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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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What Continental AG learned during the Customer Validation Process

This blog was co-written by sherin.hannaof Continental AG and SAP’s john.macy and Carrie Lande.
With sales of €32.7 billion in 2012, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has approximately 173,000 employees in 46 countries.
   
Continental engaged with SAP to perform a customer validation of HR Renewal 1.0, Feature Pack 4 (FP04) in June and July of this year.  It was an action-filled time, resulting in the successful installation and configuration of many of the enhancements of FP04 as well as some of the previous feature packs.  Highlights included configuring and testing the new landing page and SAP UI5 applications for Employee Self Service (ESS), Manager Self Service (MSS) and HR Professional.
   
The purpose of this customer validation is to provide a proof of concept for HR Renewal 1.0 FP04 prior to its release to customers.  SAP provided support throughout this process while Continental provided a test landscape, a test plan and resources to perform the testing.  In a customer validation, customers typically benefit by getting access to the latest functionality in their own environment and getting to explore the software, while reducing the cost and time if they choose to implement it.
In this blog, we share some of Continental’s key lessons and experiences. 

OVERVIEW

One of the compelling features of the landing page delivered with HR Renewal 1.0 SP04 is the ability for a user to perform various activities from multiple roles in one page.  Users no longer need to navigate to different pages or user interfaces to launch all of their business critical activities.  The new landing page for ESS, MSS and HR Professional provide a much-improved and delightful user experience. 
Some functionality won’t be available if you have not implemented the corresponding back-end functionality already.  For example, you cannot use all of the capabilities of the Analytics lane if you don’t have Business Objects and/or the Business Warehouse in place.  Other examples are Employee Time Administration, Learning Solution, Recruitment, Benefits and Performance Management, to name a few.
To get started, be sure to review all of the documentation up front to help you plan the implementation.  Note that there are multiple sources of documentation.  The provided documentation assumes that you have successfully implemented and tested the previous Feature Packs – if you have not, you may have to consult the documentation for the previous releases and make sure that you haven’t missed key steps.  There are lots of SAP Notes, so be sure to review and apply them. While some may have been included in the latest Feature Pack, there may still be some that need to be applied.
Expertise from different areas will be required to install and configure various aspects of HR Renewal:
  • Basis skills for installation, applying notes and transports, activating business functions, confirming component version requirements for support package stacks and assisting with component registration if required.
  • NetWeaver Gateway installation and OData services configuration - The SAP NetWeaver Gateway and the OData services available therein are used to provide data to the UI5 applications. 
  • User Interface customization and configuration – Various user interface technologies are called from the applications in FP04.  Configuration may be required for HTML5 (UI5), Web Dynpro ABAP, SAP GUI for HTML (Web GUI), SAP GUI or services in SICF.
  • Design of landing page – As mentioned above, users can now launch many functions from multiple roles in one user interface.  As a result, there is configuration in the launch pads, roles, and the IMG to support content in the context menus available in Search and other lanes.  This design and configuration needs to be understood and completed.
Some areas for improvement that we identified during our testing include:
  • Speeding up the performance of the landing page and the browser (particularly for Internet Explorer 9)
  • Addressing issues with personalization and browser cache
  • Fixing documentation and configuration issues

DETAILS

Preparation

Documentation review

It is important to review all documentation from various sources (http://help.sap.com/ , service marketplace, IMG, and others) before beginning installation and implementation.  Examples are:
  • SAP Administrator Guide
  • Business Functions documentation
  • IMG Node documents
  • NetWeaver Gateway documentation
  • SAP Notes
  • And more …..

Notes, Notes and more Notes!

For HR Renewal 1.0 through FP04, we applied approximately 65SAP Notes.  As a result of our testing, we identified issues that resulted in several new Notes being issued. Some of these may or may not have been included in the current FP04 release.  Our advice is to help your Basis team research and identify Note requirements. 

If you don’t start from Feature Pack 03 . . .

