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Ken Jacobsen, The TM Group Inc.

Usability Becoming a Major ERP Trend


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usability-is-an-enduring-concern-for-erp-systems_1725_40017874_0_14105200_500-300x206Developers of enterprise resource planning software have always placed a sense of importance usability. After all, if end users are unable to effectively utilize an ERP system, then little actual benefit will be gained from the investment into technology, implementation and training. The relative importance of usability has increased, however, according to a study from advisory company Nucleus Research. The results, reported in Enterprise Apps Today, may go against some popularly held perceptions of what issues are at the top of the current ERP conversation.

Usability is an enduring concept
The use of mobile devices to interact with ERP software, as well as the potential benefits of cloud-deployed systems, were both cited by Enterprise Apps Today as widespread trends for 2014. However, the survey from Nucleus Research revealed that usability trumped all other concerns among businesses using such systems. When considered in the right light, the relevance of such a long-running concept isn't all that surprising. While mobile interaction and cloud deployment can be seen as finite trends that have, in various forms, become part of ERP systems as a whole, usability is an ongoing concern. It's a concept that has a direct impact on the engagement and education of employees in relation to a given ERP platform, the efficacy of ongoing use and, ultimately, the return on investment provided.

When an ERP system is focused around usability, it has the potential to provide a greater ROI and enable a business to become more efficient and effective in its operations. The benefits of usability also extend to the expansion of a company and employee turnover. ERP solutions with intuitive control systems, shortcuts and workflows means that new staff members can more easily pick up on the intricacies of a system. As a business expands, an emphasis on usability will pay off, and new areas of operation are more easily understood.

How can companies place a premium on usability?
With the many benefits of usability in mind, it's easy to see that focusing on this concept will easily pay off for many businesses. This is an industry- and size-agnostic advantage as well. In other words, no matter the specific area in which a company operates, it can derive benefits from emphasizing ease of use. Here are just a few of the areas to consider:

Develop an internal understanding
Working with employees and listening to their feedback can also help boost usability in some situations. While many functions are simply dependent on the specific ERP platform chosen, there are certainly areas where understanding can be improved. Training is likely the most significant area. At some point, the responsibility for understanding usability features moves from the software to the employees. With the right type of education, they can fully harness all the functionality of a platform and, in the end, help create a higher ROI as well.

Working with a top-flight ERP partner
It's vitally important to have a proven partner when not only implementing but also selecting a new ERP system. The guidance that's provided from the beginning of the implementation process to the end can make a big difference in a wide variety of areas, including the usability of software. Whether the selected partner is offering advice about choosing the right ERP system for the needs of a company and its internal processes or suggesting specific modules and modifications to better match internal necessities, extremely valuable outside perspective can be gained from a partner's past experiences. This guidance also extends into the upgrading and update cycles, where changes can be made that further improve an ERP system. "It is said that software implementation is a science," explains The TM Group's President. "On the contrary, it is ART (Accountability, Responsibility, and Trust) which is the foundation of everything we do and have done for 30 years." The TM Group would love to share our ART with you in your organization's new ERP project.

By The TM Group

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