ERP software gets a makeover

Can typically staid ERP software take a page from leading consumer apps when it comes to improving usability?

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ERP software is known for providing valuable services to a variety of users. Finance relies on ERP to obtain reports and maintain compliance with regulations. Marketing and sales staff serve customers, pull reports and measure their performance based on ERP generated reports. Supply chain professionals, shipping and customer service units use ERP to serve customer needs. With hundreds or thousands of active users, even small improvements in ERP productivity and user experience add up over time.

Unfortunately, ERP applications have lagged behind consumer apps in user experience. Without the need to market aggressively for users, the early approach to ERP simply assumed that a system could be built, deployed and used without much attention to the user experience. That approach is no longer good enough. Incomplete or ineffective user adoption means companies are failing to realize the full value of ERP. To address that trend, ERP experts and vendors are bringing a variety of improvements to the market.

Improving ERP productivity and effectiveness

 “A lot of ERP vendors have made major progress on the user interface front over the past two years,” says Pavel Krumkachev, principal at Deloitte Consulting. Krumkachev’s ERP experience primarily focuses on Oracle products. “Cloud ERP products are leading the way in providing a better user experience,” he says. “In terms of implementation and customization, I am seeing demands to accommodate the iPhone, Android devices and wearable technology,” he says.

The next trend in mobile ERP is to provide powerful mobile interfaces. “Early efforts to bring ERP to mobile devices focused on displaying data. The next generation ERP allows users to complete actions using a mobile device. For example, I am now able to file business travel expense receipts while I wait for a flight,” Krumkachev says.

“There is a strong business case for improving the ERP user interface. Increased productivity and better user engagement are the main benefits. For example, organizing and fulfilling service requests used to take days to be completed. The latest improvements reduce the processing time to minutes or seconds. For service and support departments, that productivity improvement provides excellent benefits.

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