The latest release of the JDA Category Management Suite, now Blue Yonder, became available on November 26th, 2018. This review summarizes the enhancements we found interesting based on a review of JDA’s Release Notes. As you consider upgrading, let us provide insight into the usability and quality of the release based on our ongoing testing and work with customers who have upgraded. Learn more about the Blue Yonder Category Management Suite here.

Short Read:

This release delivers innovation for the applications that JDA has focused on these past few years, primarily Open Access, JDA Reporting, Planogram Generator, Assortment Optimization, and Space Automation Professional. The mature applications – CKB, Space Planning, and Floor Planning have received technical refinements, including new capabilities focused on their integration with suite-level productivity or third-party solutions like Autodesk Revit.

Cantactix and our clients have been anxiously awaiting this new release for Planogram Generator (PG), which is a compelling update. Blue Yonder takes Enhancement Request submissions seriously, and some of these enhancements are exactly what we wanted.

Category Knowledge Base (CKB) introduces numerous technical refinements and enhanced interaction with other applications like Assortment Optimization, Space Planning, and Floor Planning, with a special focus on increasing the productive capabilities of Open Access and JDA Reporting.

If you use Space Planning by itself the benefits of upgrading compared to the overhead of upgrading the .NET Framework and new activation codes may not be compelling, unless you work with floating shelves (to identify adds and deletes) or other merchandising scenarios where you need to ignore specific product positions from capacity calculations. If you do need to ignore specific positions, ‘Exclude Position Formula’ alone is a great reason to upgrade.

Alerts:

  • Support for Sentinel product key activation has been discontinued for all the Category Management applications.
  • Software activation codes are updated for this release, and your existing activation code cannot be reused.
  • Space Planning and Floor Planning now require Microsoft .NET Framework 4.7.1, which needs to be installed before you can use the new release. 
  • Database platform support has been added for SQL Server 2017, and support for Oracle 11 has been dropped.
  • See the Release Notes documents for each application from JDA for details on other issues fixed in that application.

Click on the links below to read our summary for each application

Space Planning

​Space Planning 2018.1 now provides the ability for you to use formulas to exclude positions from internal Space Planning calculations. 

This new feature is useful when wanting to exclude new, discontinued, and floating items. The ‘Exclude Position Formula’ feature excludes these positions from capacity and other calculations and can be of use when planogram data is used with replenishment, shelf label printing, space reporting and other downstream systems. This feature is configured on the Position tab of the Override Calculations dialog box.

For users getting acquainted with the Space Planning ribbon, the new 2018.1 version has a New Quick launch Button added to the Edit group in the Home ribbon which provides quick access to the settings dialog box. Also included are updated and improved icons for the ‘Close‘ and ‘Close all Projects‘ commands which provide increased differentiation.

Some other notable enhancements are the addition of the new ‘Number of Subplanogram Spaces’ field, which indicates the number of subplanogram spaces that exist in the planogram.  

For users of Assortment Optimization (AO), the product tree data in AO can now be integrated with Space Planning and visible in the Product Tree tab in the Planogram Explorer.

Note: JDA released a Space Planning 2018.1.0.55 update on January 17, 2019, that adds some functionality. JDA did a great job pushing out these updates only 52 days after the 2018.1 release.  An excellent commitment to the user community.

Contact JDA Support and use the Get Support link to Create New Case to request this patch.  The patch is not a full installation.  Cantactix can assist clients who are upgrading to 2018.1.0 and would like to apply the patch.

​​​​Floor Planning

If you are using, or are considering using, the interaction between Autodesk Revit and JDA Floor Planning, then this release has some enhancements you may find useful. 

  • Previously, when Revit exported its floorplan model data to import into Floor Planning, the filename for the exported XML file had a fixed structure.  Now you can configure the filename for the XML file from a variety of Revit data fields, as well as your own specified text. This could help you recognize the relevant Revit XML file when you import it into a JDA floorplan.
  • If you export a Floor Planning floorplan with planogram sections as an XML file and import into the Revit floorplan model, the location and labeling of the planogram sections on the Revit fixture families has been improved. The sections are drawn using a configurable fill pattern, with the planogram name label centered within the width of the section on the fixture.

Similar to Space Planning, JDA has applied minor updates to the ribbon introduced in the 2017.1 release, including a quick way to jump to the Settings dialog box from the Home ribbon. Note that in 2017.1 and 2017.2 this can be achieved by using the quick launch link located in the bottom-right corner of the Manipulation panel on the Home ribbon.  This may provide a faster path than navigating the menu File > Settings > Settings to open the Settings configuration dialog box.

