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Creating value with user-driven design and development

400.000 hours. This is what Vestas is saving globally each year as a result of four new, user-centric mobile applications tailored to their business needs.

The result is absolutely astonishing. With this blog post, you are offered a deep dive into the process that helped Vestas utilize the SAP Cloud Platform to the fullest – and insight into how Vestas transformed their field service business by delivering real time SAP data straight into the hands of their technicians – using Trifork Smart Enterprise as their digital transformation partner.

“Our partnership with Trifork is essential for our ability to deliver user centric solutions, they act as an integral part of our team from early engagement hunting down new opportunities to automating operations and recording user stories. Together we promote a more exploratory culture across Vestas and deliver on our promise of rapid return on capital invested. It sounds easy but the scars on our back tell us that it takes determination too.”, says Troels Fleckenstein, VP of Global IT, Vestas.

Transforming the enterprise

With 80.000 wind turbines located across the globe, Vestas employ around 10.000 field service technicians to ensure proper service and maintenance of the turbines. Vestas and Trifork have tied together the tasks associated with monitoring, servicing and repairing thousands of advanced turbines all over the world in one, digital platform: ONE FieldService.

By means of Trifork’s in-depth Design Thinking methodology, tailored to fit mission critical SAP maintenance processes, Trifork facilitated a process for Vestas to identify and consolide the essential functions of 40+ IT-systems into one coherent and efficient portfolio of mobile apps that meets the needs and wants of the 10.000 global field service technicians in Vestas.

This user-centric approach to SAP app development has resulted in Vestas saving 400.000 hours annually through smoothened workflows as the app suite has been well received and actively used by Vestas’ end-users, the field service technicians.

The key to success is the methodology applied in the development process; a tailored Design Thinking process, which builds on the following principles:

  • a human-centered approach
  • radical collaboration
  • being mindful of the process

With their unwavering focus on the human-centered approach to software development and deep knowhow of SAP technologies and processes, Trifork Smart Enterprise has earned a partnership with SAP AppHaus Network, in which likeminded companies create true innovation.

There is plenty of reason to dive into the user-centric approach to software development. By speaking to just five users of any given application, it is possible to locate 80% of its maladies. Field research is more than an academic exercise – it is the tool for zooming in on what constitutes great user experience for the targeted end-users.

Stage 1: Field Research

Great user experience is created by understanding the needs and wants of the people who will be using the digital solutions. The starting point of the ONE FieldService was field research on a global scale: Trifork visited Romania, Germany, Canada and the US to walk a mile in the shoes of Vestas’ field service technicians. To uncover the full range of use patterns, Trifork interviewed field service technicians whose work is “by the book” as well as outliers to whom rules seldomly apply.

Stage 2: Problem Space

The field research added tremendous value to the next step of the process: The Problem Space. With global representatives from IT, business and the end-users present, Vestas started answering three central questions: 1) What problem are we solving? 2) For whom are we solving it? 3) What do we expect to gain if we solve it?

By understanding the daily routines connected to servicing giant wind turbines in remote places of the world through the conducted field research, the participants of the Problem Space workshops were able to qualify input up against relevant observations from the field research process when mapping out the total scope of the digital solutions – balancing feasibility, viability and desirability.

Stage 3: Solution Space

Before entering the Solution Space, Vestas and Trifork worked iteratively to draw up possible scenarios/solutions to solve the problems defined in the Problem Space.

Afterwards, the participants from the Problem Space were invited to join the Solution Space, in which the ideas and solutions were tested, reiterated and validated. The outcome of Solution Space was a roadmap that illustrated how to consolidate key functionalities of 42 applications into 4 digital solutions – all drawn up in a prioritized process model.

“The process can seem daunting and chaotic at times, but when you are at the end of a Solution Space workshop and people from both business, technology and users look at what they have created with a big smile on their face nodding in acknowledgement – you know that it worked”, says Martin Holm Nielsen, associate partner of Trifork Smart Enterprise.