We moved all the way from EhP6 to EhP6 with HR Renewal 1.0 FP04 and necessarily performed configuration to support HR Renewal 1.0 Feature Packs 00, 01, 02, 03, and 04.  There are numerous Internet Communication Framework (SICF) services, Business Functions and OData services that need to be activated to support functionality across the Feature Packs.  Even with a thorough review of documentation from all Feature Packs in the course of implementation, you may find that you frequently encounter error messages instructing you to activate services that you may have missed.

Some required configuration is not delivered by SAP

For example, the HCM P&F processes delivered by SAP are samples and not to be used productively.  Configuration to support processes such as Task Gateway Service for Tasks requires table entries for workflow task IDs and step IDs.  These IDs can only come from the tasks which customers create when building their own processes.  This means that customers need to build the workflows to support their own processes and use the task IDs and step IDs from those workflows to configure the table. 
Technical Details

Browser considerations

The landing page application performs best when using Chrome, followed by Firefox then Internet Explorer 10.  The poorest performance was experienced using IE9.  Consider revisiting corporate standards for browsers as appropriate. 

Multiple UI technologies

As suggested above, HR Renewal 1.0 FP04 leverages functionality from prior feature packs and enhancement packs.  When calling applications from the landing page, the actual functionality called may be based on HTML5 (UI5), Web Dynpro ABAP, SAP GUI for HTML (Web GUI), or SAP GUI.  Customers will need to be able to complete required customization and configuration within the context of each UI technology used. 

NetWeaver Gateway connectivity to SAP data sources

The SAP NetWeaver Gateway and the OData services provide data to the UI5 applications.  This constitutes an additional layer of configuration beyond that which was required for Web Dynpro ABAP applications. Make sure that you have resources on your project that can help with this.

Our Observations Regarding the New Functionality

Improved User Interface

The landing page UI is a great leap forward for SAP.  It’s obvious that it can work well across multiple devices, mobile or not.  It has a modern look and feel, comparable to other cutting edge user interface designs. 

Multiple role functionality available in a single landing page

In other words, since a manager is also an employee, they can perform their ESS and MSS tasks from within the same interface.  An HR professional can access their ESS tasks from within their HR Professional landing page. In particular, this capability is available in the context menus in Search and  Org Visualization (org chart).   

Personalization

SAP product development, management and marketing have embraced extensive end-user personalization capability as an important functionality in this product. While we see potential benefits of this, there are different schools of thought regarding the desirability of personalization.
  • At Continental, we have made a point to disable end-user personalization in other self-service applications, because users have mistakenly hidden important functionality resulting in usability issues and numerous calls to the helpdesk.   
  • In the landing page, it is frequently necessary for end-users or system administration on behalf of all end- users to delete all end-user personalization so that security changes, catalog changes, and so on will be visible to end-users.  In our testing, we learned that when this occurs, the end-users must re-create the personalization which they previously had. We are concerned that this might be a source of confusion or frustration for our end-users.
  • In the current version, users must perform personalization upon initial logon to set up their landing page.  Because of this constraint, it is not feasible to disable personalization in the current version.
Our recommendations to SAP:
1.    Allow disabling of some if not all personalization system wide
2.    Provide settings to configure default personalization upon end-users’ initial logon
3.    Provide ability for administrators to make changes without requiring the deletion of end-users’ personalization

SUMMARY

We are excited to have had the opportunity to test this great new functionality.  We think our users, even those who have never touched SAP, will embrace this new application.  We see excellent improvement in available functionality demonstrating potential solutions to existing Continental's business challenges.  The new user interface is a vast improvement over prior releases.  We believe that the new HTML5 landing page and SAP UI5-based applications will make it easier for employees, managers and HR professionals to use SAP, changing our users' experience and making their lives easier.
While we did encounter some moments of frustration during this process, it was a success.  We want to thank our colleagues at SAP for their assistance and for listening to our feedback.  In particular, development support from India which was provided as part of this customer validation was critical.  We appreciate their patience, expertise and the long hours that they worked to support us.  We are planning to roll this out over the next year and believe that we will see a lot of benefit from HR Renewal.  We are also excited to see what comes next!
Follow SAP ERP HCM on Twitter: @SAPHCM
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