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SAP AppHaus: Creating from Home

A very happy new year to our IgniteSAP community!

To get us all looking to the future this week we are going to explore some of the tools that SAP is providing to help organisations innovate. Not only does SAP provide technical tools for innovation but they also provide the means to foster creativity and innovation in our businesses and organisations through SAP AppHaus.

One side effect of the pandemic forcing us to work from home is that, while software enables much office work to be carried out remotely, it is difficult to create entirely new software products as a team. Traditionally this would involve a great deal of face to face discussions, with whiteboards and diagrams to help everyone in the group understand the design problem, and work as a team toward its resolution.

Creativity through collaboration requires a meeting of minds and this is best done in person, but with the onset of the pandemic we were increasingly asked to work from home, and the method of carrying out creative innovation projects has had to be reframed to fit the new social reality.

SAP AppHaus has developed a design methodology that can be used to overcome the problem of creative collaboration at a distance that carefully balances the values of positive user experience, with fundamental business outcomes: like augmenting existing revenue streams, or creating entirely new ones.

What is SAP AppHaus?

In a world that sometimes puts process before people SAP AppHaus exists in order to ensure a “Human-Centred Approach to Innovation to transform business data into customer value with the help of SAP Business Technology Platform”.

AppHaus has developed a methodology towards innovation that empathises with the eventual end-user of software products, but still delivers value and scaleable business solutions.

Beginning with their “Design Thinking” method which uses structured thinking exercises such as “identify business challenges” and “use case evaluation” to conceptualise a business problem, the innovation opportunities, and its software solution. This mindset encourages collaboration and rapid prototyping with continuous feedback. This stage in the process is principally concerned with generating, rather than analysing ideas.

This is then followed by engagement with an “Architecture Thinking” series of problem solving methods, which include exercises and resources such as the “Lean Architecture Toolkit”, “Solution Context Diagrams” and “Risk Analysis”, among many others. These are conceptual exercises which use data, processes, and system components to take into account business and technological perspectives: bringing the blue sky thinking back to the real world.

These two design areas correspond very roughly with the creative and analytical aspects of a software design process, but the conceptual exercises map out the design team’s thinking very rigorously: so a comprehensive solution can be achieved and brought to production. This way, if there is a problem it can be traced back and resolved, rather than dismissing a whole project.

Fostering Innovation Culture

So while the AppHaus team does work on creating individual pieces of software, they also work at creating the methods which can turn any group of people into software design consultants. This has never been more necessary than today when, with the overall background of the global transition to Industry 4.0, we are facing a further need to innovate quickly: to cope with the changing demands of the pandemic and disruption of supply chains and distribution networks.

SAP AppHaus Innovation Culture Toolkit for virtual collaboration

Last year in response to the pandemic the AppHaus team spent some time distilling some of their methods into a toolkit that can be used as a basis for any organisation to promote a culture in which virtual collaboration on innovation can occur.

This is because although technology is disrupting industries and forcing new ways of operating, there is also a natural inclination of businesses to stick with what works, and there is added inertia when teams have to work remotely, so innovation is generally not instigated. When it is, then it is difficult to drive the process forward to completion.

The Innovation Culture Toolkit for virtual collaboration presents five enablers of innovation culture: People, Process, Place, Leadership, and Technology. It then offers unique methods and resources corresponding to each enabler so that organisations have a fertile framework for innovation.

The toolkit uses an online tool for virtual collaboration called MURAL to provide templates for each of the exercises so that teams can work on ideas from home, and uses one day workshop formats that encourage teams to engage with the AppHaus innovation methods.

For example: the early stages of an innovation project such as the Explore Workshop can include an exploration exercise in which the extent of the challenge, its most valuable use cases, and the perspective of the end user can be defined.

Once the challenge has been defined, then the Discover Workshop can help innovation teams to sharpen their focus on precisely what the target of their project is and who the relevant stakeholders are that need to be consulted during the project development.

This is followed by research phase and then a Synthesis Workshop in which a “typical” end-user of the product is defined, and their “user experience journey” is described as a step by step process in order to flush out any unforeseen problems.

