At Yorkshire Water we have been using SAP Fiori Elements for the past 18 months as part of our S/4 HANA implementation. In this blog, I’ll talk about what we did and why, how it improved our business agility, and what the Yorkshire Water people think about their new apps.
Our SAP Fiori Elements project
In our old ECC System we made extensive use of the classic HR transactions (PA20, PA30, etc.). Whilst these are ok for experienced users, they aren’t user friendly for occasional users, so we wanted something that ‘just worked’. To address this, especially for new employees entering the workforce, we wanted to build nice-looking and intuitive Fiori analytical apps that ran with minimal clicks, allowing end-users to get the information they needed quickly. The apps would help HR professionals and line managers to act by exception rather than needing to trawl through long lists in Excel.
We started working with SAP Fiori Elements in March 2018 as part of our preparations for migrating to SAP S/4HANA. Our SAP S/4HANA go-live was planned for July 2019, so we spent around 3-4 months investigating and learning Fiori Elements along with other required technologies such as CDS (core data services) and OData (open standard for querying databases). We had one developer focusing on gaining knowledge of SAP Fiori Elements, with another focusing on CDS and OData. Much of our learning was by trial and error. More on that later.
Ultimately, we ended up building around 45 apps. These run from a set of 60 OData services, which include both basic and composite views that filter or aggregate information.
Screenshot with sample data showing the People Manager Analytics Dashboard delivered using the Overview Page template in SAP Fiori Elements
Once we figured out how to build SAP Fiori apps using SAP Fiori Elements, we showed some samples to our end-users and the overwhelming response was that they were really impressed with the speed, capability and end-user experience. We ended up building all our end-user HR analytics from our SAP S/4HANA system using SAP Fiori Elements. We built:
- Overview pages with cards for specific HR information for people managers and HR business partners
- Dashboards for specific HR topics such as compensation, workforce distribution, and diversity
- Business intelligence for gender pay gap (which we report to the government) and ethnicity pay gap (which we track internally to enforce equity in this area – planned to go live soon)
These pages give key metrics through simple and intuitive screens. They save lots of time over manually clicking through the classic transaction to search for information or preparing, distributing and reading Excel sheets. As we are running on SAP S/4HANA the reporting is all done in real time – no waiting for process chains to load overnight in to SAP BW. These new apps significantly reduce the workload of our dedicated HR Management Information team who used to compile this information in Excel. They can now spend more time on analysis and action, rather than just moving data around.
SAP Fiori Elements allows us to provide a consistent flow that people can follow through all our HR apps. Cards on Overview Pages allow our users to drill down from a high-level summary to the relevant list report or analytical list page. We make heavy use of both visual filter bars and traditional filters so people can find what they need with a minimum of clicks.
Screenshot with sample data showing workforce attrition rates delivered using the Analytical List Page template in SAP Fiori Elements
My biggest gripe about developing apps with SAP Fiori Elements was the documentation. The main documentation that defined what the user experience should look like was very well-defined. However, it was not clear how to achieve this look with SAP Fiori Elements – the technical documentation was very much a ‘work in progress’. This resulted in us trying many approaches to see what worked – with lots of failure and frustration. Eventually, we reached our goal, but the process was more painful than it needed to be. I learned at SAP TechEd that SAP are working on improving this and we have noticed improvements over the last few months.
Final thoughts about SAP Fiori Elements
SAP Fiori Elements is simple for us to use to rapidly develop analytical visualisations. We can build the apps we need quickly, and we don’t need a massive team of developers to achieve this. SAP Fiori Elements means all our apps look consistent and the underlying power of SAP S/4HANA makes most screens instantaneous. We are also able to deploy our apps rapidly to our users through the Fiori Launchpad.
Most important, the feedback from our end users is extremely positive. They save lots of time every day. They can just click on the SAP Fiori launchpad and immediately launch the new HR apps and have access to the information they need to do their jobs. We are now seeing other areas of the business asking how they can harness SAP Fiori Elements to visualise information they want to get out to end-users.
About Yorkshire Water
Yorkshire Water provides water and waste water services to the 5.4 million people who live and work in the Yorkshire region of the UK. We have around 3,500 employees, many of who are mobile, driving around to ensure we provide the reliable service that people expect, and maintaining our pipes to detect, repair, and prevent leaks. We have several hundred people managers, who are the primary users of the HR apps we have built using SAP Fiori Elements.
Recording of the SAP Fiori Elements session I attended at TechEd Barcelona: https://events.sap.com/teched/en/session/51557
More on Yorkshire Water: https://www.yorkshirewater.com/