- Most claims about how Fiori will improve user experience of S/4 HANA is based on marketing material from SAP.
- Our Testing shows that SAPGUI is still better than switching to Fiori.
Introduction: The Reality of Fiori
SAP has made great claims around Fiori, which have gone unchallenged in the marketplace. You will learn the about our testing of Fiori and what the results mean for both SAP customers and for vendors that compete with SAP.
How the Normal Population Comes to Learn About the Fiori Client
SAP has spent so much time talking about how web-enabled Fiori client is for S/4HANA it is worth mentioning how little in the way of research usability exists on Fiori.
If you look closely at what is primarily published about Fiori, it nearly always can be traced back to very positive statements by SAP. That is the statement is either from SAP itself or from an SAP partner that is really just repeating the information provided by SAP. That is there is little to no actual analysis of Fiori’s capabilities outside of a promotional context. In fact, if you analyze some articles, the assumptions about Fiori’s usability are made, without ever being investigated.
A Typical Unexamined Assumption Laden Quotation
The following quotation from TechTarget is a prime example of this.
“SAP exemplifies why and how ERP vendors are changing their attitude about usability. Over the years, many SAP customers have struggled with the ERP user experience and have either tried to work with or around the complex and monolithic applications as is, or poured resources into usability work performed in-house or by implementation partners.
And this is where Fiori — SAP’s new role-centered way of thinking about application design — comes in. Powered by a combination of SAPUI5 (its HTML5 user interface control library) and NetWeaver Gateway, Fiori applications aim to present an individual with the on-premises ERP information they need to execute routine tasks across a variety of devices.” – TechTarget
Research Based Conclusions or Repetition of SAP Marketing Messaging?
Notice how no research was required to write this paragraph. It merely holds out the assumption that Fiori will provide a better user experience. And where did the author get this information?
From testing Fiori?
From observing Fiori at companies?
No (this article was written in March 2014 before Fiori was live much of anywhere). The assumption was given to TechTarget by SAP (which also pays TechTarget to capture sales leads).
Coverage after coverage on Fiori is the same type of unexamined assumptions.
The Real State of the Fiori Client
There are several things that we never see written about with Fiori, but that comes across very clearly in our Fiori testing.
This is not an exhaustive list, but a sampling of issues with Fiori that we don’t see given coverage.
- Speed/Latency: Fiori is slow. Particularly from the first entry from the Tile to the first screen of the transaction. It every time we test Fiori we notice this. We have measured its speed on all different types of Internet connections and have validated that it has nothing to do with the speed of the connection.
- Restricted Browser Functions: The new tab functionality in browsers is disabled in Fiori. This is another issue that goes unmentioned in the coverage of Fiori. This means you cannot simply open a new tab or window to work on a different area of S/4HANA. Yet, this is a fundamental aspect of browsers. And it is for a reason, it is important to be able to switch between views to get one’s work done. One can open up S/4HANA Cloud in a new session in a new tab, but it requires a new login, which is time-consuming. It means that one cannot branch to a new view, but must re-navigate to the location in the new tab or tabs.
- A Reporting UI Primarily? Fiori is far ahead of SAPGUI when it comes to reports and charts (as SAPGUI can’t really do them at all), but significantly behind SAPGUI when it comes to anything but displaying data and reports. That means for doing the core things that ECC or S/4HANA does, Fiori is notably more limited than far less expensive SaaS ERP applications like ERPNext. In fact, when we test Fiori is is considerably behind some other web-based ERP UIs in a way that we can’t see how it can catch up.
For S/4HANA on premises, these issues are less of a problem, this is not such a problem because most of the transactions are using SAPGUI. And very few clients use Fiori for S/4HANA on premises. However, in S/4HANA Cloud, Fiori is the standard UI and there is no SAPGUI.
This fact alone is a serious point of disadvantage for S/4HANA Cloud. There is no way we could see using only Fiori to do work. The S/4HANA Cloud functionality scope is small (so it can’t do the work for a company of any size in any case) and while S/4HANA On Premises has much more functionality, it has limited Fiori coverage. The bottom line is that companies presently are not using Fiori to do all or even most of their work in Fiori.
What the of the Fiori Client Testing Means
All of this plays out differently depending upon who you are, and we have broken this down to SAP customers and to vendors that compete with SAP.
What the Fiori Client’s Present and Future Reality Means For SAP Customers
Customers have more to lose by moving to Fiori than staying with SAPGUI. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what SAP and their partners tell customers.
Comparatively, SAPGUI is not only far more broad in scope, it is faster and easier to use. This means that even you a customer moves to Fiori for some transactions, it will be worse off than staying with SAPGUI for most transactions. Nowhere is that observation, or any observation regarding the realities of Fiori explained for companies.
Now there is one exception to this, which is reports.
Fiori is really about reporting views. SAP has made a curious decision in S/4HANA by making so many transactions really just reports. This is particularly prevalent in the Accounts Receivable transactions or tiles in S/4HANA. With virtually all of them opening into a reporting screen.
This type of report is not possible in SAPGUI. If one only relied upon Fiori for reports, one would be far ahead of the game versus trying to use Fiori to replace SAPGUI for non-reporting transactions.
Unless you read SAP’s marketing literature and attend SAP conferences (as we do) its difficult to comprehend how SAP exaggerates Fiori. We know how our own testing differs from the flowery treatment that Fiori normally receives, but a reader was good enough to send us a review listing. Here are how Fiori fares in reviews.
Hmmm..not so great. These reviews are placed on the Google App Store, meaning that SAP does not control them. If these reviews were left by Accenture or PwC the reviews with be 5 stars! Every review would talk about how it might be the best UI ever developed. However, once SAP’s products leave the confines of the censored echo chamber, the world looks a bit different.
