Success or failure of a business is determined by its people and in most businesses, staff use software such as ERP to execute the various tasks, processes and other required activities more efficiently.
So what are the factors that determine if your ERP promotes or hinders employee productivity? There are many vendors out there fighting it out to get a share of your attention, talking about features and technology, but are they missing the main point?
In a recent client visit, I spent time looking at end users, how they use their ERP system, what they like and dislike about it. Here is what I discovered.
Need for speed
The top attribute for end users is speed of entry, and how fast they can perform their daily tasks in their ERP system. Speed rules everything. Is it faster using the short-cut key? They will ignore the mouse. Vice-versa, if it is faster to use the mouse, they won’t touch the keyboard.
Speed extends to information. End users want the right information in front of them when they need it. It doesn’t even need to be a pretty graph, as long as they have instant access to it. This trait is even more pronounced amongst the experienced and power users, who would like to have everything on one screen to reduce navigation.
Ease of use
The second attribute of a good ERP system is to reduce actions with no added value in their use of the system. Looking at experienced end users, they memorise how many times to press the enter key to get to the next relevant field, bypassing some fields that are irrelevant for their task at hand. It becomes something automatic.
A great feature of an ERP is the ability to customise screens. For example, the ability to automatically populate the fields with default values, or even removing them from the screen altogether, allowing users to jump directly to the next relevant field.
The last attribute of a good ERP system is low latency from one action to another one. Anything under 100ms from one screen to another is great, anything between 100ms and 250ms is acceptable, and anything above that is too slow.
When looking at experienced Pronto Xi users, their keyboard activity and fast succession of screens is amazingly fast.
These three attributes of an ERP system are essential to end users. I am using solutions, especially SaaS applications, in both professional and personal life that are not geared for speed and productivity. They sell well in a boardroom, but they bring nothing but frustration to end users focused on getting the job done.
There was a funny moment at a customer site. They were using Pronto Xi in one of their divisions and a tier one ERP system from Germany at headquarters (I let you guess which one!). The CIO came to see me to discuss integration work, but I didn’t see him straight away as I was busy working.
He interrupted me, asking what I was doing on test data. He couldn’t believe it when I told him that I was actually working on the live system. The speed of processing of Pronto Xi was miles ahead of the better known ERP. I actually had to show him some live data to convince him.