All of these stages are preparation for the Design Workshop process, which aims to identify solutions ideas and convert them into tangible prototypes. The Design Workshop exercises range from attempting to create as many ideas as possible in 30 minutes and other brainstorming exercises, to selecting the most viable and creating “storyboards” to illustrate and plan the process by which they move from idea, through prototyping to finished product.

AppHaus Development Using other SAP Products

SAP Business Technology Platform brings to the intelligent enterprise a foundation for customisations and context-specific innovations. This speeds up the project development from concept to delivery of the final product. Because of this modular structure AppHaus recommends the use of BTP in the construction of tailored software solutions.

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The SAP Discovery Centre is a new resource provided by SAP that allows users to explore potential innovation scenarios with SAP Business Technology Platform. AppHaus contributes to the SAP Discovery centre’s “missions”, or innovation scenarios. These are use cases for SAP BTP with detailed guidance on how to achieve them. Several examples of Discovery Centre missions utilise the Rise with SAP offering in order to accelerate the transformation process.

Other AppHaus Resources for Business Innovation

Members of the SAP AppHaus team presented best practices for storyboarding, leading innovation teams, SAP’s human-centered approach to innovation, and the Innovation Culture Toolkit at the SAP Labs meets SAP AppHaus event series last year.

Other publications from the SAP AppHaus team include The Lean Architecture Toolkit and the Spectrum workshop materials, which support the creation of new innovation teams with an organisation.

So AppHaus not only provides the means to foster software innovation for businesses but the methodology learned also integrates neatly with SAP products, and there are many examples of innovative products tailored to a specific end that have begun by following the AppHaus innovation methods. They have even laid out step-by-step instructions for how to implement several generic solutions such as chatbots. So with basic SAP training, an IT consultant can use the AppHaus method and framework to assemble a creative team, train them in the creative and analytical method of software creation, formulate a new software solution, and carry it through several iterations to a finished product.

AppHaus corporate co-innovators include Toyota, AGL, Royal Greenland, Costain, and Gazprom, among many others. This demonstrates that the method and the resulting technology are not just for start ups but also trusted by multinational corporations to run their mission critical processes.

The Next Way of Working

AppHaus has produced a white paper explaining their new approach to creative collaboration:

‘The Next WoW’ white paper summarises the ultimate learning and outcome of all co-innovation efforts the global SAP AppHaus team has run during the last year. For several months and together with SAP AppHaus Network and other SAP colleagues, the AppHaus 2.0 team: a team focused on the evolution and development of changed working circumstances, jointly conducted interviews, experiments, and tested new work settings. ‘The Next WoW’ white paper is the first public share-out representing the starting point for innovative work scenarios in the future. It is supposed to inspire and support other innovators, companies, and organisations on their way to the next way of working. ‘The Next WoW’ helps sustain the creative work with customers and partners. In brief, it helps customers be successful.”

Innovation from Home in 2022

Working from home is now a permanent feature of our working lives and most people have found it has been better than expected, to the extent that most employees (according to a study by Stanford Graduate School of Business in June 2021) want to have the flexibility of working from home in the future.

SAP AppHaus have realised the importance of creative and collaborative processes in the course of producing innovation for some time, and have produced a template for what that creative process looks like when established remotely.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to be rigorously analytical about the creative process and to even codify the “creative method”, the ability to apply this model remotely is invaluable to businesses and organisations. It is highly likely that after the pandemic recedes into history (we can live in hope), that remote creative team work will also become somewhat normal.

Being creative, even creating technological solutions to business process operations issues is seen as a dark art: something to be left to those people with their head in the clouds. But when your team is facing the software solution equivalent of writer’s block, you need a stimulus to get the ideas going. More importantly the AppHaus methodology gives equal weight to “Architectural thinking” which is based on business values and business operations, and consequently can keep a creative team anchored in the real world, and focussed on the end product.

There is an added benefit to adopting this method when exploring innovations: it is generative and comprehensive. So no opportunity need be overlooked, and the emphasis on moving from ideas, to prototypes, to finished products, means that any creative team can justify the time spent innovating.

So we encourage our community members to take a look at the AppHaus methodology as it brings a refreshing pragmatism to software innovation.

Do you want to make the most of your SAP skill set and position yourself at the forefront of the world of SAP consulting? Please contact our team at IgniteSAP so we can help you find your ideal place to innovate and transform.