The consumerisation of IT/ERP has generated opportunities for businesses to create more productive and satisfying working environments, where staff are empowered to do their jobs better, without having to work harder. By ensuring that their ERP systems offer an engaging and rewarding experience, user adoption is boosted. And by incorporating social business functionality, which mimics the way employees use technology in their downtime, they are also changing the way their employees communicate, and collaborate, across territories, branches, and the entire organisation.
When your ERP system is easy to use, can be personalised, and is familiar to the end user, you will not only make them more efficient and productive but support a quicker uptake of your new system.
Challenges facing CIOs in manufacturing environments
One of the most common requests put to CIOs, is for them to improve the user interface of their systems to make them more aligned to the unique processes within the organisation. ERP systems are implemented to drive efficiencies within organisations. However, ensuring that the ERP system is compatible with the enterprise’s organisational strategy, structure, culture and operations isn’t always easy. It will likely necessitate change to many areas of the business. With the process of change management, there is also a need for the people in the business to adapt.
Historically, enterprise resource planning systems have faced a lot of resistance from those who are tasked with using it most often. Users need to see that using the ERP system will have a positive impact on their daily work lives, and this is even more critical at a time when individual KPIs and targets are being aligned to key organisational drivers, and there is a need for them to be implemented and executed at an operational level within the design of applications.
Predictive analytics providing an intuitive UX
In considering the end-user experience, ease of use is critical to ensuring users can execute their tasks effortlessly and carry out their roles effectively. When pulling reports, a user wants all the relevant information on one page, logically ordered, and easily accessible, and they want the ability to drill down further into the information, should they need deeper insights.
When searching, users also prefer an intuitive application that behaves much like familiar online search engines, enabling any data to be surfaced according to a users’ profile and preferences. Using Predictive analytics within ERP enables all of this by using many techniques from data mining, statistics, modelling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to analyse current data to make predictions about the future.
Social ERP advancing insight and collaboration
The Aberdeen report ‘The next generation of business management: social ERP’, states that organisations with social ERP are 2.5 times as likely to have real-time visibility into the status of all processes. They are also 185 per cent more likely to enable users to annotate and comment on reports and visualisations in real time, and 145 per cent more likely to have real-time collaboration across departments and divisions. This collaboration results in them being 57 per cent more likely to be able to support continuous improvement teams.
Essentially, users today want a system that looks and operates like the contemporary tools and social apps that they use outside of work. They need to keep up-to-date on the status of various projects or orders by following relevant colleagues or suppliers, and sharing useful information with each other to ensure that they provide the best customer experience.
By providing a familiar platform on which to handle their daily tasks, you’re not only empowering the user, you’re increasing the likelihood of user engagement, and the positive business outcomes tied to that engagement. These outcomes include better visibility into the status of their key areas of responsibility, increased participation, and greater collaboration between departments.
Choice and flexibility
In the past when you have provided your workers the ability to work with increasing mobility something has to give and generally, this means access to the tools that are required to run a successful operation. You tend to have to restrict the movement of your team or compromise their ERP functionality.
This is no longer the case though. We are now providing companies with the ability of choice. You can now choose how you want to engage with the system, be it at your desk or though a mobile application.
Depending on your role within the organisation, or your operational need or locality, you can choose to use a rich desktop UI with all the familiar aspects it delivers, or a web based HTML5 interface that has improved ease of use and simplified engagement.
Gustav Schurmann, Process and Development Manager at Core, South Africa attests to this in describing Syspro ERP’s web-based interface as “…a refreshing interface for an ERP system that improves the user experience to a new level, and in my humble opinion can be considered the standard for the 21st century.”
By providing a more dynamic way of engaging, you encourage collaboration. This ability means that companies can achieve mobility within their organisation without compromising on functionality.
Promoting positive business behaviour
In a Harvard Business Review article entitled 'Don't confuse engagement with user experience' Michael Schrage reminds us that “Designing a great user experience is not the same as designing greater engagement. A great user experience doesn’t necessarily generate engagement any more than meaningful engagement inherently assures a great user experience.” He goes on to say “You need to devote as much creativity and ingenuity around designing for engagement as you do for the entire user experience.”
An innovative ERP system, is one that is conducive to a more productive and satisfying working environment, encouraging users to adopt and engage through an intuitive, self-explanatory, easy-to-use platform that fosters collaboration, and empowers users in their daily operations.
The software should be straightforward, and easy to use, as well as being relevant to a user’s specific role and business process. The use of role-based workbenches in ERP provides users with the complete tools and information needed to perform their role efficiently and effectively, displaying aspects most relevant to a user’s touch points with actionable insights being only one click away.
Social ERP tools can facilitate improved collaboration and seamless connectivity across the organisation. Users are able to interact with both data and their peers, providing an ecosystem of collaboration in which to conduct their daily work.
By improving intuitiveness, ease-of-use, surfacing business insights, and promoting collaboration, your ERP can latest release boosts the user experience, promote improved business behaviour, and increase productivity, thus empowering the workforce.
It reduces the complexities of implementing, and operating an ERP system, and provides users with a more familiar environment that encourages user uptake and makes it easier and faster for them to get the job done.
Louise Thompson is Chief Services Officer at Syspro.