By Howard Roddie, Senior Supply Chain Consultant (@HowardRoddie)
FuturMaster has had an upgrade to version 6.1 (Android users may like to call it “Chocolate Orange”). This actually happened some time ago but the implications of this change are much bigger than a simple increment of 0.1.
Usually when we talk of supply chain software upgrades, we talk of increased functionality, our new way to handle multiple echelons, allocate stock, new mathematical models, reporting tools… You get the picture. This time though, the upgrade contained something different. Alongside the new functionalities our customers had been itching to get at, came a whole new holistic approach to the user interface.
“A whole new holistic approach…”
Firstly, the old menus were rearranged to resemble the now familiar office ribbons. Okay, it’s just a look and feel, but it makes workflows easier to see. Still not ground-breaking. Then we added favourites and recently used items. Nice.
But then we looked at the dashboard concept. Why? Because everybody asked for it. However, the traditional dashboard form tends to focus on the negative. What are my exceptions? What are my issues to deal with? What fires do I have to fight? Why am I missing my KPI’s? All lit up like Blackpool in the late October rain. Frankly, I’d rather deal with my inbox (which, incidentally, is probably full of reminders about the same stuff).
Our approach, whilst allowing users to see all the usual information, also offers something more, something a bit special. We allow users to create personal work spaces. Places they feel comfortable and confident in. Places to learn and analyse. Places to graze and stimulate thinking. Quite simply, by creating spaces that draw together elements of a task or problem, users can flit elegantly between screens and make mental links that create the bigger picture without having to think about the mechanics of how and where to find the different elements. The visual and intuitive nature of this way of working creates the possibility of uninterrupted work flows.
“Visual and Intuitive…”
This is more than a simple change to an interface, it’s a move that transforms supply chain from a complex web of semi-related data to a real river of information that enables informed decision making.