Supplier integration, or the exchange of data and information between OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and their suppliers in a timely manner in the Product Lifecycle, is very essential to a successful business process. This may include suppliers who do not have access to the OEM’s PLM system.
If we look at common supplier integration use cases around design data exchange, direct materials sourcing, or supplier program management, I imagine that a very large number of suppliers would be expected to understand and use available collaboration mechanisms without any familiarity or training. This could lead to many negative outcomes, including slow response time, errors and re-work costs to say the least. I believe it is critical therefore to have a user friendly collaboration tool that is simple, efficient and enhanced for better productivity that would help achieve improved levels of quality, service and innovation throughout the product development process.
Significance of UX Enhancements for Supplier Collaboration
Firstly it is important to encompass a common framework that I think is significant as it helps provide seamless experience. The common framework includes:
Single supplier/supplier contact repository
Single portal for suppliers access
Flexible architecture with configurable supplier user interface that can be installed on customer site or on Cloud
Automation of the exchange process managed from user interface and workflow
This is followed by smooth and swift communication through all common framework components with a customer centered approach which I think is the key ingredient for an Enhanced User Experience. This approach:
Follows a strategy based on well-founded understanding of the end users
Focuses on seamless experience across all integrated components
Eliminates any extra steps and lets the system do things for the user
Makes the user interface easy to use, clean and simple
One of the key aspects of a supplier collaboration solution is the synergy within the existing as well as evolving product experiences. The new Supplier Collaboration Foundation user interface aligns with Active Workspace paradigm.
Design Enhancement Examples
Higher functionality, effectiveness, enhanced usability and user experience is critical to the solution. It is necessary to follow a strategy by establishing a clear flow, navigation, and call to action. For each user profile, the user interface and interaction presents continuous and intuitive navigation tailor-made to user scenarios. The system is designed to automatically execute implicit actions such as exchange package creation, population of the package with the parts or assemblies that the sponsor user intends to send per prior selection and automatic population of the vendor contact and related information saving numerous clicks.
The exchange related properties are also prepopulated with default values and persisted values from earlier sessions that the user can edit as required. The user interface is de-cluttered by wrapping less frequent and less relevant selections under Advanced Properties.
The landing page for the supplier user within Supplier Collaboration Foundation client clearly presents well grouped information on each tile enabling direct action aligned with intended user objective.
The supplier user is able to quickly download, upload the attachments, edit the structure, enter substance declarations or execute other tasks based on type of exchange. The user is also able to easily work on the received package and also open and edit the related CAD from within the context. Further to that the user is easily able to sync the updates from CAD editor back into the package with just few clicks.