Thursday, April 19, 2007

Usability -- Not User-Friendliness -- Is The Key To ERP Success

Usability vs. user friendliness ...

"A software solution that scores high in usability will shorten implementation time frames in turn enable a faster return on investment.

Buyers of manufacturing software have been looking for the "holy grail" of user-friendliness for years. User-friendliness is a frequent discussion topic when companies evaluate enterprise resource planning (ERP) but it is one of those things nobody can really define, but everybody knows it when they see it.

To begin to define usability, it is best to start with the anticipated benefits such software solutions can deliver. A software solution that scores high in usability will shorten implementation time frames and reduce the amount of training required to go live, in turn enabling a faster return on investment and delivering benefits more quickly. Such a system will result in a lower total cost of ownership, is likely to change and grow with your company, allows for easy upgrades and interoperability and makes it much less likely that it will need to be replaced to enable future business processes.

Software vendors are adept at making their ERP look user-friendly. Carefully scripted and well-prepared demos can mask the more cumbersome aspects of day-to-day business processes. Selection committees are not usually made up of people who process transactions all day, so extra screens, background processes or required keystrokes may go unnoticed. And matching up the software business flows with your in-house business processes doesn't really tell you anything about the system's ability to support your future needs. Even a hands-on session won't help you make the right choice in this crucial decision.

So how can you judge whether software is truly usable?"    (Continued via IndustryWeek)    [Usability Resources]

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