometimes they don’t. Often it might only be specific features that don’t work on mobile. In some cases you can circumvent these limitations by using SAP Screen Personas adaptive flavors and slipstream engine.
You should also carefully read SAP Note 314568 – SAP GUI for HTML functionality / Limitations / Sp. Behaviour which provides a summary of all the current differences to SAP GUI for Windows behaviour.
If you have business users who will still need to use SAP GUI for Windows, you should also consider SAP Business Client with connection type “Launchpad” for a best of both worlds experience from the Fiori Launchpad. SAP Business Client enables your users to access their Fiori apps and launches all SAP GUI transactions automatically in SAPGUI for Windows
5 – Fiori apps should support every feature from the equivalent SAP GUI transactions
Take another look at misconception 3. Fiori design has a business role and task focus that supersedes the more one-size-fits-all design of many SAP GUI transactions. And that means not dragging the weight of every grown-over-time SAP GUI feature across to Fiori apps.
When you add the need to introduce new digital transformations as well there can be significant differences from older SAP GUI transactions. Your starting point for understanding what has changed is the Simplification Item Catalog.
And of course because Fiori apps are built from scratch using a design-led development discipline, creating all the new Fiori apps takes time. So there is a roadmap for building Fiori apps. That roadmap also includes consideration of which apps and which features will be provided when. The Fiori roadmap is updated quarterly and you can get the latest version of the Fiori roadmap by searching on keyword Fiori in the SAP Product and Solutions Roadmaps.
Plus even where transactions have been decomposed to Fiori apps, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every part of that transaction has a Fiori app equivalent yet. There are different roadmap timelines for different business processes, especially where simplifying the process needs more careful consideration. For example, apps related to Procurement of Goods have largely preceded apps relating to Procurement of Services.
6 – All you need to do is select the Apps – it’s up to the User to organize their Home Page
Not if you want high user adoption, which is usually a key driver for digital transformation.
Consider your ideal Day 1 go-live experience for your business users. On Day 1, you will want your business users to login to your new S/4HANA solution and then start work straight away.
That means even on Day 1, every business user will be able to look at their Home Page and it will make immediate sense to them. Every business user should be able to identify which tile or link they need to get their work done without any hesitation.
Remember you are still running a business, and that means you don’t have time for your business users to waste just trying to adjust their Home Page into something that works for them. Sure some will want to personalize their experience later, but on day 1 they still need to get their work done.
You can find some guidance on how to approach Home Page design in the blog Adapting the Launchpad to the Business Role and there’s also a SAP HANA Academy video version to explain this from a business stakeholder perspective.
7 – Everything will run on mobile devices without any extra thought or effort
Yes it’s true that Fiori Launchpad and Fiori apps are responsive to mobile devices, and will automatically adapt to the appropriate form factor.
However classic apps are not guaranteed for mobile devices, as mentioned in misconception 4. So you might need to consider which apps will be available for the same user on different devices. The Fiori Launchpad configuration marks which apps are relevant for which device, so that apps which are not relevant for the device are automatically hidden.
Even for Fiori apps adjusting the form factor is not the end of the mobile story. There are some strategic, functional, and technical considerations that impact how your business users will interact with mobile devices.
Strategic considerations include:
- Will you issue corporate devices or take a BYOD approach
- How many different types of devices are you prepared to manage and support
- Where will the device be stored when not in active use to minimize damage or loss
- How will you prevent device theft/misuse
- How will you respond if a device is lost/stolen
- Will the device be accessed over internet (from anywhere) or only over intranet (over VPN or in the office)
- Will you need your business users to use native device features
- Depending on which features you need, as a minimum you will need your users to use a container app, such as the provided SAP Fiori Client to access camera and barcode
- More advanced features such as calendar functions, offline usage, and machine learning typically involve additional SAP Cloud Platform services
Functional considerations include:
- If a user has multiple devices, you will need to consider which tasks will be performed on which device in which use cases
- Apps may be optimized for specific form factors
- You can find out the optimal form factors in the App’s details in the Fiori Apps Library
- E.g. If you have a multidimensional financial report with many columns and rows, that’s probably not going to give the optimal experience on a phone. The app should technically work on a phone, however it’s not going to be the best experience for that task/business role
- And there may be some safety and other regulatory concerns
- E.g. If you have maintenance workers trying to climb a ladder to work on industrial equipment, then a tablet is probably not going to fit on their tool belt, or meet compliance requirements for safe operation of ladders.
Technical considerations include:
- Mobile device management to distribute updates, and to wipe the data if the device is lost/stolen
- Internet/Intranet access routes and security layers
- Configuration and operation of container apps such as SAP Fiori Client
8 – Fiori developers from Business Suite or Suite on HANA are ready to develop on SAP S/4HANA
Maybe. But probably not.
