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The Impact ERP Usability has on Productivity

According to a study from AMR Research, on average only 15 percent of employees are licensed to use their company’s ERP solution and 46 percent of ERP licenses remain unused. Because a limited portion of the organization is using the solution, the potential for productivity benefits and growth remains untapped.

Why aren’t ERP solutions adopted more broadly, by more employees, and for more of their daily tasks? Unfortunately, these solutions are often identified as too difficult to use; too rigid; or both. In one of their reports, Forrester Research concluded that “poorly designed user interfaces can profoundly affect the bottom line. The expenses associated with a bad UI, over the course of the application’s lifetime, may end up being many times the cost of the application itself.”

The negative impact of low usability can include increased training times, a lack of user adoption, and a decrease in workplace productivity. Additionally, when people don’t use the ERP system, mission-critical processes can be compromised because there is no access to or enforcement of standard operations and best practices. Furthermore, individuals often track pertinent business information using separate spreadsheets because using a centralized system is too complex and time-consuming.

Although user productivity can be difficult to calculate, it should be a critical factor when evaluating, purchasing, and implementing an ERP solution. Overall, ERP solutions have demonstrably improved user productivity. Research conducted in 2007 by Keystone Strategy included an analysis of widely accepted usability tests, such as Software Usability Measurement Inventory (SUMI), which showed that business productivity is a product of six factors. These factors include:

  • Collaboration, including the ability to submit work for review, obtain comments or approval from others, and share information and tasks with trade partners.
  • Business insight, including visibility across departments and real-time access to accurate, relevant data in context of the process or decision where it will be used.
  • Flexibility, including the ability to depart from transactional tasks to manage problems or exceptions.
  • Usability, including easy navigation, the number of steps required in tasks, instructions and prompts that are helpful rather than cryptic, and the user’s overall command of functionality.
  • Familiarity, including how easy and intuitive the system is to learn and the sense that information and tasks correlate with the user’s job role and activities.
  • Transactional efficiency, including speed and reliability in accomplishing or automating common, repetitive tasks.

Research has shown that after an ERP solution is implemented, users often struggle to learn how to use it and find the information they need. Complaints range from “it’s hard to learn” and “it’s not integrated with my other tools” to “it’s hard to extract information” and “it’s not flexible enough for real-world situations.” Such objections, which are addressed by the six dimensions of user productivity, account in part for the low user adoption rate discovered in the AMR Research study. These challenges are a reflection of solutions designed with a focus on transactional and functional processes, rather than user productivity and comprehensive, end-to-end business processes.

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides the flexibility you need to optimize user productivity, improve organizational agility, and accommodate future growth. Role Centers and the RoleTailored user experience can be easily personalized for individual users to streamline tasks and speed decision-making. A variety of options for accessing business information - including Enterprise Portal and the Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office - make it easy to extend Microsoft Dynamics AX functionality and productivity tools to workers across the entire organization and throughout the supply chain. Full integration with Microsoft technologies and products helps you maximize existing IT investments and minimize user training time, resulting in a low total cost of ownership (TCO). The flexible, scalable platform gives you the ability to easily add users or functionality as your business expands. In addition, the solution is readily tailored and can be extended / adapted precisely to your needs now and in the future.

Learn how you can increase productivity and efficiency with Microsoft Dynamics AX.

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