Following an intensive six week graduate training programme, myself and two other colleagues have been placed at a client who provides facilities management services on a massive scale.
We’re building on the work of DJ Adams and Lindsay Stanger, who’ve built a tool which allows users to input data onto timesheets, and then to process these timesheets so that employees get paid as accurately and efficiently as possible. You can read Project neon: Reporting with SAP UI5 and Fiori - Week 1 to find out about the scope of the project.
Last week we spent a few days in meetings with key people within the client’s IT department, to establish what our solution means to the people who will be using it. We also got into some relatively high-level requirements capture. So what’s happened in week 2?
Based on the requirements gathered in week 1, we built some blueprints to show how the app will look on a tablet. The blueprints were essentially black and white mock-ups, with outlines of text boxes, buttons, images and so on: nothing fancy, as they were more about providing a talking point going into further requirements capture meetings.
We then shared these blueprints with the project sponsor. It was a great chance to get real insight into what the sponsor liked, and what needed to be changed. Specifically, we could identify which functionalities mattered the most to the client, which functionalities we’d missed, and which were less important or even not necessary at all. When the app is up there on the screen, it’s much easier to discuss than when you’re talking about an abstract concept or idea.
This second requirements capture session gave us some really concrete, well-defined requirements that we could use to start building our app. As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, we had identified scope creep as a risk because the project sponsor is very enthusiastic and has such high hopes for what we can deliver. So this week’s requirements capture session was a great way of finalising and documenting the scope of the project. From this point onwards, changes to the app should, in theory, be minor.
We agreed with the project sponsor that we’d have a skeleton framework for our app built by next week. It won’t pull any data through from the backend systems, but it will be an accurate visualisation of what the app will look like when it goes live, and it should be fully functioning in terms of navigation. Achieving all this in little over a week is a big challenge, but it’s something we were excited to take on!
With our requirements now firmly in place, and next week’s deadline looming, it was time to start development. First of all we had to get our laptops configured (as is the case when working on client site). Following this we had to secure access to the right SAP systems, so that we could see the kinds of data we need to pull through and display in the app.
We then had to determine which development environment to use. We’d heard about the SAP Web IDE, which is pretty new, and we were excited about it because it essentially takes care of a lot of the hard work for you, allowing you to focus more on the user interface than the underlying code. Web IDE was exactly what we needed to meet our deadline. However, because it’s so new, there’s relatively little documentation about how to use it, so we had to figure it out ourselves for the most part, which was quite the uphill battle!
After meetings with our project manager and vertical head, Chris Smith, it became evident that the initial structuring of the team needed to be reconsidered. During week one, no specific roles had been allocated, in order that each of us could get exposure to all the different aspects of the project. It was a flat and open project structure giving everyone a taste of lots of different roles. However, as the week progressed, it became clear that some members of our team were more suited to development than others. We responded by restructuring the team to take this into account and to play to each member’s strengths.
In sum, what have we achieved this week?
We’ve nailed down the project scope to a standard that everyone’s happy with. We’ve got our client laptops up and running, and we’ve sorted out access to the right SAP systems and had a nosey around to see what data is available to us. We’ve had a chance to get some real, low-level exposure to the solution that Lindsay and DJ are building. And we’ve spent some time familiarising ourselves with the Web IDE and other development environments that are available to us.
Onwards and upwards
By Friday, next week’s deadline began to feel very real, as it seemed like we were struggling to get to grips with development, especially the Web IDE. Moving forwards, our challenge is to build each one of the app screens using UI5 and connect them together, so that we have a happy project sponsor on our hands on Wednesday afternoon. Bearing in mind that no one on our team has worked with UI5 or the Web IDE before, and that we spent most of this week trying to understand the development environments, it’s a big challenge. I’m confident that we can deliver, but it’s going to be a lot of work! Stay tuned!