If you use Floorplan Space Allocation, the interface to data points became disabled in the 2017.1.0 release.  This has been resolved in 2018.1.0 but was also fixed in the 2017.1.1 service release. 

​​​​Category Knowledge Base

The Category Knowledge Base (CKB)  release represents JDA’s dual strategy to focus innovation on the replacement of Data Manager with Open Access and JDA Reporting (described in the following sections) while supporting the innovation designed for other applications in the Category Management suite. 

The database schema has been updated with several tables and procedures to support new functionality introduced across the suite. 

  • New tables and procedures have been added to support the new hierarchy options with CKB.
  • Views have been added to facilitate reporting on adjacency data held in the floorplan fixture and section Adjacencies fields, to simplify the viewing of Adjacencies data as configured in Floor Planning.

An enhancement has been made to Web Publishing (classic) allowing you to set your configuration to ignore changes to tables, layouts, and other supporting files. This reduces the number of objects that are published with each job if those changes are not significant. 

The Versioning process now supports the SubPlanogram process introduced in v9.0. As a Host planogram, or its SubPlanogram, is versioned, the links are now being maintained to keep the planograms paired.

With 2018.1, JDA is introducing support for SQL Server 2017 and discontinuing support for Oracle 11.  

Category Advisor

Category Advisor has changed the default field mapping for importing POS data into Performance-level fields so the fields calculated by Space Planning are not used. Cantactix had reported this as an issue, which JDA has solved by changing the following mapping

  • POSSALES now mapped to Value1 (previously mapped to Sales)
  • POSQTY now mapped to Value2 (previously mapped to Units
Open Access

With each release, Open Access becomes more robust and this release continues to deliver. Some of the release benefits for Open Access include:

  • In CKS a full node can now be downloaded.   Values in planograms can be replaced through Override Configuration. You can override values with defaults or with formulas.
  • Multiple Object Assignments now supports assignments using data from a spreadsheet or a staging table. This is true for the following object assignments:
    • Planogram to Floorplan Assignments
    • Floorplans to Store Assignments
    • Stores to Cluster Assignments
    • Assignments of Users to Access rules
  • Planogram, Product, Floorplans, and Stores hierarchy can now be managed within Open Access.  These are managed and configured in the Hierarchy Maintenance page.
  • Field Overrides can be managed in the Web Publishing Planograms grid to provide a better user experience for field associates. This enhancement allows the field filtering functionality to be limited to what the field associate sees. 
  • The Web Publishing Batch Download now allows the download or printing of planograms via a node selection, allowing larger quantities of planograms to be requested.  Filtering by status is also provided.
  • Two changes are available for the Web API. One enhancement provides support for the Planogram Exchange Management Import and Export functionality when using a web-based connection to CKB. The other enhancement is the support of stored queries to use during Business Rule Validations.   
JDA Reporting

As the newest application within the JDA Suite, many customers have not yet implemented the solution. However, now is the time. This allows you to improve your current Space Management analytics strategy and prepare for the eventual sun-setting of Data Manager Analysis Reports. Keep in mind that JDA Reporting utilizes IBM Cognos, an industry-leading reporting application. Cognos is a mature application with rich functionality, and this release brings a number of minor bug fixes primarily related to integration between CKB and Cognos. There are two key features within JDA Reporting with this release.
 
You are now able to integrate links to reports into Open Access object grids. This means that if you are on the Stores page and viewing a store grid, you can integrate a new column, or columns, and include links to common reports.  Perhaps a user on the Store Grid needs to see the Planograms assigned to the store – they can simply click on a configured report link and the report will open filtered to that selected store. This will improve the user experience and begin to add functionality into Open Access that gets the user closer to the prior Data Manager user experience.
 
JDA Reporting is now able to cleanly report on Floor Section adjacency. Recently, JDA enabled Floor Planning to store the adjacent sections in an XML field on the section table. Until now, that data was not cleanly available in JDA Reporting. With this release, JDA has enabled out of the box analysis of adjacent categories in addition to adjacent fixtures.

Space Automation Professional

Space Automation Professional (SAPro) developers are now able to create shorter, faster scripts with the power and flexibility added to filters and bulk edit commands. Developers who like to stay on the cutting edge will appreciate added support for Visual Studio 2017, a migration to .NET Framework 4.7 and CKB web-based connections.

Commands with WhereConditions are improved to allow specifying information from parent and child objects, such as pre-filtering fixtures based on their segment or the positions they have. And as we suspected in our 2017.2 release review, SetMultipleFieldValues can now bulk edit more than just performance fields.

