Warwick University simplifies order system with SAP Personas

Warwick University’s maintenance team is now able to process orders after a personalised SAP Personas roll-out.

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Warwick University has improved the efficiency of its campus maintenance department by enabling staff to process orders directly thanks to a more user-friendly SAP interface.

The university implemented personalised SAP Personas, a tool to personalise SAP GUI (Graphical User Interface) screens to make them user-friendly and company specific, one year ago, when it became clear that the maintenance team needed an easier to use system to process orders for the upkeep of the campus.

“The users are maintenance focused people getting problems fixed and buildings built, but they have to look after cost centres and check budgets and process orders - and it is not their skillset. Some of them tried to use SAP GUI before but most gave up and some were not even willing to start. So we wanted to build something easier for them to do their job,” said Warwick University’s SAP technical manager within the Finance Office, Steve Rumsby.

With the new SAP GUI, the university has ensured there are fewer process steps, lower click counts and fewer screens. As a result, maintenance staff can now process payments themselves, rather than asking someone else to do it.

The SAP Personas tool was configured to give estate managers a portal with the bare minimum of options, such as cost codes, purchase orders, job dockets and functional locations.

Boosting user satisfaction

Since deploying the software, the first organisation to do so in the UK, Rumsby has seen training time reduce by half, minimal testing time and most importantly for the university, increased user satisfaction. The implementation took “half-an-hour”, he said.

Rumsby took user feedback into consideration to tweak the code, writing script that would personalise the screen. The “flavor” - the name given to the browser screen the user navigates to process their payments - could be adapted so that if users were unsure of the ‘type of code’ field, Personas would automatically put that field in.

“They can’t get it wrong”, Rumsby said.

He added: “As the person who developed this, I have found it really quick to do the development and the testing is much reduced.”

Personas vs Fiori

The university deployed Personas instead of Fiori, a set of lightweight, mobile-friendly applications based on common processes from SAP's flagship Business Suite, because at the time of implementation, the Fiori user interface, “was nowhere near as capable as it is now”. Rumsby said that “the decision would be a little bit harder now”.

The university will utilise the new version of Personas which will be available by the end of this year, as revealed by Sebastien Steinhauer, an ‘Imagineer’ at SAP Labs, during the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Florida this week.

Steinhauer said that the new version will centre on a new Dynp (the runtime for Dynpro), the main component in a SAP system. If they upgrade, Persona users will no longer need Microsoft Silverlight (which is timely, as Microsoft will be stopping software support for this product in 2021), and will have a simpler architecture.

Previously customers complained that Persona’s capabilities for scripting, or customising the code, consisted only of creating “little building blocks - more a configuration than actually scripting,” Steinhauer said. The imagineer team have invested in a scripting engine and rather than forcing their own language on users it will be in Javascript for ease-of-use.

Personas software will now be free, alongside Fiori UI, to all existing SAP customers, Bill McDermott, SAP CEO announced this week.

The newly appointed sole-CEO also emphasised SAP's commitment to making end-user services more useable, a U-turn on SAP's historical reputation for complication. He told the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Florida that enterprises must to offer user-friendly systems and processes which work similarly to popular consumer technology to keep not only their customers, but their staff happy and more productive.

 

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