Recommendation for Structuring Roles, Spaces and Pages in the SAP Fiori Launchpad Based on Common User Behaviors
*** Updated 19th November 2021: With SAP Fiori front-end server 2021 for S/4HANA (SAP FES 2021) and cloud products like e.g. SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2108 or SAP Launchpad service, SAP delivered new features for spaces and pages. This leads to some changes on the recommendations. In the text below you will find the differences outlined between previous releases and SAP FES 2021 or cloud products.
Spaces and pages in the SAP Fiori launchpad have been available for quite some time now. To help you define them, we have put together a set of recommendations. They are based on our research across many customers on how users typically use the launchpad and how they usually search and access content.
The main idea behind spaces and pages is to allow users to consume the content of the launchpad in an easier and more structured way. For new users in particular, the benefit of a good default layout of spaces and pages is that they can quickly get an overview of the main apps which are relevant for their work context.
On top of that, if the pages are designed together with the business team, this encourages user adoption. The reason for this is that all users in the team understand the value of using the same pages for accessing their main work activities, and the business intention behind each page.
In addition to navigating within the spaces and pages, users can browse and access additional content via search, the “All My Apps” menu or the App Finder.
From all those options which are available for accessing additional content, we learned that search is the approach which is used the most frequently.
Accessing additional content is particularly useful for expert users who may have access to additional apps they use to resolve exceptional business situations. And here is our first recommendation.
Recommendation: Make Use of a Good Naming Convention for Business Catalogs
A good naming convention for business catalogs aids discovery of additional content in the default Catalog tab of the App Finder and the “All My Apps” menu, accessed via the Home navigation button (as shown in the following screenshot). Business catalogs act as sub-collections of related apps within a business role and can be seen in the left-hand pane of the Catalog tab in the App Finder and the “All My Apps” menu.
Recommendation: Offer a “Favorites” Page
From surveying customers currently using the classic home page we learned that many users like to personalize which apps they wanted to see on their start page – they typically define their own My Home group containing all their favorites. This leads to the following recommendation:
SAP FES 2021 and cloud products as e.g. SAP S/4HANA Cloud or SAP Launchpad service
With SAP FES 2021 and current cloud product versions, the launchpad offers a My Home space, where the user can add their favorites to. This space is always displayed as the very first space in the space menu. To learn more about this feature, please have a look at the blog post SAP Fiori 3: What’s new with SAP S/4HANA 2021 (on-premise) in the paragraph A My Home space giving users their own personal start page. You will also find a video there, showing the feature in action.
SAP FES 2020
With SAP FES 2020, the My Home space is not yet available. This is how you can achieve a “Favorites” page for your users instead: Give each user a dedicated “Favorites” space with one empty page as their start page. This will allow them to create their own entry page, showing their favorite apps. If they want, they can group these into sections, too. This is helpful for all users, and in addition, makes it easier for users familiar with the classic home page to move to spaces.
In order to make this “Favorites” page their start page, put the space to which it belongs at the very beginning of the space menu. The spaces are ordered via their space IDs, and by making use of this knowledge you can define the ID of the “Favorites” space so that this space will be displayed at the very beginning. The SAP Note SAP Fiori Spaces: How to sort spaces via technical keys explains this in detail.
Even though it is possible to actively search for specific content via search or also via the integrated search capabilities in the App Finder, browsing and finding content is a cumbersome endeavor if there is too much of it. It is even more laborious if you need to do this for apps you use every day or even every week. This leads us to our next recommendation.
Recommendation: Limit the Number of Business Roles per User
Keep in mind that users need a way to browse their content efficiently. The spaces approach is designed so that each user receives a space for each of their roles, giving them access to the most important applications needed for their work in that role. A large number of roles leads to a large number of spaces with a correspondingly large number of apps overall, which will be difficult to browse through.
From a user’s perspective, 1 to 5 roles are ideal. For new users, a space for their main business role, and a space for Employee Services or Manager Services has been proven to work well for some customers we surveyed. You can add more roles as their knowledge grows or their working needs change.
For business experts with a lot of roles and needing many apps, putting all the content from those business roles on spaces and pages is not beneficial for the users. Too many pages and tiles are overwhelming and make for a lot of visual “noise”. So, the spaces and pages for each role should focus on the major activities for the role.
Recommendation: Provide Well-Structured Spaces and Pages
These are the best practices for structuring spaces and pages:
- 1 space per role
- 1-5 pages per space
- 2-5 sections per page
- 3-7 apps per section, but ideally not more than 25 apps for the whole page
When adding apps to pages, you should only provide the most important or frequently used apps for the role at hand. Remember that providing spaces and pages to your users should support them in easily finding and accessing their most important content for the roles to which they have been assigned.
