Improving the User Experience for your New ERP System
When upgrading or moving to a new ERP system, it’s easy to get caught up in the planning, and technical design of your new solution. You’re busy thinking how your ERP application will integrate into your existing IT systems, and how it will engage with your other business applications. You choose a quiet time to do the changeover from your old system to your brand new platform, and then the support requests start coming in.
Sarah from Finance can’t figure out how to set up automatic alerts on invoices, while James in the warehouse can’t add attachments to his order updates like he used to do when using the previous tool.
One of the most overlooked items on the ‘new ERP implementation’ checklist is often how to effectively onboard employees and ensure that the user experience for your new platform is positive.
User experience = project success
New IT and application projects can usually survive delays, hiccups, and technical problems. But often the determining factor of whether a project is deemed a success or not is the user experience. You don’t want employees to be recounting horror stories about failed implementations and delayed customer orders years down the line.
Planning for a successful user experience across your employee base is about looking at a number of key factors.
- Does it meet employees’ needs across your company?
That sounds obvious, of course. However, new ERP solutions can often be introduced to help the Finance Department get a better handle on the operations and activities of the business. So your Finance Director may be happily running reports on the new system, but have you planned for how employees across the entire business will engage with your new application? Has time and consideration been dedicated to finding out about what employees need from an ERP system?
The act of engaging in the process of collecting info from different stakeholders and feeding back about how the new ERP solution will address concerns helps to make staff more receptive to a new system if they feel it’s been built with their needs in mind.
2. Don’t underestimate resistance to change
You may have consulted with employees, checked in about their needs and built a feedback process into your plan. But there still may be issues.
Fundamentally, humans don’t like change. Change causes disruption; even the smoothest ERP implementation will involve employees figuring out where the section that handles customer support is located, or where they now need to go to access shared reports.
Be prepared for resistance across your employee base for any new project – but look at ways to keep staff up to date so that they are fully prepared for the go-live date.
For example, could you run training sessions before the system is in place? Or what about a dedicated project team for collecting support issues in real-time and feeding back quickly? Or perhaps an employee-run Wiki to bring best practice tips into one place?
3. Is your timing right?
Timing is everything when changing over to your new ERP system. But what’s good for you might not be good for every department, so think about how you can reach a consensus for choosing a good time to change over systems.
Changing over during the Christmas period might make sense for the Finance Department who are trying to avoid Year End, but does it make sense for the warehouse team who will be busy sorting out deliveries in time for Christmas Day?
Timing plays a big part in a new solution switch over being deemed a success – if you do it at a stressful time of year for particular employees, then it’s unlikely to be perceived as a smooth, successful transition.
Why a positive user experience is critical
There’s no point bringing in a shiny new solution if no one uses it. Businesses across the world struggle with the issue of employees branching out on their own to find personal apps to do the jobs that corporate-supplied apps can’t do, resulting in application sprawl and IT complexity.
You don’t want employees looking for easier ways to get things done that could be handled quickly and simply by your ERP system, so focusing on the user experience helps to increase adoption rates and establishes your ERP system as the central, go-to point for all activities, data, and knowledge across your business.