INTUITIVENESS
intuitive user interface

It is, of course, open for discussion whether or not you think that purple is a pleasant color or whether the combination of purple and green is appealing. But however you feel about Odoo’s color scheme, anyone who has ever worked with Odoo or seen it has noticed the system’s intuitiveness and how quickly you can find your way around it.


The secret of Odoo’s intuitiveness

Odoo is an ERP system. ERP systems are designed to map complicated processes for planning and analytic purposes. Essentially, complexity and intuitiveness have the same contrary relationship as security and user-friendliness. As soon as you start working with the software, you will quickly realize that even Odoo cannot change much about this basic fact. The devil lies in the details, after all, and in Odoo, there are some hidden fields and interdependencies you need to know. However, if you compare Odoo to the many other systems, the software designers have ensured that there is only a consistent minimum of fields and functions. And it is precisely this minimalism that makes the Odoo interfaces neat and easily manageable, supporting the impression of a straightforward and intuitive system.

Minimalism is the key

There is one particular feature where the Odoo ERP system still differs significantly from its counterparts, especially the classic software product.

There is always a process somewhere in the daily routine that has to be classified by a user and then created, filed, or edited at the appropriate location. The type can be an order, a delivery, an invoice, an inquiry, a complaint, or return shipment, etc., and the topic of one or several communication processes. Based on this communication, the process changes in terms of content or its current status. To put it differently, if perhaps a bit exaggeratedly, all processes revolve around communication. It is the system’s responsibility to present it as a logical structure to help measure progress and ensure that different persons can follow or work with it.

Since this is a fundamental activity Odoo, process, communication, and versioning form a chronological unit.

This feature has an added advantage that also answers the question regarding intuitiveness. This communication usually contains much more information that a system can actually process. Since this information is directly tied to the transaction, forming a unit that is instantly accessible, Odoo does not need to collect all data as a part of the transaction but can reduce them to a minimum.

Here is a summary of a practical, real-life example on the subject of approvals, orders, and correction:


Here is what you see:

  1. When was the document generated, and by whom? à Two pieces of information that do not have to be displayed in separate masks since they are taken from the current document version.
  2. Who has been asked for evaluation, when, and by whom? – Again, this does not have to be recorded in separate fields.
  3. Who has reviewed the document when, what has been reviewed, and what was the feedback? à This information indeed cannot be recorded without communication; in classic systems, you would only get a default status for this kind of transaction.
  4. When has the document status been changed, and by whom?

This example, however, only illustrates how internal communication works in Odoo. Of course, external communication may also be conceivably part of the process.

Apart from the fact that the example above is really easy to follow, this feature clearly saves up to ten transaction fields in a classic set-up, even after weeks and months, or years.

How can you lose this intuitiveness?

Actually, adjustments are the biggest risk. Why? Because they are often caused by requirements, and these are usually (or at least in our experience) formulated with the “classic“ set-up in mind. If users come from other systems, they are accustomed to this multitude of fields. For them, Odoo often appears incomplete, and they are afraid that they cannot find anything ever again. However, since messages, as well as the Chatterbox, are searchable, a process can be easily found even without fields.

When is it advisable to add fields?

It is, obviously, possible that new fields are required. Here are a few criteria that might justify the creation of new fields:

1) Documents

As a rule, the fields available in Odoo are sufficient for print-outs. Users like to add more fields to products. But it remains to be seen whether this is really necessary and whether this information cannot simply be added to the text describing the product. However, anything that needs to be printed on an offer, order, delivery note or invoice PDF has to have a counterpart in the system.

2) Evaluations / Statistics

This topic is a more likely justification to extend the data structure. Even if the current statistics already provide a significant number of fields to be used for both axes of charts or pivot tables, there are occasions where current Excel tables have partially integrated customized requirements for the analysis of business transactions. If these cannot be integrated into the existing data structure of products, material groups, cost centers, or G/L accounts, they will have to be mapped by additional fields.

3) Groupings

There are only a few currently available systems working with groupings. In Odoo, they are a common tool, not only for analysis but also for orientation within lists.

However, it is still possible that you need to create additional fields to separate data sets to accommodate users.

When is it inadvisable?

Quite often, the data structure is extended to provide more search or filter options. Since Odoo always performs a “wildcard“ search, in other words, a search for the entered string, additional information can easily be added to the descriptive text to make records traceable.

If you want to tell users that they need to include respective information in the descriptive texts, you can work with either help texts or default values. So, when a new record is created, a default text will appear, telling the user what sets of data to edit or maintain.

Conclusion

Each communication usually contains such a large amount of information that it is challenging to create limits and categories in the form of data fields. This is why integrated communication takes over one of the central functions in the processing of business transactions, substantially contributing to the minimalism and clarity of Odoo.

Users often forget that multiple fields entail a high level of maintenance. In addition, the ability to retrieve data is only as good as the diligence with which they have been maintained. With an increasing number of fields, it becomes, statistically speaking, increasingly unlikely that this is actually the case.

This brings us to the following conclusion: Proceed with caution when adding new fields to your master data, and use Chatterbox instead.

7 December, 2020
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