Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Control Panel

The success or failure of software tools may have reasons totally unrelated to the software quality. This is true for all software and is certainly true for APO. The key point is that users must like the tool. I'm also a user, so it's fair to ask myself what do I like in a software tool. Well, I like powerful tools and I also like good-looking software. These are software characteristics, so as far as APO is concerned there is nothing we can do here. I also like the software to be fast, and this is a combination of software and hardware, so better hardware can make a difference.

There are other hardware choices that can also make a difference for APO users. In my opinion, having a large control panel is a very attractive goodie for a person responsible for operations planning and control. And currently it is very cheap and easy to setup workstations with multiple screens. One just need to add several video boards to the PC and connect each screen to each board (there are also other solutions like special video boards with multiple screen outputs).

Having an APO workstation with, for example, three screens will enable the user to simultaneously look at the planning board, product view and possibly check some R3 data on the third window. Or in other usage scenario he can compare the results of two different planning strategies. The bottom line is that the planning task needs to be done with access to many sources of information, and a good way to do it is to have a large display area.

There is no new technology here. Probably many APO users already work with multiple displays. The main point of this blog is to point out that some simple things like installing multiple display workstations with new APO software roll out may have impact on the user productivity and overall user satisfaction. But this is just a wild guess, I don’t actually know users working with multiple displays (do you know? I would really like to ear about it).

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