Performance by Design

When designing mobility solutions, the perceived performance of the application is crucial. Patience quickly wears thin when using a digital solution – and even more so when it is a mobile solution. Performance was defined as a critical success factor for the Vestas app suite.

The result is highly intuitive apps with responsive interaction design. The users are constantly kept up to date on the progress made on fetching relevant data, given illustrations of the expected outcome or entertained by micro animations while waiting on processes to complete.

While field service technicians are solving their daily tasks, Vestas has ensured that they are looped in, well-informed – and that they are given absolutely no reason to give up on the digital solutions.

A Measurable Success

With the agile development approach applied by Vestas and Trifork, it was possible to launch the first app after only four months, enabling the team to showcase the business value of the approach early on in the project and thereby also achieve further positive momentum for the suite of apps on the roadmap.

With Vestas ONE FieldService, the way to success has been paved with record high user adoption, thanks to a user-centric design and development process. Furthermore, Vestas has been diligent in setting up success factors with every Service Business Unit to define the desired outcome of the digital solutions and subsequently follow up to measure the realized gains and continuously collect end user feedback.

A High Performing Mobile Platform

With the Vestas case, Trifork have created a modern high performing mobile platform that builds on SAP Plant Maintenance – offering real time replication of data to SAP Cloud Platform. Utilizing in-memory capabilities of SAP HANA, Vestas is able to deliver big amounts of data to mobile devices.

Hundreds of thousands of equipments are fetched directly from the cloud, making it possible to deliver data to the mobile solutions at high speed. Users subscribe to the data that are relevant to them and their daily tasks – and thereby reducing complexity and increasing user relevance and adoption. Real time monitoring with direct integration with 3rd party systems that monitor the turbines and their status puts turbine data in the hands of the service technicians working in the field.

SAP Cloud Platform mobile service (SCPms) allows for easy onboarding, push notifications and offline capabilities. In addition to the SCPms, Trifork Smart Enterprise has developed a custom framework for real time synchronization that makes it possible for time and business critical information to flow freely to the device. Based on WebSocket Client Server technology deployed on Cloud Foundry, we are able to monitor changes to the Hana database running in SAP Cloud.

The Vestas app suite is best practice native mobile development. It is not a hybrid solution to be used across platforms. It is a tailored, native app suite optimized for better performance and user experience on the iOS platform, mixing the SAP Fiori/Apple Human Interface Guidelines for the optimal user interface design.

Working with Vestas has allowed us to raise the bar on enterprise mobility, using the latest technologies on a rapidly growing platform with a global scope. From a tech perspective it has been a pleasure to work together with a highly skilled team making it possible to deliver a complete suite of business-critical apps”, says Michael Thøgersen, Associated Partner and Manager of the Mobile Development Team at Trifork Smart Enterprise.

Measuring Success & Our Learnings 

With Trifork’s approach to Research, Design Thinking and Agile Development, the project team was able to understand detailed aspects of Vestas’ business and optimize the user experiences to a level where the delivered software really makes sense on the job, and consequently gets adopted by the users.

One of the key learnings has been to always be mindful of the process, trust the team and keep pushing for excellence. Working in a multi-skilled team like this one can be challenging as people are very different in mindset and approach – but once the team gets past the first obstacles, sees the value in being and thinking differently as well as overcoming organizational boundaries they can accomplish amazing things. And when you think you have got everything right – stop and listen to the user again, because you probably didn’t J.

We know by heart and instinct that the user centric approach (which we share with so many likeminded partners and customers) is the right one and that it gives value. But it is truly fantastic to collaborate so closely with a customer who makes the full effort in proving that this statement is true by putting data and numbers on the business value of great user experience.

Watch the recent LinkedIn Live interview with Trifork and Vestas on the SAP Technology channel to learn more about how they empowered field service technicians with great mobile user experience.

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