Taking the UI Plunge

It has long been known that the same effect that oil and water have when mixed can often be used to describe SAP and UI. What with the multitude of products such as BSP, WebDynpro (abap and java), WebUI and classic GUI, users often can’t see the forest through the trees.

But I think the light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel.

SAP is finally making a committed effort to pay more attention to the user experience. But what does this mean? There are some things to consider, as we embark down this road.

Improving OOB UIs yields only a partial win.

First and foremost, no matter how good the out of the box UI is (or will be), it will always need modification. Its great that there is renewed focus on “getting it right” in terms of the products that are being rolled out of the box, but there will always be the need to modify, tweak and adjust – sometimes more, sometimes less. The key isn’t necessarily sprinkling some pixie dust on the computer and coming up the best UI out of the box that everyone will love, because not everyone will. There will always be the concept of the split vote when it comes to the user interface.

Easily allow modifications.

Typically, users who own SAP products will at some point want to modify those products. This is the age-old adage – should your company change to revolve around SAP, or should SAP adapt to your company. We see the latter as the norm. Customers want to modify OOB for many reasons – blend with other non-sap assets, integrate with public facing content, branding requirements, and so on. Allowing customers to easily modify to their hearts content always was, and will continue to be a critical success factor for SAP UI adoption. Please don’t think that the OOB UIs are good enough. Good enough is not a concept easily accepted with customers, so SAP UIs should be flexible enough to accommodate easy change.

I see potential with new cloud based solutions and also SAP Personas, where in the case of cloud solutions (within 360), the OOB UIs are improved, but customers are already asking how to modify to align with their other assets. Smoothing and seamlessness is key, so this requires customizing cloud based UIs. Again, make it easy and fast. And in the case of Personas, this allows backend classic UIs to be “powerpointed” if you will, as drag and drop and background images become the norm. Although better than forcing users to confront and navigate thousands of UI options such as with Creating a PR / PO in ECC, users can delete buttons and fields not needed with Personas, and provide some branding and contextual removal of unwanted fields. Some limitations continue to be full smoothing and polish, when aligning to a corporate style guide pixel for pixel, but nonetheless is a better option compared to standard ECC screens.

In the end, renewed focus on the user experience will bode well, as long as wins aren’t based on the false assumption OOB alone will suffice, and that UIs should anticipate and facilitate modification, to fall inline with customer wants and needs.

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