Zekelman’s SAP mobile app was a custom-developed Windows CE solution, but the Windows CE mobile OS was no longer supported. This meant Zekelman’s mobile security was dangerously outdated. Moreover, it no longer had Windows CE development resources on hand to extend and update its custom application, troubleshoot, and fix things, or retire transactions and features it didn’t need anymore.
To make matters worse, devices that could run Window CE and its mobile app were no longer available, even as refurbished hardware on the secondary market. It reached the point where Zekelman could no longer equip its 400 users with the right mobile app and hardware to do their jobs, so something had to give. In order to equip its users with the tools to complete their tasks each day, Zekelman had to embark on a hardware refresh, settling on enterprise-grade Android devices from Zebra.
A Way Forward for Legacy SAP Mobile Apps – “Mobile Inventory Templates” (MIT) by Havensight
To resolve their legacy SAP mobile app issues, both Zekelman and our global gaming customer each worked with our team at Havensight Consulting to develop an entirely new SAP-centric native solution. Moving to a new solution restored and improved our customer’s transactional capabilities, enabled future-forward development, and greatly strengthened their security.
It also allowed both companies to successfully deliver their apps across new Zebra Android mobile devices, which provided next-generation security protection and ongoing updates, faster app performance and SAP connections, and simpler touchscreen user interfaces. The improved user experience helped workers complete inventory transactions and tasks faster, more accurately, and more efficiently.
Of course, no problem is solved by a hardware change alone. So, as both companies’ teams started looking at software migration options, both considered Havensight’s Mobile Inventory Templates (MIT).
The templates are essentially SAP-native, high performance, pre-built mobile workflows that easily execute inventory transactions with an intuitive user experience and a direct connection to SAP. The templates also solve many issues with legacy ITS Mobile or SAPConsole apps, such as poor connection handling, poor end-user experience, Telnet security vulnerabilities, poor response times, challenges with device compatibility, and more.
They both agreed to give it a try and, after migrating their legacy apps to MIT by Havensight and upgrading their hardware, both were able to solve the problems they were previously experiencing with their legacy apps. They were also able to make additional improvements to their user interface and transactional capabilities, which were only possible by moving to SAPUI5 and Zebra’s latest devices. These are great examples of why it doesn’t always pay to wait.
Now, I don’t like to share success stories without explaining the actual effort required to achieve success. So, let’s take a look at what each company’s rollout entailed, how MIT by Havensight was implemented, and how we arrived at these positive results.
Deployment #1: Rolling Out a Better Alternative to ITS Mobile
Our global gaming client needed its new SAP-native mobile app for inventory management to render properly on Zebra handheld, vehicle-mounted, and ring scanner devices. It also needed the app, its infrastructure, and its connections to be maximally secure.
Our team at Havensight conducted a full analysis and worked with this customer to document these requirements. Along the way, we worked with them to identify additional features and capabilities that its previous app didn’t provide but the company wanted to implement.
Once the requirements were in place, we got to work on creating a new app using our Mobile Inventory Templates (MIT), which were built with SAPUI5. The templates provided a plethora of pre-built capabilities and provided a convenient and efficient starting point, which was extended to meet their specific requirements and match its business processes.
By developing the app using SAPUI5 and our templates, we were able to meet and exceed all of project requirements:
- The new app replicated all the transactions our gaming customer was using, plus those it needed to restore.
- The app also added new required features and capabilities the previous systems didn’t provide.
- The new app was connected to SAP via SAP’s NetWeaver gateway.
- We leveraged the secure mobile app infrastructure already in place on the SAP side.
- The app is now fully functional, secure, and renders on all device types and screen sizes.
- User experience was optimized to eliminate or minimize the number of screens and scrolling.
- They are now using the new app and enjoying the full benefits with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
- There are no licensing fees or limits on the number of users or sites, which maximizes the return on investment (ROI).
