The Clear Software team just got back from SAPPHIRE 2015 in Orlando and we had a great time meeting colleagues both new and old. The event was very successful for us again this year as we had some pretty heavy traffic to our booth. However, one of the alarming messages we received again and again from our visitors is that you are really struggling to make SAP easier to use with the Personas and Fiori user experience (UX) platforms.
While we certainly have a conflict of interest (we provide ClearUI® for SAP customers), the purpose of this article to highlight some of the main issues we heard during SAPPHIRE from those of you on the UX front line. We want to hear more of your stories in the comments below, so please share.
Let’s start with Fiori. The most important complaint we heard was that a massive number of custom development objects are required to get Fiori applications up and running. We’re no stranger to this – we initially tried to build a pre-delivered Fiori application for our customers. The result was over 500 custom function modules, over 500 custom oData services, and over 30,000 lines of custom ABAP code. We felt that this was not sustainable for customers that need to upgrade their systems in the future, so we abandoned our Fiori application.
At SAPPHIRE, we heard similar stories, although most of you had not come close to 30,000 lines of custom ABAP code. Most of you ranged between 10,000 and 20,000 lines of custom code. The reality is that you will now have to maintain that custom code for the rest of your SAP existence, especially when future upgrades break that code.
The next complaint, closely related to the custom development, was the immense time and cost associated with your Fiori projects. We heard that some of you brought in external consultants and spent several years and several million dollars building Fiori applications. One SAP customer in particular spent $10 million – although their SAP footprint is quite large. The range seemed to be 2 years and about $5 million, although this was not an official study. The overwhelming message was that although the Fiori license is free, there is truly no such thing as a free lunch.
With the creation of SAP’s User Experience Design Services division, SAP is recognizing that building your own Fiori solution is not easy for a large percentage of the customer base whose internal team lacks UX expertise. Providing a team of official SAP UX consultants to help is a great idea, but it’s also very expensive.
The last issue with Fiori had to do with technical feasibility. The SAP Service Marketplace notes that you must be running Enhancement Pack 7 (EHP7) of ECC 6.0 in order to take advantage of the Fiori platform, but the vast majority of you are not on EHP7. From what we learned at SAPPHIRE, many of you have no plans in the near future to upgrade to EHP7 as well. Apart from the time and cost associated with Fiori, it appears that this platform won’t even be a technical possibility for a big chunk of the SAP customer base for quite some time.
There is a lot of confusion among SAP customers regarding Fiori vs. Personas. Depending on who you talk to at SAP, some will tell you that Fiori is the future and that Personas is going away, while others say that Personas is here to stay. To make things clear, S/4 HANA (SAP’s next major software release) is completely based on Fiori and SAP has directly stated that Personas is transitional and will certainly be going away.
Apart from planned obsolescence, what we did hear at SAPPHIRE was that unlike Fiori, Personas does not require a lot of custom code. Many of you said that Personas was much easier to use and that you had simplified some of your key transaction codes in only a few months without any outside consulting help.
While this certainly sounded promising, some of the deal breakers we heard were:
- Not Supported for All Solutions – Personas only works on ERP. For those of you running CRM and SRM, Personas in not an option.
- Technical Feasibility – you need to have your ERP system on at least Kernel 7.21, so again Personas is not an option for those of you not planning on an upgrade any time soon.
- No End-to-End Process Support – Personas makes individual transaction codes easier to use, but does not address full business processes that may span 10 or 20 transaction codes.
Unless something is done to make Fiori easier to implement without all of the custom code, then neither Fiori nor Personas are the future of the SAP User Experience. We would love to hear your opinions and stories about Personas and Fiori implementations below.