It’s been said that the UI is the saddle, stirrups, and the reigns. While the UX is the feeling you get being able to ride a horse and rope your cattle.

As a UX (User Experience) company, we are often misunderstood as only focusing on a better UI (User Interface). The two terms do overlap, but while UI is a critical cog in the machine, the UX is the machine. Put simply, UI is how something is designed or how it looks. When an organization wants to fix their UI, you hear comments like, “our software looks outdated” or “it looks like it is out of the 90s”. The visual appeal is usually what they have in mind.

The UI is important. It has to be visually appealing for people to want to use the software, but it only tells a small portion of the story. UI focuses on a specific piece of software where the UX focuses on the entire user experience. That may sound simple, but it changes the dynamic quite a bit. UX concerns usually are evident with comments like:

  • Our site is too complicated
  • It takes forever to complete any task
  • It doesn’t work on my phone
  • Why do I have to sign in again?
  • I can’t find anything
  • I’d rather go back to the spreadsheet
  • Everything I need is scattered all over the place
  • Nothing is where you’d expect it to be

The bottom line for UX is making it easy for the people using the system. Being an expert in ERP software is usually not their primary job, so you won’t get a lot of patience from them.

UX-vs-UI

User Experience vs. User Interface Design

PeopleSoft UI

PeopleSoft provides a lot of flexibility to control the UI. There is a branding engine and system stylesheets where you can improve styling of PeopleSoft pages. Using the PeopleSoft Interaction Hub is the place to start for a better UI.

Even recently PeopleSoft has introduced Fluid UI which brings a fluid layout to the UI. What this means is that elements on a page can move with the changing size of your device. Fluid UI itself isn’t making the UI more appealing, rather it is the new stylesheets Oracle delivers with Fluid that provide that updated look.

You do not need Fluid to have a more modern style and Fluid doesn’t automatically make everything more modern. However, rarely is updating the UI alone going to solve your UX problems.

The Real Problem

In our experiences, the problem clients are facing are bigger than UI. These problems exist with or without Fluid. This is why IntraSee focuses on UX.  What exactly would make the user’s life easier? What would reduce the amount of time they waste on internal systems?

A good user experience is having a one-stop shop for Employees, Managers, Students or Faculty which includes PeopleSoft classic, Fluid and your cloud apps. It is having a single, simple navigational structure and a comprehensive universal search. It is using the right terminology and labeling, providing help right when it is needed and managing the user’s task list in one place. And, of course, the experience has to be consistent no matter what kind of device is being used: Laptop, tablet, or phone.

A Recent Consumer Example

Today, when you are on Twitter, you may notice in your timeline links to Instagram posts. You probably also have experienced the annoyance of these links. While the UI for Twitter and Instagram have gotten better, the UX has gotten worse for this use case due to some competition between Twitter and Facebook. It didn’t always used to be this way.

Previously the Instagram photos were embedded directly inside the tweet. This meant no clicking, no waiting for the Instagram site to load, and a user could just scroll through and see these photos at a glance. That is where UX comes to play.

Twitter & Instagram Integration

Which side do you find more useful?

Just how the UX above misses the mark, good ERP software UX is more than just styling. Deep, meaningful integration is important, and it is why we pour so much of our attention into integration. To do UX right, you have to go beyond a single application. You have to understand what your people are trying to accomplish, every tool they use, and how they use them to get their work done. If improving the user experience is a goal of your organization, then please contact us and we’ll show you how it’s done!

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PeopleTools 8.55 Navigation and Enterprise Menu Changes

A couple of important default settings have changed in PeopleTools 8.55. The first is that all users now will land on a Fluid Tiles homepage after signing on. If you are using Interaction Hub homepages, you will need to revert this behavior via PeopleTools Personalization.

Tile Homepage

Enterprise Menu Retired

The second big change is the Enterprise Menu is now gone in 8.55. Well, maybe not entirely gone, but hidden by way of code. As a side effect, the breadcrumbs in the menu bar are also now gone. This change has caused quite a bit of questions to come our way. The problem is quite simple. The enterprise menu was complicated and not well-suited for self-service users, however, power users relied heavily on that power and the ability to jump sideways in a navigational scheme.

New menu even on classic homepages

New menu on classic homepage

Unified Navigation Now a Requirement for Power Users

Many PeopleSoft shops used a popular navigation method for their power users called “The Single Link”. This is where the Interaction Hub would have a single link to HCM/Finance/Campus/Etc. Clicking the link would launch the HCM homepage, for example, and allow users to navigate HCM-only pages which was very handy for power users. PeopleSoft even delivered Single Link cRefs in the Interaction Hub.

