Government Agency Put User-Centered Design to the Test with Neptune Software

User centered design DFO

Putting users first pays off and saves users 80% of their time – with user friendly SAP HR apps

CHALLENGE: Improve Usability of a Highly Customized SAP System

As a subordinate agency to Norway’s ministry of finance, the Norwegian Government Agency for Financial Management (DFØ) focuses on strengthening financial management within public sector activities and improving resource efficiency across Norway.

DFØ manages human resource and accounting systems for governmental institutions throughout the country, processing payroll for 120,000 people monthly, and distributing more than 50 billion Norwegian Krones annually. The agency also manages technical support and training on relevant systems. An SAP HR system serves approximately 200 organizations under the various ministries.

In 2015, its self-service portal, supporting 80,000 users for payroll, time management and travel, suffered from a poor user interface, an overly complex log in processes, and a hard-to-understand travel expense form. Combined with inconsistent experiences on different browsers, that left users frustrated when accessing and using the system.

That includes regular users as well as infrequent users who may only complete one travel request a year, making a user-friendly interface an absolute necessity.

“No one looks forward to filling out a travel expense report. Administrative paperwork keeps customers from focusing on what they’re passionate about in their careers,” says Ingvild Nygaard, project manager for the DFØ app. “We wanted to truly put the user first and provide them with processes that made their lives easier.”

At the same time, the DFØ team responsible for the system clearly understood that any changes to its SAP system, which includes a highly customized interface, were potentially costly.

APPROACH: More User-Friendly, Keeps Cost Low

With that in mind, the project team set out to develop an app to complement the self-service portal, and add mobile capabilities to existing processes.

“When we began, we thought we’d end up with an out-of-the-box solution from a third-party vendor that would look nicer but offer the same functional SAP capabilities,” said Nygaard. “With Neptune Software, we quickly realized that there was a bigger opportunity to change the user interface for the better. The result was a UI that users were really happy with.”

With Neptune Software, the DFØ project team was able to easily meet two key goals: make the system more user-friendly, without adding significant cost.

That’s due in part to the ability for DFØ to use and build on its existing infrastructure. When choosing a mobility vendor, DFØ took into account that Neptune Software required no extra hardware and no additional middleware or integration. Plus, the system could take advantage of existing SAP roles and authorizations, which would greatly streamline and shorten the implementation process.

User testing was an important part of the project. To get started, the DFØ team surveyed users, asking open questions about their expectations when using an app, and how they use apps in general.

Next, they developed a prototype and solicited user feedback. During this process, the team observed users interacting with the prototype and came away with key insights that customers have a variety of habits and expectations, and that success would mean creating an app built on their existing and familiar patterns.

To revise the prototype, the team consulted user experience design principles, taking into account best practices for interaction patterns. From that insight, they worked to create an interface built on a mix of natural user patterns that would also accommodate differences among users. This included adding action buttons in the title bar, using X to close the app, and other common activities.

With Neptune Software, it was easy for developers to configure the user interface, making elements of the app simple and easy to use in the process. The DFØ team successfully simplified the processes for recording time, completing travel requests, and travel applications in the first weeks, and later added payroll, transfers, and workflow inbox.

Rolling out the system was also easy, with Neptune’s ability for developers to developer once, then deploy and update the app to all users across all devices.

RESULTS: A System that’s Quick, Simple, and Available

Three words describe how users now view the system: quick, simple, and available.

Today, users record time more frequently, and thus more accurately. It’s easier for them to understand what information they need to fill in and they can record time while traveling, which speeds reimbursement. And simplified management functions make it easy for the controller and other managers to make decisions based on having that information available.

“Users save between 50-80% of their time when entering time on their devices over the previous options,” said Nygaard. “We also estimate that saving each employee one minute translates in 90 FTEs saved when calculating for the 40,000 employees.”

Putting users first is the most important step in moving forward with any application, an effort that continues at DFØ. In fact, developers spend a time with users every few weeks to make sure the system continues to meet their needs, saving time in support down the road.

Having the right tools in place to deliver on the promise of user-centered design is just as important. “We believe that putting users first pays off,” said Nygaard, “and the user interface capabilities of Neptune Software gives you the opportunity to do just that.”

Customer Industry: Human Resources

Geographic Reach: Norway

Solution Scope: Operations & Maintenace 

Neptune Functionality Scope: UX Desktop & Mobile 

Number of Users: 80,000

SAP Version: SAP ECC 6.0 EHP 6

Implementation Partner: Bouvet

Implementation Methedology: Agile

Implementation Timeline: 4 Months

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