Notice also that these reviews are very recent. However, Fiori has introduced over 3 years ago. When does Fiori become a usable UI? Why are there so many performance issues noted?
What the Fiori Client’s Present and Future Reality Means For Competing Vendors
Competing vendors can use the very different way Fiori should be used and how much SAPGUI will be a long-term part of ECC against SAP, but in order to do so, it must demonstrate the ability to show Fiori to customers to cut through the marketing hype about Fiori and get down to the reality. Fiori is really about appearance. That is appearance over functionality. It makes a nice impression until you start to move past “looking at things” and start using the system.
Fiori is central to the future projection in the minds of customers and is being used to moderate against the desires of the business within many SAP customers to access non-SAP applications. Therefore all vendors that seek to compete with SAP need to understand and present the real story around Fiori. If the fantasyland version of Fiori is allowed to continue to be presented, then competing vendors lose. For example, at SAPPHIRE not a single SAPGUI screen was visible. However, what do you see on SAP projects? SAPGUI.
Gaps In Understanding Around Fiori
There is a major gap in the understanding of Fiori in the market because so few actually use Fiori. (This gets into the massive overestimation of the implementation numbers of S/4HANA — both On Premises and Cloud which we covered in the articles How SAP Controls Perceptions with Customer Numbers, and A Study into S/4HANA Implementations). And those that do know the reality of Fiori are not going to share this information because they want to make money off of consulting.
We offer a Fiori analysis service for both SAP customers and for vendors that seek to compete with SAP and this has lead to test Fiori. We have been testing Fiori in S/4HANA Cloud, to determine which parts of Fiori can be used for which activities. This testing gets into timing Fiori in different tasks and checking for functionality access versus the same functionality in ECC.
Because of our research, we can say with confidence that the way that SAP says that Fiori should and will be used is not how it will be used. Our confidence comes from the time we have put into testing Fiori and our background in testing a lot of applications. The differences become more apparent through this comparative analysis (see other application analyses at the Maintainability, Usability, Functionality, and Implementability (MUFI) ratings). It is important to remember that none of the information that is provided about Fiori in the press is based upon evidence, and nearly every party that reports on Fiori has an undeclared financial connection to SAP.
The outcome is that what SAP says Fiori is destined to have does not match with Fiori’s actual future. And we have always found it far more predictive to test SAP’s products rather than to trust what SAP says about their products.
The Problem: SAP’s Changed Strategy on Fiori
SAP has changed its strategy on Fiori, from one of charging for the SAP Fiori Apps to making Fiori as part of a packaged deal — that is packaged with HANA.
This is what is known as a Faustian bargain. It does not allow the SAP Fiori Apps to succeed on its own merits, but instead unnecessarily ties Fiori to HANA. However, there is no technical reason for this to be the case. SAP has put a significant amount of effort into Fiori, but Fiori has a very poor future if SAP continues to limit the use of Fiori apps to customers that are running HANA.
Overall, SAP is presenting customers with a risky product in Fiori. I cover the topic of enterprise software risk in great detail in the book Rethinking Enterprise Software Risk: Controlling the Main Risk Factors on IT Projects, and the fact that Fiori is offered by a large software vendor like SAP does not change these risks.
Fiori is much more involved than is commonly presented. SAP and their surrogates want to make the use of Fiori sound as painless as possible, but because Fiori is not technically baked and because it is used to drive customers to HANA, it is often presented under pretenses.
The Necessity of Fact Checking
We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.
Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?
If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.
In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.
Financial Bias Disclosure
Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.
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The Real Story on ERP Book
How This Book is Structured
This book combines a meta-analysis of all of the academic research on the benefits of ERP, coupled with on project experience.
ERP has had a remarkable impact on most companies that implemented it. Unplanned expenses for customization, failed implementations, integration, and applications to meet the business requirements that ERP could not–have added up to a higher Total Cost of Ownership for ERP were all unexpected, and account control, on the part of ERP vendors — is now a significant issue affecting IT performance.
Break the Bank for ERP?
Many companies that have broken the bank to implement ERP projects have seen their KPIs go down— but the question is why this is the case. Major consulting companies are some of the largest promoters of ERP systems, but given the massive profits they make on ERP implementations — can they be trusted to provide the real story on ERP? Probably not, however, written by the Managing Editor of SCM Focus, Shaun Snapp — an author with many years of experience with ERP system. A supply chain software expert and well known for providing authentic information on the topics he covers, you can trust this book to provide all the detail that no consulting firm will.
By reading this book you will:
- Examine the high failure rates of ERP implementations.
- Demystify the convincing arguments ERP vendors use to sell ERP.
- See how ERP vendors take control of client accounts with ERP.
- Understand why single-instance ERP is not typically feasible.
- Calculate the total cost of ownership and return on investment for your ERP implementation.
- Understand the alternatives to ERP.
- Chapter 1: Introduction to ERP Software
- Chapter 2: The History of ERP
- Chapter 3: Logical Fallacies and the Logics Used to Sell ERP
- Chapter 4: The Best Practice Logic for ERP
- Chapter 5: The Integration Benefits Logic for ERP
- Chapter 6: Analyzing The Logic Used to Sell ERP
- Chapter 7: The High TCO and Low ROI of ERP
- Chapter 8: ERP and the Problem with Institutional Decision Making
- Chapter 9: How ERP Creates Redundant Systems
- Chapter 10: How ERP Distracts Companies from Implementing Better Functionality
- Chapter 11: Alternatives to ERP or Adjusting the Current ERP System
- Chapter 12: Conclusion