SAP Screen Personas with SAP S/4HANA – When and how to use it?
This is SAPPHIRE’s week and lots of business leaders, tech leaders and developers are with their eyes set on SAP’s news and announcements.
I’ve also attended the online sessions of SAP Global Partner Summit yesterday and one of the presenters highlighted 3 focus areas that are highly important for present and future growth:
1 – Improve the customer experience
2 – Increase (business) productivity
3 – Improve employee experience and increase talent retention
Let’s be clear: from both business and technical points of view, SAP Screen Personas is one of SAP’s best tools to dramatically improve topics 2 and 3 from the list above.
Right now, while I am writing this blog, I am watching Hasso Plattner, one of SAP’s founders, talking live from “SAPPHIRE Now Live Studio” on how SAP is working relentlessly to bring much better user experiences for all its customers and users. It is clearly something really serious for SAP.
To give context to what I want to share in this blog, I will make a brief overview of my experience in the SAP world: I am an architect and developer with a strong technical background and some business knowledge. I have been working for 10+ years developing software with ABAP, 5 years building solutions with SAP Screen Personas and teaching it to other people and also 2 years building mobile applications with SAPUI5 and Fiori.
I am talking about my experiences here to highlight that I deeply know these technologies and so I have learned when and how to choose between them whenever I have to decide which one is the right tool to be used to solve each business challenge when an SAP customer come with one to me. It is what I want to explore in this blog.
How much is Screen Personas adoption rising?
Every month Peter Spielvogel and his team in SAP run the SAP Screen Personas Practitioner’s Forum. In the most recent editions they shared these pieces of information:
- 1400+ companies using SAP Screen Personas in 63 countries and 25 industries. These numbers have been growing month after month.
- Over 40% of SAP S/4HANA customers are using SAP Screen Personas.
- This week’s SAPPHIRE event has lots of sessions on user experience and some of them are exclusively focused on SAP Screen Personas.
That is also important to see that SAP is actively investing resources on SAP Screen Personas. The most recent service pack has been released some days ago and there is a new one planned for later this year.
Showing, even more, the commitment from SAP to improve the product, Sylvia Barnard is leading an initiative with SAP customers, partners, and prospects where live usability tests will be performed during the three days of SAPPHIRE. You can learn more on her blog here.
If SAP S/4HANA “looks like” Fiori, why do I still need SAP Screen Personas?
You know that S/4HANA has a new visual theme that makes every screen “look like” Fiori, but much of the complexity still resides there. Many times it just looks nicer, but not less complex.
While SAP has already built many new applications using UI5 (the technology behind Fiori), most of the 400.000+ SAP standard transactions (and also most of individual customers’ customized or Z transactions) have not been rebuilt as new apps yet.
What does it mean? It means that while the new visual theme of SAP S/4HANA make things look nicer, the transactions are still highly complex ones because they were built to be useful for as many different businesses in as many different industries and countries as possible. Just ask it to S/4HANA users.
If I want to make my business transactions more productive when and why should I use SAP Screen Personas instead of SAP Fiori?
This is why you need to know when and how to use each of SAP’s tools to simplify, automate and extend business processes within the ERP (this thinking is valid for both S/4HANA and ECC).
Let’s think of a business scenario where you need to make a process within your company to be a lot easier and faster to be performed. The ideal scenario is one that is repeated many times a day by at least some people inside your business. With a scenario like this, it will be easy to see that an improvement will have scalable results that will be easily measurable in both time and money savings for your company.
Now you have to ask yourself two things:
1 – Am I working to improve an already existing business process that is currently performed using standard and/or customized SAP transactions on top of SAP GUI (for Windows, for Java or WebDynpro)?
2 – Is this a business process for which there is no existing Fiori app?
If the answer to both these questions is YES, then you must definitively go for SAP Screen Personas.
If you decide to approach this problem using UI5 (Fiori) you must do a full blueprint of the process, both from the functional and technical aspects and deliver it to some developers to work with. You are essentially rebuilding from scratch something that already exists for the sake of doing some improvements. This is going to cost you a lot of time. And you will have a lot of new and unnecessary custom code to manage as a bad side-effect.
If you approach the same problem using SAP Screen Personas as a tool, you must begin by asking a business process expert (usually a functional consultant or key-user) to deep analyze the current business process as it is currently performed using the existing SAP GUI transaction (or group of transactions). From there, the next step is to work out how simple and how automated the transactions should be in an ideal world for your business process to be accomplished in as little time and as efficient manner as possible. This is a task highly likely to be better done with a design thinking mindset where both your business expert and your actual users are involved. It would be “nice to have” a visual designer helping at this point if your company has one among its employees.
