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Are You Treating Your End Users Like Paying Customers?

This one’s for the IT folks out there – think back to the last software project that you delivered at work and answer one simple question:  if you asked your end users to pay for your product with money out of their own pockets, would they be willing to spend as little as $5 / month to get the benefits that you outlined at the beginning of the project and sold to leadership throughout the design and development process?

End Users

I hope the answer that many of you have in your heads is a definitive “YES!”.  However, as someone who has spent a long time delivering enterprise solutions in large IT companies, I suspect most of you are not answering with an enthusiastic affirmative.

Traditionally, companies have treated the User Experience for enterprise software as an afterthought, at best.  They have foisted countless complicated, difficult to use enterprise applications upon a frequently frustrated user base.  Even worse, they throw good money after bad on things like job aids and under-prepared training sessions to try to make up for the decidedly non-intuitive product that they’ve released.

Consumer software has evolved the user experience much more rapidly.  For instance, the Android or Apple mobile OS that you’re using on your phone today barely resembles what was there even 10 years ago.  Open market competition on the basis of User Experience has forced those companies to invest and evolve the UX much more rapidly than what is present in the Enterprise space.  

That said, even in some of the most traditionally bad-UX enterprise software applications (I’m looking at you, SAP GUI), you no longer have to accept that the user experience is a necessary trade-off for the benefits that typically are listed at the onset of an ERP implementation.  Quite the opposite – it’s now possible to unlock even more of your ERP system’s potential by delivering an amazing User Experience.

In SAP, the UX strategy that underpins this is Fiori.  If you take the right approach to designing your applications, it provides the technology and design guidelines to set a foundation for a great UX in SAP.  

Notice that “if”?  Regardless of the technology, user persona, or function, great UX doesn’t just happen – you need an approach to ensure that users are part of the process, and are therefore centric to the solution:

  • Involve users in design – We use Design Thinking to be sure that user empathy is central to understanding the problem and defining the solution
  • Keep users involved during development – Keeping users involved throughout the development process will ensure that their needs continue to be heard and addressed as the actual application begins to take place.
  • Set the expectation early on that training won’t be required – did you go to a training class or get a 30-page job aid for your latest phone OS update?  If the application is intuitive and matches the defined business process, there shouldn’t be a need for week-long training and huge stacks of documentation.

When you achieve a great UX for your users, you’ll begin to see results immediately.  Users will be far more engaged, and user adoption of your solution will skyrocket. Complaints about difficult to use features will be replaced with requests to continue to add new features that will make the application even greater.  The efficiency of your users will improve as they no longer have to waste time fighting through screens that just don’t make sense. Onboarding new resources will take a fraction of the time since the applications ‘just make sense’.

You can create a great user experience for your enterprise users in SAP – in fact, we do it all the time.  But first, you need to adjust your approach. Soon, the question will no longer be “would” your end users pay for your apps out of their own pocket, but instead “how much”.


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Luke Van Epern oversees the Solutions Delivery practice at Mindset, following 12+ years of experience implementing enterprise software solutions at large IT companies in the Twin Cities. He uses the perspective he gained as a member of "Big IT" to help Mindset's customers find ways to disrupt their status quo, and to build a delivery organization that can regularly exceed customer expectations.

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