There are an abundance of benefits to be realized from implementing an ERP system. Many of these benefits are quick hit benefits, such as paper and ink savings. Others are a little more subjective and realizing them requires careful management and a soft touch. One of the major components of an ERP implementation that must be considered in this regard is the end-user. It makes no difference which ERP system you select if your employees refuse to use it and the determining factor is the user interface.
The user interface is the point where an end-user interacts with the ERP system. The number of points an end-user can use to interact with the system will be dependent on your implementation. The two points I will focus on here are PC and mobile interfaces.
While choosing an ERP system based entirely on its UI is not recommended, UI must be considered during your selection. One way this is done is through software demonstrations during which vendors show off the impressive things their software can do. This is a critical part of determining the impact of user interface on your end-users. It is also an opportunity to increase acceptance by getting end-users involved and increasing their awareness of upcoming change. By involving the end-users in vendor demos, you will be encouraging feedback, much of which will be influenced or based on UI. You can use this feedback to help determine your selection of the ERP system that is right for your organization.
User interface will also be determined during implementation. This is another critical component that should involve your end-users. From designing the system to conducting user acceptance testing before go-live, you and your end-users can focus on whether or not the system is intuitive to use. If it is not, then they will all go back to Excel. User expectations these days are to be able to pick up any system or device with limited training and at least be able to complete simple tasks. This should be the goal of your user interface because otherwise, users will revert to what is easiest for them. More complicated tasks will of course require training, the success of which will depend on the effectiveness of the UI and the end-user’s ability to interact with the system.
The final component of increasing user acceptance is the mobile interface. With BYOD taking many companies by storm, employees expect to be able to use their own devices to access the ERP system. Other companies are considering mobile strategies for several business units and providing mobile devices to employees. Either way, the difference between the user interface on a tablet or smartphone is significant. There are a lot of things that change – user expectations and the lack of a right-click option chief among them. Be sure to take the same steps to involve users in demonstrations of mobile capabilities. Mobile interfaces are often simplified versions of the PC interface and will not provide for complicated tasks so setting expectations here is important as well.
Every ERP system interface becomes an experience that will determine end-user acceptance. Your PC interface can be perfect but if a user has complications on their mobile devices they will lose trust in the system. They will either stop using the mobile device or the system all together because poor mobile interface can deter user acceptance in the PC interface as well.
Through organizational change management and careful consideration of your ERP system’s user interface you can create an environment of increased user acceptance, while driving benefits realization and improving your ERP implementation.
Written by Adam Cheatham, ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.