User interface in Globe: customizable process flows

Posted on 18. Mar, 2010 by in Exact Globe Next

As an Exact Globe Product Manager I am investigating the current user interface and want to share some of the current options and challenges.

 In Exact Globe you have several options to make your own process flows in the main menu. Using these options helps to focus on the things that are most important or frequently used and to have a visual insight into the process you are performing.  The visual process flow of individual orders is widely used, the process flow in the menu is used less. What is the cause of this and can we improve the user experience here?

Maybe the most well known process flow in Exact Globe is the sales order process flow for a single order: 

 It gives you relevant information of the flow of the sales order in an intuitive way. This flow is shown standard in several entry and overview applications.

Exact Globe also offers the possibility to organize your work on the main menu level into flows that are relevant for your daily work.  The most well known of these is the role bar and it is mostly used in combination with the panel menu.  It is situated to the left of the main panel menu: 

 You can define several process flows, in the example you have the logistic flow, finance and reports. The main part of the menu is still the function based menu with the functional tabs and access to all menu paths per function.

Another way of working is the explorer menu where you have your complete functional menu to the left and can create process flows in the central part of the menu:

 Experience tells us that the possibilities to show process flows in Exact Globe are not widely used. The following are 4 statements that may explain why and possible enhancements to the user interface. I am very interested to hear from you if they are correct:

  1. What is often seen is that people use the default screens and settings. Could the user experience be improved when Exact offers standard role based or industry specific templates for these process flows?
  2. Another reason can be the limited flexibility in creating the process flows:  At the moment you can only add menu paths from either top to bottom or left to right.  Could the user experience be improved by the ability to show multiple flows grouped in one overview?
  3. An opportunity for process flows is the integration with Exact Synergy. When using Synergy and Exact Globe you often have processes that require both products. Wouldn’t it be great if you could see this flow from one screen?
  4. The advantage of showing the menu in a process flow is that you have instant visual insight into the specific process flows that you as a user are responsible for. Could the usability be improved if you had a direct insight into the KPI’s of this flow in the same screen?

 Of course I am also very interested in your experience with the current user interface and possible enhancements you see!

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20 Responses to “User interface in Globe: customizable process flows”

  1. Christian Ibetsberger

    19. Mar, 2010

    I wonder that you mentioned all menu types except for the process flow menu itself…

    My experience is as following:
    With new customers during training we drag the most used menus to the role bar. As soon as the customers get used to the pane menu they use the pane menu directly.

    Maybe it depends on company size, but our customers do not thing in flows. (The flow in the sales order is a completely different thing. You need to know what steps for this specific order are completed already.) Our customers Exact Users are responsible for many different tasks – often for the whole sales process. So they need to change between main modules and menus. If I want to enter a purchase order, its pretty clear to go to purchase – entries and if I need a quotation afterwards to go to CRM – quotations. The flow is not important in this scenario. A flow menu would rather be less clearly, because the person might not be responsible for all parts of that flow and the menu entries would not be grouped by topic anymore.

    The reason why we never used the flow menu by the way ist because it lacks the descriptions. If you dont point at the symbol it s impossible to know that menu entry is ment by it.

    We would rather appreciate a possibility to reduce the pane menu to only show often used entries. New customers sometimes are overwhelmed by the huge number of reports etc. Most only use 1 or 2 reports of every topic. We could lock unused menu items by managing access rights but thats too much work and we cannot always say it an employee does not need a seldomly used report every one and a while. An option button to grey out unused menu entries, expand/collapse menus or something of that kind would be nice.

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  2. Robert Hubers

    19. Mar, 2010

    In my years working in custom solutions I got a lot of questions in this area.
    In regards to the screen setup customers were often wondering why functions that a user often needs are spread out over several tabs. This is not only for processes by the way. I can think of at least two customers that asked us to make cockpit type screens in Globe to have all functions a user often uses in one place. So I think the demand for something like this is certainly there.

    For the integration with Synergy I am not so sure, I think that this has to do separation of responsibilities. For example Person A can enter something in Globe and persons B,C and D have to approve it in Synergy. It could be that these persons do not have access to Globe (and may not need to). So in this case the only one to benefit would be person A, who can see where the process is in Synergy.
    To see the complete flow of a process having the Synergy steps in Globe would be nice, but I am not so sure that it would be necessary for executing the process.

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  3. Michiel van Rooijen

    19. Mar, 2010

    Christian: thanks for your feedback.

    Are you saying that you would prefer a solution where:
    1 the main menu is automatically build up consisting of the top x functions that are used by this user

    or

    2 by offering a menu that can be customized by the user himself?

