How to design for autonomous performance management

This week our team at Trufa received the wonderful news that together with the design agency NONOBJECT, we’ve received the Red Dot Design Award for our efforts to build a new type of application for the enterprise.

A break from the past

Before IT conquered the enterprise, offices were decorated with large, gray cabinets. Desks were laced with manila envelopes and strict processes ruled the business world. Then ERP systems came along. Cabinets became servers and people used mice and keyboards instead of pens. Companies like SAP established new standards in business software.

The next revolution came with Business Intelligence (BI). It wasn’t enough anymore to simply do digitally, what was previously done with pen and paper. Every part and product, supplier and customer, purchase and sale was recorded somewhere in an ERP system. This wealth of information was untapped and BI systems were there to tap it. Armies of consultants created long running batch jobs that spat out reports to provide insights into the business.

Enter 2017. The computing world has made the move to the cloud, democratizing scalability. Modern frameworks have enabled more rapid development. Mobile has eaten the world. We’re on the cusp of an AI revolution. It’s time to unlock the true potential of what enterprise software can be. Trufa shows what this future looks like, today.

The future is autonomous

We like to say that we sell autonomous performance management.

A Business Intelligence system is at heart descriptive. It can take some ERP data, reshape it, and provide it in the form of a sorted table or dashboard. It answers the question of what happened last quarter, last year.

Trufa is a different kind of software. It answers why something happened (diagnostic). It answers what will happen in the future (predictive). It answers what should happen (prescriptive). And it can support the decision making process (normative).

A BI system can tell you which customers didn’t pay their bills on time. Trufa can tell you why customers didn’t pay on time. It can predict how their behavior will likely develop. And it can advise which actions to take to move forward.

Trufa as a system continuously analyzes and models the future for an entire business, end-to-end. It makes clear recommendations and provides actionable alternatives. It’s GPS in a box, running by itself, ready to go.

Reducing the weight of data

Trufa is at heart an algorithm that takes in millions of business records, finds tens of thousands of opportunities and presents a small personalized set of recommendations for a user to act upon.

This requires an entirely new user experience. Data grids, dashboards and other tools have served well to visualize sorted aggregates of business records.

But Trufa is a decision support system. It’s not about visualizing records, but about providing recommendations for action.

That’s why at launch, the first thing a user will see is not a typical dashboard, but a visualization of opportunities.

A screen showcasing Opportunities across your entire business

This screen visualizes unrealized potential for improvement in the business. Each arc in the visualization represents an opportunity that Trufa found automatically. You can drill down into the details of every analysis, down to material numbers, but you enter the product with the premise that Trufa already found a lot of opportunities to work on.

One of the core principles we try to follow is to reduce the information workload on the user and provide clear visual guidance. The system shouldn’t ask a user to parse a long table, it should guide the user to find the opportunities that are to be realized.

The screen shows opportunities across the entire business, from Source, via Make to Deliver. Users can easily drill-down into specific areas of the business to filter the Opportunities relevant to them.

The wheel unfolds into a butterfly chord:

A visual representation of opportunities for Deliver

What does one of these opportunities look like in detail?

A decision recommendation made by Trufa

This is one of the opportunities recommended by Trufa. It applies to the SMB business unit of Trutroniq. It shows that improving shipments (Confirmed quantity shipped early enough) will cause the customers to pay earlier (True DSO).

It also shows a number — 183. This is a TPI, the True Performance Index. The TPI is a score we’ve developed to make it possible to quantify an opportunity. The TPI is based on the potential gain and the likelihood to achieve. The potential gain is the monetary value realized by pursuing this opportunity. The likelihood is the probability that this potential can be achieved. Generally, the higher the TPI, the better.

The recommendation from above, unfolded with greater detail, potential gain, and likelihood to achieve.

Every Opportunity can be unfolded to reveal details. Above, we see that currently, for the business unit SMB, 70.3% of orders are shipped early enough.

Trufa made an analysis and came up with a recommendation that it would be possible to ship 82% early enough.

Trufa ran a simulation that indicates improving shipments will have a positive effect on customer’s payment behavior. It estimates they will pay earlier, within 31.6 days instead of 54.5 days.

This improvement measure would free up $28.8m of tied-up cash. Trufa assigned this opportunity a 64% likelihood to be achieved.

We’re not done yet…

There’s a lot of work left to do.

Trufa keeps expanding into new areas. It can help increase profits, find the optimal balance in pricing, reduce working capital, manage processes and reduce process complexity.

The greater the power of the software, the greater the pressure for an innovative, simple and intuitive user experience to manage it.

A special thanks to everyone at NONOBJECT for pushing for this future with us. And thanks to Red Dot for recognizing our efforts.

Now back to work.