Simplifying SAP UX Design is Easier Than You Think

User experience – UX, for short – is how a person feels when interacting with a digital product. What users expect is an easy, interactive experience that provides value with regular use. When forced to spend too much time navigating through a clunky web application, the result is frustration, loss of productivity and a perception of poor value.

If you’re tired of hearing complaints from customers, clients, coworkers or employees about web apps with a cumbersome user experience, you’re not alone. The good news is there are professional tools available to help UX designers streamline business processes, enhance visuals and simplify navigation to boost user satisfaction and loyalty. This article aims to familiarize and provide examples of some of the professional design tools available for enhancing UX on web-based systems.

Tools of the Trade:
Here are a few popular and easily accessible tools for UX professionals, developers, designers and interaction designers.

Fiori
Fiori is a collection of apps designed by SAP for broadly and frequently used SAP software functions. These apps offer a user experience that is personalized, responsive and simple, while enabling a holistic and consistent experience across multiple devices.
JavaScript
JavaScript enables you to add dynamic and interactive elements to websites. It can be used to enhance the user experience within web browsers by adding animation and effects, and also allows for communication between external devices and other platforms.
UI5
Not to be confused with HTML5, SAP UI5 is a library / framework of pre-built and customizable elements created using JavaScript that simplifies and accelerates the development of enhanced user experiences.
SAP Gateway
SAP Gateway is a technology that provides a simple way to connect devices, environments and platforms to SAP software based on market standards. It offers connectivity to SAP applications using any programming language or model without the need for SAP knowledge by leveraging REST services and OData/ATOM protocols.
ABAP Web Dynpro
ABAP Web Dynpro is the SAP standard UI technology for developing Web applications in the ABAP environment. This is the base of building a SAP specific webpage, but recently has the added ability to execute JavaScript.

How it’s done:
So what are some things you can do with the aforementioned tools? The examples below show how DataXstream developers used a combination of these tools to enhance the UX of our Order Management / POS application for SAP.

(1) ABAP Web Dynpro has enabled SAP web applications to utilize JavaScript. In the example below, both ABAP Web Dynpro and JavaScript were used to enhance the home page user interface.

ABAB, curtain effect, javascript

JavaScript was used to create a curtain effect. When the mouse is rolled over a blue icon, the box rolls up to reveal its contents. This can be seen in the first section.

Java Script, SAP, customization, SAP message

JavaScript was used to customize the standard SAP messages. Here the message is displayed in a pop-up that disables the background and forces the user to acknowledge the message.

(2) In addition to enhancing the UX with flashy interfaces, ABAP WD and JavaScript were used to communicate with a credit card machine. Below are snapshots of the interaction between the application and the credit card device.

OMS+, POS, credit card device, app display, SAP, SAP Retail,

Line items entered on the POS web app display on the credit card device.

UX, ABAP WD, JavaScript, credit card device, signature capture, SAP, SAP Retail, POS, OMS+

Once the customer provides a signature on the credit card device, it’s captured within the POS application.

cc machine, pos, oms+, sap, javascript, UX, ABAP WD,

The signature capture is also displayed on the retailer’s POS screen.

(3) In this next example, ABAP Web Dynpro, JavaScript, and SAP Gateway were combined to interactively display forms with the appropriate signature:

POS, ABAP, Web Dynpro, JavaScript, SAP Gateway
POS, OMS+, ABAP, Web Dynpro, JavaScript, SAP Gateway, SAP

POS, OMS+, SAP, signature

A PDF document within the POS displays the full order and signature.

In Summary:
SAP UI can be cumbersome, however simplifying digital apps to provide a better user experience, making it easier and more efficient for users, is not as daunting as you may think.

This year at TechEd && d-code, SAP’s premier technology education conference, DataXstream consultants presented a User Experience/User Interface Development session highlighting how DataXstream developers customized a standard Web Dynpro ABAP app using HTML islands. Participants learned to enhance standard floor plan manager components for Lean Order Management with HTML islands and saw examples of how HTML5 was used to enhance the GUI and communication with multiple external retail devices.