    An example of 1 is the new Online user interface where you have a menu consisting of the most used functions in the Online community per tab and a ‘more’ button to go to the other menu’s

    For option 2 there are 3 main scenario’s
    1: give the user default a blank menu with the option to add menu path’s
    2: give the user default the full menu where he can hide menu path’s
    3; give the user a choice of templates for different roles, processes and give the ability to customize them further.

    Which would you prefer and why?

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  4. Michiel van Rooijen

    19. Mar, 2010

    Hi Robert, thanks for the feedback.

    Do you ever get feedback from your customers that have to switch back and forth between Synergy and Globe? for example people doing opportunity management in Synergy but enter the quotation in Globe.?

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  5. Robert Huberts

    22. Mar, 2010

    Hi Michiel,

    I think I looked at a couple of cases where the process would start in Globe, goes to Synergy and then back to Globe. Especially in the purchase area, for big companies the approval process around purchase orders can be a more complex process than can be supported in Globe alone. However we ever built something like this, in part because of the complexity involved in maintaining the statuses and the tracking of changes across the two platforms.

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  6. Bert van Vreumingen

    22. Mar, 2010

    Hi Michiel,

    I think most of my clients would prefer a customizable menu in Globe, as you described in option 2: a full menu where the user can hide menu path’s.

    The integration of Globe and Synergy (.Net) contains many more issues than the userinterface alone, but once the technical integration of these two is complete, integrated menu’s would certainly be appreciated.

    I agree with Christian that many users operate more than one flow and prefer the existing functional design over a process flow.

    regards,
    Bert van Vreumingen

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  7. Christian Ibetsberger

    23. Mar, 2010

    Hi Michiel,

    thanks for your reply. Actually, any of the options are better than what there is now.

    for szenario 1 (blank menu) + 3 (templates) of option 2 there is a possibility in globe already.

    1: switch from panel menu to explorer menu or something and drag your own menu items
    3: create sidebar menus for security roles

    the problem with those two is, that in my experience users don’t take the time to customize their menus and it’s too much work to do during consulting.

    therefore:
    option 1 (show the most used menus or all) would not need any user action or consultancy
    option 2, szenario two: would require minimum user action but would be quite simple

    A point I would like to emphasize:
    The function/topic oriented panel menu is what I prefer because you get a good overview of functions. I do not use the sidebar because I do not like to (visually) switch between sidebar and panel menu.

    I you go for option 1 (most used menus) it should not be shown separately. I do not want to first look if the menu option is ‘most used’ and if not then search the regular menu. the position of menu items/topics/functions should be the same with most used or all options shown. (a negative example would be the new request screen in Synergy, where you first look if its a recently used request and if not you still scroll the list – maybe you want to read my comment there).

    An ability to hide menus but not blocking access (as by security roles) would be a nice alternative but more work.

    Another idea about complexity: If you allow access for certain menu options that are used in more topics – for example items maintenance then you get the menu option for all topics/modules (order, purchase, project, etc). So a user that is just responsible for orders has more topics on top that he would be responsible for. finding a solution that the only gets items maintenance in the order topic would be less complex for the user.

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  8. Pieter Hamans

    23. Mar, 2010

    Michiel,
    I am happy that this topic is brought up. We have to differentiate here between the need to display the flow with symbols and the need to create role-based menus:

    1. Displaying the flow with symbols is helpful to understand/manage the process and to view status (yes, showing KPIs is very welcome!). I leave it open whether we can view the flow for a particular order or for consolidated orders (“Action flow”)

    2. In a small organization, with little separation of roles, the pictorial status bar (“at the bottom of the sales order screen”) is also used to progress the status of the order (print, fulfill etc). But if we want to achieve scalability in order to deal with organizations with multiple involved roles, we must be able to group functions together by role. (“My menu”)

    I think that we can not achieve 1. and 2. in the same screen, but that we need them both.

    One comment on the current standard flows: These are often incomplete! For example in the production order we have no step to enter labor hours; we have to navigate to the Project panel. Not every organization will have the same steps in the process so the flow charts must be customizable. It is most welcome if there is some mouse-over or right-click to view the current actors or required roles.

    The (“Action flow”) flow charts should be drag-and-drop with possibility to insert text, drawing symbols and pictures. It must be allowed to use the same menu item multiple times (The current Globe role bar allows to use the same menu item only once!)

    And if you are going to rethink the Globe interface: please rethink the use of TERMS. Examples: If I change “Start date” and “End date” into “Production date” and “Expiry date” it works out fine for batch master data. But it will also change planned dates of the production order into “expiry date”. Another example: If I change free fields of the batch master, then those fields are also renamed for the asset master.

    Do not forget to include SDK menu paths. Would like to have them in the customizable flows as well (Pick-IT, Quality Control, and customer specific).

