Enhancing End-User Productivity in Oracle Fusion Financial Applications
By Applications User Experience on Jun 06, 2011
Andrew Gilmour, Senior Usability Engineer, Applications User Experience
Scott Robinson, Senior Manager, Applications User Experience
Oracle Applications User Experience (UX) has embarked on an unprecedented user interface design and evaluation process resulting in improved quality control. The time and effort put forth will ensure that our users maintain a consistent experience as they move between different business process flows and applications. This consistent user experience will lead to greater user productivity.
Greater user productivity is one measure of success of the new Oracle Fusion Applications user interface designs. The Applications UX group developed and implemented methods for measuring productivity gains that the Fusion applications may achieve over existing enterprise applications.
Jeff Sauro and Joe Dumas, industry experts at measuring usability, ran a study on a method for estimating user productivity of Oracle products. They looked at workflow time analysis, a method that was created more than 20 years ago by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. For more detailed information on the workflow analysis method and the Oracle study, see their blog post Measuring User Productivity.
The Fusion Financials UX team was one of two UX product family teams to pilot the workflow analysis method at Oracle. We compared five tasks in our newly designed Oracle Fusion Accounts Payable application with the same five tasks in the Oracle Enterprise Accounts Payable application. Sam Rajkumar, Principal Usability Engineer (UE), led this effort. We worked closely with the Accounts Payable strategy team to ensure the accuracy of the assessment, and followed these steps:
- Identified the five most frequently performed tasks
- Created detailed task scenarios that provided the context for each task
- Conducted task walkthroughs
- Analyzed and documented the steps and flow required to complete each task
- Applied standard time estimates to the operators in each task to estimate the overall task completion time
This productivity modeling effort indicated that we could expect significant productivity gains in each task with the Oracle Fusion Accounts Payable designs. The estimated productivity gains across all five tasks ranged from 9% to 63%, with an overall estimated productivity gain of 42%.
One of the greatest potential productivity gains we observed was for the Create PO Matched Invoice task utilizing the new imaging technology available in Fusion Applications (Figure 1). The task represents how an Accounts Payable Specialist receives and enters an invoice via a scanned image.
Figure 1. With Oracle Fusion Applications Accounts Payable, an accounts payable specialist can view the actual invoice image (right panel) while in the context of creating the invoice. This may reduce data entry errors and eliminate time that was previously spent researching paper invoices.
Figure 2. This bar chart represents an estimated 44 second difference in task completion time, or a 63% gain in productivity, as modeled for one task using the Oracle Fusion Accounts Payable application, with the workflow time analysis method.
The inherent imaging integration provides for automated capture of select attributes from the image in order to facilitate seamless processing and routing, and is not available in the legacy application that was compared. Figure 2 compares the estimated task completion times for the Create PO Matched Invoice task in Oracle Fusion Accounts Payable and Oracle Enterprise Accounts Payable. The productivity gain for the task exhibits the strong symbiotic relationship between design and technology in Oracle Fusion applications.
Further analysis showed that easier navigation and streamlined workflows also contributed to the productivity gains. Fewer clicks and screens translate to a reduction in steps for task completion. We calculated a 36% average estimated reduction in task completion steps across all five tasks, ranging from 0% to 58% for each task.
Another Applications UX cross-suite initiative is to run formal usability tests to collect quantitative measurements. The results of this summative testing effort will help us validate our estimated productivity gains.
Financials UX will continue to estimate productivity and refine our designs across multiple Financials flows as part of our effort to optimize user productivity in our next generation enterprise applications.
Oracle will also continue to propagate our lessons learned in Fusion to our existing product lines. For example, the Fusion Financials Search user interface is heavily leveraged in E-Business Suite Financials. We can clearly see the productivity gains from this design, and now they are available in our existing products. For more on how we are investing our best practices into current products, please see the following success story.