Dominik Neumann

Consultant UX & Digital Workplace,
VANTAiO GmbH & Co KG.

November 23, 2021

The path from SAP Enterprise Portal to SAP Work Zone

A successor for the SAP Enterprise Portal

SAP already presented a completely new type of portal solution at TechEd 2020: SAP Work Zone. For many, it is obvious to regard this as a direct successor product to the proven SAP Enterprise Portal. This is because, as is well known, SAP has discontinued general support for the current version 7.5 of the Enterprise Portal at the end of 2027. The SAP Work Zone, on the other hand, fits in with the current overall orientation of the software group: a digital workplace for all employees, workflows and applications in the (multi-)cloud, more precisely on the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP). So a switch is obvious for all customers - or is it? We take a look at the special features of the SAP Work Zone and explain which migration stumbling blocks you should avoid in advance.

All in one: the digital workplace

SAP itself does not officially refer to SAP Work Zone as the successor to SAP Enterprise Portal. The differences in the technological and functional orientation are probably too great for that. SAP recommends a step-by-step migration from Enterprise Portal to SAP BTP and the Launchpad service there. There is no question that all SAP users will be drawn there sooner or later. However, SAP BTP and Launchpad Service are only the basic foundation. If SAP Enterprise Portal users are looking for a comparable portal solution in the cloud, then there is currently no other product in the SAP world than SAP Work Zone. SAP also sees it that way . Because not only the central Launchpad is already an integral part of the cloud product. It also includes the extensive content maintenance options familiar from the SAP Cloud Portal Service, as well as the groups and workspaces for collaborative work that originate from the SAP Jam social media platform. The bottom line is that SAP Work Zone is not even an entirely new product. Rather, it is a holistic approach by SAP with the goal of bringing together in one suite the typical subject areas of a digital workplace solution, which were previously spread across different SAP products: Content, applications, data, communication and collaboration.

Informative content, useful self-services and direct exchange via social feed: This is how a workspace in the SAP Work Zone is structured.

The SAP Work Zone: A Perfect Solution?

Many users of these predecessor products are likely to prick up their ears at this point. A single point of contact for virtually all digital workflows, without time-consuming media disruptions or complex integrations of third-party systems? These are ambitious goals, and right from the start: SAP Work Zone can meet them. The gain in terms of a consistent user experience for users is enormous, as is the reduction in complexity and configuration effort from an administrative perspective. This is because, as a platform fully located in the SAP BTP, the SAP Work Zone scales with its requirements. Cost-intensive in-house server infrastructures are therefore a thing of the past. In addition, native apps for iOS and Android are on board, as are simple connections to widely used tools such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. So is the SAP Work Zone the perfect successor solution to any on-premise SAP portal? The answer is not quite that simple. Because SAP Work Zone does a lot of things differently than SAP Enterprise Portal. And in any case, you should check these changed signs early on so that you can be sure that SAP Work Zone is the right product for your requirements.

Practical standard, limited individuality

Whether you want to present your intranet content in an attractive and modern way, offer contextually appropriate jumps to applications, or promote employee self-organization in collaborative workspaces: All these features are available out-of-the-box after the initial setup of the SAP Work Zone. Accordingly, the first usage scenarios are quickly designed and rolled out in the company. The downside is the limitation of customizing options. SAP Work Zone is a standard product from the cloud, and so its flexibility in terms of structure, setup and appearance is limited. Content, applications, and workspaces are hierarchically equal and are the primary focus. None of these components can be excluded from SAP Work Zone, and so it is hardly advisable to rely on the platform if all of these core areas are not to be used as well.

The UI Theme Designer can be used to create custom themes adapted to the Work Zone, which in most cases are completely sufficient for redesigning the platform in line with the corporate design. The design of the content is also completely in your hands. In detail, however, there are one or two restrictions: The frontend of the SAP Work Zone consists of the core of the former SAP Jam and the SAP Fiori Shell Bar. Adjustments to the theme's design largely affect the Fiori Shell, which largely makes up the header and some standardized design elements. If you also want to significantly redesign the content area, then this is only possible via custom CSS.

The content navigation of the SAP Work Zone (light gray) can be freely edited - the main navigation (dark blue), on the other hand, is a fixed component of the Fiori Shell Bar and provides uniform access to the core areas of the platform.

The adaptability of the information architecture is also limited: Although the content navigation is completely customizable, it is itself only a sub-navigation within the SAP Work Zone. The main navigation with links to the most important areas and functions, on the other hand, is predefined by SAP. The only thing that can be configured here is the display or hiding of "My Work Zone," which can be maintained individually by the respective user according to his or her own wishes. And while we were on the subject of content: If you have distributed multi-layered content across many navigation levels in your Enterprise Portal, then the migration to the SAP Work Zone requires particularly well thought-out planning. This is because the content structure only allows two navigation levels here, and after that it's over - at least with official means. Due to the deep integration of the collaborative work zones, they are a good extension option, especially since they provide two additional navigation levels that can be maintained at will. With the integrated document management and functionalities that can be used at will, such as task lists, knowledge databases, or appointment calendars, the workspaces come up with some powerful arguments for intensive use anyway.

Collaboration is in the foreground

So the SAP Work Zone may not be the perfect solution for everything and everyone after all - of course not, no system is. This makes it all the more important to evaluate the system in detail with regard to your own requirements. In this context, SAP's motives for its product decisions are also understandable. After all, the potential pitfalls described here are not intended to make life more difficult for customers. Rather, they are an expression of a consistent product design, of which the Walldorf team is obviously fully convinced. The SAP Work Zone user interface continues the Fiori design language and works, especially with the focus on collaboration in collaborative workspaces - the obvious linchpin of the product. So if you only want to communicate top-down to your workforce in the portal, you're rather in the wrong place. For everyone else, the SAP Work Zone is a powerful and highly usable platform for a whole host of use cases. As a true digital workplace, it provides all applications relevant to everyday work, plays out informative content, and promotes collaboration in teams and exchange between employees - all of which can be role-based and personalized as desired.

Good planning is half the battle

As in all migration projects, however, the changeover needs to be well planned. After all, there is no single migration path from SAP Enterprise Portal to the cloud. You would be well advised to analyze the current situation of your portal and the connected systems in detail and to identify the most important use cases of all the players involved. Based on this, an individual target picture can then be created, which can be aligned with the feature set and the basic technical requirements of the SAP Work Zone.

As a long-standing SAP partner and experienced service provider for all aspects of planning, designing and implementing portal solutions, we would be delighted to accompany you on this journey into the digital future of your organization. Chances are good that the SAP Work Zone will play a central role in this. And if it is not the right solution, suitable alternatives are not far away. For example, if communication and  collaboration are less of a focus, a central SAP Launchpad is also suitable as a strong basis for applications and processes, including integration of business data. The VANTAiO Enterprise News Manager is the optimal solution for news and content and, in combination with both the Launchpad and the Work Zone, results in a powerful overall package. Please feel free to contact us.

Do you have any questions?
Feel free to contact me.

Do you still have questions about this blog entry or about SAP Enterprise Portal or SAP Work Zone? I would be happy to answer your questions or concerns personally.

Dominik Neumann
Consultant UX & Digital Workplace
T +49 6131 – 622280