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How to get the Fiori App you need! Lessons from our experience

 

Introduction  

Ever since the introduction of Fiori, at ConvergentIS we have been working with several customers on improving their user experience while optimizing the ROI (Return on Investment). In this blog, we aim to consolidate our learnings to guide SAP customers on the options they have while approaching the goal of improving their users’ experience. 

Whenever you do not find a Fiori app that meets your requirements, it can be tempting to jump into custom developing a Fiori app. However, this can be a very expensive approach. Before jumping to the conclusion that meeting your business requirements needs custom development, we considered some of the questions you can ask to find the other cost-effective alternatives. These questions are based on frugal innovation, which is a concept we strongly believe in and aims to optimize the return on investments. 

Instead of comparing all your options side-by-side, answering yes or no to a couple of common questions will give some more guidance to a seemingly complex task. To do so, we encourage you to review the simple guidance framework for improving user experience (pictured above) and use this blog post as a guide. 

So, letget started on this journey! 

Available Out of the Box Fiori Offerings 

Implementing out-of-the-box SAP Fiori apps might seem like common practice to get started. You can look at SAP Fiori Apps Reference Library to find all the current SAP delivered Fiori apps. But finding the right app is just the beginningDetermining whether your systems have all the prerequisites expected by the identified application is a complex processHere, you can even get Fiori app recommendations specific to your system versions by connecting the SAP Fiori App Reference library to your systems.  

Note that SAP provides automation tools for activating the out-of-the-box SAP Fiori Apps within S/4HANA. Please refer to SAP Note 2947824 for more details on how to use these tools.  

If you are upgrading from SAP Business Suite into S/4HANA, SAP Fiori Lighthouse Scenarios’ provides a list of business processes and the corresponding SAP Fiori apps that provide immediate business benefit to the users.  

There can also be a scenario where you find a Fiori app that meets most of your requirements but needs minor enhancements. In this case, you can choose to extend the SAP provided Fiori apps using the supported extension points as specified in the SAP Fiori App Reference library. 

So, what if you did not find the right SAP Fiori App that meets your requirements? Time to look at the App Center 

App Center – Partner developed, SAP validated, applications 

Where SAP Fiori apps built by SAP aren’t an option, your business can move to the second question in the diagram, “Is there an app on the App Center that fits these requirements?” SAP App Center is a digital market place of partner-built solution(like ours!) that have been validated by SAP and can be easily extended onto existing SAP technology and solutions. It is likely that if there is nothing in the SAP Fiori App Reference Library, you can look for a partner app. Partner apps can be found on the App Center or through a quick search on Google. Note that App Center is not an exclusive collection of SAP Fiori apps, rather it contains wide variety of partnerbuilt solutions including hardware, platforms, applications, APIs, and others. 

If you can find a match for your business needs in any of these SAP validated appsit can be a real-time, cost, and resource saver and provide your business with a  good return on investment. Just like out-of-the-box SAP delivered Fiori apps, you may find an opportunity to modify and enhance an existing App Center applications if small changes can meet your requirements. You can use the SAP Fiori App Reference Library for finding all the supported enhancement options for the app. Moreover, you can explore in-app extensions and app personalization to see if those can meet your requirements.

So, what if you did not find a partnerdeveloped application to meet your requirements? Should you go for custom development? Not yet! Let’s go to the next step. Co-innovation! 

 

Opportunities to Co-innovate  

If your searches on App Center and Google are unsuccessful, your team can ask the third question, “will the solution be widely used?” If the problem is facing two or three people in your company, it might not make sense to make large investments to create something custom. In this case, creating a cheat sheet or supporting these users with additional training will likely be sufficient. This way, your team has the proper guidance to use the solution and doesn’t require big upfront investments that may never result in a positive return on investment. 

Alternatively, you might have hundreds or thousands of people plagued with a difficult process. In this case, it is also important you answer, “Is this problem common to other SAP customers, or is it just a problem my business faces?” It is important to ask this because common problems are opportunities to co-innovate with an SAP AppHaus partner. 

In a co-innovation scenario, you get an SAP partner to develop a custom SAP Fiori app for you while absorbing a part of the expenses involved. The SAP Partner gets to keep the intellectual property rights of the app as a return for its investmentThis is a win-win situation both for the SAP customer and the SAP partner so solutions to a business problem can be leveraged and reused wherever possible. 

In summary, by helping to develop a solution that fits your business, savings can be realized if the solution can be packaged and shared with other SAP customers. Additional benefits include automatic product updates and receiving a more custom solution at a fraction of the cost. 

 

SAP Personas 

Taking one step back, you might have answered “no” when asked if the problem your business faces is common to other SAP customers. In this case, co-innovating may be less plausible. Rather than fear the big price tag that comes with starting from scratch, you can answer the next question suggested, “is the problem simple?” Are there little fixes that will make the solution more user-friendly, such as hiding a field or suggesting the next step in the process? If so, you can then ask, “is your current solution based on SAP GUI or Web Dynpro ABAP?” 

If your requirements are very limited, small, and almost achieved by simplifying an existing SAP Transaction Code or a WebDynpro application, SAP Screen Personas might come to your rescue.  

SAP Screen Personas provides you a tool to simplify, personalize, and transform the traditional SAP GUI and WebDynpro into SAP Fiori screens. These are mobile compatiblehave a Fiori theme, and are integrated into Fiori Launchpad, offering a complete Fiori experience at a fraction of the cost of a full Fiori solution.  

Using SAP Screen Personas, you create a flavor, which is a layer above the SAP GUI and WebDynpro screens providing the required simplification and transformations. SAP Screen Personas Gallery is a collection of both SAP and Partner built screen persona flavors which you can use to jumpstart your flavor building exercise.  

