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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
Looking for the best free course to help you as a Functional Consultant?

Enroll now in our free massive online openSAP course SAP S/4HANA UX for Business and Functional Experts at  Starts November 7. 

Find out more at SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA – New course on UX for Functional Consultants

Latest Updates:

Latest Updates October 2019:

If you want to get insights into what’s working and what’s not, nothing beats direct contact.  I was reminded of this recently when I was involved in a SAP S/4HANA Design Review for one of our Australian customers embarking on the second phase of their SAP S/4HANA journey.  They were at that inflection point of moving from their first phase basic implementation of the Fiori launchpad with a few carefully selected apps to their second “modern UX” phase, i.e. as much SAP Fiori coverage of their processes as possible.  

It was a good reality check on my suspicions & considerable anecdotal evidence about how functional consultants are coping with the new UX.  In some areas I was pleasantly surprised at the degree of progress, and in others my suspicions were confirmed such as where consultants are struggling, and what happens when there is no UX Lead in place yet. So the aim of this blog is to help redirect attention to the best resources for functional consultants.

Post the first go-live is always a good time to see what’s really happening in any project.  Business users, process owners, and the project team who guide them all have a better understanding of what their SAP S/4HANA solution is about and the value that it brings.  First selected innovations have been understood along with the potential for doing more.  The organizational change management & technical teething issues of adjusting to a new solution have been worked through. The lessons learned have been built into the next phase. And often a new bunch of consultants has joined the project.

The most encouraging sign for me on at this SAP S/4HANA 1709 design review was how positive the whole team were about using SAP Fiori.  Often for functional experts coming from a Business Suite background, understanding simplification, and giving up treasured bells and whistles of one size fits all SAP GUI transactions can be something of a wrench.  But in this case, the team had embraced the benefits of the more precise fit to role-based tasks, and had seen this reflected in the very positive response from their business users.

So, with thanks to a dedicated and highly commended team of functional consultants, here are a few recommendations for functional consultants around:

  • Sorting out Myths and Misconceptions

  • Selecting your apps

  • Exploring apps in depth

  • Understanding options for extending apps

  • Play backs and advanced tips and tricks

Update December 2020: You can now find a brief guide on Fit-gap analysis for SAP Fiori apps and classic UIs that brings together the current tools and recommendations for ensuring an efficient and effective fit-gap process.

ou are also recommended to review self-paced the openSAP course How to Build a Great User Experience for SAP S/4HANA.

You can even find a microlearning video on Finding Available SAP Fiori Apps for your target SAP S/4HANA release.

Sorting out Myths and Misconceptions

When you are new to SAP S/4HANA and new to SAP Fiori getting a grasp on the vision of user experience and sorting out myths and misconceptions can be hard.  There is so much information to sort through, absorb & think about.  There were one obvious area of confusion where we heard the same question over and over again: “Is it Fiori first or Fiori only?”

This is a typical confusion over:

  • The vision for SAP S/4HANA UX

  • The difference between SAP Fiori apps vs. classic apps provided with SAP S/4HANA

To put it simply:

  • Yes S/4HANA UX is a mix of SAP Fiori apps and classic user interfaces

  • Yes the intention is to increase SAP Fiori coverage over time and we have seen that at each release from SAP S/4HANA 1511 (over 300 SAP Fiori apps) through to 2020 (more than 2K SAP Fiori apps)

  • Classic apps are existing apps usually inherited from Business Suite and created using older technologies such as Web Client UI, Web Dynpro for ABAP and SAP GUI for HTML

  • Classic apps are used where SAP Fiori apps do not yet cover all tasks in all processes

TIP: Remember also that the strategic priority of SAP S/4HANA is innovation.  In other words the priority is to provide new innovations with additional business value, e.g the first SAP Fiori app to provided in Sales and Distribution was Sales Order Fulfillment Issues and in SAP S/4HANA 1809 several Lines of Business have added Machine Learning Scenarios such as Quotation Conversion Rates.

For a deeper dive on this I recommend to any functional consultant is Fiori for S/4HANA – Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions to avoid – especially the first 5 points.

Selecting apps to fit your business process

I was also very happy to see how well the functional consultants had embraced the SAP Fiori apps reference library as a source of truth for available SAP Fiori apps and classic user interfaces (Web Dynpro for ABAP, and SAP GUI for HTML).  One even went so far as to call it a goldmine!  What was working well for them in the SAP Fiori apps reference library was:

  • Using the main filters SAP Fiori apps for S/4HANA and All apps for SAP S/4HANA to distinguish between SAP Fiori apps vs classic user interfaces

  • Using the sub filters by Line of Business and by Role to find apps relevant to their work stream and area

  • Searching by name, e.g. Purchase Order to find all the Purchase Order apps

  • Searching by SAP GUI transaction codes they knew from past Business Suite projects to find the closest SAP Fiori app equivalent

  • Using the App Documentation links to delve into the details of how each app worked

What they had missed were nearly all the available accelerators to make selecting suitable apps much easier.

