SAP Mobile Projects: Problems and solutions
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SAP offers some appealing tools for facilitating projects with SAP Netweaver Gateway or SAP Mobile Platform. While these can often provide solid solutions for your mobile projects, there are some serious pitfalls to be aware of along the way. Let’s take a look at some of the issues with real SAP Mobile Projects and how you can avoid them.
SAP Mobile Projects: problems
Lack of experts: You need SAP experts and ABAP developers to prepare your SAP system, you need developers who can write Java, XCode or HTML5 on the mobile device. You also need UX Designers who can optimize the screen facilities to your problems and business analysts who can describe the business processes well. Do you have them? If so, do they see the big picture? Do they have experience in mobile projects?
Architecture design problems: Finding the right balance isn’t easy. I saw projects lacking the necessary tools due to budget problems, and I also saw the other end: over-architected projects with too many tools for solving a simple problem. SAP puts a ton of effort into selling solutions, but these solutions might not really solve your specific problem(s).
Communication gaps: The more experts you involve in your projects, the harder it becomes to keep everything aligned. Everybody brings their specific language, and you end up needing a dictionary to translate among them.
Devices and platforms: If you target tablets, it’s usually OK, since it’s basically just a small computer. But smartphones pose a challenge – and if you want to target both, things become very difficult. If you want to support multiple platforms like iOS, Android or Windows, the complexity jumps exponentially. You might already have an old device outside of these platforms, requiring you to change the hardware – problem is that your software is tied to the hardware. Suddenly, you’re in a trap. Before moving forward, you’ll need a strategy to avoid this hurdle.
Performance and quality problems: You might have chosen a cross-platform solution to save money. But are you happy with the performance of your business app? If not, you’re stuck restarting the project. Do you really feel that you need to invest more money to have a responsive app?
SAP Mobile Projects: solutions
All-in-all, SAP Mobile Projects are complex, which is exactly what motivated me to find solutions and to help those who face these challenges. SAP Mobile Projects shouldn't be expensive as long as you’re well-prepared.
Here are some things that helped me in my projects:
Train your team: External experts are great, but your internal people see your processes more often, making them more valuable to the project.
Invest in prototypes (like we did): Good architectures are not determined by the number of documentation pages. Minimize your documents and invest this time for creating throw-away prototypes to test your architectures.
Prioritize your problems: you might have many problems that you want to solve through a mobile device. But throw away requirements that you feel you might not really need in the future. Don't let platform features drive your project; understand what your business really needs.
Build a simple and common dictionary: Introduce a business language and make sure that your team actually uses these terms in their solutions. Don't let business terms disappear in any layers and don't replace them with technical terms.
Test the tools: Prototypes are great for testing the tools you want to invest in. Ask for trial or low-budget versions of the tools for your prototypes. If these don’t work out for you, don't feel bad about ditching them. If they work, you’re already better trained to the chosen tool.
If you want to learn more about avoiding pitfalls in your SAP Mobile Projects, start with the Pluralsight course on Building Native Mobile Apps for SAP Business Warehouse - Part 1. This is about demonstrating the simplest architecture for a simple mobile project based on SAP backend system like SAP BW. From there, you can move on to Building Native Mobile Apps for SAP Business Warehouse - Part 2, which takes a look at complex scenarios by introducing and explaining the why's and how's of OData, SAP Mobile Platform, SAP Netweaver Gateway and Xamarin.