SAP Fiori represents the renewed SAP user interface and experience. It has been around for a while, so this may very well not be ‘news’ to you. However, it’s important to take note, particularly for those of us still accessing SAP via the SAP GUI.
This is because the vast majority of new SAP applications that are being introduced on SAP’s next generation ERP system (SAP S4/HANA) are being built with an SAP Fiori user interface. It’s a great opportunity to improve engagement with the SAP system.
Easy to use
We are so used to operating with consumer grade quality apps on our smartphones. By consumer grade I mean, really easy for you to pick up and use without your brain having to enter overdrive just to know how to log in! This means we tend to enjoy using the apps and spend significant time ‘engaging’ with them.
Clearly this is what the likes of Amazon and Ebay have in mind when you are buying or selling products on their websites – a simple and pleasurable experience. So why shouldn’t we enjoy using applications at work? We don’t suddenly take on a new demeanour the moment we walk into the office so why shouldn’t the systems we use to do our jobs be as simple and pleasurable?
The design principles of SAP Fiori lend themselves to simplicity and ease of use. The number of functions that can be performed with each “app” is limited to just a few, so it becomes pretty obvious what the app is for and how to use it.
Take payments in Accounts payable for example - there is one app to create and schedule payment proposals and another app to review and tweak. You can see from the below that right across this accounts payable role, the apps are focussed on specific activities.
The benefits are clearly less resistance to using the system and less training required. This makes it easier to introduce new innovations with less change management. Therefore, as a business you’re able to adapt to a changing business environment more quickly.
More enjoyment at work
Take for example SAP’s Fiori app for creating a sales order. The traditional SAP screen would require a lot of information about who is selling and what you are selling. In the SAP Fiori world it’s more of a shopping basket feel. The system knows who your regular customers are, so presents you with a list of customers to choose from, you then drag products into a shopping basket and check-out the order. Here you are also presented with a list of previous orders by the customer that you can copy for creating the new order.
Low cost for mobilising your workforce
The great thing about Fiori apps is that they are ‘responsive’. This means that the apps respond appropriately when being run on different devices. The benefit is that you don’t have to build an app for working on your desktop and a separate app for your tablet or smartphone.
So what do you need to go mobile with Fiori?
You need to install the apps in your backend system (ERP, CRM, SRM depending on apps) and some of the components on the Netweaver gateway which is part of the ABAP stack of your NetWeaver system. Some of the apps will have functional pre-requisites that you need to take care of (clearly you can’t approve a purchase order with workflow on Fiori if you don’t have workflow in your backend system). Many don’t have functional pre-requisites and you can get them up and running in hours or days depending on the app.
Furthermore, if you don’t want to run apps on your on-premise Netweaver gateway because you’re all out of infrastructure or you don’t want to expose your network to the internet as your workforce are on the move, you can run Fiori as a service from the SAP / SAP Partner Cloud. Yes, essentially what I am saying is that it is possible to subscribe to a user interface as a service ‘UIaaS’ which is the quickest and cheapest way to get you up and running because of the investment already made.
Mobile Offline capability
So you’ve gone live quickly with online Fiori apps and started benefiting from having the information you need when you’re out and about. In order to complete the mobile picture, the great news is that if you need specific apps to be made available offline due to the nature of where you work, this can also be achieved within the Fiori framework by introducing the SAP mobile platform.
As a parting shot I think it’s important to mention that not all Fiori applications need SAP HANA as the database and if HANA is further down the track in your roadmap, you can start benefiting from the Fiori user experience straight away.
However, I would also add that because SAP HANA is the enabling technology for many of the new types of applications being built, you will benefit so much more once you’ve made the move. It’s not overly complex to migrate to HANA so don’t let the perception of a major change put you off.