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Chapter 3: 'Raising the Bar on Productivity'

Written for IT professionals who find it hard to get through SAP's complex documentation, this book demonstrates how ERP can cut costs, provides a clear overview of how the ESA (enterprise service architecture) model affects ERP, and shows how to implement the new ERP in the real world.

Download chapter 3: 'Raising the Bar on Productivity'

This chapter is excerpted from the book titled, mySAP ERP For Dummies', authored by Andreas Vogel and Ian Kimbell , published Sept, 2005 by Wiley Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7645-9995-8, Copyright 2005 Wiley Publishing. For more information, please visit:

Chapter Excerpt:

You can give your employees all the software in the world, but if they can't use it easily, they won't be very productive. Usability is all about how people get at the tools and information they need to get their work done and how they interact with the computer interface they stare at over their coffee cups every morning.

You know that having an organized workbench in your garage makes that do-it-yourself project much easier to handle: The hammer, drill, and nails are all there in one place, easy to get your hands on. In a similar way, the interface you look at all day long on your computer screen shouldn't just look good; it should also give you the tools and data you need to become more productive.

Having access to data and functionality smoothly integrated in a single interface can improve efficiency and make for much happier workers. In an ESA environment with SAP NetWeaver, you can build something called a control center. A control center provides an intuitive central point of access to information and functionality for an individual. Using a control center, such as the one shown in Figure 3-1, employees can organize, monitor, and plan all their work and information. Along the left side of this center are activity-based items such as contacts and links to projects, budgets, collaboration features, and so forth; on the right are work triggers reflecting work activities, reminders, and analytics.

The work trigger list is a really useful thing: In the past, it was your task to find all the relevant pieces you needed to get to work. Now your ERP systems obtain all the stuff you need to get your job done for you and put them into this universal work list.

Two new and important paradigms are behind this work list:

A pull-versus-push paradigm means that the ERP system is proactively pushing information to you so that you don't have to go out there and find what you need, possibly missing an important tidbit in the process.

A role-based paradigm means that your IT administrator defines sets of policies that belong to you based on your role in your company. Roles in an IT sense are sets of policies that enable you to gain access to information or functionality that you use to get your job done. After you have a role defined for you, you get all the access to the data and functionality that you need to do your particular job.

Read more about roles in the later section of this chapter, "How Roles Make Life Easier."

You can easily create work centers in mySAP ERP. Whereas control centers are a kind of instrument panel that gives each employee an overview of all her work and activities, work centers are portals that are more specific to getting work done in certain areas. For example, Figure 3-2 shows a work center with an HR/manager focus. With work centers, employees can get organized and be proactive rather than reactive because relevant information is pushed to their desktops. With all this information at their fingertips, workers become much more productive.

All your work centers are accessible from your control center.

You can also build guided procedures into your control or work center user interface, like the one shown in Figure 3-3. These are wizard-like screens that step people through more nonroutine business processes. Some of these are built into ERP, but you can also build your own based on a best practice in your own organization. Guided procedures ensure that users take advantage of your system, instead of reverting to the old manual way of doing things. The ability to build guided activities is built into SAP NetWeaver.

Chapter 3: 'Raising the Bar on Productivity'

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