Are Your Workplace Apps Overloaded?

In the interactions I’ve had with HR professionals, I’ve come to respect the challenges of the profession. Their role is to take a very complex system of processes and tools and simplify the concepts so that their customers – the company’s employees – can understand and use them to make decisions, manage careers, and engage with the organization.

This is a huge challenge, especially when you take into account the role of human capital management (HCM) technology and the multiple screens required in order for employees to have access to HR tools “whenever and wherever they need them.”

Today’s employees have considerable expectations around having constant access to workplace technologies; they come to the job already mobile-savvy due to the apps they use outside of work, which are quickly setting the standard for workplace apps. However, the terms of “whenever and wherever” are outdated, oversimplified mis-characterizations of how mobile software should work. A great user experience, not an over-abundance of capabilities, is one of the key factors ensuring employees will use and enjoy a mobile app.

In my experience, workplace mobile apps often fall flat when it comes to engaging employees because the mobile experience hasn’t been thought through. Many times, mobile features are treated as a checklist, and the assumption is that if a feature is available on the desktop or web platform, it must be made available on mobile. Frequently, I’ve been asked to make mobile work exactly the same as the web platform, at times even getting so granular as specifying the same number of clicks or taps. While general consistency between mobile and desktop platforms is a good thing, the fact is that from the user’s perspective, these platforms are different. Forcing one platform to conform to the other without consideration to how users interact with each is exactly the opposite of providing a great user experience.

At SAP SuccessFactors, our mobile design stems from one key question: What is it that the user wants  to do on mobile?  We’ve found that ultimately, people are not going to use mobile devices to execute every aspect of HR, the way they might use a desktop. But we also know that given how pervasive mobile devices are in our lives, there are some processes and connections that are actually enhanced in a mobile environment—and these are the very ones we focus on incorporating into our app.

First, consider when people typically use their mobile devices. While there may be times when you are stuck at an airport and are forced to work on a mobile device for an extended period of time, this is typically not the usage pattern for mobile software — we are far more often checking our phones during the “in between” moments. We use our phones while in line at Starbucks, and while on the elevator on our way to our next meeting. Most of these interactions are not lengthy.

At SAP SuccessFactors, we’ve spent considerable time understanding the HR processes that match this style of interaction, making them ideal for a mobile environment. Creating a new job requisition with lots of fields probably doesn’t make sense on a phone, but reviewing the job requisition and approving or sending it back for further edits might, and this ultimately informs our thinking around the job requisition capabilities we provide in our mobile app. An app that facilitates easy, intuitive completion of these “in between” activities is ultimately better aligned with how people use the device they are performing them on.

Consider also how people interact with the mobile device itself. On iOS, users swipe up to access the Control Center to turn on airplane mode. On Android, users swipe down from the top to access their Settings to do the same. Anyone who has lost a phone still on contract and were forced to temporarily switch from iOS to Android or vice versa understands the frustration these small differences can cause for the user experience. When workplace mobile apps are not designed to the standards of the mobile platform, this has the same time-consuming and frustrating effect.

The SAP SuccessFactors Mobile app is designed not only to align with when and where people typically use mobile devices, but also how they interact with their operating system of choice. This includes bringing platform-specific features such as 3D Touch from iOS, Android Fingerprint biometrics, and Apple Face ID (coming soon to your iPhone X) into the SAP Successfactors mobile solution. From the perspective of HR these may sound like inconsistencies between our Android and iOS offerings. But from the perspective of your users, these small touches ensure the mobile app is intuitive, familiar, and enjoyable to use.

For a long time mobile was simply thought of as anytime, anywhere access to all aspects of a solution. But the truth is, mobile can’t and shouldn’t be an exact copy of what we enable people to do at their desks. A mobile app is far more effective when it is an extension of the desktop solution, enabling the activities and tasks that make sense in a mobile environment and that match when, how, and why people use their mobile devices.

The SAP SuccessFactors Mobile app is designed to engage 100 percent of your workforce and keep them captivated, enabling instant, actionable access to the processes, data, and information that matter the most when they’re on the go.

Martin Cheng is director of Mobile Product Management for SAP SuccessFactors