In 2013, SAP saw its renowned classic GUI revolutionised with the first instalment of SAP Fiori, a user experience (UX) for SAP software. What originally started with a small number of apps has since evolved significantly and integrated various solutions such as SAP S/4HANA, SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, SAP Ariba and SAP Analytics Cloud. Fiori’s goal was to introduce a new approach to app design, development and navigation. This approach could serve as both a complement to and replacement of the original user interface. The latter is often referred to as a Fiori First mentality. Five adjectives were set to steer its past, current and future development: simple, coherent, adaptive, delightful and role-based. In other words, Fiori seeks to improve its users’ experience, productivity and insight by offering an intuitive, consistent, intelligent, and customizable interface, which runs on any device (e.g. desktop, smartphone, tablet). Moving away from excessive navigation menus and content structures, a simple set of apps grants employees quick access to the functionalities and information they require on the regular to fulfil their business functions. In what follows, this article will dive deeper into SAP Fiori’s look and feel, and how it could bring value to your business.
The ingredients of the Fiori Launchpad
At the foundation of SAP Fiori lies a collection of applications. Traditionally, these can be classified in ‘transactional apps’, ‘analytical apps’ and ‘info sheets’. Transactional apps correspond with the classic SAP transactions used to launch well-known process steps. They do not necessarily match perfectly with the original transactions, but may also focus on specific parts of a transaction, specific use contexts, or brand-new S/4HANA business processes. If required, any missing (custom) GUI apps can nevertheless still be transformed into transactional Fiori applications. Analytical apps promote the monitoring of KPIs, live status indicators such as the number of outstanding invoices, charts, and other relevant, actionable figures. Lastly, info sheets deliver formalised information and reports. They smooth down the navigation to both related info sheets and transactional apps. Of late, the distinction between the previously mentioned three types of apps has nonetheless been watered down, and hybrid forms have emerged. By way of illustration, ‘overview pages’ constitute small-scale dashboards within a certain business domain. Flexible and customizable, they present a set of cards containing intel from and entry points to various other apps. An example of an overview page can be found in Figure 1. A browsable collection of all Fiori apps provided by SAP can be found online in the Fiori App Library.
The allocation of applications to SAP users occurs through catalogues and user roles. Business catalogues are collections of apps required by a certain user group, which are mindful of both the business context and any dependencies among the apps. When assigning a catalogue to one or more user roles, all users in possession of the role(s) will be able to avail themselves of the apps included. SAP offers template business roles and catalogues, which can be explored, copied, and tailored to a business’s specific needs. For all SAP applications, the required standard catalogues or roles are given in the Fiori App Library.
Regardless of the device used, the Fiori Launchpad constitutes a users main entry point to his apps. On the Launchpad applications are depicted as either a tile or a hyperlink and can be arranged on a single home page or a set of spaces. The home page (Figure 2) is the original concept and offers a single level of structuring page content. When applying the principle of the home page, an administrator can assign one or more meaningful groups of apps to a user role. These groups can be either custom-made or based on an SAP standard. They will, by default, appear on the users’ Launchpad home page. To avoid unnecessary clutter and inferior system performance, groups should only contain the most frequently used apps in a users’ assigned catalogues. Less frequently used apps can still be accessed by the user via the Launchpad’s search bar, navigation menu or App Finder. The second possible Launchpad layout is the ‘spaces’ concept (Figure 3). Only available for release SAP S/4HANA 2020 or higher, ‘spaces’ offer their users a more stable and structured display, consisting of three levels of flexibility. The highest level, the space itself, should be designed to support the tasks of a certain business role. On the second content level, a space contains one or more pages, which are built around a certain work context. On the third level, you can arrange apps in different sections. Once again, administrators determine which spaces appear by default on a user groups Launchpad. These spaces can be custom-made or based on SAP standards and, to avoid unnecessary complexity, should only feature a minimal set of the users most essential apps.
At this point, the home page and spaces concepts can be applied interchangeably, depending on the administrators or users preferences. It is nonetheless SAP’s intention to fully switch over to the spaces concept in the future.
After the initial creation by the Launchpad administer, both the home page and spaces can still be fine-tuned by the users, based on their circumstances and cognitive needs. You can rearrange displayed apps to fit their workflow, hide extraneous applications, and integrate undisplayed apps from a user’s catalogues. There is the possibility to alter app titles and descriptions, and the user can choose between a visualisation as a tile or a hyperlink. Similarly, entire groups and sections can be rearranged, hidden, added or renamed. When applying the group concept, users can equally choose whether all groups appear at once (anchor bar) or if only one group is visual at a time (tab bar).
As mentioned before, the Launchpad is also fully responsive and will automatically conform to any type of device or screen resolution.
Special Fiori features
Since its initial introduction in 2013, three different Fiori upgrades have successively seen the light of day: SAP Fiori (2013, starting from SAP Business Suite), Fiori 2.0 (2016, starting from SAP S/4HANA 1610) and Fiori 3 (2019, starting from SAP S/4HANA 1809). So far, every SAP S/4HANA release has brought a series of new apps, updates to existing apps, technical and performance improvements, and new functionalities.
Some of these functionalities worth mentioning are User Profiling, Fiori Enterprise Search, Fiori Notifications and Fiori Default Values.
- Firstly, User Profiling is an optional setting that, if switched on, keeps track of all apps and objects viewed by a Launchpad user. Based on this tracking, the Launchpad can provide a list of ‘Recent Activities’, which can be resumed from the last technically recoverable state, and ‘Most Used’ applications of the last month.
- Second of all, ‘Fiori Enterprise Search’ (Figure 4) powers a search through all business objects (e.g. customer records, sales orders, material documents) based on a (partial) reference ID or name. When applied, the search takes into account the findings of User Profiling. Aside from offering a browsable list of potential matches, Enterprise Search equally provides a connection to all accessible transactions pertinent to the discovered object(s). Moreover, the search function directs its user to the right application upon entering any of an app’s references (e.g. application name, keyword, classic GUI transaction code), rendering dispensable any navigation menus.
- Thirdly, Fiori Notifications alert the user of any important developments or due tasks. When appropriate, they include a direct link to the application(s) that require a follow-up. Additional configurations allow these notifications to be grouped based on subject or priority level and to be assigned a medium (pop-up message, mobile or email alert, muted notification).
- Lastly, default values for frequently used company codes, plants, cost centres and time periods can be entered in the user settings (Figure 5). These values will then be automatically supplied in all relevant transactions.
Starting from Fiori 3, a lot of attention has been paid to the Intelligent Suite. Meaning that artificial intelligence supports the Launchpad’s real-time analytics, (search) recommendations, notifications, conversational user experience, and ‘situation handling’. The latter is Fiori’s approach to proactive business situation management: the intelligent recognition of rare, but significant circumstances (e.g. material shortages), notification of those responsible for addressing the situation, and offering of clarifications and recommended actions. In SAP S/4HANA 2020, Situation Handling has been set up for 51 use cases. This collection will be extended toward new releases.
If you have any questions about Fiori, do not hesitate to request more information or leave a comment in the comments section below.