Latest Update October 2020: Pages and Spaces are now released for SAP S/4HANA 2020 and higher releases. This makes the Pages design practice more robust – and also more important, especially for users with multiple roles who may have multiple spaces and pages.
Latest Update May 2020: Be aware of the new concepts of Pages and Spaces coming as part of SAP Fiori 3. This is already available with SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2005 and expected to become part of SAP S/4HANA 2020 AnyPremise later this year. References provided in the Outlook section at the end of the blog.
Or how to change your Fiori launchpad Home page User Experience from a “tiles everywhere” bathroom to a “focused workspace” dining table.
How do you meet the challenge of the scale of new User Experience that comes with SAP S/4HANA? The more SAP Fiori you give to your business users, the more SAP S/4HANA innovations they can consume. But you will only get the value of those innovations if you have good user adoption. You certainly do not want your new Intelligent Enterprise solution falling at the first hurdle, when a user first logs on and gets their first glimpse of the system. This is particularly true if you are using a showcase role approach where your first carefully targeted business roles are intended to motivate driving more value out of your SAP S/4HANA solution.
Good Home Page design is essential to set first impressions and first expectations with your business users. This is an example of the sort of Home Page you want to aim for to optimize user experience – clean, simple and well ordered. Everything is relevant and important to your business role.
My very first experience of the SAP Fiori launchpad Home Page in SAP S/4HANA was very different. I was sitting with one of our sales guys – let’s call him George – who was working on a demo using SAP S/4HANA 1511. By this time, I had a couple of years’ experience with SAP Fiori, so I was curious and a little perplexed to see how with trembling hand and eyes screwed up George clicked on the Login button. And then came the sudden realization of the problem of scale. There was an onslaught of tiles! Followed by a hopeless and despairing search to find the tile he actually wanted. No wonder George was afraid to even login. Take a moment to think – what was the real problem here and how do you avoid it?
Sascha Weninger gave a great talk “Deploying SAP Fiori at Scale” at SAP TechEd Las Vegas 2019 which explained the challenge and how Orica handled it. Sascha is part of the Orica project where they are deploying over 1400 apps on their SAP Fiori launchpad. The Orica team have put a lot of effort into optimizing their Fiori launchpad for performance. But even with their SAP Fiori launchpad optimized to run swiftly even in remote geographical locations, the problem of my too many tiles remain. To paraphrase Sascha “unless you have some kind of advanced Tetris skills, how can you focus when your Home page looks like a bathroom – tiles everywhere!”. You need a better plan.
Interestingly this was not a challenge we came across when using SAP Fiori with SAP Business Suite or Suite on HANA or SAP Cloud Platform or even SAP SuccessFactors, where SAP Fiori is used extensively. Most of these solutions only need to assign maybe 5-20 apps to most users so a focussed Home Page is easy to do. It was relatively easy to create something that matched the original intention of SAP Fiori as seen in the Red Dot awards or SAPPHIRE NOW, or as explained in SAP Fiori launchpad setting up the right environment.
This challenge was new in SAP S/4HANA. It is a challenge of scale of new User Experience.
You see even in SAP S/4HANA 1511, George had already around 150 tiles on his home page. To most of us in User Experience, that’s more than a little crazy. For most people that’s just a huge cognitive overload. Initially I put this down to early missteps – easily fixed with a little thought and some configuration. Surely, it’s obvious to anyone logging in that you don’t want to be flooded with apps?! Most of use phones and tablets and we are used to moving our favourites to the front page.
Except in the SAP S/4HANA RIG (Regional Implementation Group) we kept hearing complaints – usually in the form of performance such as “our launchpad takes a long time to load”. Then when we looked at the system, there was some poor user whose launchpad was jammed full of tiles. The worst case we found was one poor user who had 500 tiles on their Home page! How does this happen?
From our experiences with SAP S/4HANA customers so far, these are the common missteps that result in this kind of overloaded Home Page.
- Too many business roles assigned to the same user, especially in development environments to functional consultants
- “Everything on the home page” approach taken to custom roles
This is an example of the sort of Home Page you want to avoid – too many business roles assigned to one users, too many tiles trying to grab your attention, hard to pick out what is relevant to your most important tasks.
To be brutally fair, this was not assisted by the SAP delivered business roles. Many of the early business roles suffered from the same tendency to put too many apps on the Home Page in the hope that the user would pick out the most useful apps. Even within the trial systems for demo convenience we often provide grouped users with overloaded Home Pages. We have had to step back and think through this within SAP ourselves and come up with some best practices to point a better way further for role and app owners.
So how do you meet this challenge in a pragmatic way on your own SAP S/4HANA projects? As one of our moving to SAP S/4HANA customers stated in the SAP Coffee Corner podcast puts it, it’s about “presenting information in a way that drives you to do whatever you need to do”.
