Macola Software continues redesign of user experience with 10.6 ERP release

Compared to the spring’s 10.5 release, and the upcoming 10.7 next year, this version of the Macola ERP software is less dramatic, but it still has some nice enhancements, including adding more APIs and making them easier to use.

Derek Ochs, Macola Software’s director of development

Macola Software has released Macola 10.6, which continues the strategic redesign of the company’s ERP software they unveiled with Macola 10.5 last April. The new release makes some usability enhancements, including a new status bar that shows graphically the exact state of an order. It also continues the extension of accessibility to APIs, as Macola moves to a fully open architecture.

“Macola 10.5 was a huge release for us, because it was our first introduction of the new user experience that we are developing, and which will roll out fully over the next couple of years,” said Derek Ochs, Macola Software’s director of development. “10.6 builds on top of that, and sets up our 10.7 release next spring, where we will complete the order entry phase, and introduce a plug-in framework that eliminates vendor lock-in.”

At Macola’s Evolve event where 10.5 was released, the company unveiled its plan to completely modernize its ERP offering, moving from a closed architecture to an open one, and incorporating consumer-inspired interfaces to delight customers and replace complexity with clarity. Ochs then outline five principal design points: simplicity; a tablet-first philosophy; interfaces that learn; a reduction in icons, and progressive disclosure, only showing people the things they need when they need to see them, to make decision-making easier.

Most of these points are addressed in 10.6, with simplicity being foremost.

“Our agile development process involves getting feedback from customers and partners, and based on that, we made some changes to the screens to make them more usable than before,” Ochs said. “We also streamlined some things, such as letting users create orders faster by doing multiple steps at once.”

Order tracking has been simplified with the addition of a progress bar to the top of every order.

“This new status bar is one of my favorite features,” Ochs said. “It shows at a glance when you enter an order, and the customer can see the exact state an order is in by looking at it graphically.”

“The biggest thing here for us is this ability to get more information in a simplified interface,” said Jeff DeSchon, vice president, at Calhoun GA-based longtime Macola partner iPro. “These enhancements give better access to the data, which is what the power users want. They enhance the inventory systems, which are the heart of any ERP system.”

The mobile first – and specifically tablet first – philosophy introduced in 10.5 has been extended.

‘This release continues the strengthening of the deliverables around the form factors for tablets and mobile devices,” DeSchon said.

“We have cleaned up the ability to run on tablets more,” Ochs stated. “The tablet is our preferred mobile device, because it has more real estate than a phone, and in the last release, it was geared to a horizontal orientation of a tablet. Now, a vertically oriented tablet looks just as good.”

Ochs said the new enhancements are consistent with the progressive disclosure and self-learning interfaces.

“Any screen we have that gives selections defaults to the most recently used items,” he indicated.

The REST API architecture first introduced with Version 10.5 has also been extended.

“A lot more APIs have been added, continuing the theme of opening up our architecture so other applications can interface with us,” Ochs said. “We have made the APIs more consistent and easier for developers to use as well.”

“As they open up the architecture, it allows us to manipulate the software in ways that help deliver what people are looking for,” DeSchon said. “Both the Web Services and APIs make it much easier to do that.”