Oracle, can you improve your poor usability please?

I’m still concerned with the poor usability of Oracle’s applications that BT uses e.g. Oracle Universal Content Management and eBusiness Suite.  I am working with Janus Boye to highlight the benefits of good usability with software vendors and reduce costs to organisations through lost productivity.

Would you like to help us to improve usability standards and the poor usability of Oracle’s applications?

I’ve posted about this before.  I highlighted the poor usability of applications; why basic usability isn’t built in from the start; how you can improve applications; improving application usability and why Oracle use terms users don’t understand.

BT has a strategic relationship with Oracle to rationalise its technology so reducing costs and standardising on the applications we need to use for our work.  Oracle’s relationship with BT takes into account our technical and security needs but doesn’t focus enough on the user experience with their applications.

Poor usability = loss of productivity.  It only takes an extra few minutes each time someone uses an application to be multiplied by the number of people (BT has over 100,000 people) to quickly become a large unnecessary cost.  And then there are the extra costs of helpdesks, training and guides.

I really want Oracle to set the benchmark on great usability to give them a competitive edge and encourage BT to want to use even more of their applications but no one at Oracle seems that interested.

I have tried to involve the Intranet Benchmarking Forum but they are not interested sadly.

My next blog will cover the usability standards BT has developed when we buy and develop IT services that need to be complied with.

15 responses to “Oracle, can you improve your poor usability please?

  1. Mark,

    I completely agree with you on this although I would concede that Oracle is not the only ‘Enterprise’ software vendor to inflict poor usability on its customers.

    Fortunately I have never had the displeasure of being an end-user of Oracle’s software but my wife, who works for a large, public sector organisation in the GLA related this story to me recently:

    “When ‘using’ Oracle’s Learning Management System, if I wish to create and manage a training course, first I have to create a ‘course’ (page one), once the course is created, I have to create an ‘offering’ (page two), then after I have created an offering, I can finally get to creating a ‘Class’ (page number a million!)

    Bearing in mind that I have to load 87 different courses (with at least 187 classes) I have so far found that it is not the quickest or user friendly system I have come across.

    I have just tested to see how many steps it took to create 1 training class and it took 51 steps, which means overall, to load my 87 courses I will need to complete 9,537 steps! And that doesn’t take into consideration even assigning a delegate to attend.

    I can appreciate the back end of all this effort will enable me to gather more detailed reporting which will benefit the business (although I haven’t even looked at how many steps it will take to create a report!!)”

    9,537 steps! Of course my wife is perfect in every way but the likelihood of making an error somewhere along the line is pretty high isn’t it?

    So, yes. Poor usability = loss of productivity = £££££££

    Sort it out Oracle!

    • Andrew,

      Yes, you are right. It isn’t just Oracle but Oracle have so many examples that I use it was easy to use them to highlight the wider point of poor usability with software vendors.

      You wouldn’t find this with Amazon so why do we suffer it for enterprise applications.

      As you also point out the loss of productivity multiplies into huge amounts of money that are unnecessarily wasted.

      I wonder who can show the largest productivity loss from poor usability?


  2. I’m not convinced that enterprise software vendors will ever take usability as seriously as feature lists while the people buying their products aren’t the same people that use them.

    The contrast between the likes of Oracle and companies like 37 Signals, where it’s generally the people who will actually using the software that pay for it, is like night and day.

    • Kerry,

      How very true. The people who buy the products in BT are technical and are very good at making sure software fits with our infrastructure and other software applications.

      However I feel a bystander who isn’t seen to be important with my usability needs. The costs of lost productivity either don’t seem important enough or taken seriously enough. As it is hidden it does make it more difficult to be considered.

      How can we get more involved? How do we get usability and lost productivity costs higher up everyone’s agenda?


  3. Have you had a look at Oracle Fusion Applications? This is the next generation of Oracle Applications and will eventually replace it. I saw a demo by Steven Miranda at the ODTUG conference in Monterey in June, and it actually has a cool, modern interface. So in the EBS space, you will be seeing some major improvements.

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  7. Yep. Super cumbersome it seems. In 9,537 steps couldn’t she create the report manually (the regular way) exceptionally faster?
    Nice comments. I like that to hear that your wife is perfect in every way.
    Good luck!

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