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December 26, 2017

Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part II

5.     Avoid Vertical Scroll (Rows to Display): Each Resultset comes with an option of configuring "Rows to Display". Multiple factors should be considered while configuring "Rows to Display" for each Resultset since it has a direct impact on Vertical scroll.

a.       Total number of Resultsets for the Start Center; recommended number 3-5 based on the Job responsibilities of the user. If more Resultsets are there, then lesser the number of "Rows to Display" for each Resultset.

b.       Size of the Monitor of the users intended for using this Start Center (typically organizations have standard set of monitors for certain departments if not across complete organization; use this information effectively)

c.       Importance of the Resultsets (In the same Start Center, for some Resultsets you have choose 10 while for some other you can choose 5)

Main objective should be to effectively utilize the screen space; avoiding Vertical Scroll while not leaving any unused white space.

6.       Use Object Structure effectively: One of strongest features of Maximo 7.6 Start Centers is use of the Reporting Object Structures. In simple words, earlier you were able to display columns of only the base table in the Start Centers. However, with 7.6 you can show columns from multiple related tables. This is a great enhancement and can be used effectively to show relevant data from multiple tables together.

7.       Dropping irrelevant records: One of the problems of Resultsets is that the records keep hanging there if the purpose is solved. For example, record is approved or user is informed, however still the records continue to appear in the Resultsets. This leads to clogging and potential risk of missing the relevant information. To deal with it, apply appropriate filter criteria on the basis of status, dates to filter out the irrelevant records and continue to show the relevant information. Again business can provide good insights for this. For example, if you want to show Cancelled Invoices to users so that they are informed about its status. However, since there is no further action on it, they continue to appear there. So applying a filter like showing Cancelled Invoices only for 7 days and then dropping them off will keep the Resultset count under control.

8.       Use Color code effectively: If you want to highlight certain records in a different color like a Critical priority record or a record which missed SLA; then you can choose to highlight them in Red color for immediate attention of user.

9.       Use KPIs for appropriate roles: KPIs should be used when the intent is to monitor the quantity of work rather than the individual work itself. Supervisors, Managers and higher Management are more interested in tracking and monitoring the progress of work. Like Work Orders Progress for the Month or Invoice Ageing Information. Leverage KPIs for this with options like KPI Graph or KPI List View.

KPI are typically on the narrow left side of the Start Center. More number of KPIs may lead to vertical scrolling. Alternative is to provide a COGNOS dashboard.

10.       Performance is key: Users live with Start Centers Day-in and Day-out. If they take more than 3-5 seconds to load, there is a problem in the long run. The problem is aggravated because unless all the Resultsets are completed loaded in the Start Center; launching any application or opening any record won't work. So users are forced to wait till it completely loads. Therefore, avoid long running queries, optimize the queries with right indexes.

You may have certain situation where long running queries are reality and cannot be avoided.

In such case; explain the performance problem to business of the initial load of the Start Centers. And give them alternative that the information is still a click away:

a.       As a Public Query in the application

b.       As a separate Start Center which has this long running Resultset. This is not the default Start Center and users can launch it whenever they need to access it

c.       If the number of Resultsets is becoming more than 6; then also consider a second Start Center for the same Role. Pick more frequently used Resultsets in the first Start Center. You may have to create an additional Security Group just for enabling this Start Center for the Role.

d.       In case users' security profiles enables multiple Start Center tabs for them, it is best to provide rights to users to choose the Default Start Center they want to launch. It is a great feature and helps saving performance by loading the most relevant Start Center in first attempt.

11.       Bulletin Board is great for communication: Bulletin Board is optional however having Bulletin Board at the top of the Start Center is a good idea. It takes less space if nothing is there. It is a great way to communicate common messages like scheduled outages, training issue related messages, critical production issues, etc. The messages come with an expiry date so they automatically fall out after the expiry date. You may choose to post messages to all the users or a specific group of users giving the right control.

