Oracle Fusion Applications Early Adopters Present Lessons Learned to OUAB
By Applications User Experience on Dec 21, 2011
Anna Wichansky, Senior Director, Applications User Experience
Customers who adopt software prior to its general availability often have valuable experience that can be shared with others embarking on a similar route. These customers’ implementations are real-world, and may present challenges beyond what any vendor envisioned to test in-house. This is exciting, not only for the vendor but also for fellow customers and potential users. It provides a chance for other customers to walk in the shoes of these pioneers and learn important lessons (without experiencing any of the risks involved). It is also great to learn that customers are anticipating success in future upgrades to Fusion Applications, based on what they had seen so far.
We had the pleasure of hearing about three early implementations of Fusion Applications at Oracle OpenWorld, at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board half-day meeting held on October 4, 2011 in San Francisco. Our speakers were: OUAB member Sharon Steffen of Principal Financial Group, using Fusion Applications Sourcing, Supplier Portal, and Supplier Profile; Sheryl Johnson of PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, implementing Fusion HCM for Principal Financial Group; and Kathleen Kelly of The Professional Golfers’ Association of America, using Fusion Financials.
Oracle Usability Advisory Board: Fusion Early Adopter Panel at Oracle OpenWorld, 2011, San Francisco. (from left): Sheryl Johnson, Sharon Steffen, Anna Wichansky (moderator), Kathleen Kelly
This was an up-close-and-personal meeting, compared to the large auditoriums where most Fusion Apps customers presented, and we had the added benefit that one of our presenters was already a board member. This enabled a lot of dialogue between audience and presenters, and a free flow of questions as they described how they conducted their early trials of the software.
Two of our early adopters were about to “go-live” with their implementations in the next few months, and the third had already conducted multiple pilots on individual Fusion Apps workflows. All three began with hosted systems implemented on a trial basis with small numbers of users. Two had adopted Fusion Apps workflows in a co-existence model with existing Oracle Applications suites such as PeopleSoft , keeping their core applications and adding Fusion Applications workflows. The third adoption took place instead of upgrading to a higher version of the customers’ current applications suite.
Common goals were replacement of third-party applications, improvement of reporting features and usability, and better integration of data and functionality between multiple sources and workflows. Other goals for the trials varied between customers. One customer wanted to replace custom applications, and expand its scope to multiple currencies and countries. Another wanted to eliminate manual business processes and implement single sign-on capability.
Here are some of the lessons learned:
- The early adoption process allows customers to influence the future state of product functionality, as Oracle product development became an important partner in the trial.
- Product usage and testing require extra attention, as software is still changing and documentation may be lacking.
- Early adopters should set clear expectations and over-communicate when necessary, as customer, implementers, and developers need to clearly understand each others’ roles and responsibilities in the trial.
- Customers should provide rigorous, well-documented, and system-worthy use cases to the vendor to get the most useful trial results.
- Customers should be willing to adapt to the software (few or no customizations in early trials).
Customers spoke highly of the improved usability in Fusion Applications. For the customer who had completed multiple trials, over 80% of pilot end-users would be an advocate for the software’s workflow, usability, and modeling capabilities. Another customer who was about to go-live in early 2012 also mentioned Fusion Applications’ streamlined business processes so they could work more efficiently, improved screen designs, and overall user experience.