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Remember when ALVs were the coolest thing in SAP GUI? When enjoySAP transactions were created to make SAP more pleasing to clients? Apparently, these enjoySAP transactions were not really enjoyable for users. Let’s be honest, SAP is not really user friendly. To end users, whether it be the legacy t-codes or enjoySAP transactions, both were not so appealing. From experience, each time I speak with SAP users in different industries, the feedback was always the same – they don’t like the GUI.

The old SAP R3 screens have existed since 1992 and from that time to the start of a new decade in 2010, new graphic user interfaces were introduced. The iOS and Android apps were setting a trend when it came to user experience. Consumers were then leaning towards buying a smartphone or a tablet and downloading the latest applications that helped increased their productivity and were more practical and easier to use. Today, we have a lot of companies that offer good application development services.

I do know that SAP is aware of its history of poor user experience with their enterprise software. I understand that it is truly hard to renovate more or less 40,000 legacy screens. But SAP has come a long way to realize that UI Design is now becoming more agile in nature. You come up with a design, present it to users, get their feedback, and update the design once again.

SAP’s DESIGN THINKING

SAP eventually worked their way out of their bad reputation in user design. They thought of ways to improve their business value with the vision still in mind to help customers do their jobs better. SAP initially explored user experience and design in producing consumer applications. They produced apps into the apple and android stores and studied the consumer market. They did realize that capturing the consumer market meant building on good user experience. This new awareness lead them to design concepts that were applied to new solutions later on, such as SAP SuccessFactors.

RESPONSIVE AND COHERENT DESIGN

SAP renewed their design strategy by thinking in terms of responsive and coherent design. This lead them to creating their own Web App IDE which introduced SAPUI5 and SAP Fiori. SAPUI5 uses HTML5 which is good for developing enterprise software. HTML5 are usually one-liner codes that are responsive. SAP Fiori on the other hand, addresses coherent design where it breaks down an application into activities to allow users to choose tasks that are only relevant for them. SAP Fiori is now getting popular among SAP customers in developing apps for smartphones and tablets.

IMPROVEMENT ON LEGACY SCREENS

Apart from coming up with products like SAPUI5 and Fiori, SAP has not forgotten their clients of old that still use legacy systems. They also introduced a solution called SAP Screen Personas which enable users to move around and hide icons and fields of an SAP Screen. It is not a perfect solution, but it gives customers more flexibility to play around with the GUI that fits their expectations and requirements.

FINALLY CATCHING UP WITH CONSUMER MARKET

It took more or less 20 years before SAP innovated and embraced these new developments in user design and experience. This 20-year gap was a challenge for SAP to redesign their user interfaces and to make it more attractive to their customers. It has been a slow process but they are listening to their customers and finally catching up with the market.

Reference: openSAP’s course SAP’s UX Strategy in a Nutshell

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2 Comments

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  1. Michelle Crapo

    MMmmmmm…

    Not sure I completely agree with you.   Some of the Fiori screens – a lot of the screens – are just a duplicate of the GUI screen on the web.   So there’s not a big difference.   Persona’s will be awesome.

    SAP decided to split out each of the tiles for one and only one transaction.  Nice, if you aren’t someone who goes from screen to screen doing multiple tasks.

    Somehow the screens that could be set up to run in sequence are in different areas.  Now I do love that you can set up those tiles on your homepage.  I hate that I need authority to almost everything to provide support.   That – as you can guess – makes my performance very slow.   I’m debating creating several users for myself with limited authority.

    So – yes – SAP has come a long way. And some of the screens are very nice.  I just think it has a long way to go.

    My ten cents for what it’s worth. I hope to change my mind.  Personas – one step at a time.  I of course want it all, and want it now.  🙂

    Michelle

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  2. Alejandro Jacard Plubins

    I’m sorry but Success Factors was not an SAP idea, it was in fact an acquisition. Yes, SAP has continue to make the software as a service product evolve and improve over time, specially it’s integration with the classical ERP core…but it was never a “design thinking” product developed at Waldorf.

    Also, before SAPui5, there was OpenUI5, read some history on wikipedia . Andres Kunz even explained the difference on SAP SDN here.

    Finally, SAP has acquired Concur, Fieldglass, and Ariba (just as main examples), all SaaS products that have good adoption rates given their application of UX principles and design driven development cycles.

    I have the impression that people that were new in SAP SE infused their development divisions with these new methodologies once the classical SAP ERP market stagnated, and customers were looking elsewhere to “mobilize” and “simplify” their existing ERP core. Obviously management was concerned, and had to do something.

    In the end, we have to applaud and celebrate that SAP SE as a company has embraced design thiking, UX focus and methodologies that create better value and results for their customers (and us consultants who work at it), but it is not a “be-all do-all” revelation you seem to describe.

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