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

Talking to partners and customers in the SAP market day in/day out, it seems the overall perception is ‘Cloud and SAP Fiori UX is a nice to have’ but most teams we work with are happy when their existing on-premise SAP landscape runs smoothly. While for most companies, the transition to SAP S/4HANA is buzzing, it’s still very much in sandbox mode, and nowhere near successful completion.

So, why aren’t decision makers going crazy for the opportunities digitizing presents them with? After all, it’s a way to upgrade their company’s performance and processes.

Business and end users aren’t screaming for digital. They’ve accepted slow and bulky SAP systems simply running. But, 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.

No matter when you expect to complete it, don’t bet on a big bang release: show results as you go and get your users excited about SAP’s vision of simplicity, mobility, speed, IoT, and AI — culminating in ‘the Intelligent Enterprise’.

1. True Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation (DX) starts with people learning to operate and interact with a new breed of applications. Design Thinking and User Experience (UX) will gradually bring your workforce up to speed with your soon-to-be digital enterprise. Whether they’re in the field or in the office, smart applications on mobile devices will be constant companions.

But true DX isn’t about big bang change. It’s about incrementally creating lean applications to help users fulfil daily tasks, making their lives easier. It’s better to offer users a launchpad with a handful of smart apps today and build from there. Surprise end-users with a new tile in their launchpad or a new offline app; adding more each month to transform their SAP experience. This way they’ll see your business processes speed up, step by step.

However, digitization is a long-term endeavor, consuming time and resources for months — even years. While the path for SAP S/4HANA is clearly defined by SAP, starting out on a small scale has proven difficult for many SAP customers. In fact, companies considering SAP mobility as the typical first step in transforming their processes are almost immediately stopped in their tracks by the infrastructure Fiori needs to get up and running. To productively run a single standard SAP Fiori app, customers must deal with a set of pre-requisites, most commonly SAP upgrades, oData protocols, and SAP Gateway server setup.

Thousands of SAP S/4 project leads have proven that it is possible to keep stakeholders engaged by shipping innovative apps during the S/4HANA transition. Use of NetWeaver-based rapid application development (RAD) platforms (such as the Neptune DX Platform) is on the rise, enabling any IT department to design UI5- based Fiori applications on their existing SAP landscape – even while in transition-mode.

As a certified SAP S/4HANA tool, the platform is directly based on the ABAP stack and requires no SAP Gateway middleware or oData services. The idea is to start your company’s SAP 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

Open standards and robust APIs are prerequisites for delivering Digital Transformation with stable interfaces that keep you 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 your ABAP team’s SAP business know-how remains your preferred interface while guaranteeing that your apps are fully compatible in the emerging SAP S/4HANA world. Without the need for the external know-how of consultants or web developers that have little to no SAP experience.

This ‘best of both worlds’ approach will also make IT budgets more flexible, through:

  • fewer costly external consultants and developers paired with a minimal infrastructural footprint
  • faster process innovation and workforce mobilization
  • showing results and tangible improvements today, instead of waiting months re years for returns from your transformation project
  • simplification and ultimately propagating agile DevOps
  • executing S/4HANA functionality on Fiori instead of WebDynpro

Over the last couple of years, Neptune Software has seen more than 500 customers successfully transform their SAP apps on mobile and desktop while preparing the move to SAP S/4HANA and SCP. Today, those companies have happy users who love their SAP UX, using mobile apps anywhere on any device, while planning the next steps in delivering their enterprise-wide digitization strategy.

3. Familiarize users with Fiori ASAP

Digitization essentially means the user moves to the center, so it’s a mistake to ignore today’s transactional Business Suite applications and limit SAP Fiori UX to your future apps and products. Successful enterprises start redesigning their solutions now to improve user satisfaction and performance for the future, whether transformation begins with a desktop application in the browser or specific mobile applications that uses capabilities like GPS, camera, barcode scanner or offline.

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

  • Technicians in the field will be able to work offline, capturing images of issues on a site and use GPS to find the right functional location (PM)
  • Mobile sales teams will be able to create sales orders on tablets at customer sites (SD)
  • Decision makers can approve purchase requisitions and leave requests, on the move (WF)
  • Employees will be able to manage timesheets, travel expenses, leave requests, pay-slips on any device they prefer to use (ESS/MSS)

Transforming these standard activities today will boost employees’ adoption of the digital enterprise tomorrow.

Even as you read this, companies everywhere are hiring a new, motivated digital-savvy workforce, that has grown up consuming digital technology 24/7. Arming them with applications that enable them to use their full potential in the workplace 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’s a wild misconception that new interfaces are ‘nice to have’. In the digital age – in the here and now – you must be sure that new technology, powerful devices, and software combine to prepare you for the challenges ahead in transforming and optimizing the value chain of your entire enterprise.

Key Takeaways

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  • There’s no stopping the Digital Transformation movement
  • Decision makers need to find a smooth path with step changes
  • End-user experiences must be the focus of every DX strategy
  • Rethinking UI on mobile and desktop by incorporating SAP Fiori UX into business apps gives you the perfect start on your SAP S/4HANA conversion
  • Familiarizing end users with SAP Fiori UX now, makes the overall digitization process smarter and easier

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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