User Input Key to the Success of Oracle Fusion Applications
by Alan Joch, November 2010
The ability for Oracle Fusion Applications to create a more flexible and productive user experience wouldn’t have been possible without extensive feedback from end users. “It is very important to us to truly understand what our users do on a day-to-day basis,” says Steve Miranda, vice president of applications development at Oracle.
The first wave of feedback came from Oracle’s advisory board, which includes experts in specific disciplines, such as human resources and finance.
“We brought these experts in at the outset and asked them, ‘What do you like and what do you not like about your applications today?’ and ‘What areas do you want to do better, faster, or differently in your specific business areas?’” Miranda explains.
Next, Oracle Fusion Applications designers moved to the design and feature-validation stages. They aggregated the initial feedback into a set of business requirements for each application and then brought in real-world software users representing more than 700 organizations throughout the world. Oracle engineers watched functional users interact not only with Oracle Applications but also with competitors’ programs to gain new clues about what works and what doesn’t work in interface designs.
The designers took that feedback to heart: Oracle estimates that more than 200 design changes were made to Oracle Fusion Applications based directly on this usability research. This included streamlining tasks, improving navigation, and putting information into role-based contexts.
The effort paid off. Analysts, customers, and users groups alike credit Oracle Fusion Applications for creating a unique look and feel. “If one looks at the [Oracle Fusion Applications] generation of ERP [enterprise resource planning] and compares it to the previous one that we’re most familiar with, two big differences come across to me,” says Rick Beers, a board member at Quest International Users Group. “One is we’re talking about process-driven applications where we can configure applications and explain them to business users in the language of business. The other is a convergence of business intelligence and transactions. Rather than there being two separate capabilities, they’re merging into one in Oracle Fusion Applications.”
Mark Silverstein, a principal with IT consulting firm Deloitte, agrees. “Business applications have historically been one size fits all. [Oracle] Fusion Applications [focus] on the role an employee plays in the organization and on giving them access to on-demand analytics,” he says. “What it means for our customers is they will recognize business value faster than before.”
User feedback influenced the look-and-feel innovations of the Oracle Fusion Applications self-service procurement portal’s embedded business intelligence.