The good news is great Home Page design is already possible. However, it is clear that it doesn’t happen by accident.
Read on to get an idea of:
- What you need to include in your SAP S/4HANA project
- Some leading practices guidelines, based on SAP Fiori design intention and experiences across many customers
- Some practical strategies to improve your home page design, especially if you are coming to this a little late in your project.
All of these are based on experiences with real SAP Fiori and SAP S/4HANA customers. They have been discussed with SAP Fiori design leadership to understand the design intention and to consider the early possibilities and outlook as more of the SAP Fiori 3 design vision comes into play.
Within SAP our business role owners are also looking to follow many of these particularly with new business roles, and where possible to remediate old business roles. Why are we not just reworking all the old business roles as well? There are additional business challenges with introducing changes to a working system where users have already started to personalized their apps. So you definitely want to tackle good Home Page design from your first SAP S/4HANA project.
Building Good Page Design into your SAP S/4HANA Project
Providing a good Home Page at go-live doesn’t happen by accident. You need to plan it into your project.
You need to include these project activities:
- Establish your User Experience Strategy up front to guide your Home Page design
- Design and implement your Home Page
- Prepare your business users for the changes
As of SAP S/4HANA 2020 you can now use both Spaces and Pages to better organize your pages for multiple roles. This gives more possibilities and also means you need to consider naming conventions and consistency across business roles.
For example – you might have a Space per Business Role, and use Page to represent different high level processes that business role participates in. This is an area where best practices are still evolving so discuss this with your business stakeholders!
Your User Experience Strategy guides your Home Page design
This is the domain of your User Experience expert, UX Lead or UX Architect – whatever you call them on your project – and it needs to be done very early in the project. This will set the expectation with all of the functional and technical teams around what to expect and what they can use.
For the Home Page these are key decisions to include in your strategy:
- Confirm the scope impact of your project, which business users will be impacted and to what degree
- Decide on your business role granularity
- Decide at a high level which shared launchpad features will be used as part of the User Experience, e.g. SAP Fiori Search, Notifications, and Personalization options
- Decide the entry point per business role – will everyone use Fiori launchpad via the Web Browser, or will some use the SAP Business Client Launchpad Connection option
If you have users with existing SAP knowledge, you may also want to decide early if you will make the SAP Easy Access Menu and SAP Menu available in the App Finder.
You will need to understand what options are available to you for configuring the home page on your SAP S/4HANA release. It’s always worth checking with the SAP Fiori launchpad guide for your SAP S/4HANA release:
- What optional features are available in the SAP Fiori launchpad that will smooth the User Experience, e.g. “show one group at a time” (tabs) mode, GUI inplace mode
- What exactly can be shown on tiles and links – and with in future SAP Fiori 3 you may need to consider Cards as well
- What tools and best practice guidelines are available for configuring launchpad content
You also need to make sure your functional teams and organizational change management teams in particular are enabled in shared SAP Fiori launchpad features, so they can use them in their designs.
Designing and implementing your Home Page
While your User Experience expert will provide some input and guidance, in most cases this will need to involve your functional teams to add their business process perspective to the following activities:
- Design your home page approach per business role, preferably with a few carefully selected business users if you can
- Walk through your Home Page design with more users to get feedback and iterate as needed
- Walk through your Home Page with your organizational change management team so they understand how this will work, and can prepare the rest of the business user community
- Implement your Home Page, using the available tools and launchpad configuration options
Design doesn’t need to be exhaustive. You are aiming at a good enough for day one go-live experience, and then let the users personalize from there. With one of our Public Sector customers we ran a series of 1 hour workshops with different sets of business users using post-it notes to represent each app, and separate boards for the Home Page and App Finder.
You will need to adjust the effort to your scope. One of our Utilities customers who was doing a large digital transformation had a single dedicated designer to work through Home Page design for 60 business roles in around eight weeks.
Ideally you want Home Page design to happen as early as you can. Logically the earliest time is towards the end of your Explore phase or fit-gap analysis when you already have a reasonable idea of:
- Which processes and tasks are relevant to which business roles
- Which apps will be assigned to which business roles
- Which shared launchpad features will be used to support completing tasks efficiently
That will give you enough information to consider what is an appropriate app to app navigation flow as business users complete their tasks.
Preparing your business users
Preparing your business users depends on your approach to organizational change management. There is no one right way to prepare users.
Many customers use different approaches to training their business users. Some have formal training plans, some do short workshops, some provide dedicated e-learning, and some provide no training at all – relying on the in-app help to cover the gap.
Naturally explaining the why of the change and being able to articulate benefits of the change to them and to the company is important.