12.       Inbox Assignments needs extension: Inbox assignments are great, however they don't provide all the necessary information because Inbox is common for all the objects whether it is Work Order, Asset, DR, PO, Invoice or Service Requests. Secondly, if number of assignments in the Start Center is high, then it is not easy to quickly search through them.

To make the Inbox assignments more relevant for users, augment them with a Resultset. For example, if field users have multiple Work Orders assigned to them in the Inbox then add an associated Resultset for the Work Orders. It will give the leverage to add relevant columns for the users providing them more information which is not directly available from Inbox.

It is not advisable though to do this for all the Objects of the Inbox Assignments. Make the choice wisely based on the primary responsibility of the users.


Designing the Start Centers with above guidelines will ensure that Business is having all the critical and relevant information available to them; and will drive Business Performance.

Design Start Centers to drive Business Performance - Part I

It is Christmas time, and everyone is busy preparing cupcakes at home and enjoying time with their families. The snow storm outside turned out to be much more intense than it was predicted. With heavy snow, trees started falling down. Some of trees fall on the electrical distribution lines. Now a complete blackout in the area. You are a Maintenance Manager, so you start getting multiples calls. You create emergency work orders to attend the problem and assign them to your crew.

Your crew is disbursed in the field at multiple sub-stations. They use Maximo Start Center to monitor and prioritize their work queue. Due to design gap in the Start Center, these emergency work orders appear last in the priority and gets missed by the crew. Scary right?

Start Center in Maximo (also can be referred as Dashboard or Landing Page) is a very powerful tool. In one place, it provides information about critical tasks, alerts and actions to business users as per their roles and job responsibilities.

However, at the same time, once the Start Center starts showing too much information or irrelevant information, it tends to lose its importance. Often this is the starting point when the users start ignoring the information present there. So it is important to carefully design Start Center so that it displays meaning information which assist users in smoothly running business.

Before starting the requirements discussion for Start Center, it is a good idea to provide a walkthrough to them of the Out of the Box Start Center or a sample explaining the benefits of various Start Center features. If business has Maximo background, it will make the job easier. However still remember that Business may not provide all the information upfront because even they haven't thought through these. They will answer the questions which are asked; so guiding them through the design with the right set of questions will lead to a comprehensive design.

Given below are some guidelines for designing Start Centers which will assist Business Users in driving their Performance:

1.       Identify Roles: Study different Business Roles who will use system and understand their top 3 responsibilities. Their top 3 responsibilities will provide good insights into what the users would be interested in to see in their Start Center. This information directly drives the Resultsets, KPIs, identify Favorite Applications, identify Quick Insert Applications and Report Lists.

Of all these, Resultsets are the most important from business perspective and most frequently used. Name the Resultsets which are intuitive to business.

2.       Apply the right filters: The beauty of the notifications is lost if they are too many. Imagine dealing with 20 records vs 200 records. So discuss with Business, think through diligently and work out appropriate filter criteria which should be applied to show the records. Right set of filters will ensure that the Resultsets are relevant and usability is high

3.       Default Sorting is important: When user login to Maximo, the Start Center is loaded with all the Resultsets. In the Resultsets, most relevant records should appear at the top by default; so that users don't have to sort or search the records again. Therefore, default sorting for Resultsets is important. Most frequently used criteria for sorting is date; typically, with 2 options: Newest record at the top or Oldest record at the top. A good understanding of business is needed to carefully make this choice. If a huge backlog of work is expected for valid business reasons; then going by the oldest record at the top will almost always lead to the newest records getting least attention. On the other hand, having newest record at the top risks the chances of missing the SLAs.

Secondly, try to keep date criteria as the 2nd or 3rd sorting criteria after identifying other critical parameters which business will be more interested to see and address first. It could be based on Priority, $ amount, or Type. Business can provide good insights into it.

4.       Avoid Horizontal Scroll: Select appropriate columns which are most important to business. Keep it to a minimum number of relevant columns to avoid horizontal scrolls. Having 5-8 columns is appropriate based on the screen space available. Label the columns appropriately which makes sense to Business.

......continue on Part II

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