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Live from SAPinsider Studio: NIMBL's Jonathan Bragg on Design Thinking

December 30, 2015

Jonathan Bragg, SAP UI/UX Lead for NIMBL Consulting, joins SAPinsider Studio at the SAPinsider SAP Fiori Bootcamp, to discuss design thinking methodology and SAP Fiori.

This is an edited transcript of the discussion.

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider , and I’m here at the SAPinsider SAP Fiori Bootcamp. With me is Jonathan Bragg, who is the SAP UI/UX Lead for NIMBL Consulting. Jonathan, thanks for being with us.

Jonathan Bragg, NIMBL: Thank you very much.

Ken: Can you tell our viewers a little about your role with NIMBL, and also just address the evolution of the user experience at SAP?

Jonathan: My role at NIMBL is really focusing on the UI/UX design; I’m doing a session later today of course on design thinking, but the biggest things I do for NIMBL could be anything from project management, to leading design thinking sessions for customers and clients. So I’ll go to a client site maybe two-three days or maybe a full week to lead a design thinking session on what kind of makes Fiori fit their landscape and things like that. Really not only around Fiori, but around all of the UX technologies that SAP is offering these days. So kind of how that fits in with the new user interfaces and user experiences is really encompassing a full strategy and full approach into the new things that SAP has out there today for user experience.

Ken: You mentioned your session on design thinking. What is kind of a new way of thinking or approach to design thinking?

Jonathan: It’ s a little bit of a paradigm shift now. A lot of the times in past SAP projects, a lot of the things I’ve been a part of, you have a very traditional approach of business requirements, and then I get into my actual design where the IT team goes away, they build for a long time, test, and then finally business users see the product maybe six months or a year later depending on your implementation time. So design thinking really wants to get those end users engaged very early. The biggest difference that I’ve seen so far in between that traditional approach in design thinking is one of those first phases which is really called empathy. So putting yourself in those end users’ shoes, meeting exactly with them –  the true end-users that are going to be using this application – to make sure that everything they’re using and seeing is exactly what fits their business requirements and fits their day-to-day life and makes things simple and easy for them to use.

Ken: So speaking of all the new things coming from SAP, and SAP Fiori, does that meet this new way of design thinking?

Jonathan: SAP Fiori is mobile infrastructure, mobile interfaces, you can use it on either desktop, tablet or a phone, and it’s really scalable to anything you want to use, it’s a reactive design interface. Design thinking fits into that very well just because we can make a lot of iterations so meeting with business end-users, getting some feedback, doing some mock-ups and getting them exactly what they need and making it as easy to use as possible which I know of course SAP hasn’t been the easiest thing to use in the past 30 years or so.

Ken: So speaking of ease-of-use as it relates to infrastructure requirements, what questions or misconceptions are you hearing from customers in that regard?

Jonathan: So SAP has the full campaign of Run Simple, and SAP Fiori is very simple, it’s very easy-to-use. Some of the common misconceptions there is that it does require another server in your landscape a lot of the time, so that’s the gateway server. And the gateway server sits on top of ERP so your ECC system’s down here, your gateway or Fiori system, all of those components are installed on that gateway system for people to use so just a couple of the components necessary is that there will be installs and components that need to be added to ECC, and any ERP back-end system you’re connecting to as well as that gateway server. And then also any of the – if you have to procure tablets for people or if you have a bring-your-own-device program or mobile device management strategy those things go along with building up that Fiori infrastructure as well.

Ken: And if you’re kicking off an SAP Fiori project, is there a go-to methodology?

Jonathan: Not necessarily go-to between for example your traditional waterfall methodology vs. agile. We talked a little bit about this in our pre-conference session and we really talked about how it’s a huge mixture of both so we found that in a lot of projects that we’re doing the waterfall approach works best for kind of those design requirements and sign-offs so I know all companies need to sign off on what you’re going to do next. But where agile really comes into play is when building the Fiori applications. So for example, not like a traditional SAP go-live where you wait until the whole thing is done and then you move to production. This is more like the iterative approach, so if you think of consumer applications like an Amazon app on your phone or a Netflix app, you’re going to need updates to those apps every couple weeks. So we really want to make the same sort of shift move in the SAP world, and say in the four-to-six week time period you could have a custom application out there on your phone to use. It may be bare bones in the first place just to get you what you need to get you that minimum viable product to get through a process. But once you go from there you can start adding features to that every couple of weeks or every four weeks, things such as that just to really have those end-users kind of pull it from you instead of you pushing it on top of them.

Ken: Last question, you’re speaking at a lot of sessions here, at the SAP Fiori Bootcamp. Just in the last few days, what have you been hearing from attendees at the event? What kind of questions do they have or things they want to know to bring back to their organizations?

Jonathan: Some of the questions are around what kind of resources do they need for one of these projects, so we answer a lot of questions about that in our pre-conference session. It’s a lot to do with more of the project management side of the house. But from the Fiori conference we also did a hands-on lab trying to build a sample Fiori application for people and a lot of same questions come up there; resources involved, scheduling, how important is design thinking and how is it different from just business requirements? It’s been a great few days here, and there’s a lot of excitement around the Fiori space it seems.

Ken: Thanks for taking time out to sit with us.

Jonathan: Yeah, thanks very much and thanks for having me.

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