A primary consideration in deciding on your preparation approach is whether your existing business users are:
- New to SAP – so everything is change anyway
- Used to SAP, and currently use SAP Logon as an entry point
- Used to SAP, and currently use SAP Business Client as an entry point
- Used to SAP, and currently use SAP Enterprise Portal as an entry point
- Experienced with apps on web browsers
- Experienced with apps on mobile devices
Leading practices for a better Home Page design
A big of part getting to a good home page design is making the most of the SAP Fiori insight to action approach that powers SAP S/4HANA as explained in Understanding insight to action app to app navigation. This is the starting point for understanding why you do not need every tile shown as an app or link on your home page. You only need the entry points.
What you are aiming for a is a focused workspace. Think of it more as a dining table experience.
Do you set your dining table with every plate, every bowl, every cup, every platter, every wine glass, every fork, every knife, every spoon, every pair of chopsticks, every condiment jar and then try to eat your meal? Of course not! There would nowhere left to eat.
Or do you put only what you need so you can focus on your meal, your family and friends?
Well yes of course you do – less is more!
So our recommended leading practices are:
- Keep the home page slim, focusing on what is really essential for the user
- The home page requires a clear structure following business criteria (not technical criteria)
- Focus the home page on how the user understands their role
- Focus the home page on the entry points for the user’s most important/urgent tasks
- To minimize scrolling, aim for approx. 5 groups and a maximum of 64 (8×8) tiles in total across all groups for most users
- For users who are assigned to multiple roles, consider defaulting Home Page mode to show one group at a time
- Remember there is rarely one size fits all! Personalization enables the user to optimize the home page for their personal productivity
Tip: Naming and terminology used on your tiles does matter, even with a user with only a few tiles. At one site, when we went back and asked a business user what they were using, they told us they were only using two of the tiles. Why? Most of the names on the tile didn’t make sense to them. They didn’t understand what the tile was for, so they never clicked on it. They had a job to do – they didn’t have time for detective work.
Practical strategies for improving home page design
If your current existing Home Page design, nearly any improvement will help user adoption and personal productivity. So here are a few techniques to consider how to get from an overcrowded home page design to a slim home page.
Focus on Insight to Action entry points
For example, use one of the over 50 delivered Overview Pages to see the insights, as show in Overview Pages in SAP S/4HANA – a good place to start. Then navigate to other apps to act at the point of insight as already explained in Understanding insight to action app to app navigation. You can tailor this navigation to your own requirements as explained in Adjusting insight to action app to app navigation.
Replace Create/Read/Update/Delete (CRUD) tiles or links with central dashboard apps
Replace multiple tiles for the same business object with a single tile to a central dashboard for all actions on a business object.
Not only do you reduce the number of tiles on the Home Page, using dashboards makes it easier for business users to find and prioritize their workload, using the filters and additional information displayed.
There are a lot of apps with the Manage, Monitor, or Worklist in the name that can act as central dashboards for acting on business objects.
For example instead of having multiple tiles for purchase order:
Create Purchase Order, Change Purchase Order, Display Purchase Order, Release Purchase Order, Print Purchase Order
Replace these with a single tile to a dashboard app such as:
Limit Smart Business KPI tiles visible on the home page to those of real interest to the user
Too many KPIs can be distracting. Focus on KPIs that:
- Support primary immediate job goals/aims – e.g. maximize throughput, minimize spend
- Support career aspirations & promotion opportunities – e.g. be the best Purchaser to grow to a Strategic Buyer position
- Minimize negative career consequences – e.g. My Inbox approvals outstanding, stay within budget
Remove Display tiles or links in favour of Fiori Search
Where business objects are searchable by Fiori Search (i.e. Enterprise Search), Fiori Search is usually a better answer for your business users than a link to a display transaction.
Instead of having to know the exact business object id, they can search on reference, partial reference and wildcards.
The search results give a summary of resulting objects for quick identification.
Some business objects even provide quick filters to help identify the correct object quickly.
From the search results list, users can expand or drill down on the results to display more details.
They can also access any of the apps related to that business object, so there is no need to return to the Home Page.
Replace less important static tiles with links
Where there is no dynamic data shown on the tile, and the tile is not an important or urgent task, changing a static tile to a link provides a significant saving in space and mental overload, without impacting performance.
You can do this in the Launchpad Designer by editing the Tile Group to change entries from tiles to links.
Tip: Business users can also personalize this in Edit Home Page using the Convert Tile to Link option.
Outlook – Pages and Spaces in SAP Fiori 3
With SAP Fiori 3 the new concepts of Pages and Spaces will add greater flexibility.
Pages and Spaces are already available in SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2005 and are expected to be made available for SAP S/4HANA AnyPremise and SAP Cloud Platform in late 2020.
Reference the following blogs to understand how this will work.
Becoming a SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA guru
In the comments please let us know your thoughts on Home Page Design.
What strategies or practices you have found that work at your site?
What has been the response of your users?
You’ll find much more on our SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA wiki
Brought to you by the S/4HANA RIG