Custom Building Fiori applications 

Now that we have explored all the alternatives, if you think that none of those options meet your requirements, you may consider building a Fiori app from scratch. This can seem like an expensive endeavor, but we have found that getting the right design can go in a long way in realizing the return on investment. 

SAP strongly recommends using the Design Thinking Methodology, a user-centered approach to design your Fiori applications. You may make use of SAP AppHaus spaces to design your applications and ensure that the investment in custom building the Fiori app will deliver results. 

Summary 

We have been using this guided approach to solve our customers’ user experience problems for years and have found it extremely helpful in making those projects successfulWe hope that after reviewing this simple guidance process, you are confident in making the right decisions to improve the user experience for your department. 

Thanks to my colleagues Sarah Kordyban and Jodie Masikewich for your help in writing this blog.

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6 Comments
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  • Thanks for sharing your method with the community.

    Just one question, do you see your customers doing Fiori during an S/4 HANA project or as a follow-up project and in the roadmap?

    • Hi Warren,

      In the SAP S/4HANA RIG we shepherd many 100s of projects via the Customer Care program.

      While some projects defer SAP Fiori to after go-live in our experience this is typically where you will get many vocal complaints from the business that the conversion to SAP S/4HANA has not added any new business value.

      As soon as you do even a little SAP Fiori (e.g. pick one business role / group of users) complaints about no new business value go away, because you then have something the business can touch and feel to see that there is something new.  From there you can stage your continuous improvement roadmap however you like.

      It’s also worth knowing that quite a lot of configuration is now in SAP Fiori itself – as explained in Yes you need SAP Fiori to configure, adapt, and extend SAP S/4HANA.

      More and more customers come to us understanding that SAP Fiori is a must-do and then the question is how to pace it to suit them.

      We would recommend as a minimum:

      • Get your SAP Fiori architecture in place
        • Without architecture your continuous improvement roadmap will not happen – this is the situation for several of the early customers who were on 1511 and 1610. They were stuck with few options to move until they upgraded to a later release (I had this personally for one of my own customers this year who upgraded from 1511 to 1909)
      • Get skilled up and get a showcase in place
        • Even if it’s only in sandpit or development
      • Understand that you may need to at least turn on the Foundation and configure/adapt/extend roles in development
        • depending on your scenarios but the configuration covers some broad areas

      If you can lead with at least one business role/ one group of users to build your showcase in your production environment this is obviously far more powerful and sends a much stronger message to the business about your intentions.

      A showcase does not need to be substantial… even one of our tiny customers in New Zealand led with a set of only 12 apps for a specific group of users.  These were users who typically hated working in GUI, and they loved it. In fact the feedback was “This is so much easier than SAP” (sic) ! This customer spoke at our public APJ SAP UX monthly webinar in October, and now they are already rolling out the next set of apps to the next group of users.

      We also get the other end of the spectrum – one of my other customers went live with more than 400 SAP Fiori (SAPUI5) apps and nearly 1500 tiles on the launchpad.  But that takes more effort and more skills of course.

      From what I see since we reached 1809 with over 1K apps there was a real shift and it’s now increasingly rare for customers to even be interested in starting without SAP Fiori. SAP Fiori is really the simplest way to show new business value (rather than just change due to simplifications). And that helps you keep your stakeholders and sponsors happy.  With SAP S/4HANA 2020 we currently have more than 2K apps to choose from …. so it’s really more a case of where do you want to start.

      I’d also be very interested to hear Krishna’s experiences.

    • Thanks, Warren for your comments. As I have seen, during S/4HANA implementation, customers are interested in getting as much from SAP provided out-of-the-box Fiori solutions. Though SAP provides a lot of Fiori apps, customers need time to evaluate and see if those apps really meet their requirements. For example, consider the app ‘Create Purchase Requisition’. By the name, it sounds like it should meet all your requirements for creating a PR. But we have seen that every customer has unique needs in purchasing and business needs time to figure out if this app meets all their requirements. So usually during the S/4HANA project clients go ahead with what SAP provides out of the box. If such an app is not usable (due to some important functionality missing), they just go the WebGUI/Personas way to meet their requirements quickly. After the implementation, each department comes up with its requirements and float small projects to get the user experience they need. I have seen this working well.

      • This leads me into a new question.  Say as per a Greenfields Implementation that you will offer a Screen Personas way forward and not necessarily reverting to the old SAPGui?

        I just see SO MANY Greenfields projects using SAPGui as the UX / UI solution.   I do fully agree with Jocelyn’s opinion that she gave.  I have also discovered an Australia company that moved to S/4 HANA as a Greenfields Implemenation is also using the SAPGui as well.

  • HI Krishna, It’s a nice summary and I largely agree with your flow – it’s good to see partner apps and Screen Personas highlighted as alternatives as many customers miss these.

    I feel perhaps what is missing from the flow is that when you assess the SAP Fiori app it’s important to also look at the in-app extension and personalization options before you reach for alternatives.

    For some apps I have looked at there were up to 128 additional fields available via UI Adaptation for a single app alone. In SAP S/4HANA 1909 and 2020 you can also edit/add/hide/resize cards in an Overview Page, remove/reorder buttons and even default preferred links in List Reports and Analytical List Pages, and Object Pages you have a very wide capability there now.

    That’s not including the often wide array of changes that can be defaulted using Smart Filter, Smart Table, and Smart Chart variant management settings, which can be created as public variants to be share with other users.

    So I would suggest it’s helpful to at least do your fit-gap analysis with your UI Adaptation and Personalization “on behalf of other users” options open so you can see the full breadth of the app before reaching for other options.

    For your consideration

    Kind rgds

    Jocelyn