In 2016 the IT team behind Sun Chemical embarked on a journey to learn more about Design Thinking via a free openSAP course. Since then, they have been systematically improving the operational effectiveness and efficiency of their business processes via design-led workshops, bringing over 200 SAP Fiori apps to life to support them in their daily work. In this blog post, Sasi Reddy, Senior SAP Solution Architect at Sun Chemical, shared with us their UX transformation journey, biggest takeaways, and what it takes to be a UX Champion.
From theory to action with an openSAP course on Design Thinking
Sun Chemical is a recognized leader in printing inks, coatings, pigments, and supplies for the packaging, publication, commercial, industrial, and digital markets. With over 20,000 employees spread across 63 locations around the world, Sun Chemical relies on lean business processes to ensure their field service workers and customers can quickly and easily maintain field data and enter new requests on-the-go, both on- and offline.
To enhance their knowledge of Design Thinking, and to learn how this methodology could be applied to both process improvements and application development, Sasi and his team took part in the openSAP course Developing Software Using Design Thinking back in 2017. The core of the methodology is developing empathy for users by putting oneself in their shoes. Design thinking also relies on prototyping and a strong iterative process rather than on intuition, something which Sun Chemical has embraced fully. Since completing the course, they’ve worked together with a few SAP partners, and later independently, to offer their Design Thinking services to their entire company, with 15 major design-led projects to date.
SAP Fiori applications support lean business processes
Over the past 5 years, Sun Chemical has groomed an elite team of UX champions that leverage Design Thinking to accelerate and digitize their processes. A key factor in their success has been to build tailored SAP Fiori apps that support their agile development approach. This method scales and requires a minimal investment. It allows them to build apps for their SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) system which they plan to migrate to SAP S/4HANA later.
If you ask Sasi which of the 200+ existing apps he’s most proud of, there are many that come to mind, such as the Regulatory Inquiry App and the Raw Material Request App, both of which emerged from a prototype developed during the the 2016 openSAP course, and which have since been rolled out globally. For this post though, we’re focusing on just one example that captures the business impact of the UX transformation: the Field Service App.
Field Service App: A remote Design Thinking workshop was kicked off in 2018 to determine how to better manage the day-to-day activities for European field service engineers who relied on using a mix of email and spreadsheets to maintain their work order history and incoming requests. The workshop included the field engineers, their supervisors, the administrator who orchestrated the work orders, and developers from India. From the workshop emerged the idea to develop an application that contains all the information in one place. The app, which was developed in a few short weeks, makes it easy to track what service has previously been done for a specific customer and supports detailed reports on previous work orders. Naturally, it allows field service workers to easily enter new orders and incorporates a digital signature on native iOS mobile devices, something which the workshop participants were “really surprised that we could deliver on so quickly,” says Sasi. Since the rollout in Europe, the app has been immediately accepted by its users and has made its way to North and South American field service workers as well.
It’s about the mindset, not just the apps
There is no doubt that the Design Thinking method requires a significant time investment from those involved. From the initial workshop where research, user empathy, and ideation take place, to the design process that relies on numerous iteration cycles with the end users, you have to put in the work to ensure the end result solves the problem at hand and meets users’ expectations. Sasi agrees that the effort is time-consuming. He and his UX champion colleagues spend a lot of time taking part in collaboration calls with teams who are currently switching from SAP Web GUI to SAP Fiori applications. They receive feedback on the applications on a daily basis to ensure the transition to the new user experience goes smoothly.
But Sasi’s also seen the fruits of his team’s labor: “People are seeing the value of it. Our departments have seen our work. It’s been almost 4 years. Previously we drove Design Thinking, now people request it from us. Not necessarily to build apps, though everyone’s now on board with SAP Fiori, but to improve processes in general. The mindset has really changed in our company.”
UX Champion Spotlight
Sasi Reddy is a Senior SAP Solution Architect at Sun Chemical, where he currently leads the SAP Fiori and Mobile App Development Team. Apart from the 200+ apps they developed using SAP Fiori, Sasi and his team also led numerous Design Thinking workshops geared towards process improvements company-wide.
Thank you, Sasi, for sharing your team’s story!
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