The deployment of a new software application has one main goal: to digitise business processes so that they run safely and more productively, without errors and transparently. If the new software comes with a good UX, users experience the solution positively and will be happy to use it intensively.
What makes for a good UX? It's not just about a convenient look and feel. What counts is the overall package, which includes not only intuitive operation but also a well-thought-out structure for the technical features. All this supports the user in their task, for example, in product development.
The crux: even if a user-oriented interface makes it as easy as possible to get started with a powerful tool, the user does not usually notice this in concrete terms. On the other hand, they will immediately clock an inadequate UX. If manufacturing companies, for example, plan to digitise their product lifecycle management (PLM) in order to design data flows and engineering processes that work across departments and companies, the topic of UX should play an important role. Users – especially those who are not very PLM-oriented – should be able to use the PLM system with as few barriers as possible, without having any deeper knowledge of the system. This works when intelligent connectors connect authoring tools to the PLM system.
Whether software, a test system or complex machine controls, the design of the interface determines usability. If it is good, the user benefits.
When transferred to PLM users, usability means no barriers when getting starting with a system, for example, because the user can control all PLM features that are relevant for them from their familiar CAD environment. They can control their entire engineering data management via a menu with just a few features. They can rely on the integration to steer their data to the correct location in the PLM data model, and they can do this without ever overwriting previous versions. All data belonging to a product is managed transparently and associated automatically, so that relationships and dependencies remain comprehensible. Flexible search mechanisms help the user quickly find the data they need.
In order to provide user-centred features, manufacturers need profound knowledge of their customers' processes. A system with a positive UX connects its users with their digital workflows in such a way that they reach their goal in the shortest possible way – the market-ready product.
Managing engineering data conveniently is one thing. Processing native design data in a rule-based fashion so that information is generated so as to be in line with the target group and is provided in PLM is another. A particularly positive user experience is therefore created when a menu item of the PLM connector bundles lots of features and executes them automatically in order to relieve the user of as many of their time-consuming routine tasks as possible.
Another aspect of UX is project work. Today, project work means interdisciplinary team work across locations. If connectors succeed in intelligently connecting the data and processes of different development domains, such as mechanics, electronics and electrical engineering, via a PLM system, they not only make an additional contribution to a positive user experience. In fact, they also help to reduce the costs of product creation. Ultimately, transparent data management across departments with automated processes accelerates the pace of development. Furthermore, it allows downstream processes to easily be involved in the innovation process, and, above all, at an early stage. This simplifies the procurement of materials and reduces time-consuming and costly reworking before production starts.
For manufacturers, usability and a positive UX mean giving their users a pragmatic solution for simple user–PLM interaction. The overall package of intuitive operability and targeted functionality needs to be right in order to convince users.