Now with 8.55, the single link method is no longer operational. Oracle requires customers to enable and use Unified Navigation. Of course this not only means changing your navigational scheme, but it also means there is no way to navigate solely within HCM now. Once you deploy Unified Nav, your navigation includes all PeopleSoft apps in the cluster. For some users this is a good thing, but for others it is coming as a hard change.

Our Thoughts

At IntraSee, we always look through the user’s eyes. In this case, there are different user segments with differing needs. We would never simply recommend going one direction at the cost of the other audience. Power users are fundamentally different to self-service users. So what is the solution?

The same solution isn’t necessarily right for every customer. Differing industries and differing countries all come into play. What is certain, is that we have to do an effective job of blending Classic and Fluid in this post-8.54 world and navigation is a big topic that goes with that theme. We need to ensure the landing page is representative of the one-stop shop users need and includes navigation for these different segments of the population.

The good news is that using the power of PeopleSoft, navigation is entirely controllable. We know who every user is and we can create tailored navigation for each segment. If we add in concepts such as frequency, trending and personalization to a site’s navigation, we can achieve a truly powerful solution. Reach out to us and we would be happy to talk more about the possibilities.

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You’ve decided that you want to improve the Usability of your ERP system, but you don’t want the responsibility for maintaining that in-house. That’s a smart choice, and something that many organizations are looking to do. Why focus on building an IT infrastructure when you can instead focus on building your business? The solution is IntraSee’s Usability Cloud.

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So what is the IntraSee Usability Cloud?

PeopleSoft Interaction Hub + IntraSee Usability Solutions + Amazon Cloud (AWS)

Our Cloud consists of three key elements:

1. PeopleSoft Interaction Hub

The Interaction Hub is a mature and sophisticated portal that is the engine used for creating a one-stop usability shop. It is used by thousands of organizations throughout the world and has a proven record of scalability and reliability.

2. IntraSee Usability Solutions

For over a decade we at IntraSee have developed usability solutions that are best in class, cover the entire needs of even the most complex (often global) organizations, and are pluggable into other Cloud applications.

Our solutions are also highly configurable and beautiful by design. Selecting from an a la carte menu of options, you simply check the options you want your users to see. It’s that simple. Even selecting integration with other major Cloud applications is as simple as checking a box. Our solutions and methodology handle the rest. No headaches, no difficult decisions. We’ve spent years figuring out all the complex stuff, and have packaged it into solutions that fit neatly into a one-stop shop that can sit in the cloud.

If you’d like to see what this looks like, just ask us for a demo. We’ll be proud to show you how easily you can solve all your ERP usability problems.

3. Amazon Cloud

They say you’re only as strong as your weakest point of failure. That’s why we chose the most advanced, reliable, and fastest cloud in the world. Amazon AWS. Amazon offers a true cloud environment that is unmatched. IntraSee usability with the Amazon cloud – the best of all worlds.


A True Cloud Solution

  • Regular, automatic upgrades
  • Reliable and fast access to your system anytime & anywhere
  • Full integration with other cloud or on-premise solutions
  • Ability to turn on functionality & configure existing functionality
  • Built-in PeopleSoft user provisioning
  • Dynamic performance scaling for those seasonal spikes
  • Value for money
  • Military level security
  • Fast start up
IntraSee Usability Cloud

The IntraSee Usability Cloud

Option to Bring Your Own license (BYOL)

If you already own the Interaction Hub, or any IntraSee products, we can offer you great cost savings on your monthly service fee for running in our cloud. This makes a very affordable solution even more affordable. You’ve already paid for it once, why pay for it twice?

If you don’t own the full license to the Interaction Hub, don’t worry! You can start off with the included RUL license and expand into the full license when needed.

Running in the Amazon Cloud (AWS)

Amazon Cloud (AWS) is the market leader in cloud computing and is at the forefront in terms of innovation, functionality, agility, and responsiveness. Not to mention AWS has a proven track record after years of success. IntraSee carefully analyzed each of the major cloud service providers before selecting Amazon Web Services as their provider for the IntraSee Usability Cloud based on a multitude of different factors.

The following are just some of the advantages which the Amazon Cloud offers our clients:

Elasticity and scalability

  • Your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on your needs.
  • Eliminate guessing on your infrastructure capacity.
  • By using Amazon EC2 we can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously. Of course, because this is controlled with web service APIs, it can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs.
  • Rapid build of new environments.

