“The Inmates Are Running the Asylum” says Alan Cooper, in his seminal work on the topic of user-oriented design concepts, first published in 1999. Cooper, the father of Visual Basic, pioneered the use of “personas” as a design method. Personas are imagined user profiles based on use cases for the system in question. Cooper observed, correctly, that the worst person to design the typical user experience (UX) was a programmer. Back in 1999, coders were serving in that capacity and the result was: hard to use, clumsy, uninspiring interfaces. To be fair, some of the limitations to UX were due to hardware, technology and cost limits, but today, those limitations are no longer extant. The SAP GUI represents the old-school method of interfacing with complex systems—complex interfaces.

SAP has adapted the concept of personas and improved user-oriented design with Fioriand Screen Personas (a stepping stone to Fiori). Both are part of an effort to improve UX for SAP systems for reasons that should be obvious:

  • Increased productivity – faster and direct access to relevant information and applications
  • Transparency on items needing your attention – timely notifications
  • Helps users decide what needs to be done next
  • Allows users to take quick and informed actions
  • Increased user satisfaction

This is not just about pretty interfaces, although interfaces that are pleasing have greater utility also. The main reason for the push for improved UX from the C-suite is the savings through efficiency. Clicks cost money. So do errors and training. All of which are reduced by better interfaces. Check out this comparison between the GUI and the improved-UX of Fiori.

Propel UX:an FBC partner, is one of the SAP UX design firms that are now sought after to cleanly and expertly implement the new UX improvements SAP is making. They believe in a design philosophy that balances desirability (look and feel) feasibility (what can be built) and viability (what it will cost). The bad news about UX enhancements is that there is an overhead to implementation and some to maintenance, but the savings on improved efficiency, multiplied over each user/hour makes a compelling case for ROI to justify it. Contact Dharma Subramanian. He will connect the UX dots for you like no one else.

Neptune Software:also an FBC partner, can further expand UX improvement options with a complimentary solution to Fiori. Neptune allows you to leverage your ABAP assets and get Fiori apps without the jump to HANA. Their solution boast the following advantages (working offline among them):

  • Implement Fiori in days
  • Enable ABAP developers
  • Reduce development time 80%
  • 63% reduction in TCO
  • Offline capability
  • Locking Tables
  • Backwards compatible & “future proof”
  • Use existing roles & authorizations
  • Low code, drag and drop development (90% reduction in front-end code)
  • Mobile apps with native capabilities
    • GPS
    • Camera
    • Push Notifications

At an ASUG conference an SAP official defended the new improvements of Fiori and HANA when confronted with developers who wanted to hang on to their, now obsoleted, code by saying, “We are building a car, not a faster horse.” Well said.

—David Beiswenger.