To learn more about DataXstream and view a pdf of this session, please click here.

michael_profile2Michael Champion
Michael Champion is a SAP Technical Consultant with DataXstream responsible for Product Integration and Development. His core skills include ABAP / Web Dynpro ABAP and Process Integration Development (PI/XI).

Enhancing SAP Lean Order Management for SAP Retail Part 3: Enhancement Framework

Creating Custom Views, Events, and Controlling the Visibility of Data Elements

In my previous two posts in this series, I discussed how to control field level help information and how to influence the look, feel and flow of the end user experience. In this entry, I will discuss some of the LOM capabilities for controlling what happens behind the scenes to manage technical events as well as screen content. For example, during transaction processing the system locks table entries to prevent other users from updating data while you are processing it. As in many technical endeavors, good housekeeping and cleaning up after yourself is always appreciated. To quote Roger Manifold, “Good manners don’t cost nothing”.

The enhancement framework concept is used to create custom views, handling of those custom views and dynamically controlling the visibility of different elements within Lean Order Management.

The FPM (Floor Plan Manager) with the Web Dynpro application interface provides you with methods to allow the application to participate in all FPM events that happen during the entire lifetime of the application.

Within the package ERP_SLS_LO_OIF, the main Web Dynpro component is LO_OIF_MAIN_COMP. Open this Web Dynpro application using transaction code SE80. The first step is to create an enhancement by clicking the enhance button or CTRL+F4 key. [Read more...]

Enhancing SAP Lean Order Management for SAP Retail Part 2: Configuring LOM

In the previous blog post, I discussed how to tailor the contents of field level help dropdown lists.  This kind of customizing is very specific, detailed and should always be thought through carefully.  In this post I discuss a higher level of customization of Lean Order Management, namely the look, feel and flow of the end user transaction screens.  This in turn influences the process flow and can be used to ensure the end user actions occur in the required sequence.

SAP often gets a bad rap for their GUI design, whereas other companies (can you think of a crisp, golden delicious fruit?) are lauded for their GUI design.  This doesn’t happen by accident and it isn’t easy.  “Intuitive” designs can be anything but intuitive and understanding your end user audience, their skills, expectations and willingness to learn is imperative when designing with LOM functionality.

In this regard, a recurring theme with LOM is to think it through before acting: LOM is a powerful tool and, to paraphrase, with that power comes responsibility.  Ideally, any LOM development work is preceded by detailed whiteboard sessions to map out the screen flow, the required buttons and actions, pop-up windows and possible responses, otherwise it is easy to end up doing basic design on the fly – and that rarely ends well.

Anyway, enough of the preamble – how do we make this magic happen in SAP? [Read more...]

Enhancing SAP Lean Order Management for SAP Retail Part 1

The objective of this series is to provide quick reference which may be used as a guide while enhancing Lean Order Management built with Web Dynpro and based on Floorplan Manager.

This is the first of three blog posts that discuss SAP LOM functionality. The first provides a high level introduction to LOM and how to modify the SAP table value help process to display available values. These are the value lists usually accessible using the F4 key in the SAP GUI.

The second post discusses how to configure LOM, and the third posting discusses the enhancement framework that allows you to build custom views and dynamically control screen content.

Enhancements in Lean Order Management

Before we start a discussion the technical aspects of SAP’s Lean Order Management (LOM) we need to understand the goal of order management itself.

Wider Goals of Order Management

  • To ensure or create coherence between tasks, organizations, functions and information systems (both manual and electronic) in the customer order flow
  • To ensure or create awareness of time consumption, bottlenecks, changes of responsibility and costs in the administration and at the shop floor
  • To remove non value-adding activities and non-value-adding information by reorganizing structures, tasks and systems towards lean principles

With order management is the necessity to simplify and streamline the process for taking an order from a customer. In my opinion, many companies spend more time (man-hours & lead-time) on order processes than production.

In many companies more time (man-hours & lead time) are spent on order processing than on production. [Read more...]