Most developers who have previously worked on Business Suite or Suite on HANA solutions will need to make large strides to transition their understanding of concepts and their best practices:
- SAP ECC or Suite on HANA, i.e. SAP NetWeaver version 7.40 or 7.50
- Any Database or SAP HANA 1.0
- Fiori 1.0 (SAPUI5 1.38 and below)
- SAP S/4HANA 1809, i.e. ABAP Platform Version 7.53
- SAP HANA 2.0
- Fiori 2.0 (SAPUI5 1.40 and above)
- Note that SAP S/4HANA 1809 FPS01 is already on SAPUI5 1.56.
Tip: Yes that’s correct – as of SAP S/4HANA 1809, the term SAP NetWeaver is replaced by SAP ABAP Platform – find out more in What’s New in ABAP Platform.
To be effective in SAP S/4HANA your developers will need an understanding of:
- ABAP Development Tools for Eclipse
- ABAP Programming Model for Fiori
- Fiori elements vs. freestyle vs. hybrid design
- Extension options for SAP S/4HANA
- Special features and common services, e.g. Default Values, Key User Extensibility, Flexibility Services, attachment services, manage workflows
There’s a lot to learn so the sooner you get your team started the better. Some of these topics can be learned and practiced even on SAP Business Suite before you transition to SAP S/4HANA. Others are enablement activities you will need in your project plan to grow your team as you transition.
You can find resources and starting points in the Deep Dive section of the Fiori for S/4HANA wiki
9 – HANA means never having to do Performance Tuning ever again
Regardless of the power of your backend database, when you are running over a thin client Web Browser, bandwidth and network are critical. Even more so when you are running apps over mobile devices.
If you are using container apps for mobile devices, such as SAP Fiori Client, or running apps over a VPN or Citrix connection, that can also complicate matters.
Running a Performance trace can quickly identify bottlenecks and targets for tuning.
You should especially take note of the Performance recommendations around client and server side caches in the Operations section of the Fiori Launchpad Administration Guide.
Latest Update: As of SAP S/4HANA 1809 you can also opt to run GUI transactions launched from the Fiori launchpad in Stateful Container mode. Refer to Improving Navigation Performance for SAP GUI applications
And then there are options you are strongly recommended to consider. Especially:
- Using the Content Delivery Network (CDN) for the Fiori bootstrap file that is needed by the Fiori Launchpad and every Fiori app. Note: We have customers who have measured this as a 8x factor of improvement alone in starting up Fiori apps
- Schedule the HANA View Results Cache job to pre-calculate related dynamic analytics before your users login in the morning so their Home Page starts up fast
- Avoid using Compatibility Views in your custom code extensions and custom developments, as these are a known performance drain
- Consider using SAP Business Client for desktop bound heavy users of SAPGUI transactions – this lets them use SAPGUI for Windows for GUI transactions launched from the Fiori Launchpad
Latest Update: As of SAP S/4HANA 1809 there have been some major improvements to the performance of the Fiori launchpad and the performance of SAP GUI for HTML. Refer to the What’s New in SAP Fiori Launchpad for SAP_UI 753 SP00 for more details.
Refer to the Performance and Troubleshooting section of SAP Fiori for S/4HANA wiki
10 – Assuming User Experience is a minor &/or technical part of your SAP S/4HANA project
If you have seen any presentation on SAP User Experience you will most likely have seen this diagram (people, process, technology).
This implies that the People component is now considered as equally important as Business Process functionality and Technology. And that means that in your SAP S/4HANA project plan you need to give serious consideration to how you will achieve your user experience goals. In much the same way that you currently plan for achieving your business process goals and your technology/infrastructure goals.
You will need someone to drive UX across your SAP S/4HANA Project – this is your UX Lead/Architect. This person could come from a functional or a technical background as this is largely a coordination, advocacy and governance role.
Above all your UX Lead/Architect must be people-centric, i.e. focussed on how your S/4HANA User Experience will pragmatically work for your business users in their real working environment. And they need to be great communicators as they will need to coordinate across business stakeholders, selected business users, functional silos, the technical team, and of course your organizational change management team.
You will also need to include UX related activities in your project plan. That includes:
- UX Enablement activities for the project team
- Establishing your UX strategy and governance for S/4HANA UX, which can include
- Digital transformation goals for UX
- Launchpad approach, especially if you need to integrate Cloud Solutions or 3rd party apps
- Expectations for different business roles
- Technology and infrastructure requirements
- Device and Browser requirements
- Guidance for determining functional fit
- Governance approach for how identified gaps may be met via extension options or custom apps
- Coordination activities to select Fiori apps
- Configuration activities for Fiori common features, such as Fiori Enterprise Search, the App Finder, and User Assistance help
- Technical activation of Fiori Launchpad and Fiori apps
- Functional configuration, where needed, of your selected apps
- Optimization activities, such as design and configuration of Home Pages for your business roles
- Governance activities around extension options and custom developments
You can find a summary of essential and optional UX activities across the project in the Essential Roles for SAP S/4HANA Fiori projects blog
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