Make SAP S/4HANA a smooth experience with rapid application development + SAP Fiori UX

Working in the SAP market day in and day out, talking to partners and customers, the overall perception is ‘Cloud and SAP Fiori UX is a nice to have’ but most teams are still very happy when their existing on-premise SAP landscape is continuing to run smoothly. Yes, the transition to SAP S/4HANA is buzzing, but in most companies, it is still in sandbox mode and not close to being successfully completed. But why are decision makers not crazy about the opportunities that arise by digitizing and therefore upgrading their company and processes? The answer is, business and end users are not screaming for “performance” or “digital” because they are used to – and have almost just accepted – slow and bulky SAP systems, that just run and do the job.

I want to share three key reasons why you should start transforming your SAP apps today to make your enterprise’s transformation transparent while moving to SAP S/4HANA … whether your S/4 project is expected to be accomplished tomorrow, in a year, or in a decade. Don’t bet on a big bang release – show results on the go and get your users excited about SAP’s vision of simplicity, mobility, speed, IoT, AI, and consequently ‘the Intelligent Enterprise’.

1. True Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation starts with your employees and customers learning to operate and interact with a new breed of applications. Design Thinking and User Experience are means to ultimately close the gap between your workforce and your soon-to-be digital enterprise. No matter if blue collar workers in the field or white collar managers in the office, mobile devices with smart applications will be their constant companion.

But true Digital Transformation is not about the big bang change – it is about incrementally creating new and lean applications that will help the users to fulfill their daily tasks and make their lives easier. You need to offer your users a launchpad with a handful of smart apps today and go from there. Surprise your end-users with a new tile in their launchpad, a new offline app and more each month and truly transform your users SAP experience and have them see the new speed of your business processes – step by step.

However, digitization is a long-lasting endeavor, consuming time and resources for months and years. While the path defined by SAP for SAP S/4HANA is clear, starting this journey on a small scale has proven difficult for many SAP customers. In fact, companies starting to consider SAP mobility as the typical first step into transforming their processes are stopped almost immediately by high infrastructural requirements to get Fiori up and running. In order to productively run a single standard SAP Fiori app, customers must fulfill a list of requirements: SAP upgrades, oData protocols, and SAP Gateway server setup are just the most commonly known.

Thousands of S/4 project leads have proven that it is possible to demonstrate progress and ship innovative apps to keep stakeholders engaged during the S/4HANA transition. NetWeaver based rapid application development (RAD) platforms [hint Neptune DX Platform] are on the rise to enable any IT department to design UI5 based Fiori applications step by step on their existing SAP landscape – even in transition-mode. As a certified SAP S/4HANA tool, the platform is directly based on the ABAP stack and does not require SAP Gateway middleware and oData services. The idea is to start your company’s S/4HANA experience TODAY and optionally add SAP Cloud Platform (SCP), as well as CDS-based oData services to incrementally drive your SAP landscape towards a full-on S/4HANA rollout.

2. Flexibility & Future Proof

If you look at current IT trends, open standards and robust APIs are prerequisites for your Digital Transformation. Companies must create stable interfaces to remain competitive. SAP promotes CDS-based oData as the protocol of the future. At the same time, ABAP remains the core SAP language – Yes, SAP S/4HANA core is completely coded in ABAP!

Ideally, your IT architect combines the best of both worlds:

  1. Leverage and re-use your company’s ABAP based processes today, especially all custom coding that gives your processes a competitive edge
  2. …and whenever fitting, plug-in the right oData service to connect to third party systems or the SAP Gateway.

This approach makes sure that the existing SAP business know-how of your ABAP team remains your preferred interface while guaranteeing that your apps are fully compatible with the ever so more emerging SAP S/4HANA world. You will also experience that your IT department remains independent from external know-how – turning it into a true powerhouse – instead of being tied to changing consultants and web development teams with little to no SAP experience.

This ‘best of both worlds’ approach will furthermore increase IT departments’ budget flexibility:

  • Less external consultants and developers paired with a minimal infrastructural footprint
  • Speeding up process innovation and mobilization of your workforce
  • Showing results and tangible improvements today, instead of being ‘blamed’ for a year-long transformation project
  • Truly establish flexibility and simplicity, ultimately propagating agile DevOps
  • Power to execute S/4HANA functionality on Fiori instead of WebDynpro

Neptune Software itself has seen more than 500 customers over the last couple of years who have been ALREADY successfully transforming their SAP apps on mobile and desktop while preparing the move to SAP S/4HANA and SCP. Today, those companies have happy users who already love their SAP user experience, using mobile devices anywhere on any device, while now approaching the next steps in the overall enterprise wide digitization.

3. Familiarize users with Fiori ASAP

Digitization essentially means the user moves to the center. It is a mistake to restrict SAP Fiori UX to future apps and products by ignoring today’s transactional Business Suite applications. Successful enterprises start redesigning their solutions now to improve user satisfaction and performance for the future. No matter if the transformation starts with a desktop application in the browser or specific mobile applications that leverage mobile device capabilities like GPS, camera, barcode scanner or offline.

There are tons of transactional processes with huge potential for improvement:

  • Your onsite technicians will be able to work offline, take pictures of damage and use GPS to find the right functional location (PM)
  • Traveling salesman will be able to create sales orders with their tablets directly at customer sites (SD)
  • Decision makers can approve purchase requisitions and leave requests while on the go (WF)
  • All employees will be able to take care of their timesheets, travel expenses, leave requests, pay-slips on whatever device they feel comfortable with (ESS/MSS)

These are standard requirements which must be transformed today to boost your employees’ adoption to the digital enterprise of tomorrow.

And while you read this, your company is hiring a new generation of young and motivated workforce, who have been growing up using and consuming digital technology 24/7. These ‘digital natives’ must be armed with applications which enable them to use their full potential in the workplace. This is one of the reasons SAP is talking about ‘User Experience’ (UX) rather than just ‘User Interface’ (UI) when it comes to the digital generation of SAP. It is a wild management misconception to argue new interfaces are ‘nice to have’. In the age of digital – in the now and here – companies must make sure that new technology, powerful devices, and software is combined to be prepared for the challenge ahead of transforming and optimizing the value chain of your enterprise as a whole.

Key Takeaways

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  • Digital Transformation is happening now, there is no stopping anymore
  • Decision makers need to find the right means to make this a smooth journey – step by step
  • A strong focus should be on happy end users
  • Rethinking your UI on mobile and desktop by incorporating SAP Fiori UX in your business applications is the perfect way to start your road to SAP S/4HANA
  • By familiarizing your end users to SAP Fiori UX already now, the overall digitization process of departments becomes a smart and easy journey on mobile and desktop

About the Author

Christoph Garms

Christoph Garms – Managing Director

For Christoph, the key to successful digital change lies in the right technical tools. His vision as Managing Director of Neptune Software in Germany is to bridge the gap between business and IT and to move the DACH market towards a true digital transformation. With his cross-industry expertise, Christoph is certain that this is a question of digitalizing from process to process, creating a new work culture with agile methods and cross-functional teams. As a graduate software architect and with extensive background in pre-sales for Neptune Software, he knows the importance to supporting partners and customers from the first demo to implementation, onboarding and expert training.

Want to know more about how Neptune Software utilizes SAP Fiori UX and RAD to transition to SAP S/4HANA? Get in touch with us.

For other great articles, webinars and customer successes on Mobile Solutions, SAP Fiori UX and Digital Transformation, browse our Resources Section.

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