If you want to get insights into what’s working and what’s not, nothing beats direct contact. I was reminded of this recently when I was involved in a S/4HANA Design Review for one of our Australian customers embarking on the second phase of their SAP S/4HANA journey. They were at that inflection point of moving from their first phase basic implementation of the Fiori launchpad with a few carefully selected apps to their second “modern UX” phase, i.e. as much Fiori coverage of their processes as possible.
It was a good reality check on my suspicions & considerable anecdotal evidence about how functional consultants are coping with the new UX. In some areas I was pleasantly surprised at the degree of progress, and in others my suspicions were confirmed such as where consultants are struggling, and what happens when there is no UX Lead in place yet. So the aim of this blog is to help redirect attention to the best resources for functional consultants.
Post the first go-live is always a good time to see what’s really happening in any project. Business users, process owners, and the project team who guide them all have a better understanding of what their SAP S/4HANA solution is about and the value that it brings. First selected innovations have been understood along with the potential for doing more. The organizational change management & technical teething issues of adjusting to a new solution have been worked through. The lessons learned have been built into the next phase. And often a new bunch of consultants has joined the project.
The most encouraging sign for me on at this recent SAP S/4HANA 1709 design review was how positive the whole team were about using SAP Fiori. Often for functional experts coming from a Business Suite background, understanding simplification, and giving up treasured bells and whistles of one size fits all GUI transactions can be something of a wrench. But in this case, the team had embraced the benefits of the more precise fit to role-based tasks, and had seen this reflected in the very positive response from their business users.
So, with thanks to a dedicated and highly commended team of functional consultants, here are a few recommendations for functional consultants around:
- Sorting out Myths and Misconceptions
- Selecting your apps
- Exploring apps in depth
- Understanding options for extending apps
- Play backs and advanced tips and tricks
Sorting out Myths and Misconceptions
When you are new to SAP S/4HANA and new to SAP Fiori getting a grasp on the vision of user experience and sorting out myths and misconceptions can be hard. There is so much information to sort through, absorb & think about. There were one obvious area of confusion where we heard the same question over and over again: “Is it Fiori first or Fiori only?”
This is a typical confusion over:
- The vision for SAP S/4HANA UX
- The difference between Fiori apps vs. classic apps provided with SAP S/4HANA
To put it simply:
- Yes S/4HANA UX is a mix of Fiori apps and classic apps
- Yes the intention is to increase Fiori coverage over time and we have seen that at each release from SAP S/4HANA 1511 (over 300 Fiori apps) through to 1809 (over 1250 Fiori apps)
- Classic apps are existing apps usually inherited from Business Suite and created using older technologies such as Web Dynpro for ABAP and SAP GUI for HTML
- Classic apps are used where Fiori apps do not yet cover all tasks in all processes
TIP: Remember also that the strategic priority of SAP S/4HANA is innovation. In other words the priority is to provide new innovations with additional business value, e.g the first Fiori app to provided in Sales and Distribution was Sales Order Fulfillment Issues and in SAP S/4HANA 1809 several Lines of Business have added Machine Learning Scenarios such as Quotation Conversion Rates.
For a deeper dive on this I recommend to any functional consultant is Fiori for S/4HANA – Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions to avoid – especially the first 5 points.
Selecting apps to fit your business process
I was also very happy to see how well the functional consultants had embraced the Fiori apps reference library as a source of truth for available Fiori apps and classic apps (Web Dynpro for ABAP, and SAP GUI for HTML). One even went so far as to call it a goldmine! What was working well for them in the Fiori apps reference library was:
- Using the main filters Fiori apps for S/4HANA and All apps for S/4HANA to distinguish between Fiori apps vs classic apps
- Using the sub filters by Line of Business and by Role to find apps relevant to their work stream and area
- Searching by name, e.g. Purchase Order to find all the Purchase Order apps
- Searching by SAP GUI transaction codes they knew from past Business Suite projects to find the closest Fiori app equivalent
- Using the App Documentation links to delve into the details of how each app worked
What they had missed were nearly all the available accelerators to make selecting suitable apps much easier.
Why use accelerators? Those consultants who searched only on names missed some of the most important apps. For example the procurement team searched on keywords such as Purchase, Requisition, Order, Quotation, Contract and Service. They found many useful apps such as Manage Purchase Orders and Monitor Purchase Contracts. But they missed the most innovative and arguably the most effective app in Procurement, i.e. the Procurement Overview Page. They simply didn’t think to search on the word Procurement.
There are 2 main accelerators for selecting apps that we recommend to most projects:
- the Fiori Apps Recommendation Report based on past usage
- and the Fiori Lighthouse scenarios as a discussion starter for future innovation desires
Selecting apps only based on past usage or what you know from Business Suite can result in missing some of the best new innovations of S/4HANA. However now that there are over 1250 Fiori apps available, trying to find the best new apps to use can be challenging. So the Fiori lighthouse scenarios is a concise deck to highlight some of the best of the best apps for selected core business roles and industries. The intention is to use the deck as a starting point for discussions with the business.
We also have a UX Virtual Bootcamp video explaining the Fiori Lighthouse scenarios deck further here which customers and partners can use to upskill.
TIP: Remember always when discussing innovations to consider the strategic priorities and appetite for change expressed by the executive level sponsor and your business stakeholders of your SAP S/4HANA project. You should never assume business users are change-averse or change-ready based on your personal preference or even your previous project experience. That said, where there is a clear need and a good fit it can be worth at least having a pros/cons discussion.
