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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
As I write this the release of S/4HANA 1610 is imminent, and it seems a good moment to reflect on early lessons learned in the UX space of S/4HANA projects. Over the last year I have had the privilege of learning about S/4HANA; explaining S/4HANA to customers at roadshows and conferences; being the UX lead in S/4HANA projects; and helping customers and partners implement S/4HANA. And if there’s one thing I want to say to everyone embarking on a S/4HANA project it’s this…

S/4HANA is NOT another ECC EHP, another Business Suite, it’s not even like Suite on HANA or HANA sidecar…

...and the sooner you come to your
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”

moment the better off you will be.

Image sourced from memegenerator.net

It’s even more important if you are the UX lead on a S/4HANA project because based on what I’ve seen and experienced as UX lead you are likely to become the lynchpin of S/4HANA – helping others understand how they need to transform from old habits to new practices.

Somehow everything that’s speaks to the promise of S/4HANA has a Fiori label on it (even when it’s not Fiori!), and Fiori also quickly becomes the scapegoat for many issues and problems (such as functional consultants who claim they can’t progress because the Fiori app isn’t working… even when it turns out it’s not working because they haven’t completed the base configuration).

Now my experiences so far are based on S/4HANA On Premise, so I can’t speak to S/4HANA Cloud, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the same situations apply to Cloud also.

Let’s have a look at few them as we travel down the yellow brick road to the shining promise of your S/4HANA Emerald City … your exquisitely working state-of-the-art SAP system.

In this little journey, think of yourself as Dorothy. Don’t worry guys… you won’t need to tap into your feminine side, although having some empathy on hand is of course an absolute requirement or working in the UX space.  Toto is your toolkit of favourite Fiori diagnosis and troubleshooting hacks… just watch out because on this journey even Toto’s a dog needing to learn a few new tricks.

So let’s get caught up in that tornado in Kansas and make our first landing in Oz via…

The farmhouse that fell on the wicked witch of the East – the Simplification List

To be blunt, if you haven’t come across the S/4HANA Simplification List you may as well jump back into the tornado because without it you aren’t ready to start a S/4HANA project – especially if you are relying solely on your experience from SAP Business Suite or Suite on HANA projects.

The simplification list is the beginning of all wisdom for S/4HANA.  It explains how and where S/4HANA is NOT the same as ECC, GRC, SRM, CRM, Suite on HANA, various IS-solutions, and the list goes on. Just like the farmhouse squashing the witch, the Simplification List squashes a whole heap of assumptions about how SAP Business Processes work and what they do.

Sooner or later as the UX Lead on the project, someone’s going to ask you to create a tile pointing to their favourite old transaction.  More often than not, that old transaction no longer exists, or it’s no longer relevant.  Sometimes they even want you to turn on a Fiori app that's only designed for Business Suite.  You need to be able to ask that person:

Have you checked the Simplification List to make sure that transaction (or app) is relevant to S/4HANA?

Glinda the good witch – Good Guides and Fiori Visual Theme

Glinda meets Dorothy soon after she lands in Oz and kindly advises her to follow the yellow brick road towards the Emerald City where the wizard will help her get home.

In S/4HANA UX, the UI Technology Guide – which you will find at http://help.sap.com/s4hana - is the yellow brick road you need to follow to safely navigate your way.  That’s in addition to the Fiori Apps Library that you should already know and love.

If you are lucky enough to be on a project where Best Practice Content has been loaded you will also find the yellow brick illuminated by streetlamps in the form of:

  • SAP S/4HANA Fiori Foundation Configuration Guide (MAA)

  • SAP S4HANA Fiori Basic Network and Security Configuration (MAB)

  • SAP S/4 HANA Fiori Apps Deployment (MAD)

  • SAP S4HANA Fiori Launchpad Operation (MAG)

  • SAP S/4HANA Fiori App Extensibility (MAJ)

  • SAP S/4 HANA other app Types Deployment (MAL)

  • Theme Designer for SAP Fiori (MF4)

  • Mobilizing SAP Fiori With SAP Fiori Client (MP7)

  • Deployment of SAP HANA Cloud Connector with Security Integration(MP8)

  • Deployment of SAP Fiori Fact Sheet (MF3)

And there’s a further set of (UPx) guides if you want to apply Screen Personas to apps as well.

The information in these guides is largely already existing in the UI technology guide or the rest of the S/4HANA help, but the guides do help you to consume and apply the information more easily.

If you have Best Practice Content, thank your muchkins because they've given you a great start that will save you some tedious configuration (think changing the currency on dozens of Smart Business tiles...sigh).  My advice is to start with MAA, MAD, and MAL.  Then move onto MAG and MF3. Then prioritize the rest as befits the priorities of your project.