How DataXstream and SAP Retail can Improve your Business

Retail Business owners, have you ever wondered how SAP Retail can help your business? Let our partners at SAP show you what we can do for you.

At DataXstream, we create tailored solutions for SAP Retail that give retailers tools which allow them to capitalize on the retail revolution and achieve success in today’s business environment.  Our dedicated team of Retail-focused SAP experts, with specialties ranging from technical and functional implementation to custom configuration and strategic project management, enables our customers to realize the full potential of SAP Retail’s highly flexible, configurable, and powerful solution toolset.  Whether you are a food, hardline, or softline retailer, Dataxstream can help you achieve operational and supply chain excellence with your SAP Retail system.

 

Lessons Learned for Decision Makers and Leads from a Successful SAP Retail Project Part 2 – Client Resources

My first post of the SAP Retail Lessons Learned series, I provided some background information on the SAP Retail implementation project that will be used as the primary reference for the lessons learned. I also listed a few over-arching themes for the entire series as well as major Lessons Learned categories that will be featured in upcoming posts.

In continuing my series of lessons learned with SAP Retail I would like to cover the topic of Client Resources and Planning. Again, in general many of these lesson I have learned could be applied to any project and I can easily draw parallels from other SAP industry solution implementations that I have led in the past. I will do my best to highlight where I think there are specific retail differences.

There Are Never Enough Client Resources

This is the case on almost any large-scale project, not just SAP projects. It impacts smaller organizations and it impacts retail businesses more because they tend to run leaner IT organizations. So you might be saying to yourself, “big deal; what project not funded by the government doesn’t have enough resources?” This one point however might be the most important one I make in this series.

[Read more...]

Role Call – NRF Annual Convention and Expo

DataXstream will be present at Retail’s Big Show later this month (Jan 15-17) to talk all things SAP Retail. Will you be in attendance? Send us a message below to connect with us in New York later this month.

DataXstream: A Proven Expert in SAP Retail

Since a great number of SAP shops exist these days, you might ask yourselves why, as a retailer, you would choose DataXstream to implement SAP for Retail for your business.  It is a good question, and we have a great answer.

First and foremost, we at DataXstream are proven experts in SAP, having worked in the SAP world for more than 15 years and having established an excellent reputation.  Simply speaking, we understand SAP extremely well.  You can absolutely trust us with any SAP project.

Secondly, we have a proven track record when it comes to the specifics of SAP for Retail. With us on your team, you can expect to implement SAP for Retail 50% faster; have all the unique configurations of the system you need to best reach your business goals, and even have your system customized to improve upon SAP’s already excellent functionality.

Thirdly, we are experts in virtualization, as well, which means we give you the unique opportunity to virtualize your SAP environment if you so choose.  Many cost-savings and other benefits (including flexibility and increased responsiveness to business growth) can result from a virtualized environment.  For more details on the benefits of virtualization, read here.

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Lessons Learned for Decision Makers and Leads from a Successful SAP Retail Project

I have spent the last 2 years working on an SAP Retail implementation.  An SAP Retail project is the last place I could have ever imagined myself working.  I have always been drawn more to SAP manufacturing, distribution, and A&D projects.  Being a manufacturing engineer by trade, I am always a little more comfortable with a manufacturing line or warehouse near by.  Even the facility that we ran the SAP project out of had a manufacturing line in it and a warehouse, so it helped to ease my inner engineer.  It also broke my 12 year streak of not having a project in the state I live in.

I have been working with SAP for over 15 years.  This was my first SAP Retail project and once again SAP has proved to me that it can be successfully leveraged and become a competitive advantage for those companies that implement it.  Each time I start a new project in a new industry I think about the vast differences in how the new company will need to leverage SAP and the challenges that unique business will create for the SAP application.  Time and time again a reasonable solution path is achieved and SAP becomes a solid foundation from which the business operates.  The diversity of my own personal experience working with successful SAP customers demonstrates this point.  There are not a lot of similarities in how A Flooring Retailer, Rocket Manufacturer, Pharmaceutical Manufacturer operate, yet they are all very successful at leveraging SAP.

[Read more...]