Why use accelerators? Those consultants who searched only on names missed some of the most important apps.  For example the procurement team searched on keywords such as Purchase, Requisition, Order, Quotation, Contract and Service.  They found many useful apps such as Manage Purchase Orders and Monitor Purchase Contracts.  But they missed the most innovative and arguably the most effective app in Procurement, i.e. the Procurement Overview Page. They simply didn’t think to search on the word Procurement.

There are 2 main accelerators for selecting apps that we recommend to most projects:

Tip: When it comes to new SAP S/4HANA installations where the business users have no history of SAP usage, then consider Overview Pages in SAP S/4HANA – a good place to start.

NOTE: The SAP Readiness Check 2.0 has integrated both of these approaches into the SAP Fiori area as per SAP Readiness Check 2.0 - Details about the topic of SAP Fiori

Selecting apps only based on past usage or what you know from Business Suite can result in missing some of the best new innovations of SAP S/4HANA. However now that there are over 1680 Fiori apps available, trying to find the best new apps to use can be challenging. So the Fiori lighthouse scenarios is a concise deck to highlight some of the best of the best apps for selected core business roles and industries. The intention is to use the deck as a starting point for discussions with the business.

You can also find the Fiori Lighthouse scenarios deck on the home page of the Fiori apps reference library, which was recently revamped.

You an also watch a UX Virtual Bootcamp video explaining the Fiori Lighthouse scenarios deck further here which customers and partners can use to upskill.

TIP: Remember always when discussing innovations to consider the strategic priorities and appetite for change expressed by the executive level sponsor and your business stakeholders of your SAP S/4HANA project.  You should never assume business users are change-averse or change-ready based on your personal preference or even your previous project experience. That said, where there is a clear need and a good fit it can be worth at least having a pros/cons discussion.

You should also check out the What's New Viewer for SAP S/4HANA and try searching on the keyword fiori. The What's New Viewer contains a summary of all changes from SAP S/4HANA 1610 and above.

When it comes to explaining apps to your business users a simple demo or video is often the easiest way to get the discussion moving in the right direction.  For this see the latest examples in Video Series – The Power of SAP S/4HANA

Lastly don’t forget that many apps work in conjunction with other apps – e.g. they may have required reuse components, or seamless navigate to other apps via buttons or hyperlinks. You can see how this works in an example use case explained in Understanding Insight to action app to app navigation.

To better manage the pace of organizational change or where there is no available SAP Fiori app for your specific role/task, you may need to add classic user interfaces, such as SAP GUI Transactions, ABAP Web Dynpro applications, or Web Client User Interfaces.  Confirm which classic user interfaces you can use by following the due diligence steps in Identifying classic user interfaces available for use with SAP S/4HANA

Make sure you capture any related apps as well to support the end-to-end task of your business user as explained in Adding Related Apps in the Fiori Apps Library.

Exploring apps in depth

Another success story on project was using a sandpit system to explore the details of the apps further, and to understand the related configurations.  For most SAP Fiori apps technical activation is a relatively straightforward process, however some apps have additional functional configuration that need to be applied post activation, which is typically explained in the App Documentation. However we do have some areas that are more complex, and we sometimes see functional consultants stumble over.  For this we recommend our wiki page:

SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA wiki – All About Apps

There you will find sections for better understanding of how apps behave apps and for many of the apps that require some additional configuration, such as Where to find app-specific settings for SAP Fiori apps.

There are listed a number of useful SAP Notes and starting points for various Line of Business, including the collective SAP Note 2881803 - FAQ: S/4HANA Fiori Best Practices - Collective Note

Given that SAP S/4HANA uses common SAP Fiori floorplans, layouts and frameworks for similar business use cases, another fantastic resource for understanding app behaviours is the SAP Fiori Design Guidelines - especially the section on Floorplans, Layouts and Frameworks. Here you can find information such as:

  • Screenshots & other diagrams of the floorplan and important features

  • Use case fit (when to use, when not to use)

  • Main and optional structural elements

  • Behaviour and interaction on different devices

  • Personalization features

You can also find an easy introduction to these floorplans in videos 1-4 of the Getting Started with SAP Fiori elements video series.

Understanding options for extending apps

What all of the functional consultants had missed was the many implicit and explicit options for extending SAP Fiori apps.  This was particularly disappointing as the many key user tools provided as part of SAP S/4HANA enable functional consultants to quickly make changes themselves instead of waiting on developers.

In the diagram below we have brief summary of the different approaches for SAP Fiori and classic User interfaces (such as SAP GUI for HTML, Web Dynpro for ABAP (WDA) apps, ans Web Client UI apps).  You can quickly see how in-app extensibility using Key User Tools is often your first go-to for making changes. Particularly if all you need to do is add, hide or rearrange a few fields in a SAP Fiori app. In some cases you can even create whole new apps using the Key User Tools, such as new KPI tiles or reports.

