The UX Mantra

For many customers, user interfaces are the key differentiators for business software products. Consumer apps have set the bar high, and customers are looking for a consumer-like user experience in business software too. Read on to find out how the SAP Fiori apps and SAP Screen Personas tools are impacting the user-friendliness of SAP software – and check out the related webinar too.

Anyone who works with business software knows where its deficits lie. Take the materials management clerk who wants to quickly create an order but can’t find the totals line among the maze of input fields and function groups on the screen. Or the head of department who has a team of employees to manage and a long list of administrative tasks to complete as well – like approving leave requests and travel expense claims online. Not only are these tasks often awkward and time-consuming, but you always have to be at your desk to accomplish them. In short: The quality of the user experience, or “UX”, is the deciding factor in whether human-computer interaction is pleasant or downright painful.

Usability: The Four Main Flaws

Ultimately, there are four aspects that can make working with business software anything but a fun experience:

1. Developers don’t find out what users actually need

2. Software impacts our daily lives and is as much part of them as making coffee or small talk. Yet, software is not perceived as a form of social interaction

3. There are way too many functions that no-one ever uses

4. Software can’t cope with errors

These are the findings of usability expert Jan Borchers, who is professor of computer science and head of the Media Computing Group at RWTH Aachen University and has been dealing with the subject of software usability for over 20 years.

Klaus Drews, who works in business development for Middle and Eastern Europe at SAP, is all too familiar with these criticisms. “Feedback from customers’ user departments was always peppered with comments about the software being too cumbersome,” says Drews, “and it was not unusual to hear customers say that 95 percent of their SAP functions never got used at all.” The rich variety of SAP functions available hasn’t changed, but there are now ways for users to filter out precisely the screen elements they need most. One way is by using SAP Screen Personas: Just as in a PowerPoint presentation, users can drag and drop the elements they need onto their business application screen, add images and company branding, and change the color scheme. In other words, users can personalize their user interface to suit their role and personal tastes – in much the same way as they personalize their office space. “It’s clearly a massive improvement if a technician can enter a maintenance notification with two clicks instead of ten,” says Drews, highlighting the benefit of SAP Screen Personas, which dramatically simplifies the processing of data from the ERP system on desktops.  To access a free SAP Screen Personas demo system, click here.

SAP Fiori and SAP Screen Personas Included in SAP Licenses

SAP Fiori has one major objective: simplification. And it also aims to make information consumable on mobile devices via apps, of which there are now 300. These include an analytical app for SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization that displays current inventory levels and forecasts, and the SAP Smart Business for Financial Close app, which displays a range of key performance indicators. Both SAP Fiori and SAP Screen Personas are currently included with underlying SAP licenses for software based on SAP NetWeaver, which underlines that UX is now a more important topic for SAP than ever before. Above all, it is clear that SAP has already taken serious action to address the usability issues described above: Because users can now design their own screens, the software functions are being modeled increasingly on consumer apps, and users can simply “lose” functions that they don’t need.

SAP Fiori and SAP Screen Personas will only catch on if enterprises gain an understanding of how they can benefit from these solutions in detail. That’s why SAP offers a Webinar Series. The “Advise” element of the SAP UX Adoption Service Kits, which is available until the end of 2014, helps customers identify the most important UX use cases in their organizations.