From the above assessment made by your business experts, the next step is to deliver the design of the ideal simplified and automated business process, supported and leveraged by existing SAP standard and customized transactions, to an SAP Screen Personas expert.
With this design, the SAP Screen Personas expert will be able to do a complete make-over using the existing transactions as the starting point. He/she will be able to remove all the unnecessary complexity and build automated steps wherever your business experts found it is needed. Further, the overall appearance and experience will be made better to the point of making the application possible to be used without any training.
With SAP Screen Personas there is no need to rebuild existing functionality from scratch. You will make improvements and tweaks to the user experience to achieve a hugely better performance and simplicity. With that, it is possible to deliver the desired huge improvements in productivity so users will perform the businesses transactions in a much faster way.
But what if I need to run my business process on mobile devices?
You simply run. Take a look at this app built using SAP Screen Personas:
You just have to upgrade your SAP system with SAP Screen Personas 3.0 SP06 or above and use the Slipstream Engine to run standard and customized transactions on any mobile phone or tablet.
The Slipstream Engine automatically renders SAP GUI screens as UI5 screens, so they become highly responsive and ready to be used with the touch interface of mobile devices.
But keep in mind that just using Slipstream to run transactions on mobile devices will not make all the magic SAP Screen Personas is capable of. The real power resides in going through the process I have described above where you will spot and design how to best use SAP software to have the fastest and most productive experience. If you do that you will surely have the huge improvements you are looking for, both in time and money savings for your company.
How does SAP Screen Personas increase business productivity?
These are some metrics from actual SAP Screen Personas projects live on SAP customers:
How does SAP Screen Personas increase employee engagement and talent retention?
Nowadays everybody is used to consumer-like apps and technology. Anyone can install an app and instantly begin to use it without any training.
SAP has achieved that with Fiori apps and this is the reason why I love to develop with UI5.
For everything in the SAP world that does not have a Fiori app, SAP Screen Personas is the best, fastest and cheapest way to build easy, self-explainable and automated screens that runs like web or mobile apps. I have personal experience using SAP Screen Personas to build this kind of scenario, where new employees didn’t have to go through any training to use SAP software because we had made everything really easy, simple and self-explanatory.
The resulting experience made business users much happier while doing their work using SAP software. Not just because it finally became really simple but also because the productivity increase made possible by using SAP Screen Personas made their work much more enjoyable.
This is an example of the kind of screen your business users will see, it doesn’t matter if they are on desktop or mobile:
No more transactions to be known by heart and definitely, no more time spent training people or difficult to use transactions.
Is SAP Screen Personas just for S/4HANA?
No. You can use SAP Screen Personas 3.0 SP07 in any S/4HANA or ECC system from Basis 700 SP25 and Kernel 722.
You can find more details here.
Conclusion and Next Steps
It is your turn.
Many people still do not know where, how and why to use SAP Screen Personas. I have tried here to make it a little easier to spot the value of this terrific tool for any SAP customer.
Please keep in mind that some people in the SAP Basis area still did not have the opportunity to learn how simple and easy it is to install the SAP Screen Personas add-on. Just to illustrate this point, I am not a Basis specialist at all, but I was able to do it in less than three hours for one SAP customer once. So, if you need additional help to install Screen Personas, look for SAP customer support. They have people specialized who can help you to do the needed installation.
If your system has the minimum requirements look for further SAP documentation and go ahead. If not, you really should consider doing an upgrade because you are losing most of the value that SAP delivers at no additional cost for SAP customers, like SAP Screen Personas and SAPUI5.
In the last case, aim to build a separate sandbox to showcase the business and technical value of SAP Screen Personas to the relevant stakeholders inside your company. Let me know if you need some help on how to do that.
Sometimes you will not find immediate support inside your organization, but in this case, all you need to do is to find a way to showcase the value of SAP Screen Personas to a credible business or tech leader.
I have been working in the last few weeks organizing and delivering some Personas Day events to help people finding ways of doing that. I am already hearing great feedbacks and I know of more companies beginning to use SAP Screen Personas.
As an SAP Screen Personas expert, I have helped people and companies to give the first steps with SAP Screen Personas and also to build successful scenarios with real business benefits. Let me know if you need ideas on how to do it in your particular situation.
Now, go on and take the first step! I am sure that in a few days you will be able to understand how SAP Screen Personas is a great tool to explore and improve the business improvement challenges and opportunities inside your organization.