An interesting thing happened during a recent string of customer visits. I visited customers to talk about our Dynamics AX roadmap, during which we spent a lot of time discussing what functional features they valued. We also talked about non-functional requirements, and at the top of that list was one word: Performance.
Surprisingly, the customers weren’t particularly interested in diving into the technical side of performance. It was actually a little odd how universal the response was – everyone, in one way or another, conveyed that while system performance was important, what they really meant by performance was better user interaction with system processes; The idea that features and forms should be designed in such a way that the end result of a business process is improved productivity for the user.
Some people call it human engineering, or software ergonomics. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call it Usability. It may just be semantics, but I found it interesting how this diverse group of customers all settled on the idea that Usability is inseparable from Performance.
The point is valid – without system performance, Usability means little, and vice versa. And when both concepts are ignored, frustration is quick to follow. Usability is not just the idea of being ‘user friendly’...
It’s about every little mouse movement, click, and keystroke being optimized.
It’s about keying a sales order for the customer with 200 ship-to addresses and being able to quickly find the right address.
It’s about being able to set-up a new item simply and quickly from start-to-finish without a miracle taking place.
On the Usability side of things, I think Microsoft has gotten a lot right with the new Dynamics AX. Microsoft’s mission statement to help people be more productive has always been front and center for their Office applications, but now Dynamics AX is feeling the love too.
Here’s a couple of quick ways in which the new AX client has improved Usability (all things that ENAVATE’s subsidiary Celenia Software is leveraging in the design of our AX 7 Advanced Distribution product, by the way):
1. Creating User Productivity through Form Personalization has been made easier.
I’ll save details here for a future blog post, but quite simply the form personalization tools are much more intuitive. The new personalization toolbar gives the user a more natural, interactive way to make form customizations and manage them.
2. Navigation tools like Global Search, Action Search, and Lookups
I know I’m not the only one who has clicked through menu after menu trying to find the item I need. Global search virtually eliminates this issue and you don’t even need to know the exact name of what you’re looking for.
The ‘Begins with’ search algorithm makes life easier, especially for an Admin-type user who uses a lot of forms, but not frequently. The Lookups include the same filtering approach. It might seem like a small thing, but I’m pleased to no longer have to use the asterisk as a wild card on record filters.
There’s quite a bit of potential for Usability in Dynamics AX, and I’m excited to help our customers take advantage of it.
What improved Usability have you found in the new Dynamics AX? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe!
Meet the Author - Cameron Mowbray
Cameron Mowbray is a Product Manager and Solution Architect for Celenia Software. He has 20 years of experience in wholesale distribution, beginning in warehouse management, then veering into ERP implementation. Cameron has been with Celenia Software and AX for 7 years.