Deployment #2: Replacing a Legacy Windows Mobile App for SAP
Zekelman Industries needed to create an entirely new mobile warehouse management app for SAP, and it needed to support SAP IM and WM processes. It also needed to run on new and supported Zebra Android mobile devices with modern user interfaces and security. Additionally, the app would need to maintain integration with Zekelman’s existing SAP back-end processes, since these fit extremely well with how Zekelman manages inventory and conducts business.
Our team at Havensight began the project by using our five-phase development methodology to identify the project scope and requirements. The requirements included a desire to simplify screens, consolidate data, and deploy new inventory transactions while creating a new mobile solution to address the company’s hardware, security, and long-term support challenges.
This led to a proof-of-concept engagement. During this phase, we worked with screens, forms, and logic that Zekelman wanted to build out on Zebra devices. This allowed everyone to get a feel for how the app would look and function on the new hardware.
Once these initial concepts were approved, our team started developing the new mobile solution by transitioning Zekelman to SAPUI5’s HTML5 framework. This made it easy to create a cross-platform, enterprise-grade mobile application efficiently, and it allowed the new mobile app to connect to the existing SAP backend. It also ensures continued support for the company’s existing business requirements.
After successful completion of the proof-of-concept, we used our pre-built MIT solution to deliver screens, workflows, business concepts and validations that aligned with the SAP back-end integration. The end result was clean inventory and warehouse data that posts properly when it runs through Zekelman’s existing SAP infrastructure.
As we typically do, we used an agile approach with several “sprints” to develop and configure the solution, attacking the largest needs and pain points first. Then we worked on smaller requirements and other improvements. Along the way, our developers identified and capitalized on a number of opportunities to streamline and simplify app screens, forms, and logic by eliminating functionality that was no longer needed.
The solution was deployed to Zekelman’s production operations group, with our team providing train-the-trainer training, user acceptance testing (UTA), knowledge transfer, and go-live support. The end result was a huge win for Zekelman’s inventory management processes, exceeding its original goals:
- The company was able to deploy a new, future-forward SAP mobile app for its 400 users.
- The new app maintained full integration with the existing SAP back end and processes.
- The app allowed the company to upgrade to Zebra next-generation Android devices.
- The new app enabled faster, easier, and more accurate inventory transactions.
- The app provided a vastly improved and more efficient end-user experience.
- Enhancements to audio, button sizes, screens, forms, and logic all improved workflows.
- Stronger device and authentication security enabled major IT security improvements.
- The app can now be developed and supported long-term as business needs change.
- The app is deployable, manageable, and updateable via SOTI mobile device management.
- There are no licensing fees or limits on the number of users or sites, maximizing ROI.
You can read more about the positive outcomes Zekelman experienced here:
Zekelman Industries Replaces Legacy SAP Mobile App and Devices with New SAP Native Solution
Your Turn: Upgrading and Migrating Your SAP Legacy Mobile Apps
As these case studies illustrate, there are many ways to turn the unfortunate necessity of replacing legacy SAP mobile apps into a huge positive for your business. By upgrading, migrating, or creating a new mobile app for SAP EWM, WM, or IM, you can not only close dangerous security gaps, address legacy hardware issues, and create a future-forward solution, but you can take advantage of opportunities to improve your business processes and workflows at the same time.
As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” While there is some time and cost associated with replacing a legacy solution in your operations, the business benefits and financial return on investment can be massive. At a time when labor is scarce and expensive, when companies need to be as lean and efficient as possible, every transaction and the time and effort to complete it counts.
The costs of running outdated software and hardware with clunky workflows, long-term development problems, and security gaps could be catastrophic. If you’re using a legacy SAP mobile app, now is a crucial time to consider a change.
To learn more about developing SAPUI5 mobile apps for Zebra devices including MIT from Havensight, and to solve your biggest SAP mobile hardware and software challenges, connect with our experts at Havensight Consulting. We’d be happy to start a conversation and see how we can help your business.