Situation Handling is a framework that automatically detects, tracks, and informs you about issues in your business. These issues require the attention of specified users. Situation Handling proactively notifies them. (For a detailed introduction to Situation Handling see the our blog post series)
This flexible framework is adaptable to different business areas inside the SAP ERP solution. From the perspective of professional User Experience this brings specific challenges: maximum flexibility paired with strict consistency. A situation instance needs to be recognizable for users in a variety of different use cases. As we know every use case is special. Read my blog post to see how Situation Handling framework bridged this gap and created a harmonized and seamless user experience when dealing with situations.
So that you can fully understand the challenge, let me give you a brief overview of the data structures processed by ERP systems. There are 3 main data categories:
- Business object data, such as invoices, sales orders, production materials, and so on
- Transactional data, such as postings and sales transactions
- Analytical data, such as payment behavior per customer and credit limit per customer
All the 3 data categories have deep interdependencies and are constantly updated and changing. An ERP UX Design System doesn’t only have to master the challenge to bring the ERP information to users, but it is expected to display complex contents in a simple and easy way, with minimal training effort, low click-rates, all within accessibility standards, etc. The SAP Fiori design system masters these challenges by using an understandable repeating pattern language with an easy information design to enable different business domain users to interact with SAP systems in a simple way.
The Situation Handling UX works along the SAP Fiori design system. The goal of Situation Handling UX is to be as close as possible to the business domain user interfaces. This was done by inheriting Fiori Design key concepts and integrating changes only when really needed. Building on the main Fiori UX Design pillars, Situation Handling UX generates a seamless and intuitive experience for all users.
The 2 following examples show you how this works. Both examples are ‘hidden’ when you work in a business user role with Situation Handling. You’ll never notice the pre-structural thought efforts spent on these concepts in order to come up with a seamless, harmonized, and intuitive UX experience.
The first example is about the progressive disclosure of the situation content, the second example shows Situation Handling’s navigation.
Progressive disclosure is the incremental information enrichment of user interfaces. Key trigger for more information is typically on user–click–event. In simple it works out like an intuitive drill-down chain. Exposing on user request more and more information until the most granular information level is reached (see picture 1: Progressive Disclosure inside Situation Handling).
In picture 1 we paralleled as analogy clothing sizes from Extra Small (‘XS’ – left) to Large (‘L’ – right). An example story guides you through the levels:
Starting at XS (indicator only). If this indicator is shown on the UI next to a business object (for example, a sales order), it points the users towards additional available information. Showing a list of sales orders where several have this indicator, clicking on it launches the Popover (level M). The situation title and situation description are displayed as key content in the popover. By exposing the user only to key identifiers of the situation, the full situation context is intentionally hidden. This keeps the user in a browsing and information collection mode. It is the user’s decision now, with the next click on ‘Show Details’ to display the full situation context and to get involved into the complete situation issue (Level ‘L’ – Situation Page) or to stay on the Sales Order list or Sales Order Object Page. In this case users are not clicking in the PopUp and continue to explore other listed Sales Orders.
By leveraging the Fiori Design System with its native available icons, notifications, popups etc. Situation Handling is intuitively using the available user interface environment, it leverages the available SAP Fiori controls in order to enrich the UI with the additional situation information context.
The Situation Handling navigation has as central navigation end point and gravity center, the situation page (the situation page is a glimpse into the next UX evolution for upcoming Situation Handling releases). The situation page shows the user the detected situation in close detail and offers the current situation context, solution proposals and/or navigation targets to solution Actions. All navigation pathways of Situation Handling have as final target the situation page. This targeting towards a single key point, makes the navigation streamlined and easy.
If you look at the navigation schema of picture 2 you can see this simplicity in all 3 possible navigation variations:
- The first line shows the navigation from a notification (S) directly into the situation page (L).
- The second line demonstrates the navigation path when you come from the SAP Fiori app “My Situations”. It lists all available situations for this user. A click on a single situation list item (S) guides you to the situation page (L).
- The third and last line shows how situations are merging inside an object page of a business object (XS, S, M) and guides users finally through the progressive disclosure towards the situation page (L).
As you notice, the progressive disclosure and navigation work hand in hand. Using seamless UX add-ons (indicator-XS, notification-S, popup-M), the concept can merge with great flexibility into completely different business domains. Even the situation page (L) will displays mainly business domain specific information and creates value for the business user.
Situation Handling profits strongly from a pre-planned value enhancing UX system. The ‘alerting’ character of a situation is mirrored into the UX concepts. For each triggered situation a notification is created. In case of situations configured without notifications, only the respective business object receives the SItuation Instance. Important is that progressive disclosure and navigation were jointly created. The goal to work seamless within many different business domains has been achieved. Small but well placed “add-ons” to the SAP Fiori design system created a framework working in many contexts in harmoniszed and well integrated way.