While companies are becoming more aware of the performance benefits of HANA, many don’t know how much the SAP Fiori UX itself can help them. This can significantly change the balance of costs and benefits for a HANA upgrade, resulting in companies making less effective choices — for example, putting off a migration because they’re not aware how much it could improve productivity in the near term. Here’s how Fiori can make your life easier — and your business more profitable.
Why SAP Fiori?
SAP Fiori has been one of SAP’s greatest success stories. From its 2013 release with a small suite of apps, it grew rapidly, gaining recognition along with accolades like the prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2015. For SAP, that was a milestone. SAP is known for powerful, innovative and flexible enterprise software, but their user interfaces have generally not been popular with end users. One of SAP’s own blogs describes its legacy interface — SAP GUI — this way:
“It is SAP’s most known, hated but stable user interface technology.”
SAP GUI is a holdover from another era, with complex menus that required a keyboard and a mouse. Individual end users might only need a handful of functions to perform their jobs, but that didn’t matter — there was no user-friendly front end designed for your job — you’d have to learn how SAP organized the functions you needed.
There have been a number of different user interfaces developed over the years, and tools to allow companies to develop or customize their own interfaces. GuiXT allowed users to customize their workflow, and Screen Personas made it even easier. However, a lot of SAP ERP users were still using the basic SAP GUI for most of their work (many still are).
Meanwhile, consumer interfaces have continued to get better and better. Apps developed intuitive workflows that users could figure out in minutes, and an attractive look and feel that made them enjoyable to use. Businesses were starting to demand the same sleek interfaces and workflows in their own applications. With Fiori, SAP wouldn’t just catch up with the pack — it would move to the front.
SAP Fiori History and Principles
SAP Fiori launched in 2013 with just 25 apps focused on some of the most common business functions — tasks like approving leave requests, creating sales orders and tracking purchase orders. However, behind those 25 apps was a lot of work.
SAP brought together a team of industry-leading designers to create a modern, unified design concept. They worked closely with 250 customers to understand user needs, what their workflow demanded, and what consumer apps they found easiest to use.
Fiori was designed incorporated a range of modern design principles. Fiori is:
- Role-Based: Fiori applications are designed around the actual role of the user, rather than the SAP logic behind it. Individual apps are modular, and can be combined to support more complex roles.
- Responsive: Fiori uses responsive design, meaning that apps will automatically adapt to the device you’re using. This lets you use Fiori with equal ease on the go, or at a desktop.
- Simple: Fiori apps are designed to make your job as simple as possible, making essential functionality easy to use and eliminating clutter.
- Delightful: Fiori focuses on an appealing UX. It offers an attractive and consistent layout, and features like context-sensitive user assistance and personalization to make the experience pleasant, and help users excel at their jobs.
- Coherent: Fiori standardizes SAP UX, with the same visual language and user workflow across apps and roles.
Users access SAP Fiori through the launchpad, which serves as a repository for Fiori apps, displayed as tiles. The launchpad allows users to customize their Fiori experience, and provides navigation and configuration options, contextual help and other services.
Android and iOS users can experience SAP Fiori benefits by using the Fiori client. The client improves performance and integrates Fiori with mobile features like barcode scanning and geolocation.
SAP Fiori 2.0 adds even more improvements. Users have more freedom to organize and customize their experience in the launchpad. Users can organize their tools in the way that makes the most sense for them, and use text links and group launch tiles to customize their Fiori experience for their personal workflow.
Fiori 2.0 has also substantially improved the navigation model. Fiori apps were originally organized using a hub-and-spokes paradigm, with the launchpad at the center. That organization can be cumbersome in some cases — particularly for mobile users whose workflow involves many different apps. In Fiori 2.0, users can still use hub-and-spokes, but also have the freedom to navigate between related apps, and employ hierarchical organization as needed.
The Viewport is another Fiori 2.0 benefit. Users can create a large, continuous virtual desktop. This has obvious benefits in multi-screen applications, but it can also be helpful in desktop or mobile workflows. Users can visualize their workflow as one continuous experience, and scroll smoothly from one task to another.
How SAP Fiori Makes Your Life Easier
1) Productivity – SAP Fiori is designed around productivity. Common tasks are organized in a streamlined, intuitive workflow that monitors clicks, typing and time to completion. In one side-by-side comparison between Fiori and SAP GUI, SAP had a collections specialist contact a customer, remind them about a payment due and register their issue with an invoice.In SAP GUI, the process took 2:12, and required 39 clicks, eight screen changes and five fields filled. SAP Fiori blew them away. It took just 11 clicks, 2 screen changes and 2 filled fields to complete the process. And most importantly, it only took 47 seconds — a 64% decrease in duration.
2) More Intuitive Workflow – What do accounting, marketing, fulfilment and human resources have in common? They’re not IT. Aside from a few jobs like SAP Basis and SAP security, most of the roles in your company don’t revolve around technical knowledge of SAP, but historically end users had to understand how SAP structured workflow to use it.
With SAP Fiori, user workflow is structured around business logic, not SAP logic. That makes life easier for your workforce — particularly for non-technical users. It also means you don’t have to weigh SAP experience as highly when hiring new talent in non-IT roles.
