Monday, March 24, 2008
When I was about 10 years old I got a new electric train set for Christmas, but before I got to play with it I had to pinch a plug from one of my siblings toys and fit the only available (and dangerously mismatched) fuse in it. Then I had to read a complicated set of instructions to assemble a delicate set of parts and it was a minor miracle that I had it working before the New Year.
Now when I buy something new, the first thing I do is open the box, turn it on and press buttons to work out how to use it, if I get stuck I maybe look to see if they have a quick start guide. Consumer goods manufacturers make things very intuitive and ready to work right out of the box these days and we have grown to expect that. Remember that iMac add? step 1: plug into power, step 2: plug into a phone line, step 3: - there is no step 3! Wow can I have an ERP system like that please?
When designing AGIS for R12 we tried to minimize the time it would take to get started entering transactions in an initiative we internally called 'AGIS out of the Box'. I have to give credit to this idea to my former bosses Joe and Terrance for initiating this, but the whole team stopped, sat down and thought about what we could do to allow users to open the box and start using AGIS right away.
We came up with a few ideas
1) No profile options
No not a single one, we created a system options page so no need to search through thousands of profile options or read our minds (or even the manual) to figure out what options there are, they are where you might expect them; in a tab marked 'Options'
2) Seeded System Options
We ship with the options for the most straightforward (according to us) options set already; change them if you want, we won't be offended
3) Seeded Transaction Type
We seeded a default transactions type, again with the most simple options (no approvals and no invoicing required) so you can use that or create your own if you prefer.
4) Automatically create Intercompany Organizations
You've already taken the time to enter your Legal Entites, or maybe they were upgraded from 11i so just kick off our process to classify them all as Intercompany Organizations for you. This might save some people a lot of typing and to be honest, it was not too time consuming to code. Again create them yourself if you prefer a more granular definition of your Intercompany Orgs
5) Super User, Super fast Security Set Up
If you have some users who need to have access to all Intercompany Organizations, we have a button on the security page that will do that for you. I just hope your read this or noticed it before you typed them in manually!
6) Create Intercompany Customers and Suppliers
If you need invoices for your AGIS transactions then you might end up creating a lot of Customers and Suppliers, sites for each OU and then you need to associate them to an Intercompany Org so we know which one to use when. That's too much, so we try to help create them for you from our Customer and Supplier Association UI, just pick an LE and we'll create everything that needs behind the scenes for all the Orgs and OU. Again if you want you can do it manually, no pressure to do it our way.
Now just because we added a few features in one product it doesn't mean R12 is as easy to set up as an iMac. What it does show is that by switching our way of thinking we were able to provide some useful features to ease set up at a very low cost to development. So it is possible to simplify our setup and if we put our minds to it I think all products could find easy (ie. low cost, low risk) ways to save implementors time. It's too easy to just throw our hands in the air and say that ERP software is complex by nature and that's why our set up is so difficult and time consuming, then add another profile option that customers need to set but only find out about when they log an SR because a feature has stopped working. People used to think personal computers and the internet were for geeks, but now my mum uses it to do her shopping.
What do you think, will we ever get ERP out of the box? Sound off in the comments.