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Making the Case for Custom

In this day and age, everyone is running an ERP system.  A lot of those ERP systems come from SAP, and a lot of those SAP systems are implemented around a single baseline idea.  That idea? “Out of the box”. Most customers we work with have implemented SAP as part of a standard out of the box scenario.  We get asked all of the time if Fiori has a standard app for this and a standard app for that. This has been the case because IT system owners with a long-term history of SAP usage and implementation are scared of doing anything custom because of the chance it may break during/after an upgrade.  Fun fact: This doesn’t have to be the case anymore!

Each business we work with is special.  Each company is only a company because they are good at something.  Whatever industry/field they operate in, they want to be the best. They want to differentiate themselves from the rest.

The question is:  How do you differentiate yourself if everyone is running the exact same SAP software, the exact same way?

Most companies used to answer that question with:  Our products and services are what differentiates us, not the software we run.  Today, a lot of the time that answer changes to something along the lines of: We use technology as a differentiator in our business which helps drive efficiency and productivity, increasing and delivering value to our shareholders.  (Go ahead and listen to a few earnings briefings. I’ll bet those statements are used more often than not!)

I like to break it down very simply as a chain.  (Not a blockchain :) ) Technology fuels innovation, innovation fuels differentiation in business, and that in turn drives the market forward.

Companies that want to lead have been proven to invest in design and technology.  Design Led companies have a track record of outperforming the market


Read More: Design-Driven Companies Outperform the S&P by 219% over 10 years


Bringing this back to SAP, Fiori, and the things that we do on a daily basis here at Mindset.  We have a design thinking first approach. This means any development we do will start with a design thinking workshop.  We feel very strongly that all development should be based on real end-users, real end-user pain points, and solve real end user problems.  There’s a very special empathy that goes along with our observations that brings these problems to light for our architects and developers.

At least 95% of the time, after going through a design thinking workshop, no out of the box SAP Fiori Application will solve the problem in its entirety.  We don’t take this as a bad sign, we take this as a sign that we’re really helping this company get to the root of the problem. Each company is different, each company struggles in different areas, and after developing hundreds of custom Fiori apps I can confidently say the standard is not always the answer.

Custom interfaces can bring about a large change in an organization.  We see many examples of this. Some are very innovative and automated, others take advantage of interface design to improve what people see and when they see it, for efficiency and productivity.  In any case, it helps the company improve. It’s no wonder companies that embrace design do better in the marketplace because at the end of the day these are the companies truly innovating and differentiating themselves from their competitors.

We see many examples of this.  Just recently, I had the opportunity to help a client of ours with their field sales representatives.  They were simply not using the system and had turned to their own note apps like Evernote, their own calendars, Gmail accounts/notes, etc… to keep track of their business.  This meant the company was not holding any of this information, the sales reps themselves were. What happens when or if one of these people leave? The information leaves with them!  That was a huge risk and an opportunity worth investing in. Once we were able to meet with the team, ride-along and observe real sales reps, go through a full design thinking process, we were able to get to the bottom of the problem and design a solution that works for them.  Now the same company is reporting more than 80% of representatives to use the apps designed and deployed on a daily basis and the company has better tracking of leads, opportunities, sales insights, and pipeline. None of that would’ve been possible without looking to Design Thinking and problem solving for real-world scenarios.


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As VP of Products at Mindset Consulting, Jon focuses on how organizations can quickly and easily maximize their SAP investments for improved results and happier employee, customer, and user experiences. A known industry thought he is a highly sought-after industry speaker and resource.

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