Planogram Generator

Planogram Generator 2018.1 is packed full of new enhancements that improve existing capabilities as well as providing some amazing functionality. Planogram Generator (PG) respects the new ‘Exclude Position Formula‘ functionality added to Space Planning. This allows PG to exclude positions, such as those on sky shelves, from internal Space Planning and PG calculations. Access to more data via the Assortment Optimization product trees is also now in PG. Boosting by adding extra facings in the Final Phase and allowing items to use a secondary orientation during the Fill Out Phase have increased the options available to fill under-spaced shelves during generation. Boosting and Relaxing by a specific percentage or number of units is also now possible in 2018.1.

New fixture linkage options have also opened the door to more flexibility in how PG can handle the flow of products on shelves with shared or linked space. With the new options, PG can link fixtures from the bottom to the top or even snake the flow by going down first, then up, then back down. Additionally, fixture linkage can now space across multiple segments using the new Wide option. There is also a new option within the Banding actions that allows work in conjunction with the Link Fixture options that provides better banding control and proximity.

One of the biggest enhancements is PG’s ability to handle the dropping of positions when there are duplicate positions. In prior releases, PG would reduce every position of an item or drop all positions of an item before moving on to the next item. This would not allow users to retain at least 1 position of the item before PG moved on to another reduce step. With the new functionality in 2018.1, users can now select if they want to retain the upper or lower positions if an item has duplicate positions, thus allowing users to reduce inventory but not lose assortment.

Another seemingly simple but powerful enhancement is PGs’ ability to evaluate formulas dynamically during generation. Previously, formulas had to be built either at the Template position-level or the Target performance-level because PG removed all positions from the Target at the beginning of generation. This meant if you wanted to do conditional reduces, such as only reducing an item if it was included at more than 4 facings, PG could not do it. Now with dynamic formula evaluation, conditional reduce or boost actions are possible allowing for more flexibility in the action list.    

Assortment Optimization

With the release of 2018.1, JDA is enhancing the data science features in Assortment Optimization. The integration with dunnhumby no longer requires dunnhumby Shelf Review. Users can now request new data science analysis to populate a project and can analyze this data based on custom time frames. Clusters selected for data science analysis can be created using data from CCI and CKB and the product decision tree can be created automatically based on needstate data.  Additional add order calculations may be used and all users are able to edit persona data with the addition of a new grid in Data Editor. Though these features have been added in 2018.1, JDA still classifies the dunnhumby integration as a limited release.

JDA is adding features to give users better visibility into product data. Product images, provided by the JDA Image Server, can now be displayed. New product tooltips will now be displayed when highlighting products in the Assortment Review or Calculation Results view showing the assortment action, product name, number of substitutes, persona preference, user defined product fields, and available product and persona images. A new Substitutes Window is opened by clicking the substitutes cell for a product showing the product image and all its available substitutes.

Assortment Optimization 2018.1 also features a redesigned Options dialog. The new dialog features separate tabs to better organize settings for related functions. New settings have been added for the configuration of product tool tips, the display of AO views, the display of product images, the source of field name overrides (which may now be controlled at the global or project level or by CKB), and more. The Product Tree editor has been redesigned to give all users new features to control the view. New features for dunnhumby users have also been added to enhance the AO Powered by dunnhumby experience.

In addition to this, Assortment Optimization 2018.1 features the ability to share custom formulas and Assortment Review settings through settings files. The Assortment Review step operates as a new page in Open Access. It features new tactics and new tactic assignment abilities in Calculation. Finally, AO is able to load and unload virtual assortments automatically as a user navigates to them.

Our take on this release:

JDA Category Management 2018.1.0 provides compelling reasons to upgrade if you use PG or CKB. CKB enables additional capabilities in Open Access and JDA Reporting and can benefit those who use integrated suite-level capabilities with Assortment Optimization, Space Planning, and Floor Planning.

If you just use Space Planning in a file-based environment, then the benefits may not outweigh the effort if upgrading involves significant overhead for your organization. However, if you are a manufacturer who submits planograms to retailers that require the temporary add/delete floating shelf, then you may be very interested in the new ‘Exclude Position Formula‘ enhancement.

The JDA Category Management 2018.1.0 suite includes several integrated changes across its applications, including new fields that require a corresponding upgrade to the database if you use CKB. All your Category Management Suite applications should be upgraded at the same time to provide cross-product functionality. If you hadn’t previously upgraded to 2017.1 or 2017.2, your upgrade schedule should consider that existing users may need time to adjust to the new ribbon interface.

As always, Cantactix is available should you wish to discuss your upgrade requirements. If you are interested in getting additional insight into the new features and how they can benefit you, please contact us

Interested in upgrading? Learn more here.

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