The introduction of Design Thinking at SAP as a product definition methodology requires every employee involved in the development of the product to take responsibility for the usability and end-to-end product experience. Customer involvement has become a cornerstone of both the requirements gathering process and the usability testing of our software. An essential part of the research phases are site visits, in which members of the product team interview and observe end users at their place of work to gain valuable insights into users’ real needs, task flows, and pain points. The product team then synthesizes the findings from several site visits to form a concrete picture of how users really work and how they could be supported in the future to increase their productivity and work satisfaction. The resulting insights are transformed into prototypes which are tested by end users before development begins. This allows the team to ensure their product provides a desirable user experience before the product is implemented.

Interested in learning more about design thinking? Have a look at this excellent Introduction to Design Thinking blog!

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  • Anonym  8 years ago


    thanks a lot for sharing your development philosophy within the community.
    Design thinking is new to me, but many aspects look very familiar to user-centered methods or scenario-based design. So please, can you explain in detail the difference between common user-centered approaches and design thinking? Where do you see the advantages?

  • Esther Blankenship   8 years ago

    Hi Kilian,
    This is a very interesting issue that you bring up. Both methods encourage observation of real end users and focus on interation as a way to acheive a result that will be both desirable and usable. In many circumstances, both methods can be used to acheive an excellent product design that will meet end users’ needs. The methodologies of the two approaches do have considerable overlap but there are also many differences. Many design professionals regard design thinking as a more creative approach to solving design problems that traditional design methods. It is also often regarded as particularly useful for addressing ill-defined problems. My colleague, Gerd Waloszek, wrote an interesting Introduction to Design Thinking, which you might find interesting ( In it, he goes into detail about the different attributes and the history of design thinking.

  • Anonymous   8 years ago

    Hi Kilian,
    Perhaps you may also want to take a look at “Design Thinking, Interaction Design, and UI Design” on the SAP Design Guild, SAP’s public resource for design professionals, researchers, and students. In the article, I try to shed some light on the relationship between UI design and Design Thinking.
    Best regards, Gerd
    P.S.: I did not realize that I have to use a one-line field for my comment…

  • Anonym  8 years ago

    Thank you very much for your comments. I will adapt the design thinking philosophy into my user centered world and hope, that I can read best practices in the future!

    (Second time, I am posting a comment, I see the notification button below. Short before grumbling about getting no emails about your answers 😉