PLM & its User Interface

Pardon my rant on The User Interface…

When implementing any new enterprise software, user acceptance is a big deal.  Just one upset user can ruin the entire project

To the user community, the user interface is what the software looks like – Their only interaction with the software is through the user interface.  The software may do what it is supposed to while at the same time the user community hates it because it is difficult to use.

Some number of years ago I came up with the concept that the user interface should be task oriented.  Today’s PLM software packages allow you to do a lot of customization on the user interface that may allow you to meet that objective.

An example from a user’s point of view

An employee working for a manufacturing company has a customer that complained about our product.  As a result, they need to generate an engineering change request.

After logging into the software, they should see all of the things that they can do and one of them should be ‘create change request’.  Clicking on this option should open a screen designed to create a change request.  The system should automatically number the request and acknowledge them as the owner.

The change request screen should want them to enter the information needed to make the change.  It should want things like the part number, the change that is requested, possibly a markup showing the change and the reason for the change.  Users should be able to perform a ‘where used’ query.  They may want an inventory count.

Next, the request will need some approvals.  Someone in management will need to think this is a good idea.  Accounting will need to see that the change can be profitable.  Marketing will need to show that they can sell the changed product.  As the request moves from person to person, each will need to provide an approval and possibly an explanation.  So the screen will show only those entry fields and some kind of button showing that they are done.

Engineers should see only the entries that they are responsible for.  Since all of the product information is in the PLM software, they should see links to information that they may need.

PLM software has the concept of roles.  The user interface should be directed at a role – the role that the user plays in the change process.

What’s in it for you?

If the software is easy to use, users will use it and there will be no complaints.  User acceptance will become a thing of the past.

Need some help?

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