    If we are going to use icons in the flow: would like to choose icons from a library. It makes it easier to sell a workaround.

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  9. HH Verboon

    23. Mar, 2010

    To be able to drag not only menu items but any button to the role bar would give you easy work flow possibilities.

    And why can you only activate (view\role bar\search) a search button for debtors? And not for creditors, ledger, assets etc.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Scott Leete

    24. Mar, 2010

    @Michiel “Do you ever get feedback from your customers that have to switch back and forth between Synergy and Globe? ”

    Yes. The more we could allow uses to work in one interface the better. For a typical back office user to be able to “do and view” Synergy workflow, documents, etc. from within Globe would be great. Globe “activities” were a step toward that, but to my knowledge does not really function in an environment with Synergy Enterprise.

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  11. Name (required)

    25. Mar, 2010

    From my experience you need to develop a user customisable menu structure that can be both built upon a mixture of several layers
    1. a process flow template defined either at HO or user level.
    2.the roles & functions of the user, wihereby those specific to the roles are mandatorial.
    3. The user should then have the additional ability to define their order and to remove inactive / unncessary functions.

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  12. Anthony cusack

    02. Apr, 2010

    Hi Michiel,
    we have several customers in Australia / New Zealand where we have used Event Manager to create workflows for Sales Order Authorizations in Synergy to different members of Projects based on Credit Risk Scoring criteria eg:-
    High Value Order,
    Over Terms,
    Over 75% of Line of Credit,
    Credit Limit not Set etc…

    When it’s approved in Synergy (Worklfow) we then Approve in Globe via the 396 Release Note function 19.638.481 – Product Update 396: Authorizing Orders Using Command Prompt.

    We also do the same for Purchase Orders, except in this case we route them through 1 over 1 Management approvals based on PO Authorization limits.

    We test (using SQL) for the linked Items and projects and use that to determine what Authorization it needs to go in.

    We also built a Re-Submission procress for when a Manager Rejects a PO and it has to be changed.

    Additionally we use Event Manager to send out email alerts to managers and PO Creaters letting them know about Status Updates etc… so they know when to look and take actions.

    We see Synergy as a natural extension of Globe.

    Where the information gathered in Synergy is the precurser to a transaction in Globe, and there are subsequent actions in Synergy to make sure that it meets the business criterias – eg Credit Limit, Margin Checks, Authorization levels.

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  13. Exact user

    03. Apr, 2010

    Hi Anthony – all these uses of event manager sounds great but was is the impact on the performance of the server? I understand that EEM is not based on triggers but a scheduled event? Is that true? If that’s the case do you overcome performance issues?

    Reply to this comment
  14. Anthony Cusack

    13. Apr, 2010

    What performance problems?

    These customers put in x64 based servers with between 16 & 32 gig of ram, between that and good maintenance plans the performance is ok.

    We also try and use indexed fields in the where clauses so there is minimal searching and off index matching.

    Event Manager does allow for cascading Events so you can test for a scenario and then run the costly query only if it’s true.

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  15. Exact User

    13. Apr, 2010

    Not every customer have the luxury of spending vast amounts of money on top of the range servers, in most “Exact” enviroments they have SBServers with SQL2000 so your scenario is most likely to be in 10 -20% of the install base if that.

    What woul be nice is if EEM was trigger based instead of recurring events this way the overhead on the network is minimal

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  16. Petr Marc

    21. Jul, 2010

    Why don’t we indroduce a menu search function. Many times user or even consultant do not remember where the particular function resides, and with the “menu search” fuction you will find appropriate function in second (i.e. type in “balance” and it will return a list of functions, reports, etc. from any module / menu …

    Regarding the process, I think there should be a process flow support for system setup rather then user processes … benefit: to speed up implementation process of Exact Globe – what I mean is instead of describing in text only what needs to be done and where (like we have today), there would be a process flow with direct links to appropriate functions which needs to be set up during the implementation …

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  17. Malcolm

    18. Nov, 2010

    Hi
    What would be really usefull and helpfull is to have separate colour schemes where multiple companies are run off the same database.
    As an examples; the live and test database screens looks exact(ly) the same and the danger exists that taskes may be inadvertantly preformed in the wrong company with disastrous result.
    Has this ever been considered?

    thank you
    MAlcolm

    Reply to this comment
  18. Oliatoon

    22. Nov, 2010

    All feedbacks are just valid point.All this point will keep in backlog when come to redesign the menu platform.

    So a platform which can consume “event” from EEM , Dashboard + customizable + standard template.

    This really sound the right time for a better technology upgrade.

    Reply to this comment
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    13. Jul, 2011

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    14. Jul, 2011

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