Low Cost

  • Amazon AWS’s Elastic scaling across your IntraSee Usability Cloud environment helps to keep costs low by only paying for the services you need, when you need it and by passing on to you the financial benefits of Amazon’s scale.

Global Accessibility

  • Take your environment global in minutes.
  • The AWS Cloud infrastructure is built around Regions and Availability Zones (“AZs”). A Region is a physical location in the world where there are multiple Availability Zones. Availability Zones consist of one or more discrete data centers, each with redundant power, networking and connectivity, housed in separate facilities. These Availability Zones create the ability to operate production applications and databases which are more highly available, fault tolerant and scalable than would be possible from a single data center. The AWS Cloud operates 33 Availability Zones within 12 geographic Regions around the world.

Reliability

  • Amazon AWS is engineered for the most demanding requirements.
  • Amazon’s experience and SLAs provide our clients the trust and confidence they need to ensure their environment will be available when needed, no matter what time of the day.
  • Amazon EC2 offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly and predictably commissioned. The service runs within Amazon’s proven network infrastructure and data centers. The Amazon EC2 Service Level Agreement commitment is 99.95% availability for each Amazon EC2 Region.

Extensive Security Capabilities

  • Amazon provides numerous mechanisms to increase privacy and control network access.
  • There are a multitude of secure connectivity options to seamlessly connect to your network.
  • AWS environments are continuously audited to ensure compliance with a wide variety of regulations, standards, best-practices and certifications.
  • Your compute instances are located in a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) within an IP range that you specify. You decide which instances are exposed to the Internet and which remain private.
  • Security Groups and networks ACLs allow you to control inbound and outbound network access to and from your instances.
  • You can connect your existing IT infrastructure to resources in your VPC using industry-standard encrypted IPsec VPN connections.
  • For additional isolation, you can provision your EC2 resources on Dedicated Hosts or as Dedicated Instances. Both allow you to use EC2 instances in a VPC on hardware dedicated to a single customer.

AWS Compliance

The AWS cloud infrastructure has been designed and managed in alignment with regulations, standards, and best-practices including HIPAA, FERPA, FIPS, CJIS, DIACAP, DoD, FDA, FedRAMP, Glacier for SEC Rule 17a-4(f), GxP, ITAR, NIST, CSA, Data Privacy, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, MPAA, PCI, SOC, EU Data Protection, IT-Grundschutz, G-Cloud, Europe Cloud Compliance, Malaysian Privacy Considerations, MLPS, MTCS, Singapore Privacy Considerations, IRAP and New Zealand Privacy Considerations.

And the best part…

While Amazon is sophisticated and mature, rest assured you will never have to deal directly with any of their technology stack. That is where IntraSee comes in. The entire infrastructure is maintained on your behalf. Also, our vast implementation experience tells us that to deliver best-in-class usability, you need a best-in-class infrastructure. With the IntraSee Usability Cloud, we are uniquely positioned to offer the high-quality service in the Cloud that we are known for from our “in-house” implementations. Gone are the days of needing to explain to your hosting provider how PeopleSoft works.

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At IntraSee, our approach to PeopleSoft and usability stands out for many reasons, but one often flies under the radar. We are big believers in the PeopleTools technology stack, and all of our products are built on PeopleTools combined with web technologies that fit inside that stack. But you would never know that by looking at our solutions. What you see is best in class usability. And what you get is reliability, scalability, and ease of maintenance.

In the early days, we considered the obvious question: why use a new technology when you have one your clients already know? Think about all the features you are already comfortable with that have been tried and tested over multiple decades:

  • Authentication/Authorization
  • Performance and redundancy
  • Caching mechanisms
  • Backups, clones and restores
  • Patching and migrations
  • Workflow
  • Search
  • And more!

Why would you build these things from scratch? More importantly, why would you risk redundant code by running two technologies that do the same thing? Even the simple stuff like user ID provisioning can become a problem. When you have two technology stacks trying to stay in sync and provision/de-provision accounts, messy stuff just happens!

Security

Maybe most importantly, when you introduce new technology stacks such as Microsoft .Net, PHP, and Java, you are increasing the moles in a game of security whack-a-mole.

Security Whack-a-Mole

It is one more system that could have a security vulnerability. One more place for a performance bottleneck. One more way for things to go wrong and they always find a way of blowing up on you. The more moving pieces you have in your architecture, the harder it is to keep up. We are only human, after all.

At IntraSee, we believe you should spend your time and energy on delighting your users. Don’t get bogged down in security patches, synchronizations and the maintenance of multiple technology stacks.  Contact us and learn more about our approach.

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