Over the years, enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications have extended their capabilities beyond being systems of record and automating transactions. This change has been ushered in by digital transformation and has seen the emergence of digital capabilities like a mobile-enabled user interface, machine learning, and intelligent automation. The modern-day user navigates through and performs complex transactions, making an intuitive user experience incredibly important.
Given the critical role of Oracle Cloud applications in digital transformation, customers expect higher value realization from their Oracle investments. We could quantify the value in terms of ROI, revenue improvement, cost optimization, productivity, and the user experience of their employees, customers, partners, and suppliers.
What is design thinking?
Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, explains design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that originates from the designer’s toolkit to combine the needs of the people with the reach of the technology and the requirements for business success.” It has three critical facets which we will cover in further detail:
- Design thinking process
- Design thinking tools- In design thinking, it is important to use effective tools at the right time across the entire design thinking cycle
Design thinking is more than any product or service. As a problem-solving approach focusing centrally on human experiences, it seeks to understand how people accomplish their tasks, and the emotions they go through.
The five phases of design thinking
We follow the five phases of design thinking in our Oracle Cloud applications-based transformation:
Figure 1: The five phases of design thinking
A. Empathize: Research your user’s needs -- Empathy provides the starting point for design thinking. In the first phase of the cycle, we seek an understanding of the potential user and their needs and objectives. We define the method for the design and implementation of the solution.
B. Define: Understand their needs and problems -- The second step is to define the problem. At the end of this phase, we aim to have a clear problem statement, and for it to be framed in a user-centric manner. Findings are evaluated, interpreted, and weighted.
C. Ideate: Challenge assumptions and create new ideas -- Now that we understand the user persona and have a defined problem statement, ideation begins. Different forms of brainstorming and specific creative techniques are applied.
D. Prototype: The next phase comprises experimentation and transformation into tangible products. That begins with the development of prototypes that help test our solutions with potential users. We can prototype digital solutions with mock-ups. The prototypes range from critical experience prototypes/CRP (Conference Room Prototyping) all the way to a final prototype.
E. Test: Testing should take place after each built prototype, even if individual functions, experiences, or forms are developed. During testing, user interaction and documentation of the results are important. Testing aids the enhancement of the solution until it is sufficiently convincing to the end-user.
Design thinking in Oracle Cloud implementation
Applying HCLTech 5D methodology with design thinking
Our Oracle Practice has brought over the best practices from the broader HCLTech capability to address the changing needs of our customers. This includes changing the way we think about and implement Oracle Cloud applications. Our 5D methodology is the Oracle Cloud Applications implementation methodology, based on the robust, agile framework. It is applied to Oracle projects and programs to accelerate the velocity of value. Design thinking is braided throughout our methodology to maximize the conversion of value from design into delivery, ensuring the realization of benefits.
Figure 2: HCLTech 5D methodology
The need for customer focus
Projects that are designed without customer focus are bound to fail. One of our recent large Oracle Cloud-based transformation engagements was successfully implemented with the application of customer-centric design thinking. Empathy and recognition for multi-disciplinary teams are well-known best practices, but it takes design thinking to incorporate them into a coherent and repeatable process.
A pictorial representation:
Empathize and define:
Ideate and prototype:
A Case Study
We have understood design thinking, how it is braided with our 5D methodology, and the processes involved — but what does this look like in action? Let us explore a recent Oracle Cloud-based digital transformation exercise that saw design thinking make a profound real-world impact.
- Empathize: The first step, to reiterate, is to understand the target user and their requirements. Here, there was a need for economies of scale by leveraging a global Oracle Cloud system and retiring nearly 20-year-old legacy systems that housed unclean and incorrect data. Easy reporting functionality on accurate financial data was desired for better and more efficient decision-making.
- Define: Based on the findings from the first stage, the team determined revenue leakage to be a priority and, in addition, identified aged source data, the decommissioning of legacy systems, the lack of critical reporting capabilities, and the lack of adequate security and controls as problem statements.
- Ideate: The team brainstormed potential solutions with a deep understanding of the user requirements and a clear problem statement. We learned that the client’s business model spread across 184 countries. The client did not do a fit-gap analysis during product selection, leading to complexity in the solution. The team explored extra mile requirements beyond industry norms to address legacy system challenges, i.e., three-level reconciliation through the ICRA format– Source to Stage 1, Stage 1 to Stage 2, and Stage 2 to Target.
- Prototype: In the prototyping stage, the team adopted a show-and-tell approach and a guided walk through a selection of to-be business processes. Furthermore, there was a simulation of the transactions end-to-end with a confirmation of the go-forward approach.
- Test: The testing phase comprised the use of approved business requirements as a base to create user stories. This was a foundational step for creating the Requirement Traceability Report (RTM). We interlinked the work items in an Azure DevOps-powered testing system. Test cases related to business scenarios were grouped under the corresponding test suites.
With a design thinking approach, the team got to the core issues and found effective solutions for them. The user experience significantly improved. Effective invoicing resulted in a 15% increase in revenue growth. A single integrated solution that spans 184 countries were translated into a 30% reduction in the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Based on the several Oracle implementations that we, at HCLTech’s Oracle practice, have done for our customers, the one aspect that stands out is the user adoption and this plays a major role in the success of an Oracle implementation. Design thinking is user-centric and focuses on the needs of the user to create an improved experience. Unlike traditional approaches to ERP implementation, which focus exclusively on technicalities, design thinking encourages innovation and collaboration to create solutions that benefit the end-users and improve the return on investment.