Since 2008, I’ve had the pleasure of introducing hundreds of SAP customers and consultants to the new and rapidly evolving CRM User Interface (UI).
I recently ran a five day SAP CRM User Interface Development workshop (part of SAP’s CRM Deep Dive Workshop Series) for a group of consultants and developers at one of the world’s largest oil & gas companies. The workshop was based on CRM 7.0 and covered everything from the set-up and configuration of a Business Role through to the creation of a brand new UI Component. On the way, we looked at the Application Enhancement Tool, the Easy Enhancement Workbench, Design Layer customising and Component Enhancement.
The first half of the workshop was a great success and the participants loved the UI Configuration Tool and the Application Enhancement Tool (AET).
I remember the first time I demonstrated the UI Configuration tool to a group of experienced SAP consultants. It was 2008 and we were on CRM 2006s. There were audible gasps from the group as I showed them how easy it was to change a field label, hide fields, add fields and change the position of fields on a screen. You would have gasped too. I did, and I was performing the demo.
The CRM UI is a complex beast and SAP have done a good job of masking this complexity with these tools. If you haven’t tried them yet I would urge you to do so as they showcase just how good SAP can be and with SAP CRM 7.1 they are even better!
Let’s get back to the workshop.
The User Interface (UI) Component we created used standard SAP objects and comprised a search screen, a results screen an overview page and a data entry form all integrated into a Business Role. This part of the workshop took three of the five workshop days and was in the words of one of the participants, “excruciating”.
Adjective: Intensely painful.
Mentally agonizing; very embarrassing, awkward, tedious.
I had to agree. “Excruciating”, describes the experience of creating a new UI Component very nicely. I would also add the words, “costly”, “time consuming” and “complex”.
This will come as a surprise to many SAP customers who have invested in CRM and are about to undertake an implementation project or upgrade to CRM 7.0 and above.
The core UI configuration of Business Role, Navigation Bar Profile etc is simple and straightforward as is the UI Configuration Tool and AET. SAP have done an exceptionally good job here.
However, the moment you want to do something that is not supported by these tools you are looking at potentially costly, time consuming and complex enhancements and developments.
Your consultants and developers will require a deep knowledge of the CRM UI framework and UI architecture including the Presentation Layer, the Business Object Layer (BOL), Generic Interaction Layer (genIL) and API’s which make up the CRM UI. They will also need to be able to use the Component Workbench and be comfortable with ABAP OO.
Are these skills in plentiful supply within your organisation? No, I didn’t think so.
Here are a few examples of the types of UI changes that require component enhancement and development. They may surprise you.
The diagram at the top of this blog summarises my thoughts on the effort and complexity associated with the different CRM UI tasks that need to be undertaken as part of an SAP CRM implementation.