The role of UX in increasing profitability of ERP systems
When creating user interfaces, the priority is to consider customers from the B2C sector. That’s understandable since they pay for your products or services and it’s crucial to make navigating your website as easy as possible for them.
However, people who use ERP programs – usually, employees of various companies – should also be taken into account when it comes to UX design so that their job could be easier. This approach brings tangible benefits – productivity and job satisfaction increase.
Research done by M. Hertzum and M. Hansen1 shows that people lose 47% to 53% of their time when using familiar systems due to frustrating experiences.
Think of your ERP users as paying customers
If you wish to create programs supporting work efficiency, you should remember that UX is a very important aspect also when it comes to internal systems.
Treat the person operating the program as if they were a customer of, for example, an online store. A great majority of researches conducted on online shopping show that UX enhancement increases revenue. For example, The American Genius reports that $ 1 invested in UX brings from $ 2 to $ 100 in revenue.2 TrueList reports that 70% of online businesses fail due to poor User Experience.3 There are many more analyses with similar conclusions.
Below are some rules that onex.softwarehouse abided by when improving its internal ERP programs.
Less is more – the key to success is not in the number of functions
Remember that the more features in one program, the more confusing the navigation becomes. It is impossible to fit everything into a small space so you have to create many complex structures and branches. It will become difficult for new users to find the function that interests them at the given moment. Those who already know the program well will have to spend a lot of time performing a simple operation as it would require many steps and a deep descent into the structure of the system.
Consider whether it is worth adding new features or maybe it is better to improve the existing ones. There are examples where even the greatest companies introduced many new functions and then removed them from their software. For example, Skype – an excellent communicator – once had functions of transferring money to friends or public chats, but those were abandoned in the end.
If you need to have many different functions in your ERP
The chaos caused by a large number of functions can be minimized in various ways, e.g.:
- Create one collective dashboard from which it would be easy to access all (or almost all) functions. Something similar to a clickable table of contents.
- Add an internal search engine.
- Remember not to branch the function tree too much.
- Each function and workflow should have its own unique UX writing description. While there may be many similar functions, none of them should have a duplicate description.
- Add the customization option – let each user (if he or she feels the need) create their own dashboard. Let them remove unnecessary columns, move the most important elements to the places they choose, etc.
- Graphical interface – think about using colors to symbolize the action – green “OK” button, red “Delete” button, etc.
- Think about learnability, not only efficiency – the timeless UX principle says that you should focus on easy and quick recognition of a given function, rather than relying on the user’s memory. This is especially important for new employees.
- Use various other tricks used in B2C web applications – auto-complete forms, typography rules, etc.
Implement more advanced analytics and tests
Implement A/B tests or heatmaps – they will provide you with a lot of data, thanks to which it will be much easier to outline specific areas that require improvement. Remember that analytics will only be relevant if your ERP is a web application. In the case of desktop solutions, it would be very difficult to implement – after all, you do not have control over, for example, which version your customers are using. So that’s one more reason to move to the cloud.
Also, remember about manual functional tests.
Summary of UX for ERPs
As an ERP creator and developer, you probably won’t even notice that your solution is not very intuitive. Employees are often reluctant to provide this type of feedback or it gets stuck in the company where the program is used. Employees often just cope with tedious tasks. However, their effectiveness turns low and their daily tasks get on their nerves. And that’s not what ERP solutions are about.
Think about providing a simple questionary, thanks to which you will give an ordinary user the option of submitting ideas and feedback regarding the functionality of your ERP. Let these improvement suggestions be sent directly from the ERP to your support. Involving the management of the company that uses your ERP would be redundant here.
The sooner you consider implementing good UX, the better. There is often a great risk that the project budget may exceed as the system would require further usability improvements after the implementation. After all, you don’t want your customer to be suddenly surprised by too high costs, right?