2011 June මස 03 වැනිදා Friday

User experience - Why is it so important in ERP ?

Over the last decade, b

Over the last decade, businesses have continued to get more complex, and with it, the use of and reliance on business applications or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) has increased. The size of applications has grown in terms of providing support for new business processes as well as the depth of functionality. To prevent an increase in size from resulting in increased complexity, an intuitive and efficient user experience is required. With higher rates of staff turnover, temporary hires, and short-term assignments it is no longer possible to send staff on days or weeks of training to learn a new application. On the contrary, a person with the appropriate business skills should be able to walk up and use a business application or ERP with no prior training.

ERP applications and vendors vision should be focused on to provide a user experience that gets users to “Love the Application”. By working toward this vision, one could replace user resistance to a new application, with user excitement, a difficult transition, with fast adoption, and feelings of contentment after a ‘Go Live’ with inspiration to explore and find even more benefits.

As part of this vision ideally ERP products or business applications should follow a set of key design principles: l Design is important. Visual appearance and appeal of the software is an important factor. But design is not just about the visuals; it is also about creating a system interaction that works for what the user wants to do.

Enterprise applications are a lot like the Internet. Both are systems that are too large for any human to fully comprehend or know in their entirety. Yet on the Internet, most people successfully find the information they seek, and navigate and use services with ease. To have familiar search and navigation techniques from the Internet in an ERP or a business application would make users to engage with the system like the Internet is been used

Creating a good user interface requires design processes that are driven by the task, role, and environment at hand. A good user interface for data entry is different from one for planning or analysis. What works well for engineers in the office might not work at all for technicians in the field. Relying on a single user interface technology for all tasks, roles, and purposes is an outdated principle that does not put the needs of the users first.

For certain tasks, other applications can offer a more effective work environment. In these situations it is more effective to provide access and integration with other functionality and information from within those applications.

Since the 1980s, applications have transitioned from green-screen, through Windows interfaces, to a combination of Windows, web/portal, and PDA/smartphone clients. This increasing diversity of user interfaces will continue, allowing more people to use applications in more places and on more occasions, and using new devices and terminals. A truly Service-Oriented Component Architecture (SOCA) makes it cost-efficient for IFS to provide a complete set of user interface technologies that suit different users, tasks, roles, and environments. The openness of the architecture also makes it easier to create and integrate other interfaces.

Modern ERPs for Agile Business

Featuring an appealing design and intuitive tools, modern ERPs should provide access to all the functionality of a business by having the user engaged with the system and make the application as simple like the internet.

“Nice to have” functionalities like, Google easy” search can be combined with a flexible navigation system to quickly guide the user right. Sticky “post it style” notes and a task management system facilitate user collaboration.

Easily adapted to the users work environment. For example the application should be designed to work just as well on a Netbook with a 10-inch display as on an engineering workstation with dual display setup.With employees increasingly working from home, or from the hotel room or airport while on the move, the modern ERP or the business application should employ several techniques to make life easier. For example the server connection is stateless, so that users can shut down in the middle of doing something as they leave home, connect back up again in the airport and continue working without needing to logon again or restart the application

Office Business Applications

Regardless of how attractive and intuitive the user interface of an ERP solution is, there are some tasks that many users find natural to perform in another application, due to the familiarity and features of that application. It could be next year’s budget in Excel, or rearranging a project plan in MS Project. The modern ERP need to offer several add-ins to popular productivity tools such as Excel to enable this way of working while maintaining control of the data, budget, plans etc. or in other words the ERP should allow through bi-directional integration with other applications such as excel, MS project etc.

About IFS

IFS is a public company (OMX STO: IFS) founded in 1983 that develops, supplies, and implements IFS Applications™, a component-based extended ERP suite built on SOA technology. IFS focuses on agile businesses where any of four core processes are strategic: service & asset management, manufacturing, supply chain and projects. The company has 2,000 customers and is present in more than 50 countries with 2,700 employees in total. Net revenue in 2010 was SKr 2.6 billion.

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