If you are fortunate enough to be on a SAP S/4HANA 1809 project you should also check out the What’s New Viewer for SAP S/4HANA 1809 and try searching on the keyword fiori.
Lastly don’t forget that many apps work in conjunction with other apps – e.g. they may have required reuse components, or seamless navigate to other apps via buttons or hyperlinks. So make sure you capture any related apps as well to support the end-to-end task of your business user as explained in Adding Related Apps in the Fiori Apps Library.
Exploring apps in depth
Another success story on project was using a sandpit system to explore the details of the apps further, and to understand the related configurations. For most Fiori apps technical activation is a relatively straightforward process, however some apps have additional functional configuration that need to be applied post activation, which is typically explained in the App Documentation. However we do have some areas that are more complex, and we sometimes see functional consultants stumble over. For this we recommend our wiki page:
There you will find sections for better understanding of how apps behave apps and for many of the apps that require some additional configuration, such as Where to find app-specific settings for Fiori apps.
Given that S/4HANA uses common Fiori floorplans, layouts and frameworks for similar business use cases, another fantastic resource for understanding app behaviours is the Fiori Design Guidelines – especially the section on Floorplans, Layouts and Frameworks. Here you can find information such as:
- Screenshots & other diagrams of the floorplan and important features
- Use case fit (when to use, when not to use)
- Main and optional structural elements
- Behaviour and interaction on different devices
- Personalization features
Understanding options for extending apps
What all of the functional consultants had missed was the many implicit and explicit options for extending Fiori apps. This was particularly disappointing as the many key user tools provided as part of SAP S/4HANA enable functional consultants to quickly make changes themselves instead of waiting on developers.
In the diagram below we have brief summary of the different approaches for Fiori, SAP GUI for HTML, and Web Dynpro for ABAP (WDA) apps. You can quickly see how in-app extensibility using Key User Tools is often your first go-to for making changes. Particularly if all you need to do is add, hide or rearrange a few fields in a Fiori app. In some cases you can even create whole new apps using the Key User Tools, such as new KPI tiles or reports.
Think of Key User Tools as Fiori apps and features that enable you to change other Fiori apps. These tools and the in-app extensibility capabilities themselves are part of the Cloud first thinking that is inherited from SAP S/4HANA Cloud. So you can find a good explanation of in-app extensibility in the SAP Extensibility Explorer for SAP S/4HANA Cloud
In the SAP S/4HANA documentation you can find these listed in the:
- Extensibility section of the General Functions for the Key User guide
- Analytics guide for embedded analytics specific tools
In SAP S/4HANA we find that of all the Key User Tools arguably the 3 most important are:
- Custom Fields and Logic – so you can add custom fields to both Fiori and classic apps at the same time, and control where they are available
- KPI Workspace – so you can adjust the thresholds, currency, drilldowns and other settings of analytical tiles and cards
- UI Adaptation at Runtime (RTA) – so you can add, remove, and/or rearrange fields, sections, and other content areas in specific apps
There are 3 business roles that contain the majority of Key User Tools. So you should check your UX lead or technical team have activated and assigned all of the apps belonging to the special Business Roles:
- Analytics Specialist
- Business Workflow Specialist.
You should also ask your technical team or UX Lead to:
- Assign the special Key User security role SAP_UI_FLEX_KEY_USER to you and your functional consultant colleagues. You can easily tell if this has been done because whenever you are in a Fiori app you will see an Adapt UI icon in your Me Area of the Fiori launchpad
- Set up Adaptation Transport Organization (ATO) in your sandpit and development systems. This is a simple step to control how transport requests will capture your changes.
- Assign the Fiori app Extensibility Inventory to themselves so that they can monitor and manage the transport of any changes made using the Key User Tools.
You can find out more about the specific tools and what’s possible on our wiki page:
Play backs and Advanced Tips and Tricks
On project, Fiori apps that were Smart Business KPIs and Analytical List Page apps were mentioned several times as getting particularly a particularly favourable response during business process playback sessions with business users. However the team missed a few of the minor features that can really add some excitement and interest to playbacks such as:
- Saving favourite selection variants and filters
- Adjusting the table display to suit your needs
- How export to spreadsheet works
- Why choosing a high contrast theme can make your working life easier – especially on devices
You can find out more about these common features seen in many apps in the Fiori Design Guidelines:
And there are many other great tips on making the most of your Fiori user experience in the
One clear problem on project was the lack of a User Experience Lead to take a holistic view of how all the elements of user experience would come together.
Nearly everything that was of central use or crossed over the boundaries of functional streams had been missed. No-one was looking at their S/4HANA solution from the point of view of the business user who logs in on day 1 of go live. This included design considerations, launchpad features, and common apps.
The project team understood the need for a UX lead, had planned to have a UX lead, & their UX lead was scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks. This is still common across projects – people with the requisite combination of mindset, design, and technical knowledge are still comparatively rare. So our current best advice is to look to grow people into this role. At the moment we are seeing these people coming from either a UX Design or a Mobile/UX development background.
You can help to advocate for this and to understand more about S/4HANA UX by looking at some of the short videos and accelerators at our UX for SAP S/4HANA Virtual Bootcamp.
Becoming a SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA guru
You’ll find much more on our SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA wiki
Brought to you by the S/4HANA RIG