User Experience Insights
UX Champions: Siemens Harmonizes User Experience for Finance
Siemens, one of the largest industrial manufacturing companies in the world, harmonized and simplified the user experience (UX) for Finance as part of its digital transformation journey with SAP S/4HANA. In this blog post, the UX champions “behind the scenes” share their story and their success criteria for ensuring a smooth transition to a new UX.
Challenge accepted: Different legacy applications with multiple entry points
Finance processes at Siemens were running on both SAP ERP and Siemens’ own applications, a network of systems which had been built on top of each other over the last two decades based on individual project needs, historical organizational structures, and the technical possibilities at the time of implementation. For the approximately 2,500 employees working in this field, the lack of integration and consistency across these entities meant that they faced quite a few challenges for their daily work. For example, users needed to manage multiple system entry points, cross-app navigation was often cumbersome, and there was a lack of consistent processes and shared services across the various global units and regions. A further issue most users faced was variant management, meaning they often had to use a disproportionate number of filters in order to drill down to the information they needed for their daily tasks. With these significant challenges in sight, it was time to transition to a more sophisticated user experience.
Dedicated UX team manages the transition to a new user experience
While many SAP S/4HANA implementation projects do not actively manage UX, Siemens made it a focus by building up a dedicated team of user experience experts to oversee the overall configuration of SAP Fiori, as well as to provide consultation on the user experience strategy as a whole. If you’re looking for tips on how to set this up for your company, the blog post on Essential Roles for SAP S/4HANA Fiori Projects provides a very useful framework for this.
Daniel Gambel, UX Lead and Product Owner for User Experience at Siemens, leads this small team of UX experts made up of 8 full-time employees, including SAP Fiori administrators and an SAP Consultant. As part of their modus operandi, the team maintains a close collaboration with a central development team of UX and backend developers. They also work closely with both end users and key users, engaging them in usability tests and user research interviews at every stage of the journey in order to guarantee that the solution is perfectly tailored to their needs.
Transitioning to a harmonized UX with a central point of entry
The goal of the project was to build a new, on-premise finance solution based on SAP S/4HANA, with the additional objective to develop cloud-ready applications for the foreseeable transition to the cloud. This new solution was designed to integrate the SAP ERP application and several additional finance applications owned by Siemens into one harmonized experience that could be easily accessed from a single source, the SAP Fiori launchpad. Achieving this would significantly reduce complexity for its users, ensuring uniformity and therefore overall better data quality, consistency and compliance, while still remaining flexible for local requirements.
Leveraging the SAP Fiori design system, Siemens was able to implement the launchpad as the single access point for three SAP systems: SAP S/4HANA, SAP Master Data Governance, and SAP Business Integrity Screening (formerly SAP Fraud Management). From within one central starting point, the nearly 2,500 employees working on the SAP S/HANA finance system could now instantly access over one thousand applications across different technologies (including SAPUI5, SAP GUI for HTML and Web Dynpro) using single sign-on. Additional benefits included overall better data quality, more consistency and stronger compliance, all while enjoying a simpler and more sophisticated working experience.
Cross-app navigation across systems and technologies is made simple via the SAP Fiori launchpad
The team is now working on structuring the launchpad using best practices for spaces and pages
Why change management is key to a smooth transition
Thanks to the close working relationship with the users, Daniel and his team were able to learn what factors really mattered to them, such as more sophisticated personalization capabilities, improved variant management, intuitive cross-app navigation, and in-app user assistance, and prioritize these when designing the new experience.
For more mature employees used to working on an SAP GUI for Windows for many years, transitioning to a completely new web-based and native mobile user experience sometimes proved to be a more challenging journey. That’s why Daniel and his team really stress the importance of maintaining an open communication with users. As the team explains, you should “always explain the why behind each change, while also taking the time to understand users’ issues and offer solutions.”
Often what they encountered was the misperception from the users that something was missing within the applications. “It was important to take the time to explain where the benefits of the new experience were,” explains Daniel. “For example, by showing the increased efficiency of the variant management, or the simplicity of cross-app navigation, which is now much more intuitive and often offers more than one cross-app navigation.”
By closely listening to the concerns of their users, the team also located knowledge gaps. For example, users weren’t always clear on which applications they could now use from the launchpad, so the team took the time to work with them to better define that. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out the blog SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA – Recommendations for transitioning users from SAP GUI to SAP Fiori for more useful insights.
The team shares their success criteria for transitioning employees to new UX
Thanks to their experience over the past few years, Daniel and his team have 4 great tips to share with us for how to ensure a smooth transition to a new user experience:
- Firstly, make sure everyone is on board when it comes to the importance and value of a good user experience. Lusine Stepanyan, SAP Consultant at Siemens, credits the success of the project to the fact that upper management held a clear consensus and vision when it came to the business value behind the transformation.
- Secondly, identify multiplicators. “One of our main tasks is to continuously share knowledge about SAP Fiori, including what changes we are making, and what advantages they are bringing. But you can’t reach everyone, so you need to find those multipliers who will help you spread the message,” explains Daniel.
- The entire UX team also agrees on one thing: Be aware of the technical challenges that need to be overcome, for example, to ensure seamless authentication across different UI technologies and systems. Also, track the latest SAP releases to evaluate each new functionality and determine how exactly it will benefit end users. Continuously communicate with end user about both release changes and your internal changes as you improve the UX over the time.
- And finally, create references for your company out of the project implementations. At Siemens, the user experience team plans to take the learnings from the Finance project to use as a template for future projects as the company continues their digital transformation journey.
UX Champion Spotlight
Daniel Gambel is Product Owner for User Experience at Siemens, where he leads a team of UX developers and experts. “If I have one piece of advice for any team leading a UX transformation” says Daniel, “it’s to involve the end users and key users as early as possible”.
Did you enjoy learning about this team’s journey? Find more inspiration and insights into how other leading companies are managing their user experience projects by following the UX Champions series on the SAP Community, or click on the UX Champions tag.
A similar version of this article also appears in the Wall Street Journal.