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JD Edwards ERP and the Usability Factor

Posted by Grant McIver | 12/4/18 4:31 PM

One of the most important topics of system improvement that we always look to improve with JD Edwards ERP solutions is overall usability. The IT team can optimize and personalize your JDE ERP system to a T, but if the end user isn’t happy, nobody is happy.

But what does usability really mean? Usability is all about making the system end-user-friendly (e.g. easy to use). That usually involves configuring the system so that it is:

  • Simple to navigate (to quickly find and launch the apps/reports the users are looking for)
  • Quick for inquiry and data entry purposes
  • Intuitive (consistent and logical)
  • Visually pleasing (think colors, whitespace, and icons)
  • Clutter-free (less is more!)

In today’s world, perception is reality, so if users are saying things like JD Edwards is too “clunky” or there is “too much clicking” you’re already in for an uphill battle.

If you’re looking to champion your ERP and expand, (e.g. add more modules or business areas to JDE) it can be difficult to convince your business groups to use JDE as the first option, especially when end users find JDE not user-friendly. In order to get clients on the right path toward making JDE more user-friendly, ManageForce has put together a bundle of user-defined objects, which includes default grids, E1 Pages, and personal forms to simplify the end-user experience and prioritize usability.

These are a few of those UDOs and their respective strategic benefits to get you on the road to a better user experience:

Default Grids

Allowing end-users to configure grid formats is not something new. Users are free to set up their own grids, but it would make sense to deploy a standard grid that works for most users as opposed to forcing the users to start from scratch. Most of the time, a default grid (which is deployed to all users via *PUBLIC) should be sufficient for all JDE users. A default grid, like below, helps keep these usability principles in mind:

  • Important data columns are more on the left so users don’t have to scroll to find the information they need. For example, it makes sense to have key information (like Invoice Number) on the left.
  • Like items are together. For example, it makes sense to have the Batch Number and Batch Type side-by-side on the grid.
  • Columns are resized appropriately so that all of the data is displayed correctly (not too short) and some columns are reduced (to save space on the grid)
  • Don’t forget about sort order! Most of the time the grid is sorted appropriately but, in some cases, it makes sense for the newest data entry to be on the top of the grid (descending order).

See the sample below for a customized grid for the Supplier Ledger Inquiry screen:

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 4.03.10 PM

E1 Pages

E1 Pages have been available for JDE clients for quite some time. However, it is quite rare if clients are using them. There are probably four reasons why clients have not yet implemented E1 Pages:

  • There are always other competing priorities
  • They don’t know how to get started (a strategy)
  • They don’t know how to generate/manage E1 Pages within the new OMW Web framework
  • Getting consensus on how the E1 Pages should look can be difficult

Granted, implementing E1 Pages may be seen as a “fun thing to do”, and therefore (lower priority) having a strategy for E1 Pages can be difficult since there are many choices to make: What modules should I do E1 Pages for?, Do I use small or large icons?, How many apps/reports should I put on the E1 Pages? The key to implementing E1 Pages would be to have a strategy to leverage from and the ability to implement them quickly (e.g. low coding and testing effort).

So, what are E1 Pages? E1 Pages were added as a feature by Oracle to help utilize the space on the browser (under the toolbar) when users were not in an application/report as well as improve the launching of apps/reports under the new menu traversal structure. But overall, E1 Pages are HTML pages (you can embed any HTML content you want in an E1 Page pending browser security levels) that you can use to present apps/reports in a business process flow like format. E1 Pages will become very important in the future as mobile expands (e.g. using tablets for JDE) so users can launch apps quickly via the E1 Page instead of traversing (many clicks) through a menu tree.

See below for a sample E1 Page on the Fixed Assets module. This E1 Page works well for users for the following reasons:

  1. The page is visually attractive with the latest JDE style sheets and icons
  2. The apps/reports are presented in a business process flow like format (so the users know where they’re at in the process steps). Furthermore, the page is set up very logically so that the more important apps/reports are available from top to bottom and left to right.
  3. The apps/reports available on the page most likely covers 99% of their day-to-day work, so there is very little need to go to the standard menus.
  4. Bonus! The users don’t have any scrolling on the E1 Page. Each app/report is available within a simple click of the mouse.
Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 4.04.02 PM

 

At a minimum, it’s nice to see a default E1 Page with your own company logo (instead of the Oracle logo):

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 4.04.45 PM

Personal Forms

The Personal Forms feature, UDO, that JDE released, resolves many of the requests that JDE users have been asking for. Although the feature is very useful, users shouldn't be customizing forms themselves as it can create a support issue. It can be difficult to troubleshoot issues if everyone’s forms look different. Furthermore, end users typically don’t have the time to play around with Personal Forms (and other features like Watchlists). Instead, it’s recommended that a business analyst (e.g. ManageForce consultant) works with the leader of the business area to determine what a standard Personal Form should look like, and then deploy the form out to all users (via *PUBLIC):

  • Tabs are combined (note: you need the latest tools release for that feature) so users don’t have to toggle between tabs
  • Unnecessary data fields are hidden
  • Data fields are renamed (very useful for category codes)
  • Tab order is updated so users enter data in the right order
  • Fields are moved on the form appropriately for easy data entry
  • A default grid is attached to the personal form

Below is an example of the Address Book Revisions screen. If you’re not using all of the category codes (and say only use the first three), you can simply remove all of the fields that you’re not using so the users don’t become overwhelmed.

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 4.05.33 PM

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 4.06.16 PM

Now, what’s the best part about making the system more usable? It’s actually very simple to do and we can help with standardized Default Grids, E1 Pages, and Personal Forms for many JDE modules and apps/reports. For more information on how ManageForce can optimize your JD Edwards system, drop us a line below:

 

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Topics: JDE Enterprise One, Oracle, JD Edwards, ERP, Cloud

Written by Grant McIver

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