The much-needed facelift of SAP

May 11, 2015

When I tell my friends and family I’m working as an SAP consultant, I often hear that the company they work for also uses SAP. And that they dislike it. Why? Because the user interface looks horrible. Quite a lot of people get lost in the complexity and working with SAP sadly becomes a frustration. SAP is very much aware of this issue. Chairman and cofounder Hasso Plattner mentioned this when announcing S/4 HANA: “Users told us, ‘Your UI sucks.’”.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a system that can cope with the complexity of your business, but that is also able to present it with a user interface that everyone loves to use?

User interface for the new SAP ERP

SAP responded to this question on February 3rd when they announced S/4 HANA. It is the new and future version of SAP ERP which soon will be used by tens of thousands of companies all over the world.

As mentioned in our blogpost on Simple Finance, the goal is to make SAP simple. A big part of this will be the new user interface called Fiori (which is also available as an add-on to the traditional ERP system). This will be the new face of SAP when working with S/4 HANA.

Change in mindset

A traditional SAP screen is all about handling complexity. It is typically full of tables, fields and buttons to make sure that you can do whatever you might possibly want to do on a given screen. As a user, it is difficult to know what to do if you have not received comprehensive training.

With SAP Fiori, there is a clear shift in mentality. Now, the system will show you what to do with it. The complexity is still there, but it is only shown when you want to.

Suppose you are responsible for planning a set of materials and you want to use SAP for that. In the traditional GUI, you would have a screen that lists all the materials you need to plan with all possible variables. From there, you needed to identify where action is needed. In contrast, with Fiori, you might see something as displayed in the picture below. The system will indicate the materials where action is needed. All of the other materials are not shown as this causes unnecessary complexity.


Not only will the new interface show you where you need to take action, the system will also propose which actions can be taken. To continue with the planning example, if the system calculates an expected stock shortage in the future, it will also suggest multiple solutions. Some may be obvious (just order more from your vendor) while others provide real intelligence (there is stock available of the same product in another plant and it can get here in 5 days).

At the announcement of S/4 HANA with its Fiori UI, Hasso Plattner also mentioned the strategic interest for SAP: “If this doesn’t work, we’re dead. Dead in the water.”  It is clear we will be hearing a lot more of Fiori in the future…

Do you still feel like SAP’s UI will “suck” in the future?