The Ultimate Guide to SAP Fiori
Table of Contents:
Last Updated August 2021
What is SAP Fiori?
Fiori is a platform for delivering modern, web-based applications for SAP. Fiori was developed by SAP over the last several years and is replacing SAP GUI as the main user interface for SAP starting with S4/HANA.
Rather than entering transactions in a single, monolithic SAP GUI, Fiori uses separate ’mini web apps’ for different business tasks like creating sales orders, approving timesheets etc. Fiori applications are web applications (i.e. work in any web browser) and can be personalized across user roles, lines of business, tasks and devices. SAP designed the Fiori application experience with flexibility to work in all popular web browsers and across a variety of devices including desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.
Fiori Launchpad is a centralized ‘home page’ that hosts all available Fiori mini apps for a given department or the entire company. Fiori Launchpad provides Fiori apps with configuration, navigation and personalization services, along with embedded support.
In the Fiori launchpad, each square (called a ‘tile’) represents a separate Fiori business application that can be started by the user. Which tiles the user sees is based on his or her role. Tiles are not only used to start apps, but also serve as ‘mini dashboards’ and indicate live statuses, such as the number of open tasks, pending approvals, open service tickets etc.
There’s a night-and-day difference between user experiences in SAP GUI and Fiori. While SAP GUI is bulky and hard to learn or train on, Fiori has the seamless movements and controls you would expect from any modern web application. Fiori screens are simple, customizable and fresh, without an unnecessary barrage of fields, tabs, and pages.
Why do companies adopt Fiori?
Fiori offers several key benefits that drive adoption and justify the expense of deploying and retraining people to use it. Below are some of the more important benefits that we have seen among our customers:
1) Increased Productivity – Fiori is designed around productivity. Common tasks are organized in a streamlined, intuitive workflow that optimizes clicks and typing time to completion. In the 1990s and 2000s, people mostly used computers at work using apps that were designed by engineers. Over the last 10 years, prompted by the wide adoption of iPhones, User Experience experts apps have begun designing apps with a focus on minimizing unnecessary tasks and cognitive loads. Now users expect any computer application to be easy to use and work on any device.
In one side-by-side comparison between Fiori and SAP GUI, SAP had a collections specialist contact a customer, remind the customer about a payment due and register the issue with an invoice. In SAP GUI, this particular task took on average 2 minutes 12 seconds, and required 39 clicks, eight screen changes and five fields filled. In a dedicated Fiori app, the same process took 47 seconds on average and required just 11 clicks, two screens and two fields. While this 64% decrease in duration may not seem big, if repeated over hundreds of tasks it can generate significant increases in productivity.
2) Intuitive Workflows – Aside from a few jobs like SAP Basis and SAP Security, most business roles in companies should not require specific technical knowledge of how SAP organizes data internally (e.g. Ship-Tos, Sold-Tos, etc.). Historically, however, end users have had to understand how SAP structured its internal workflow to use it.
Fiori apps make life easier, particularly for non-technical users. Fiori user workflows are built around business processes, not around SAP internal logic and cryptic names. For example, if a customer has multiple addresses for an order, they can be listed in a simple dropdown for use when they are needed. The employee creating the order does not need to know that in SAP they are sometimes called ‘Ship-To’ or ‘Sold-To’ – he or she just needs to pick the address the customer wants. As a side benefit, companies don’t have to weigh ‘SAP experience’ as highly when hiring new talent in non-IT roles.
3) Ready for Mobility – The mobile workforce is growing at a rapid place. By 2022, an estimated 42.5% of the global workforce will be mobile, and that number will likely grow. Fiori’s mobility and responsive design help companies adapt to this new reality, allowing users to access essential work apps from anywhere and on any device. Across industries and job titles, mobile apps allow workers, managers and executives to be more responsive, while still maintaining a satisfying work-life balance.
Fiori’s mobile capabilities are particularly useful in applications that require a high degree of freedom, such as warehouse or manufacturing where employees often work from the factory floor. Mobile sales and service can likewise benefit from up-to-date product and pricing information as well as improved ability to upsell or cross sell.
4) Workforce Flexibility – Fiori’s standardized interface and coherent design philosophy let workers quickly learn new jobs and roles. Once users understand the basic way Fiori apps are structured, they can transfer that knowledge to all other Fiori apps. This makes it easier to shift workers to new positions and harness their skills more effectively. It also lets you change the way roles are filled in to meet organization-specific needs by adding or removing tasks from different user roles.
How much does Fiori cost?
Fiori is licensed as part of the SAP Gateway license, which in turn is part of the SAP NetWeaver license. If your company already uses NetWeaver Gateway, there is no additional cost to implement or deploy FIORI apps.
