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Welcome to gotERP?
This is an online forum to share experiences, lessons and learning about the selection, implementation and return on investment for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems. We also like to discuss Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) systems, Social CRM (SCRM) & social media, Manufacturing Systems, Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems and Payroll & HR Applications.

 

 

 

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ERP Ease of Use is an Under-Recognized Critical Success Factor

Easy to Use ERP Systems Deliver Increased Productivity and ROI

No matter how much hardware, software and technology are involved in an enterprise information technology (IT) project, in the end, success or failure is most influenced and judged by the users. That's because these people are the internal customers who must use the IT to accomplish their roles. From your employees to your customers who communicate with your business through your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or and other business software applications, it's critical that the applications that you evaluate, buy, install, configure and support meet the ultimate litmus test: are they going to be easy to use for your end users day in and day out?

Is this success factor something you are already thinking about? Or does it fail to compete with other software selection criteria such as feature sets, software functionality, reporting tools, workflow engines and a host of other items that bolster feature wars among ERP software vendors? The ease-of-use factor is increasingly a key point in business computing, claims ERP consultant Jeff Carr. Carr, managing partner of Chicago-based Ultra Corporation, an independent ERP research and consulting firm serving manufacturers and distributors, blogged that some ERP vendors are achieving big strides in making their complicated business software suites much easier to use.

"ERP vendors have clearly seen the need to level the playing field in what industry veterans like to call the beauty contest," says Carr. "The beauty contest focuses on things like navigation, personalization, integration with Microsoft Office, and quick access to information. Vendor sales staff now spend much of their time showing how easy their software is to use in these areas." This is a high impact implementation, user adoption and staff productivity factor that needs to be one of the many factors you include on your ERP software evaluation checklist as you shop for new applications. If your staff can work faster, better and smarter using your ERP software applications, then your business will benefit through increased productivity, decreased business cycles and improved information reporting.

Carr wrote that ease of use is beginning to rank more highly in software buying decisions, "especially when one software product looks easier to use than another." Most ERP systems already have far more features and functions than companies will ever need, so adding even more features results in overkill. Making an ERP application easier to use, though, clearly adds bonus points in the software evaluation process.

There's another key benefit for the easy of use focus according to Carr, it "also means easy to train new employees and easier to support. We think this is all good news for buyers. Increased user productivity is the significant business driver for these large ERP expenditures. Getting the ERP vendors to focus more on ease of use will help companies improve their return on investment."

Unfortunately, most ERP software buyers fail to make 'ease of use' a measurable criteria with weighted scoring during their software selection project. Leaving 'ease of use' as a subjective factor which then takes a back seat to other scored criteria increases software selection and implementation risk while at the same time decreases ROI.

The lesson here is simple: Ease of use pays big dividends in accelerated implementations, user adoption, staff productivity and overall investment ROI - and therefore warrants being a highly prioritized and weighted factor in an ERP software selection project.

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