Most ERP systems, such as SAP, are built on a three-tier architecture: the database layer, the application layer, and the client or user interface layer. These tiers are also widely described as Data, Business/Logic, and Presentation layers. ERP applications are commonly deployed in a distributed and widely dispersed manner. While the servers may be centralized, the clients are usually spread to multiple locations throughout the business.
Historically, software developers have focused most of their effort on ensuring that the data and business/logic layers of a system were stable and functional, with less focus on the presentation/user-interface layer. This is particularly true of ERP systems where, as the business’ system of record, the absolute reliability of the data and application logic necessarily take precedence over ensuring a simple and efficient user interface.
Service Oriented Architecture
Most ERP systems are now based upon, or are moving to a Service Oriented Architecture. Generally, service-orientation requires loose coupling of services with operating systems, and other technologies that underlie applications. An SOA separates functions into distinct units, or services, made accessible over a network in order to allow users to combine and reuse them in the production of applications.
With the rise of the Service Oriented Architecture and the maturation of APIs which enable new ways to access the application layer, alternative ERP user interfaces can now be deployed securely and efficiently. This development opens a range of possibilities to greatly improve the experience of ERP system users. An ERP Usability Platform makes the most of the advances in APIs and allows users to interact with the ERP system through familiar, well understood applications—improving productivity and ROI on the ERP investment.
Integrated usability platform
The Winshuttle Usability Platform™, now in its tenth release, is the industry’s only integrated approach for increasing the usability of ERP systems. It consists of a comprehensive family of software that enables customers to author, deploy, administer, and govern secure and compliant applications called Winshuttle Usability Assets™.
Customers can deploy Winshuttle Usability Assets through a variety of PC, web, and mobile applications and interfaces that users already know and use on a regular basis. Workers of all skill and experience levels can share Winshuttle Usability Assets, often with little training. The flexibility of the Usability Platform enables workers to simplify almost any ERP process and make it more flexible and efficient.
The Winshuttle Usability Platform provides a “no-programming” environment for IT and line-of-business ERP users to rapidly self-author reusable applications that accelerate ERP transactions. Best of all, customers can go live within days or weeks, and realize a faster ROI on their ERP system.
Components of a Usability platformWinshuttle defines a Usability Platform as having the following characteristics:
• Built-in support for multiple interfaces
• Usable by business users
• Secure and auditable
• No programming requirements