I’m sure Glinda must also be responsible for the SAP Fiori Visual Theme that comes with 1610 … how can else can we explain such a wonderful gift! Seriously if you are on a 1610 go find out about SAP Fiori Visual Theme … and then go and do a little happy dance 😉

Scarecrow “If I only had a brain” – Get enabled

The Scarecrow was always one of my favourites in the wizard of Oz – lovable and earnest.  But he needed to learn what he was he was truly capable of. He needed to develop his brain.

It’s no good having guides if you don’t read them – carefully! The S/4HANA guides favour those who are methodical and logical.  In other words it pays to keep a fairly granular track of what you have completed, what’s in progress, what’s been activated, any obvious errors you stumble across so you can go and fix them later, and what’s not yet done.   I use a multipage spreadsheet myself but whatever works for you is fine.

You also want to form strong relationships with your basis and security consultants.  You’ll need to work together particularly on the Web Dispatcher and any SSL Certificates (by the way don’t bother with self-signed certificates… they will not work).

Hint: doing a couple of openSAP courses as preparation is a great start for your general understanding but probably won’t be enough to get you through the project.

Tin Man “If I only had a heart” – Keep the end user in mind

As the UX lead, it’s going to be your job to make sure the user experience lives up to its promise.  If you simply dump the delivered sample business roles, tile catalogs and tile groups on your end users you have already smashed your Emerald City into pieces.

One of your most important tasks is to keep the end user in mind by making sure their first impression of the system is a good one.  If on day 1 they spend the first 3 hours trying to work out which tile is which, and which tile they need to find to complete the work they should have done first thing that morning… you risk having a mutiny on your hands.  You’ll also see your promised user adoption benefits vanish – maybe never to return.

Don’t think your end users will happily spend hours of day 1 working out what they can and can’t do with Personalization – they still have a job to do.

Nor should you think you can rely on the business Subject Matter Experts or the Security team to sort this out for you.  They may help identify which tiles belong to which business role, but they simply don’t have the necessary end user perspective to understand what text should be shown on each tile and how the tiles should be organised.

Get your Organisational Change Management team on the case early in validating with end users what’s most important to them. In fact getting selected end users directly involved in organising their Launchpad is a great way to start their change journey, as it gives them some say and buy-in to the end result.

Cowardly Lion “If I only had a nerve” – Be brave enough to try new things

Even if you’ve done Fiori in Business Suite or Suite on HANA, you also need to wrap your head around the new Fiori single archetype approach.

You will have a very unhappy time on your S/4HANA project if you don’t know anything about CDS views or how to troubleshoot them.

And you need to understand how certain S/4HANA features, such as Fiori Search, rely on the Web Dispatcher.

You will also need to understand how the authorizations work in the CDS views; and how the Fiori Launchpad tile catalogs and tile groups drive the underlying security roles.  Knowing the new way of creating security roles can save you from days being bogged down in unnecessary tracking of authorizations in transaction STAUTHTRACE.  Expect to be the one teaching the security consultant how the new authorization approach works.

When you start getting into extending S/4HANA to add apps and in-app changes you will also need to have an understanding of:

  • Common reuse apps such as Application Jobs, Email Templates, Form Templates

  • Personalization vs Adaptation options

  • Fiori Elements

  • Smart Business

  • Analysis Path Framework

And even if you thought you knew them already from your previous Fiori projects, you’ll find there are some subtle and not so subtle differences in how they are applied in S/4HANA.

Wicked Witch of the West - the Time Wasters

Expect that you will spend a fair bit of time deflecting the Wicked Witch of the West’s unfortunate flying monkeys… aka your fellow functional consultants.

Because none of them will understand Fiori, or even which tiles are Fiori and which use other technologies, any difficulty they have that’s remotely related to a tile or the behaviour of any app will be classed as a Fiori issue and deferred back to you.

There are few things you can do to minimize the deluge:

  • Make sure they have read their own part of the Simplification List

  • Ask them if they tried the app in the S/4HANA trial .. in other words do they know how the app is designed to work

  • Show them how to use some of the error logs, especially /IWFND/ERROR_LOG and /IWBEP/ERROR_LOG. Messages about missing core functional configuration or missing authorizations often show up here. At the very least it will give them some keywords to search the S/4HANA documentation and SAP Notes.

  • Make sure they are using a user that has the correct authorizations for their testing

The Emerald City – Your working S/4HANA system with it’s beautiful Fiori UX

If you’ve successfully traversed the yellow brick road and reached the Emerald City your Wizard – your project sponsor that rules the city - will have a beautiful UX to present to the organisation.  A UX with each business role tailored to meet the real needs of real end users, and all apps working as designed.  Your end users might even break into this little ditty from Wicked…

“Every way

That you look in this city

There's something exquisite

You'll want to visit

Before the day's through!”

Best of all you’ll have earned those ruby slippers, be able to click your heels 3 times and get to say “There’s no place like home”.  You might even get a well-earned break with your family before the next project.

You see as Glinda explains to Dorothy:

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”