Thursday, 15 October 2020 07:02

Design Thinking and SAP Fiori Launchpad Homepage Design

Written by Adam Cody
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“© 2020. SAP SE or an SAP affiliate company. All rights reserved.” “Used with permission of SAP SE”

Empathy towards end users is a key factor when designing an SAP Fiori Launchpad homepage, learning who they are and what they want to achieve drives our new approach to role based design.

Over the past number of years I have been delivering design thinking and User Experience Strategy workshops to customers for them to better understand how to create efficient SAP Fiori Launchpad home page designs. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the lessons learned with you and explain to you why this topic is so crucial to your implementation of SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA and how this will lead to increased user satisfaction and higher user adoption.

Why Does SAP Fiori Launchpad Design Matter?

There are many ways to design a bad user experience and the simplest way is to assume this particular aspect of your project does not require attention. Having a comprehensive UX Strategy is a key part of any SAP Fiori focused implementation of SAP S/4HANA one which in recent years has been underestimated in many cases. Poorly designed SAP Fiori homepages lead to lower user adoption and in the cases where our users have options with regard to working some other way such as legacy SAP GUI for Windows etc, they will simply revert back to tried and trusted approaches from the past.

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Overwhelming and likely poorly performing default design

On the other hand, a well designed home page which is focused on a users role with all features enabled to support their day to day activities will result in happier users and all associated benefits including a reduction in training time, change requests and enhanced adoption of the solution and support toward your continual innovation in these areas.

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A Well Designed SAP Fiori Launchpad Homepage

How Does Design Thinking Help Here?

Design Thinking blends in well with SAP Fiori homepage design because Design Thinking places the user at the forefront and the eventual prototypes are designed around their needs with multiple iterations of feedback. Letting our users guide the SAP Fiori homepage design helps us to personalize each role ahead of time and simultaneously answers the question which many greenfield SAP S/4HANA customers face: “how do I start when I have over 2000 SAP Fiori applications to choose from?”

Let the user guide you based on their role and how they want their SAP Fiori Launchpad to be designed. This will empower you in regard to which aspects of your system to activate. Exploration of features will take on a new meaning if many of your users tell you that they would find a certain feature highly useful. The approach here is to fail on a whiteboard with your design, not to fail with a live SAP S/4HANA system.Design%20Led%20Development%20Process

Design Led Development Process

I Thought This Was Something That Could Only Be Done In Person?

We are in a new era of remote delivery. This is not an excuse to pause good design, this is a chance to embrace the challenges we face and get creative with solutions. There are many virtual whiteboarding tools available for use. I took advantage of using one such tool with a recent customer workshop and we were able to replicate a Design Thinking workshop in a conference call via screen sharing while using a virtual whiteboarding tool. All users were given a voice, and a chance to improve the design of the solution with minimal difference to how this would be done in person. One of the outcomes of that workshop is below:

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Recent Example: Low Fidelity Prototype Built With A Virtual Whiteboarding Tool

Though this is not to undermine the challenges we face today when all bar a few interactions are remote. If we take the opportunity now to adopt new mindsets then when we do return to in-person interactions in the future we will have new and better habits which will benefit us.

Understand Your User And Create Personas

Conduct user research. Observe your users day to day work and carry out interviews with them. The purpose being to gain empathy for their role and how they actually interact with the solutions being designed for them. One recent example I had of this was during a Persona definition exercise we were imagining our eventual end users environment and realised that we were building a mobile solution for an environment where our user would be wearing gloves and therefore would find it difficult to actually interact with our prototype, which influenced our design to be more visually focused and requiring minimal manual input (user default values, focus on KPI tiles).

This will help you decide on which tiles are most needed for a particular users home page. Especially with regard to the many KPI features available on the SAP Fiori Launchpad. Your users may not even need to enter an application if they can gain the information they need at a given moment by merely glancing at the homepage.

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An example persona which helps influence home page design

Define A Problem Statement Which Reflects The Problem

We benefit from diverse perspectives with Design Thinking, and this is never more apparent than when we talk to different people in our organization. A recent example was during a workshop where I was guiding a customer to come up with a problem statement and speaking to project management and senior basis colleagues, that statement was “How do we design in such a way as to meet our project deadlines and maintenance window” which when reframed later became “How to design a solution which meets the need of our end users while maintaining mobile friendliness and improves the adoption of the solution”. This simple examples underpins the importance of empathy and understanding what the real challenges we face are, and this is simply achieved by interacting with our end users and understanding them.

Listen To Your Users Pain Points

A recent workshop that I was part of involved the end users and the developer of the solution being in the same room. The end users having used the product for many years had a few choice words for the developer. Embrace it. Always remember that you are not designing the solution for yourself. Don’t be dismissive with regard to pain points and focus on aligning the new solution (in this case homepage design) with solving those pain points of the past. You will find in listening to the end user which features are more important than others and which will have adoption due to the fact that a solution to an age old pain point does generate excitement in your end users for the eventual solution.

Example: a properly designed homepage almost entirely removes the need for the user to remember transaction codes

Generate Wild Ideas

At the stage of design, no idea is too much or too crazy. Encourage out of the box thinking and explore possibilities with the solution to arrive at a feasible outcome. There are many new features today which were unthinkable in the past. In any Design Thinking workshops I coach I like to hear about the usage of AI, chatbots and other smart features which are available for use in the SAP Fiori Launchpad. This idea generation will help you decide which of those homepage features you enable and why they would be used. Many customers enable features but they are often used incorrectly or in some cases the user isn’t even aware they are there at all!

Prototyping

The fun part. There are two types of prototype I primarily focus on:

Low Fidelity Prototype

Use your whiteboard or whiteboarding software and allow your users to be creative. Some tools allow for sticky notes to be placed on the page. This is perfect for SAP Fiori homepage design. The users can easily add tiles they want to see based on their role in this way. The reason this is valuable is because at this stage, everyone can contribute to the design and are not “afraid” of breaking a working solution. they also do not need any specific design skills for this exercise.

High Fidelity Prototype

Take your low fidelity prototype to your prototyping tool of choice. for for SAP Fiori specific tools refer to the SAP Fiori Design Stencils

Once done, validate this design with the end users again, allow them to leave suggestions. This cycle is repeated until your users are mostly happy with the anticipated design. Once completed hand this prototype to your SAP system administrators for them to implement your final design.

Outlook For Homepage Design

Some of you will have already designed your homepages with this approach in mind. However things change rapidly with User Experience. The recently available concept of Spaces and Pages presents a new framework for our design and enhances the possibilities for us to explore with our end users. I highly encourage you to take this on board for future iterations of your home page design and begin thinking of how you can adjust your existing designs to take advantage of this new paradigm.

Conclusion

When asked to design an SAP Fiori Launchpad homepage this is the approach I take. The normal result is satisfied and engaged users who are eager to work with the solution having had a hand in designing it. User Experience, like anything else is an iterative process and the beginning is about failing repeatedly (in a good way) so that we benefit from our final design being as close to what the users actually expect as possible.

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