In the Midmarket space, there is a growing emphasis on the look and feel of ERP end user interfaces. This concept is having an impact on the entire ERP lifecycle, from the beginning of the sales cycle through and to the end of the implementation. SAP has responded to this consumer preference through development of the Netweaver Business Client (NWBC) front end. This ‘new user interface’ offers the business end user the capability to access all of their business applications, from the SAP ERP system to email to web browser, though a single tool.
The SAP Netweaver Business Client front-end has evolved over time and provided greater end-user functionality within the core ERP system. With its first mainstream release into the marketplace in early 2007 (with version 1.0), Netweaver Business Client is presently available in version 3.0. The 3.0 version of the interface focuses on enhancing access to user content through the ‘work center’ menu concept and offers the capability to render an entire SAP session through a common web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla). Web dynpro technology is further enhanced from the 1.0 version and integrated search menu bars (including transaction code access) further bridge the gap between the traditional SAP GUI and NWBC. POWR lists continue to be available and can also be personalized; providing the capability of data being ‘pushed’ to the end user as opposed to ‘pulled’ through common matchcode searching techniques. The end result is a user interface that both experienced users exposed to the traditional SAPGui and new users to the SAP ERP system can both embrace.
In a typical project implementation, the NWBC interface needs to be introduced and rolled out to the client implementation team well in advance of the organizational readiness project phase. It is recommended that the NWBC interface be tested out thoroughly in the final (or third) integration testing cycle during the project. This approach will enable the Business Process Owners (BPO’s) to be exposed to the user interface prior to training, allow for the testing and refinement of the NWBC interface, and provide advanced testing of role-based authorizations prior to go-live. It is important that the BPO’s/client super users understand both the functionality contained in the traditional SAP GUI interface as well as the advanced functionality provided by Netweaver Business Client. This recommended approach will likely continue to evolve as SAP continues to develop and rollout future releases of NWBC.
NWBC will likely become more prevalent and more emphasized as the concept of ‘as demonstrated/as delivered’ becomes more mainstream in the consulting services industry. Embracing and developing a strategy on how this tool can be utilized will allow clients and end users to be exposed to the latest developments in the SAP ERP system.