Think of Key User Tools as SAP Fiori apps and features that enable you to change (configure, adapt or extend) other SAP Fiori apps. These tools and the in-app extensibility capabilities themselves are part of the Cloud-first thinking that is inherited from SAP S/4HANA Cloud.  So you can find a good explanation of in-app extensibility in the SAP Extensibility Explorer for SAP S/4HANA Cloud

In the SAP S/4HANA documentation you can find these listed in the:

In SAP S/4HANA we find that of all the Key User Tools arguably the 3 most important are:

  • Custom Fields and Logic – so you can add custom fields to both Fiori and classic apps at the same time, and control where they are available

  • KPI Workspace – so you can adjust the thresholds, currency, drilldowns and other settings of analytical tiles and cards

  • UI Adaptation at Runtime (RTA) – so you can add, remove, and/or rearrange fields, sections, and other content areas in specific apps

There are 4 business roles that contain the majority of Key User tools.  So you should check your UX lead or technical team have activated and assigned all of the apps belonging to the special Business Roles:

  • Administrator

  • Analytics Specialist

  • Business Process Specialist

  • Configuration Expert - Business Process Configuration (as of SAP S/4HANA 1909)

You should also ask your technical team or UX Lead to:

  1. Assign the special Key User security role SAP_UI_FLEX_KEY_USER to you and your functional consultant colleagues. You can easily tell if this has been done because whenever you are in a SAP Fiori app you will see an Adapt UI icon in your Me Area of the SAP Fiori launchpad

  2. Set up Adaptation Transport Organization (ATO) in your sandpit and development systems. This is a simple step to control how transport requests will capture your changes.

  3. Assign the SAP Fiori app Extensibility Inventory to themselves so that they can monitor and manage the transport of any changes made using the Key User Tools.

You can find out more about the specific tools and what’s possible on our wiki page:

SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA wiki – Extensibility

Other common configuration options worth knowing:

Play backs and Advanced Tips and Tricks

On project, SAP Fiori apps that were Smart Business KPIs and Analytical List Page apps were mentioned several times as getting particularly a particularly favourable response during business process playback sessions with business users.  However the team missed a few of the minor features that can really add some excitement and interest to playbacks such as:

  • Saving favourite selection variants and filters

  • Adjusting the table display to suit your needs

  • How export to spreadsheet works

  • Why choosing a high contrast theme can make your working life easier – especially on devices

You can find out more about these common features seen in many apps in the Fiori Design Guidelines:

And there are many other great tips on making the most of your Fiori user experience in the

Fiori Launchpad User Guide

There are a number of additional videos in openSAP Microlearning User Experience playlists for SAP S/4HANA

And if you are upgrading to SAP S/4HANA 1909 or higher from an earlier version of SAP Fiori in Business Suite or SAP S/4HANA, make sure you read about the changes to SAP Fiori 3 in First parts of SAP Fiori 3 available for on-premise customers

If you are dealing with one of the many customers who are using SAP Fiori on SAP Business Suite before moving to SAP S/4HANA, Successors of SAP Business Suite apps in SAP S/4HANA explains how to work out whether you can continue using those apps or if not, what are your options for successors.

Consider Intelligent Enterprise use cases 

SAP S/4HANA solution continues to deliver new value use cases for the intelligent enterprise:

  • In 1709 - chatbots were introduced

  • In 1809 - machine learning use cases were introduced

  • In 1909 - Situation Handling, and intelligent Robotic Process Automation were introduced.

  • In 2020 - you can now find more than 50 Situation Handling use cases, more than 70 iRPA use cases, and 15 Machine learning use cases.

Find the latest blogs, videos, best practice/configuration guides and more on our All About Apps page of the SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA wiki.

You can also find a summary blog on available intelligent enterprise use cases in Finance delivered with SAP S/4HANA 1909 Make your finance processes ‘Intelligent’ with SAP S/4HANA

Tip: Some use cases are delivered entirely as part of your SAP S/4HANA installation, some are delivered as part of add-ons, some require additional SAP Cloud solutions or SAP Business Technology (Cloud Platform) services. So make sure you check the pre-requisites for each use case.  For a quick indication, check if the scenario is Embedded - i.e. fully within SAP S/4HANA - versus Side-by-Side - i.e. with SAP Cloud Platform.

Last Thoughts

One clear problem on project was the lack of a User Experience Lead to take a holistic view of how all the elements of user experience would come together.

Nearly everything that was of central use or crossed over the boundaries of functional streams had been missed.  No-one was looking at their SAP S/4HANA solution from the point of view of the business user who logs in on day 1 of go live. This included design considerations, launchpad features, and common apps.

The project team understood the need for a UX lead, had planned to have a UX lead, & their UX lead was scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks.  This is still common across projects - people with the requisite combination of mindset, design, and technical knowledge are still comparatively rare.  So our current best advice is to look to grow people into this role.  At the moment we are seeing these people coming from either a UX Design or a Mobile/UX development background.

You can help to advocate for this and to understand more about SAP S/4HANA UX by looking at:

Becoming a SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA guru

You’ll find much more on the community topic page for SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA

Other helpful links in the SAP Community:

Brought to you by the SAP S/4HANA Customer Care and RIG.