The SAP Fiori Fit: Part 4 – Extending Fiori
July 15, 2014
I described how to select the best use cases for standard SAP Fiori projects in a previous post, but you will find that the simplicity of the standard apps coupled with the broad ability to customize will lead you to explore extending Fiori.
For every user scenario, you should consider whether the out-of-box apps are going to be good enough – both for the use case and for the end user. Just because you can enhance SAP Fiori, doesn’t mean that you need to enhance it.
When to Extend SAP Fiori
In my last post, I discussed the criteria to use to determine whether a use case fit the mold for SAP Fiori, and I would argue that the same criteria stands for enhanced apps and even custom apps. Those criteria are:
- Can you boil the use case down to a task, rather than a comprehensive “set of functionality”?
- Are you addressing a task that should be simple and straightforward? (regardless of how SAP does it now)
- Does the task require minimal data moving back and forth? (field data, contextual data are okay)
- Is the user base always connected when they want to perform this task?
However, I come back to a previous point: is the standard app going to be good enough? For example, will a lack of branding confuse some users? Does the standard app lack some customization your users are used to having? Is the flow of the standard app natural based on how your users perform their jobs?
Extending Fiori – Getting Started
The questions in the section above are important questions, and choosing to extend Fiori should not scare you. It should excite you, because there are so many realistic ways to extend Fiori that can be achieved quickly (especially when working with us) and in a way that is easy to support. You will need staff or a partner who has digital graphic design skills (for prototyping), UI development skills (HTML5, CSS3, Java), and you may need ABAP skills on staff. If you have all those people, great! If not, let us know and we can help you out with some or all of the skillsets you need.
You should extend Fiori in order to:
- Brand your Fiori apps – and avoid the SAP “stigma”
- Onboard users who have rejected or struggled to do their job with SAP
- Deliver the best, most effective user experience
- Support existing customizations you’ve created in SAP
Ultimately, companies choose to extend and enhance SAP Fiori to ensure user adoption. Let’s consider a few ways.
Branding. Branding is the single-most impactful enhancement you can make to SAP Fiori. It seems funny, but when users and executives see the company logo, familiar fonts and recognizable nomenclature, it sends a message that this is a tool to be trusted. It’s also one of the simplestenhancements you can make. Using HTML5 and CSS3 skills, we can implement various levels of branding across your Fiori footprint, including logos, layouts, buttons, fonts, terms, and really anything that mimics your other solutions. This is also the gateway step to another scenario: onboarding users unfamiliar with or resistant to SAP.
Onboarding Users. New users have usually either
never seen SAP, or they are actively resistant to
using it. You may have communities of users that
have purchased other products to avoid using SAP
in the past. SAP Fiori offers you the opportunity to
give them the user experience that they’ve desired
while integrating the data and processes that
benefit the business overall. The key to success is
adoption in these user bases. Remove barriers to
adoption by leveraging your branding and changing
a layout to something more akin to what they’ve
created in their rogue systems. You can replace or
change the flow easily with SAP Fiori, especially if it
simplifies the experience for new users.
Best User Experience. Not all of your user communities will be new to SAP, but many have been waiting for a better way to use the system. SAP Fiori is an opportunity to address some major obstacles that have existed for a while, such as re-training and data entry errors. The UI of Fiori makes it simple for us to change the experience, like alter the nature of form fields, change the layout or design to simplify user entry, add a custom workflow to the app, or even just add terms that are less “SAP” and more “you.” Similarly, since SAP Fiori utilizes SAP’s connections and Web services out of the box, it’s fairly straightforward to add/remove fields, leverage security and context to populate information, and even create additional features.
Supporting Customizations. If you’ve had SAP products for any period of time, you have likely customized some areas that will not be supported by SAP. Alternatively, you may have some process that the existing SAP infrastructure can support, but not in the way you really need. Or, maybe you want to integrate SAP Fiori with something else entirely. All of these scenarios are possible, even with other products (as long as there are web services or APIs accessible – and note that this is not supported or encouraged by SAP). Unlike the UI customizations above, delivering custom SAP Fiori apps or creating the features to leverage your backend customizations will take more technical chops. However, the backend connections are there and the Fiori UI provides full capabilities for design and delivery within a standard framework. This shouldn’t scare you either, but knowing that it’s possible and pulling in a partner like Excellis can help you is the first step to delivering.
Most companies will find that the standard SAP Fiori apps provide an excellent framework for getting started, but will determine that some are too limiting. The SAP Fiori framework is designed to enable and even encourage companies to extend and enhance it. Modify existing apps, create completely custom apps, and integrate non-SAP products into a single user experience, because as I’ve pointed out before, that is the core of what SAP Fiori really is. It’s a user experience platform with a mobile-first framework. The possibilities are endless!