Recommendation: Consider Performance
A lean launchpad is easier to navigate, and quicker to load. This is especially true for supervisor and managerial roles, where you are most likely to include dynamic data tiles such as Smart Business KPIs on your page. A few well-chosen KPIs help your managers focus on maintaining key thresholds. For example, keeping within their allocated budget, or reaching sales revenue targets. Each KPI comes at a small performance cost of an additional call to retrieve current KPI data, which quickly sums up to a high workload on the servers. So, while useful and while this data is temporarily cached to minimize these data calls, the number of dynamic data tiles should be kept to the essentials.
The guidelines outlined above, to give users a small number of business roles, is based on learnings from many customers: most users actually only use a very small number of applications, and generally never need access to a large number of applications. The spaces approach has been built based on this understanding.
In an SAP FES 2020 implementation, the time to load a page depends on the total number of applications – including both SAP Fiori apps and classic User Interfaces – assigned to a user via launchpad catalogs, i.e. the total number of applications that can be selected in the Catalogs tab of the App Finder, via search, or via the “All My Apps” menu. Therefore, you should limit the total number of applications assigned.
Be aware that the total number of applications assigned is independent of the number of tiles available to the user on pages. As a general guideline, the number of tiles available on pages is expected to be a subset of the total number of applications available in the Catalogs tab of the App Finder, search, and the “All My Apps” menu.
In SAP FES 2021, the time to load a page does not depend on the total number of applications assigned to a user via launchpad catalogs anymore.
If there is a need to assign a very high number of applications, a user can be given access to classic User Interfaces via the classic SAP Menu and User Menu in the App Finder as well. This is a further option in an on-premise or Private Cloud Edition system.
Recommendation: Take a User-Centric Approach to Testing
When testing, test from a user-centric view. That is, create test users that mimic how your solution will be deployed to real-world users.
For example, you could take a sample user who is a Purchaser who also needs to access some Employee Services and create a test user that mimics how the solution will be deployed to them. While you may not have the capacity to do this for every business role, you should consider doing this as a minimum for your most important business roles where high user adoption is critical to achieving strategic business outcomes.
This user-centric testing approach has several major advantages:
- You can confirm how your solution will appear to real users, including the launchpad layout and launchpad features
- You can verify that users will be able to access all the content they need
- You can verify authorizations that users will need to access their applications
- You can verify app and launchpad features that depend on specific user authorizations, for example:
- which cards appear in an Overview Page
- which links appear in a Smart Link dialog
- which apps are listed in a Related Apps button
- which buttons appear in a List Report
- which business objects appear in search
- You get a realistic assessment of performance under real-world conditions, which can help you focus any mitigation efforts
- You can use your test user(s) for walkthroughs and other user communications to encourage user adoption and gain acceptance from your business stakeholders and project sponsors.
You should avoid creating mega-users that are assigned to every application possible, or even to every application in a specific Line of Business. To a technical person, using mega-users may superficially seem a convenient approach to test everything, equivalent to “SAP_ALL” users common in many SAP Business Suite projects. In practice, the mega-user approach brings many distractions that complicate your project significantly, such as:
- Navigation confusion – a bewildering array of tiles and links
- Authorization confusion – segregation of duties issues causing unnecessary concern for auditors and regulators
- Feature confusion – far more features showing than expected causing unnecessary authorizations rework
- Unrealistic performance issues – slow launchpad loading times
These distractions typically result in a lot of unnecessary diagnosis and troubleshooting efforts that make little difference to your actual deployment.
Now let me end by going back to where I started: the main idea behind spaces and pages is to allow users to consume the content of the launchpad in an easier and more structured way. For new users in particular, the benefit of a good default layout of spaces and pages is that they can quickly get an overview of the main apps which are relevant for their work context.
To achieve this, we recommend that you:
- Make use of a good naming convention for business catalogs
- Offer a “Favorites” page – as the start page
- Limit the number of business roles per user – to around 1 to 5
- Provide well-structured spaces and pages – with 1 space per role, and 1 to 5 pages per space, containing only the most important apps for the given role
- Consider performance
- Take a user-centric approach to testing
Spaces and pages should not be another kind of navigation menu containing all the apps available to a user. Remember, users have the means to easily find all the content available to them via search, the “All My Apps” menu and the App Finder. As a further option in an on-premise system, a user can be given access to the classic SAP Menu and User Menu in the App Finder as well. So, as you can see, users never need to find all their apps on pages.
Instead, spaces and pages should be defined to give users easy access to their most important and frequently used apps required by the roles they play in your company.
By following these recommendations, your users will profit from the enhanced layout capabilities in form of a focused entry point for their everyday work.