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Design Thinking and SAP

Digital innovation, reimagined and simplified.


Ian H Smith

When most people moved software from licensed installations of SAP as on-premise servers and desktop/laptop PCs to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps in the cloud, we did not see much change in the fundamental ways the business logic and user experience worked.

Until now, enterprises of all sizes have mostly focused on removing the cost and complexity of on-premise computing and capital-intensive hardware and software licence purchases. But now we need to move on to focus on enabling digital innovation and greater user experiences, faster.

What's needed today is next generation digital innovations, built with SAP S/4HANA and Cloud Platform transformations, that are reimagined and simplified. We need solutions that eliminate waste ('Lean Thinking') and engage users in a better way ('Design Thinking').

SAP Fiori Elements are 'smart templates' that enable UX designers and software developers to significantly reduce design and developments costs by using a framework of common, reusable application patterns - and all part of the SAPUI5 Software Development Kit (SDK). This means selecting a 'Floorplan', such as: Analytical List Page; List Report; Object Page; Overview Page; or, Worklist.

In summary, we follow 3 Design Principles when applying the SAP Fiori Design Language to next generation Web, mobile and SaaS apps:

  1. Meaningful Journey
  2. Fierce Reduction
  3. Progressive Disclosure

#1. Meaningful Journey

When designing a next generation app, the first thing to create is its journey: the path, steps or tasks that users will complete in providing a service, undertaking work or solving a big and important problem.


With Lean Thinking, this means removing steps or tasks that are wasteful or unnecessary. This journey must be a Meaningful Journey: from the login page to logout, when the task(s) or work is done.

#2. Fierce Reduction

When users get confused with apps, it's usually because what they are confronted with on a page view offers too many choices of what to do next. Often, there is no obvious place to go or action to take next.


What's needed is a Fierce Reduction mindset: a way to eliminate everything on each screen that distracts from any action at each stage of what should be a Meaningful Journey to complete one or more tasks.

#3. Progressive Disclosure

When designing a Meaningful Journey and applying Fierce Reduction, it is better to have more clicks or swipes through pages of a SaaS or Web app, than add too many options in any given page or screen view.

This means that with a Fierce Reduction mindset, you will have to engage in a trade-off between simplicity of page or screen view, versus the number of pages on a SaaS or Web app Meaningful Journey.

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