If NetWeaver Gateway is not an option for your on-premise solution, a good alternative is to run Fiori in SAP Cloud Platform and connect to your on-premise SAP system using SAP Cloud Connectors. When using Fiori cloud and cloud connectors, the costs model is similar to other cloud providers like Google and Amazon, where costs are incurred on a per use basis (i.e. the more you use, the more you pay).
What is the best way to adopt Fiori in my company?
Flexibility and configurability have always been strengths of SAP. SAP has always provided tools that reach across the full range of industries and use cases, as well as allowing companies to adapt third party tools or create custom solutions as required.
With the wider adoption of Fiori (and SAP HANA in general), customers have less and less need to build custom solutions. The Fiori library now has thousands of apps covering a huge range of business cases in both ECC Suite and S/4HANA. SAP’s third-party partnerships, and its Apple partnership in particular, have led to a massive infusion of new talent into the SAP ecosystem. The vibrant Fiori app ecosystem also means that there are fewer situations where companies must develop their own in-house solutions from scratch. This is fantastic news for businesses with complex or novel workflows, as projects can start by installing an existing Fiori app provided by SAP or a vendor and customize it to fit the company-specific business scenario.
A typical Fiori journey
In our experience, most companies go through three stages in their journey to adopt Fiori: ’Dip your toes’, ’Business Acceptance’ and ’Scale’.
- Stage 1 – ’Dip your Toes’ is all about learning and trying Fiori for the first time. The best place to start is Fiori Apps Library. It contains thousands of ready-to-run Fiori reference applications that cover a wide range of business processes.
Most companies start with the help of a Fiori consulting company that guides them through installing a few of the reference apps from the Apps Library. Once everybody gets some experience with what is generally available, the next step is to pick a simple, existing business process and build a proof-of-concept that can be used by a small group of employees (instead of using SAP transactions and SAP GUI directly).
- Stage 2 – ’Business Acceptance’ usually involves converting a more complex business process (like HR onboarding or CapEX management) into one or multiple Fiori applications. As the need for customization grows, companies usually start seeing some of the limitations of out-of-the-box Reference Fiori apps. At the beginning of this stage, it is beneficial to take a step back and look critically at the business process you are trying to automate – does it really require all the current steps? Is it missing something? Design Thinking is a good approach at this stage to explore and reengineer the business process before building new Fiori apps around it.
- Stage 3 – ’Scale’. Once Fiori has shown proven benefits, many departments look to use it to reengineer their business processes. This puts pressure on the IT department to deliver increasingly complex Fiori applications. Properly scaling IT or internal development teams requires investing in tools, usually low code Fiori Rapid Development environments (like Fiori AppBuilder) that can drastically increase the productivity of development organizations, helping them meet the increased demand.
Where do I find Fiori Applications?
Over the last few years, SAP has built a fairly comprehensive collection of about 12,000 freely available Fiori applications for a wide set of business processes and versions of SAP. Fiori Reference Library is where SAP hosts all official SAP Fiori Applications.
Keep in mind that what applications you can actually use depends on whether you are running ECC or S4. Most Fiori apps require S4/HANA, with a somewhat limited number supported on ECC. On top of that, many applications have different versions based on the exact version of ECC or S4, so finding what apps are actually available is not always straightforward. Fortunately, the Fiori App library provides multiple ways of searching based on your particular SAP environment.
SAP App Center is another place to look for Fiori applications. It is the largest repository of SAP Partner products certified to work with SAP. SAP App center hosts solutions built on every possible SAP platform and technology, so to limit the search to Fiori, you need to select the ‘SAP Fiori’ filter under the ‘Technology’ section of the Filters.
How do I build custom Fiori Applications?
Web IDE also allows developers to extend or customize existing Fiori applications (like the Fiori reference apps downloaded from Fiori App Library).
SAP Web IDE is SAP´s preferred and recommended tool for customizing the out-of-the-box Fiori apps they deliver. To build custom applications using the SAPUI5 toolkit, in addition to using Web IDE, customers can use Eclipse or HANA Studio with the SAPUI5 plugin. SAP Web IDE is a great development tool and is relatively inexpensive – it is available for $54/month for five users.
How companies actually use Fiori to improve their business processes
So far, we focused on Fiori as a technology but did not address the main question – how does Fiori actually help your business. Sections below provide some real-life examples of how companies use Fiori to transform their business processes.
When businesses first decide to adopt Fiori, they usually start by trying one of the existing apps in the Fiori Library (quite often modifying it to fit their needs). While this approach provides quick progress, it often delivers only an incremental improvement over the old process using SAP GUI. Companies that achieve a dramatic improvement in efficiency take the time to step back and look at the entire business process. They examine every step and external system they use to determine if and how it contributes to the overall goal. The result is usually a custom Fiori solution that streamlines the entire process by combining (and quite often eliminating) various steps or external inputs while enforcing the appropriate checks, approvals, compliance tracking, analytics and reporting infrastructure. Below you can find some highlights from such end-to-end Fiori solutions in the are of Human Resources:
- Employee Onboarding. Onboarding applications can cover the entire onboarding process, from capturing employee data to creating/updating employee records in SAP. Many businesses use an external HR system for some of their hires and the Fiori application can be designed to allow manual data entry as well as receiving employee data directly from the external system (thus eliminating re-entry).
