Is the user doomed to the user interface in Oracle PIM or is there hope?
It would not be fair for me to state my personal opinion because I have operated in Oracle forms 2.3 – current and OAF HTML forms for so long that I don’t know any other way. But the bottom line is when the customer talks, I listen.
I have used standard Oracle Applications and I have seen minor changes here or there to make the interface easier for large volume transaction entry.
Help me OAF experts you are my only hope!
Oracle gives you a lot of options within their HTML user interface that comes off the shelf from Oracle applications framework (OAF). I am going to limit my discussion to R12 applications. I am not going to mention the “F” word (Fusion, I mean Fusion applications, I said)
Did you know that you don’t have to live with the Oracle PIM Data Hub (PIMDH) interface?
You have options and degrees of complexity.
1: Configuration of the User Defined Attribute Groups (UDA groups) and item pages.
- Oracle supported standard configuration functionality
- Restrictive user interface. You can order and display the attributes but does’nt provide fast data entry from the interface for multiple items at once unless you use WebADI.
- Transactions are still online real time processed.
2: Personalizatons of the HTML forms
- Oracle supported standard configuration functionality. Typically beyond the abilities of standard Oracle PIM Administrators.
- Restrictive user interface. A little more flexibility on the forms format. Each form can have many different options. Some of the options can require technical expertise but is not difficult and fully supported.
- Transactions are still online real time processed.
3: Development effort to extend existing application forms.
- Oracle does not support this option with regard to handing any bug issues that should arise.
- The transactions that you enter could still be handled directly online and real time if you continue to use the same code that Oracle is using with the standard html form. There are choices to make here.
- Method involves not literally changing the standard form code that was provided by Oracle but to take a copy and enhance it.
- This method keeps to the expected standard user interface that the PIM user is acquainted with but provides more customer focused functionality where it is required by the organization.
- Oracle does support the development platform since they own it. As well, they support the API’s that you would actually send transactions.
4: New forms in Oracle Applications Framework (OAF)
- Oracle does not support this option with regard to the solving of interface issues.
- This is the most complex solution compared to the previous with regards to development and design.
- This method is the most user friendly and keeps within the same instance as PIM users are acquainted with. It might not appear like the other forms within PIM but are available with the same login and instance.
- This option can involve building Oracle java forms instead of HTML if you have super users who want the advantages of Java instead of HTML.
- Transactions are loaded into the Oracle provided APIs only. Do not attempt to work around this issue!
5: New application pointing to Oracle Application Program Interfaces (APIs)
- Oracle recommends and certifies third party software companies (or buys them eventually). It is best to try to find a solution here that meets your needs and is certified.
- There is a list online of different companies who are certified to connect to the PIM Data Hub.
- Oracle does supports this option when they certify the software company. But the line of distinction of responsibility between the two software companies and your organization is vague when there are issues. Most of the time it will be your responsibility to resolve the issues.
- Let the buyer beware. Test drive hard before you write the check!
- Method involves creating an interface between your instance and the new third party application that will replace or expend functionality provided by Oracle PIM. The assumption is that you would be sending and receiving data “legally” through APIs. You cannot write directly to the PIM tables. The third party software company might be authorized to write directly to Oracle EBS and PIM tables as well as install other objects into the application environment.
- This method is usually perfect or “out of the frying pan and into the fire” when it is used to satisfy the user interface exactly to what the business requires. LANSA has SYNC1 software that is certified for use with PIM Data Hub
6: Use an uncertified existing off the shelf application and interface it to PIM Data Hub.
- You are essentially interfacing another software product at this point.
- You might even do this already from another existing legacy application.
- Oracle does supports this option when using the standard Oracle APIs.
All of these alternatives are best considered to be a combination of alternatives that can be used jointly in all Product MDM initiatives.
From the first to the last option listed above, you have to consider the first to be clearly the lowest cost while the last two are certainly the most costly.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this is a happy agreement between the company, IT organizations, and the users.
I am going to discuss in this article how I would resolve it. But I want it understood that this is not a perfect method.
My project methodologies call for earliest user acceptance of standard functionality offerings. MDM is a peculiar thing because the canonical model of product data is a less static than that of customer and financial data.
My drive is to try to get the business process owners to accept the first three options for 90% of the solution minimum. If that doesn’t work then of course I hope that the fourth option is the option that they choose to complete 100% the total solution and gain total user acceptance.
I do not believe in “settling” at the expense of business requirements, data quality, and data governance.
I don’t believe that product MDM projects decrease the time to market if there are good product data governance procedures already in place.
I believe a user who is doing the “user acceptance” should have some accountability for their request to change the user interface to make their usage and experience more productive.
It always comes down to how much influence the actual business user/owner has on the budget to make the user interface that will satisfy their requirements for application usage.
The first step is to define specifically what the problem is.
The second step is to figure out whether that is a change management issue or an actual application user interface issue or is it actually functionality that is missing or needed.
Third step is to get buy in on partnering for the solution from the person that will sign off on the resolution. With the constraints known and the person engaged that will sign off, you can actually analyze the problem to resolution.
Preparation is now complete to start designing the solution.
If in the opinion of the experts, a change in needed from the six above mentioned categories, number one and two can be done with little or no budget discussions. If any of the rest are required then you will need to build functional specifications and technical specifications. You might need to enter into a request for proposal process or for option six you might even have to enter into a selection process.
For options 3 – 5: You need to be sure that the decision can be made to enter into this option. It requires different sets of skills and resources from inside and outside the organization.
If you don’t have the external resources handy then you will need to engage them early and assure yourself that their leader is capable of a smart solution. (that is a person like me..selling point)
Once an Oracle PIM Functional solution architect is engaged and working with the business process owner for resolution, they will engage their developers for ideas on path of least resistance and/or speed to acceptable solution.
The only way to know something works is to design first then build, then test, adjust, test, adjust, etc.
Plan, Do, Check, and Act/Adjust
I am a fan of agile software testing and monitoring as you can see from previous articles. See below for past Related articles
- Oracle PIM Data Hub Knowledge Transfer (who’s appropriate?) (mckinleyalexandra.wordpress.com)
- Importing Metadata into PIM Data Hub 12.1.3 (mckinleyalexandra.wordpress.com)
- Document, Document, Document!!! Monitor, Monitor, Monitor!!! (mckinleyalexandra.wordpress.com)