French Army moves SAP human resources into the mobile future

Gendarmerie SAP Human Resources Case Study

Improving user experience and easing developer transition to 100,000 mobile users with Neptune Software

CHALLENGE: Outdated technology leaves users offline and out of touch

Headquartered in Paris and with more than 4,000 barracks across France and the French territories, the French Gendarmerie provides public safety for more than 60 million citizens and tourists.

With a large geographic area to cover and more than 100,000 staff, the organization needed a simple way to provide access to human resource applications. When they made the strategic decision to deploy smart phones to all of the gendarmes in France, the IT department began the transformation to move beyond the desktop.
The gendarmerie needed to simplify access to more than 150 HR applications for its SAP users, comprised of military personal and private citizens. An antiquated 20-year old HR portal was neither mobile enabled, nor designed responsively, which over time, led to a poor user experience and reduced productivity.

Technologically the organization needed to continue to use the existing instance of its SAP system. They also needed to easily sync the portal menu and the backend system, while avoiding the use of complex web services to access data. Plus, the gendarmerie needed to modernize the system quickly.

While development staff had a deep expertise in ABAP technology, they were inexperienced in mobile and web applications development.

“Initially, it was hard to envision the team’s transformation to be able to take this on,” said Major Jérémy Lauraire. “To support our need for speed in the search for a new solution, training for our 40+ developers needed to be easy.”

APPROACH: Arming the gendarmes with new convenient HR capabilities

Based on Neogend, which brought a mobile device in every gendarme’s hands across France, the goal of the project, named AGORHA.M (stands for AGORHA MODERNIZED), is to modernize the user experience for the national SAP HR portal with mobile capabilities and streamlined technology.

To get started, the organization prototyped a few simple applications, first using a third-party open source framework and later SAP UI5, with both efforts considered successful. Still, once developers heard about Neptune Software from one of their contractors and developed a prototype using the Fiori-based platform, they knew they had found the solution that would move them into the future.

“We chose Neptune software for several reasons. The ability to use existing SAP infrastructure and ABAP capabilities was important, as was the easy integration with the ABAP backend,” said Major Jérémy Lauraire. “Knowing we could achieve our goals of better UX for the gendarmes and deliver fast applications quickly using the Neptune platform was also important to us.”

“Plus, with Neptune, it was clear that training would be easy. Asking developers to essentially move to a new job – learning web development – was huge for us. But with Neptune, there was only a small, easy-to-navigate learning curve. The platform was simple to use, it felt familiar to our ABAP-development team, and took a mere two days for training, which made developers happy.”

Once training was complete, the organization prioritized which of the 150 applications would be “Neptunized” first, targeting a core set of 25 applications focusing on HR and personnel data management as well as time, leave, and travel management. Consulting with the key super users as well as a UX specialist helped the team ensure that they’re putting users first with the new portal.

To simplify the effort, the team made large use of a customized SplitApp snippet. They also applied the SAP Fiori and Neptune best practice approach of building one app for one key functionality, while carefully merging and reducing the number of apps with similar functionality to ensure data remains easily accessible. And finally, they implemented a policy-based strategy to control access to applications based on exact needs and role of the user.

RESULTS: Vast mobile possibilities supports mission to protect the public

Users are happy with the personnel documents management application, which recently went live. And they’re eagerly anticipating the rollout of the additional 23 applications scheduled for summer of 2017, which will provide additional human resource capabilities such as employee profiles, time management, leave requests and approvals, travel management, and more.

“Our user base is enthusiastic about the new experience and all of the new functionality,” said M. Johann Lahitte. As we roll-out the additional applications later this summer, users are actively brainstorming with us to help us adjust the experience to be exactly what they want and need.”

Developers and IT alike have appreciated the easy transition. With Neptune, the organization has streamlined both training and associated costs, simplified system administration, and eliminated the need to redevelop existing capabilities.

Gendarmerie Quote HR Neptune

“The vast possibilities we have with the “Neptunification” of our environment make us confident that users are going to love the new applications and that we made the right choice,” said M. Johann Lahitte.

Currently in testing, which includes both validation from a third-party UX specialist and user acceptance testing to ensure that business needs are met

“Through the Neptune platform, we have an in-house application of evaluation feature where users can evaluate the quality of the user experience, providing us valuable feedback we’ll use to further enhance the system,” said Major Jérémy Lauraire. “We think that this feature, as part of our three-prong approach to testing, will go a long way in ensuring that users accept and adopt the solution rapidly.”

And when the “Neptunization” is complete, it will be easy for police officers to access their HR data anywhere and anytime. And that will allow them to remain focus on their core mission, protecting the public.

Customer Industry: Public Safety

Geographic Reach: 60 million citizens across France and French territories

Neptune Functionality Scope: Mobile, web, and desktop

Number of Users: 100,000

SAP Version: SAP HCM

Devices: Desktop, tablets and smartphones

Implementation Timeline: Project start September 2016. Rolled out June 2017

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