In addition, onboarding applications can also serve as employee Self-Serve, enabling employees to fill-in or update their own information thus reducing the load on HR personnel even further.
Onboarding processes often include checklists that ensure that onboarding tasks are properly completed. To help with that, onboarding applications can incorporate a dynamic checklist that require only the steps that are needed for a particular position. Related to the checklists there is functionality to track and set reminders to ensure the checklist is completed in a timely manner and complies with all the company and government policies and regulations.
Collaboration between multiple departments, is often at the center of the onboarding process where each department needs to complete their own part. Onboarding applications can automatically create a workflow and approval path based on the position and the department that is being onboarded as well as invite the appropriate approvers to complete their relevant sections.
Finally, because Fiori is a web-based technology, is can be easily integrated with external systems. A good example is electronically sending the required employee data to IT to create proper company accounts (email, VPN etc.)
A well-thought out onboarding will enable your organization to hire and have employees productive much faster than the competition, while reducing costs and resources required.
- Employee Termination. As a counterpart to onboarding, the off-boarding (or employee termination) applications handle the process in the opposite way, starting with the calculation of the final salary and benefits, “departing” the employee in SAP, sending automated requests to delete/disable employee accounts in various systems as well as generating the proper checklist and workflows that need to be completed in order to comply with the termination guidelines. Never miss a step in your process again!
The termination process is an important one and doing it in an efficient manner, not only reduces costs, but also reduces risk.
- PTO. PTO applications handle the approval workflows around employee PTO request. PTOs are initiated by the employees from their Fiori Launchpad and routed via workflow to the appropriate manager/s. Managers can view the team PTO and make decision based on team availability.
To ensure compliance, the Fiori apps can perform automatic checks for the appropriate entitlement of each request and adjust the specific checks per PTO request type (e.g. requiring employee to attach a doctor’s note for a sick leave). Once the PTO request is approved, the SAP system can be automatically updated to indicate the reduced resource availability for the duration of the PTO. Fiori solutions allow managers to make approvals on any device, improving efficiency.
The examples above are from a variety of real HR Fiori applications used around the world and are intended to provide an idea of what its possible with Fiori. There are many more areas like Benefit Management, Employee Expenses, Travel Requests, Health & Safety Incident reporting or Creating new Positions that we often see as great processes that can benefit from Fiori.
Fiori solutions are not just easier to use or more convenient, they provide you with an opportunity to improve your business process and can help you reduce cost, reduce resource requirements, reduce risk, improve compliance and increase revenue and profit.
Ready to try Fiori in your organization?
Developed to meet new enterprise IT criteria, SAP designed Fiori to be available on demand in the cloud and on-premises. When it comes to Fiori deployment options, admins have five basic choices:
- Fiori Front End Server (FES) embedded deployment, where Fiori is embedded in a single SAP landscape. This is the simplest deployment option. It is best for situations where there is a single Fiori instance running.
- Fiori Front End Server (FES) Hub deployment, which bundles the Fiori UI components, SAP Launchpad and SAP Gateway. Business logic and traditional UIs stay on the back end, so you can integrate multiple back end systems like SAP CRM and SRM.
- Gateway embedded, where the SAP Gateway is embedded in the back end. This makes it possible to integrate cloud FES instances with a cloud connector.
- Gateway hub, where SAP Gateway serves as a hub – making it easy to connect the backend with FES in the cloud.
- SAP Fiori Cloud, with FES in the cloud on a standalone basis. It connects to back end systems that are on-premises.
Regardless how Fiori is deployed, when adopting Fiori apps it is helpful to keep in mind some of the architectural principles underpinning the Fiori platform:
- Central Access to apps through the Fiori launchpad – supporting personalization, navigation and configuration.
- Security with single sign-on (SSO) as well as role-based authentication and authorization.
- Open Data Protocol (OData), which facilitates secure provisioning and data consumption.
- Built-in support for detailed usage analytics. Analytics data help discover how employees use various apps as well what performance impact each app has on the overall enterprise infrastructure.
These architectural principles, if followed properly, make Fiori very versatile. They also ensure that tasks are not tied to a specific device, session or user. For example, users can start creating a service order on their desktop and exit the app before completing it. Later, they can resume work on the same service order from their mobile device. Fiori infrastructure will automatically save data asynchronously and even allow users to hand off partially completed tasks to other users.
SAP is working to increase Fiori adoption, and these efforts are supported by technology trends. So for a large majority of organizations, adoption of Fiori is just a matter of time. Having a solid strategy for introducing Fiori across the enterprise is good way to stay ahead of the technology and competition curves.