What is SAP Fiori? Introduction to a New UX for SAP Software
SAP Fiori is a new user experience (UX) for SAP software and applications that affects the most frequently used SAP functions, such as workflow approvals, financial apps, self-service tasks, information lookups, and more. One of SAP Fiori’s most exciting features is that it can be accessed across desktops, tablets, and smartphones, making it an even more powerful tool. However, that power and flexibility are due to a new programming model that even seasoned SAP users may be unfamiliar with, so you’ll need to do some training and customization to get the most out of SAP Fiori.
Another big step forward for SAP, let’s explore how we got SAP Fiori, some of the benefits, as well as the challenges of using it.
History of SAP Fiori
SAP is known for developing innovative enterprise solutions, but its user interfaces have struggled to live up to end-user expectations. Corporate employees now want the same intuitive, app-driven interfaces at work that they’re used to from their smartphones.
To develop SAP Fiori, SAP gathered research and input from customers to build a user-friendly, easy-to-use UX without sacrificing power. Users will notice a complete difference between the SAP GUI and SAP Fiori UX. Specifically, you can interact with Fiori similarly to how you’d expect to use a smartphone.
Benefits of SAP Fiori
There are a host of benefits in moving to SAP Fiori, with companies from a variety of industries taking advantage of this new UX. Here are just a few of the coolest new features our SAP consulting team and clients are raving about:
Mobility = Flexibility
No longer are SAP users chained to their desktop, keyboard, or mouse. Available for the first time, Fiori now allows you to access apps on a variety of different mobile platforms, which translates to a huge boost in efficiency when every minute counts. (When farmers harvest sugar cane, for example, they only have 8 hours from burning the cane to remove the leaves, with yields falling after that point. Having mobile access to their SAP system, therefore, is incredibly helpful.) Mobility is transforming every industry from healthcare to retail and everything in between.
Mobility also ties in to increasing employee satisfaction overall—being able to access work when it’s most convenient is a commonly valued benefit of modern workers, plus, Fiori’s design helps to cut down on repetitive tasks with its simple workflows. And who doesn’t find joy in spending less time on tedious tasks?
With a more streamlined and user-friendly interface, Fiori has increased worker productivity by reducing the time it takes to do many tasks. In a side-by-side demo of Fiori vs. SAP GUI, the processing time for cash collections fell from two minutes and 12 seconds (SAP GUI) to a mere 47 seconds (Fiori), a 64% reduction in time.
Another way SAP Fiori can save you time is through the Fiori App Reference Library. A showcase of hundreds of SAP Fiori Apps for S/4HANA, (including forms, balance sheets, inventory, application logs, and many more), the Reference Library saves your development team the effort of having to create so many tools from scratch.
Challenges of Using SAP Fiori
With all of these new features and functionality, you’re probably thinking SAP Fiori sounds like the perfect solution to challenges faced by your business—let’s kick off the update process today! As great as Fiori is, there are challenges that accompany any kind of change to your business software, even an upgrade. Your development team will need to have a good grasp of ABAP Development Tools for Eclipse, ABAP Programming Model for Fiori, and a few other features and services to really make the most of the new UX (especially if you’re going to be customizing it to better meet your organization’s needs).
Add in the fact that Fiori is relatively new—which means the talent pool of Fiori experts is somewhat limited—and you can see that hiring someone today to get your upgrade up and running next week would be a bit of a challenge. Making things even trickier, there are some pretty common myths and misconceptions about the solution that could derail your goals of digital transformation. To keep your project on track (and avoid costly delays), it’s best to know what you’re up against right out of the gate. So, let’s bust those myths.
Myth #1—Fiori Developers from Business Suite or Suite on HANA Don’t Need to Prep to Develop on SAP S/4HANA
First, the bad news—even seasoned SAP developers will need to be trained on the new concepts and best practices in SAP S/4HANA. In addition to getting up to speed on the latest platforms and releases, they’ll also need a solid understanding of…
- ABAP Development Tools for Eclipse
- ABAP Programming Model for Fiori
- Fiori elements vs. freestyle vs. hybrid design
- Extension options for SAP S/4HANA
- Special features and common services like Default Values, Key User Extensibility, Attachment Service, and Manage Workflows
Now the good news—many of these concepts can be learned and practiced on your SAP Business Suite before you transition to SAP S/4HANA.
Myth #2—Activating SAP Fiori in SAP S/4HANA is Merely a Technical Task
From a technical standpoint, activating a group of apps through tasks lists in SAP S/4HANA is a pretty easy task, so long as you follow SAP Best Practices guides. But then things start to get a little complicated…
While most apps work just fine once they’ve been activated, some of them require additional functional configuration by default. Add in the fact that most Fiori apps allow you to customize them to best suit your needs, and it’s easy to see why you should consider all the related apps in a delivered business catalog, not just the apps that come up as tiles on the home page.
So if the technical part of activating SAP Fiori in SAP S/4HANA isn’t much trouble, what’s the problem? The issue is that companies who focus solely on the technical aspect of activating SAP Fiori in SAP S/4HANA aren’t spending as much time as they should on the non-technical side of things, including:
- Putting together a dedicated project team to understand the new user experience, extensibility options, and how to make the most out of common features as part of your business process design.
- Determining the right functional fit of the apps that will best match your business processes, roles, and tasks.
- Setting the standards for governance on the user experience extension options and custom developments.
- Optimizing the user experience for your business roles, across all functional silos and common features.
A bit like someone who pays money to enter a race only to show up in lead shoes, companies that don’t take into account the non-technical side of their SAP Fiori project are doing themselves a disservice.
Speaking of focusing too much on the technical side of things, that brings us to Myth #3.
Myth #3—Your Project’s User Experience Focus Should Be the Technical Aspect
People new to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Fiori sometimes find it tough to really “get” user experience. We’ve found it easiest to think about it in terms of three main categories: People, Process, and Technology. While all three areas deserve time and energy, we’ve found that putting people at the center of your UX strategy leads to better outcomes. And if you want that to happen, you not only need the right project team for the job, you need to designate a user experience (UX) lead to take a holistic view of how all the elements of the user experience will come together.
Far too often, organizations don’t designate a UX lead at all, which means anything of central use or crossed-over functional teams can fall through the cracks. Or companies pick someone with the right technical skills but not the right outlook. In addition to their functional/technical background, a great UX lead must have a people-first outlook, always thinking about the person who’s going to log in on day one of go-live. And don’t forget about communication skills! It’s vital that your UX lead is able to effectively coordinate across all appropriate business units while working on your project.
In every project, there are always going to be areas where you and your team excel, as well as areas where you struggle. We think the best strategy for handling the latter is through preparation, education, and having a third-party expert on your team. That’s where we can help.
Our SAP consultants know how Fiori integrates with the rest of your SAP platform, not to mention plenty of ways to avoid potential Fiori road bumps before they become massive sinkholes. Based in the US (so they can work on your schedule), our top-tier SAP consultants can help you configure your apps, making sure you’re getting the most out of all the innovations SAP Fiori has to offer.