3) Workforce Flexibility – Fiori’s standardized interface and coherent design philosophy lets workers quickly learn new jobs and roles. Once users understand the basic way Fiori is structured, they can transfer that knowledge to other Fiori apps. That makes it easier to shift workers to new positions to harness their skills more effectively. It also lets you change the way roles are structured to meet organization-specific needs by adding or removing tasks from different user roles.
4) Improved Morale – Let’s face it — when your workers list their five favorite things about their jobs, SAP GUI is probably not going to make the list. Spending a lot of time searching menus, filling forms and inputting commands in a clunky interface can frustrate employees and depress morale, and that’s bad for your business. Happy workers are 12% more productive than average, while unhappy workers are 10% less productive.
In terms of workplace satisfaction, most companies have room for improvement. A 2017 Gallup study found that just 33% of American workers are engaged, and 16% are disengaged. Not only are those disengaged workers less productive — they’re more likely to look for other jobs, and even more prone to undermining the company, such as by adversely influencing coworkers and alienating customers.
Fiori can help boost morale in multiple ways. Most obviously, it makes the work less tedious, cuts down on repetitive tasks, and provides an appealing workflow. It also provides good contextual support, which can cut down on frustration. And with its support for multiple devices, it can facilitate a more flexible workplace — another thing modern workers value.
5) Mobility – The mobile workforce is growing at a rapid place. By 2022, an estimated 42.5% of the global workforce will be mobile, and that number will likely grow in the future. Fiori’s mobility and adaptive design will help companies adapt to this new mobile model, allowing users to access essential work apps from anywhere, using any device.
The SAP Fiori client benefits mobile workers by making Fiori even more efficient away from the desk. Apps work exactly the same in the client as they do in a browser window, but with the added advantages of controllable caching and full-screen display, making Fiori even faster and more user-friendly.
Fiori’s mobility is particularly useful in applications that require a high degree of mobility. Warehouse and manufacturing managers can work from the floor, harnessing SAP HANA’s real time visibility to improve customer service, fulfilment and efficiency.
Mobile sales forces can likewise benefit from up to date product and pricing information, to increase sales and upsells. And across industries and job titles, workers, managers and executives can be more responsive, while maintaining a satisfying work-life balance.
6) Reduced Need for Development – Flexibility and configurability have always been strengths of SAP. The company has developed tools that reach across the full range of industries and use cases, giving companies the ability to adapt third party tools or create their own custom solutions as required.
However, as SAP Fiori (and SAP HANA in general) have developed, customers have found less and less need to build their own tools. The Fiori library now has thousands of apps, covering a huge range of business cases in both Suite and S/4HANA. SAP’s third party partnerships — and its Apple partnership in particular — have led to a massive infusion of new talent into the SAP ecosystem, and an almost unlimited range of tools for business.
What this means is that there are fewer and fewer situations where SAP Fiori tenants have to develop their own in-house tools. This is fantastic news for businesses with complex or novel workflows. App building has gotten easier, but creating and deploying a new software tool in an enterprise ecosystem can still be expensive.
In addition to the cost of developing and testing your own apps, there can be a cost associated with having to delay your SAP upgrade to wait for the new software. Additionally, in-house developers may not have the same resources for testing as commercial developers do, which can increase the risk of deploying new software. By providing developers with an extensive range of options, Fiori provides better time-to-value and reduces both cost and risk.
7) Fully Harness SAP HANA – The basic benefits of SAP HANA apply for pretty much any use case. Every company will benefit from better performance, a smaller data footprint and faster analytics. However, the biggest benefits come from the new possibilities HANA opens.
Real-time visibility is a neat feature, but if you use it to respond instantly to changing market conditions, it’s a game changer. Likewise, SAP HANA’s advanced analytics can help you optimize cash flow, better understand your customers, streamline your logistics or solve any number of other problems — but only if you apply it to those problems. SAP Fiori allows you to truly harness the benefits of HANA, across an almost unimaginable range of use cases, from marketing, to finance, to biotechnology.
Symmetry client New England Biolabs (NEB) used SAP Fiori to enable their NEBnow Freezer program. The program keeps life sciences organizations stocked with reagents through smart freezers and an automated logistics program. Freezers are automatically restocked by NEBnow so that scientists always have the reagents they need when they need them, without having to reorder in advance. It’s a complex program, but the power of SAP Fiori helps make it possible.
As CIO, Sharon Kaiser put it, “Using Fiori applications, we’ll have an interface that is much better and easier for our company to use.”
SAP Fiori Considerations
Like any major change in your SAP landscape, adopting Fiori requires an expert partner. In particular, Fiori poses GRC considerations, which most SAP GRC software currently doesn’t address. SAP GUI accesses SAP through transactions. SAP GRC software checks the transactions a user has access to against a list of Segregations of Duties (SoD) conflicts. If a user has access to two conflicting transactions, the software flags it, and your team can remediate the conflict.
However, Fiori doesn’t grant access through service authorizations. That means if there’s an SoD conflict, your software won’t spot it.
ControlPanelGRC® is the first SAP GRC solution that checks both transactions and service authorizations out of the box. Whether you’re using SAP Fiori, SAP GUI or both, it will catch SoD conflicts, allowing you to reduce risks and ensure your audits are successful.
Get More Out of Fiori With the Right Partner
Software that empowers your user empowers your company. With the SAP Fiori UX, your workforce can truly enable your company to realize the full benefits of HANA. But getting there takes work, from planning your SAP upgrade, to configuring your Fiori apps, to tuning your SAP landscape, post-migration.