Oracle Fusion Procurement Designed for User Productivity
By Applications User Experience on Jun 20, 2011
Sean Rice, Manager, Applications User Experience
Oracle Fusion Procurement Design Goals
In Oracle Fusion Procurement, we set out to create a streamlined user experience based on the way users do their jobs. Oracle has spent hundreds of hours with customers to get to the heart of what users need to do their jobs. By designing a procurement application around user needs, Oracle has crafted a user experience that puts the tools that people need at their fingertips. In Oracle Fusion Procurement, the user experience is designed to provide the user with information that will drive navigation rather than requiring the user to find information.
One of our design goals for Oracle Fusion Procurement was to reduce the number of screens and clicks that a user must go through to complete frequently performed tasks. The requisition process in Oracle Fusion Procurement (Figure 1) illustrates how we have streamlined workflows. Oracle Fusion Self-Service Procurement brings together billing metrics, descriptions of the order, justification for the order, a breakdown of the components of the order, and the amount—all in one place. Previous generations of procurement software required the user to navigate to several different pages to gather all of this information. With Oracle Fusion, everything is presented on one page. The result is that users can complete their tasks in less time. The focus is on completing the work, not finding the work.
Figure 1. Creating a requisition in Oracle Fusion Self-Service Procurement is a consumer-like shopping experience.
Will Oracle Fusion Procurement Increase Productivity?
To answer this question, Oracle sought to model how two experts working head to head—one in an existing enterprise application and another in Oracle Fusion Procurement—would perform the same task. We compared Oracle Fusion designs to corresponding existing applications using the keystroke-level modeling (KLM) method. This method is based on years of research at universities such as Carnegie Mellon and research labs like Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. The KLM method breaks tasks into a sequence of operations and uses standardized models to evaluate all of the physical and cognitive actions that a person must take to complete a task: what a user would have to click, how long each click would take (not only the physical action of the click or typing of a letter, but also how long someone would have to think about the page when taking the action), and user interface changes that result from the click. By applying standard time estimates for all of the operators in the task, an estimate of the overall task time is calculated. Task times from the model enable researchers to predict end-user productivity.
For the study, we focused on modeling procurement business process task flows that were considered business or mission critical: high-frequency tasks and high-value tasks. The designs evaluated encompassed tasks that are currently performed by employees, professional buyers, suppliers, and sourcing professionals in advanced procurement applications. For each of these flows, we created detailed task scenarios that provided the context for each task, conducted task walk-throughs in both the Oracle Fusion design and the existing application, analyzed and documented the steps and actions required to complete each task, and applied standard time estimates to the operators in each task to estimate overall task completion times.
The KLM method predicted that the Oracle Fusion Procurement designs would result in productivity gains in each task, ranging from 13 percent to 38 percent, with an overall productivity gain of 22.5 percent. These performance gains can be attributed to a reduction in the number of clicks and screens needed to complete the tasks. For example, creating a requisition in Oracle Fusion Procurement takes a user through only two screens, while ordering the same item in a previous version requires six screens to complete the task.
Modeling user productivity has resulted not only in advances in Oracle Fusion applications, but also in advances in other areas. We leveraged lessons learned from the KLM studies to establish products like Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS). New user experience features in EBS 12.1.3, such as navigational improvements to the main menu, a Google-type search using auto-suggest, embedded analytics, and an in-context list of values tool help to reduce clicks and improve efficiency.
For more information about KLM, refer to the Measuring User Productivity blog.