Source: Google Image
The Fourth Revolution of industrial manufacturing has set its foot in our current life on the global scale. Before discovering the 4th revolution, let’s quickly look back on the previous revolutions. Thanks to the invention of steam engine, the First Revolution was known as the era of mechanization; while electric-powered assembly line and mass production solely performed in the second ones. Then the Third Revolution brought automation and information technology into factories. And now, what is new in the fourth? The Industry 4.0 hopefully is able to deliver these latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and Internet of Things.
Throwing back to 2013 when the term “Industrie 4.0” was firstly mentioned in a project of high-tech strategy of Germany, this plan aimed to computerize the manufacturing industry with much less even without involvement of human. As Hinks (2015) mentions, Germany then has invested about €200 million on this research across academia, business and government. While in the US, manufacturers, suppliers, technology firms, government agencies, universities and laboratories have collaborated with the common goal to construct an open and smart manufacturing platform for industrial-networked information applications. This platform ambitiously allows manufacturing firms of all sizes to access and utilize modeling and analytical technologies that can be customised to meet their needs.
In recent few years, cloud computing has been dramatically developed and become the area of focus to general public ranging from normal users to businesses. And the phrase “To cloud or not to cloud” is considered as a familiar question in any IT strategy these days. Similarly, not only is “cloud” no longer a strange term for enterprise applications, but also has been the prominent trend.
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What is cloud computing?
As a claim by Berry, cloud computing could be understood as the delivery of computing services over a network that is a proprietary network or even the Internet. Those services are mainly infrastructure, platforms and applications. In simple words, Griffith (2016) states that the cloud here is a metaphor of the Internet; and cloud computing refers to store and access data or programs through the Internet instead of your device’s hard drive.
Source: Google Image
A typical example of cloud computing for normal users is Google Drive where your data is stored and cloud applications such as Google Docs and Google Sheets can be also found online. Moreover, the drive can be accessed by various types of device from PC, tablet or smartphone. Another recent example is Office Online offering web-based version of Word, Excel, Power Point and One Note, which means users can access these applications via web browser without installing anything.
Source: Google Image
User Interfaces Are “Visualized Requirements”
It is usually said that it is possible to cook bad food from good ingredients but it is not possible to cook good food from bad ingredients. That is a good metaphor in this case even with excellent visual designers and front-end developers, high quality user interfaces cannot be released with poor requirements. So well-defined requirements can be supposed by applying suitable and effective methods and techniques in the stage of gathering and documenting requirements (that will be in other coming posts; if you are interested, you should looking for business analysis techniques and requirement management tips).
Creating fancy user interfaces cannot ensure the success of products because the ultimate objective is to build user interfaces best meeting requirements. Hence, it is highly recommended that we should focus more on outcomes (values) rather than outputs (deliverables). It seems like a popular said “doing the right thing is always more important than doing the thing right”. User interfaces are also requirements in visualized form, so in order to reach the objective, both business analysts and UX designers should well understand requirements.
5 main types of requirements
UX Design and Usability Guidelines
While UX design principles that are human-centered remain up-to-date for a long time; due to significant changes of technology and social trends, most of UX design and usability guidelines become obsolete. However, guidelines based on physiological and behavioral attributes of human beings (that mostly remain the same) can be used to create standard UX design templates. The following items are some of those “standard” guidelines:
– Colors should be used for several purposes such as to get attention, to group items on user interfaces and to show status. But please remember that do not utilize more than 5 colors.
– Sufficiently provide feedback to users. Albeit informative, giving feedback too often will interrupt the user experience. Feedback should be provided in some cases like wrong data entry, long response time (if the waiting time is more than 4 seconds) and needing confirmation or approval from users for further progress. In addition, feedback should be performed in professional and positive language not blaming users.
– Default values create convenience, however, they can cause a risk of selecting wrong options. So please be careful!
– Use simple metaphors. Based on users’ profile, the most appropriate and familiar (with them) metaphors should be used.
– Expert users prefer to shortcuts.
– Yayici also claims that usually users focus on faces in the first time they experience a user interface. So he advises not to use face visuals on low-priority areas of interest.
– Users are not subscribers, so please do not ask too much personal information from them at the beginning of an interaction. In the case of collecting user data for CRM purposes, rewards should be sent to them as well as let them know future benefits of providing accurate data. Otherwise, the database may become garbage due to incorrect data.
As a Business Analyst, I have experienced in receiving feedback from end users such as “I feel uncomfortable to use that software but I don’t know why”, “The application is weird and it’s difficult to get familiar with it” or “I have to behave many steps to get my tasks done”. Maybe these are subjective opinions when comparing the current application with applications which they had used before; however, these comments reflect that the current software had problems in UX design and usability. It inspires me to publish serial posts about UX design and usability and hopefully these posts can provide primary knowledge to those who are interested in this topic. From my perspective, UX design and usability is important element in software industry and I also found that it is really useful for those who follow business analyst/ business consultant career to learn and understand this field that certainly positively contributes to their work accomplishments.
These posts following micro-learning platform are compiled from various sources ranging from print and online reference sources to personal work experience. Especially, this series is primarily based on a book named UX DESIGN and USABILITY MENTOR BOOK With Best Practice Business Analysis and User Interface Design Tips and Techniques written by Emrah Yayici.
Source: Google Image
Define UX Design Roles and Responsibilities
What is UI, Usability and UX?
UI – user interface – is simply understood as everything designed for users to interact with an information device like a computer system or a machine, etc.; for instance, it may include display screen, keyboard, mouse, help messages, illustrations, etc. UI design focuses to bring visually aesthetic values to users.
Usability refers to a quality attribute contributing to ease of use of user interfaces; and Nielsen (2012) states that usability is evaluated by these 5 quality components:
Benefits of implementing ERP systems
Obviously, implementing ERP systems bring to business organizations the following benefits:
- Inventory reduction
- Improve cash management
- Increase revenue and profits
- Reduce transportation & logistics costs
- Reduce IT costs
Albeit intangible, organizations can gain these benefits including: unanticipated cost reductions, improve responsiveness to customers, more flexibility and effective management of the supply chain.
Pros and Cons
As an old saying “Every garden has its weeds”, so does ERP has its own pros and cons. Thanks to the integration of business processes, it can be seen that ERP systems enable to offer these advantages:
- Save time and expenses
- Data and reporting tools allow faster decision-making for management levels
- Single data source and easily share data among all units/ departments
- Help to track every transaction from starting till end
- Supply real-time information whenever required
- Provide synchronized information transferred between different functional areas such as sales, marketing, finance, manufacturing, human resource, logistics, etc.
While these advantages usually outweigh disadvantages for most of enterprises implementing ERP systems, there are some of the most common drawbacks suffered:
Serial posts published with intention to share knowledge and experience about ERP follow micro-learning practice and hopefully are useful for those who would like to basically learn about ERP. These posts are compiled from various sources ranging from print and online reference sources to personal work experience. I will try my best to deliver these posts in as understandable language as possible and in the case you have any concerns or feedback, feel free to leave comments.
What is ERP?
ERP standing for Enterprise Resource Planning is simply defined as “a process of managing all resources and their use in the entire enterprise in a coordinated manner”. While ERP system is a category of business management software – typically a set of integrated applications or modules – is responsible to carry out most of business activities. In other words, ERP system can support business organizations by tracking, maintaining and optimizing business functions such as procurement of goods and services, sales and distribution, finance, accountings, human resource, manufacturing, production planning, logistics & warehouse management.
ERP integrates all functions into a single system and serve needs of every different department within the enterprise.