Pragmatic Paths to Optimise your SAP UX


SAUG Melbourne Conference, Nov 2015
John Moy

Blue T

Who am I

John Moy
  • Member of Blue T consultants and architects
  • SAP User Experience & Mobile Architect
  • SAP Mentor alumnus & blogger
  • Sci-Fi nerd

UX - User Experience

"A person's perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service"

Ergonomics of human system interaction, ISO 9241-210

Why is UX Important?

"In the enterprise world, 70% of apps that are deployed are not adopted (per Forrester research) as they are difficult to use. "
"Forrester research states that 93% of Line of Business and IT Executives rate user experience as a top strategic priority. "

But navigating your SAP UX options is NOT easy

... or simple

Understanding the geological layers of SAP's UX history

Geological layers

Note: Here we refer to the current era as the 'Fiori Era' rather than the 'HANA Era' because this is after all a presentation about UX. ☺

Over two decades SAP has introduced progressive evolutions in design concepts and tools to enrich the UX

Geological layers

ALL these design concepts and tools can co-exist as layers in a modern SAP system

Geological layers

So what's the problem?

PROBLEM #1: Many people continue to implement SAP at the oldest layer, because that's what they are familiar with

Geological layers

PROBLEM #2: Any one of those layers could be described as 'Standard SAP'
And quoted as 'Best Practice'

Geological layers

PROBLEM #3: Skills and knowledge inertia inhibit adoption of modern SAP technologies to enrich UX

Skills shortfalls

Who knows what Web Dynpro era apps are available?
Who knows what standard Fiori apps are available?
Who's going to design my custom Fiori app?
And who's going to build it?

PROBLEM #4: So consultants defer to their old tried and tested UX options (eg. 1990s SAP GUI) because it's easier for them to implement ... but not necessarily for the end user to use

Old Star Trek

PROBLEM #5: Users don't realise what layer they are getting. Until it's too late.

Mind blown

Welcome to SAP GUI

Results of an ASUG SIG Survey - 2015

Nearly 90% reported using SAP GUI as the primary means to access SAP
But when asked what they'll use in the next two years ...
Nearly 64% said Fiori Launchpad

We are in the midst of potentially tectonic shifts in the way we deliver UX to SAP users.


But firstly, let us better understand the more important user interface (UI) technologies ...

UI technologies guidance: SAP CLASSIC DYNPRO

R/3 Era - 1990s SAP GUI

Classic Dynpro analysis

UI technologies guidance: SAP WEB DYNPRO

NetWeaver Era - 2000s

Web Dynpro analysis

UI technologies guidance: SAP SCREEN PERSONAS

Modern Era - 2010s

Personas analysis

UI technologies guidance: SAPUI5 (basis for Fiori Apps)

Modern Era - 2010s

SAPUI5 analysis

Each UI technology can be surfaced via one or more access points

  • SAP Business Client (formerly NWBC)
  • SAP Portal
  • SAP Fiori Launchpad
  • SAP Fiori Client (mobile app)
  • Other (eg. Sharepoint)

*Important: Even though an access point can support multiple device types, the underlying UI technology might not. Eg. SAP does not support SAP Web Dynpro surfaced via the Fiori Launchpad access point when accessed via a mobile device.

Access Points
Access Points

Sample Combination A:

Combination A
  • Embed Fiori Launchpad into existing SAP Portal
  • SAP Portal as access point for casual / tablet / mobile users
  • SAP GUI as access point for legacy access & power users
Access Point Combination A

Sample Combination B:

Combination B
  • Embed Fiori Launchpad into SAP Business Client and SAP Fiori Client
  • SAP Business Client as access point for all desktop users
  • SAP Fiori Client as access point for all tablet & mobile users
Access Point Combination B

... and many more combinations are possible.

Although our interpretation of SAP's current strategy is that the long term architecture should look something like this ...

Ideal Architecture

Enough about technologies and toolsets.

What can we do better?

RECOMMENDATION: Adopt a 'Next Generation First' methodology to choosing your UX layer per app, not a 'SAP GUI Only' approach.

Next Generation First


Apply pragmatism to your approach.

  • Firstly assess if the UX option is FIT FOR PURPOSE (very important)
  • If not, then consider either enhancements or custom build at that level, or defer to the next level below.
  • When applying enhancements or customisations, apply Design Thinking principles.

A COMMONLY USED EXCUSE not to apply this methodology:

"But our access point to SAP is SAP GUI, so everything needs to be built as SAP GUI transactions"
Face palm

Hence the need for an 'access point enabler' that supports multiple layers of technological evolution simultaneously, such as SAP Business Client (formerly NWBC).


NWBC can support Fiori launchpad, along with Web Dynpro applications and older native SAP GUI dynpro applications

RECOMMENDATION: Formulate a UX strategy that makes sense for your users and your technology preferences

UX Strategy Sample

Include some allowance for bespoke custom development or 'best of breed' solutions for high value or key scenarios

Best of Breed

RECOMMENDATION: Like SAP itself, embrace the principles behind
Design Thinking

Design Thinking

Image courtesy of

Incorporate some allowance for specialist UX design into your methodology rather than relying on developers


Software industry 'ideal' * 1:10
Typical customer ratio 0:N

* Source: SAP TechED Las Vegas, UX160


  • Consider engaging with design agencies - these days SAP offers such a service
  • Utilise toolsets for rapid prototyping and collecting user feedback such as SAP Build
Face palm

Listen to users. Embrace 'empathy'.

Deanna Troi

SAP consultants have worked with SAP GUI screens for decades and know them intimately. But users may not. See the world through your users' lens.


We need to rewire our Mindset


Think about the Next Generation of users - the 'Millennials'


Do we seriously expect them to remember transaction codes?

Transaction Codes

To be taken to this ...


Instead, let us aspire to provide them this ...

Fiori 2.0

SAP Fiori 2.0 Design Concept wins Red Dot Award 2015

RECOMMENDATION: Methodologies and toolsets help, but mindset matters most. Assemble a Next Generation team with the right mindset and skills.

Star Trek crew


  • Ensure your team knowledge is current by attending conferences, reading release notes, internal code jams etc.
  • Give them time to self-educate via solutions such as OpenSAP
  • Inject some UX architectural governance to ensure appropriate UX decisions are being made
  • If engaging consultants, include questions about UX in your interview

In this modern era, we need to elevate UX to the forefront of what we do in our design and delivery of SAP solutions

SAP implementions or IT support organisations should strive to deliver a NEXT GENERATION SAP solution
... not a 1990s solution based on old practices, methodologies and mindsets
"It's life SAP, Jim but not as we know it."
Fiori 2.0

SAP Fiori 2.0 Design Concept wins Red Dot Award 2015

Thank You!

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