My personal thoughts on the transitional requirements of the 21st century SAP back office user. Please feel free to comment with your views……..

Consumer focused companies (Amazon, Ebay, Twitter, Facebook etc) have predefined the standard requirements for usability in an era where technological interaction is now a frequent, daily norm for many of us. However, whilst enterprise technology has proved very successful in providing a means for integrated businesses functionality, its focus on complex, process driven solutions to everyday business problems has been reflected in its overall interface design.

Consequently, back office users are now faced with a daily paradoxical relationship with software interaction from work to social contexts. The cost of this paradoxical usability relationship from an ERP perspective?

Productivity Implications – Users has to navigate through a number of differing screens in order to complete a single end to end business processes, often executing a number of replicable, system required keystrokes along the way.

Under-usage – SAP data entry/lookup is often a complex, disjointed & time consuming process challenging users unnecessarily in the pursuit of task execution & process adherence. Users often have to make judgemental decisions on data entry and relevance in the presence of a myriad of ERP data functions or fields, often not related to the task or business process being executed. Data displayed over a number of different screens increases the likelihood of error incidence rate.

Risks to Data Integrity – Simple, self explanatory screens reduce the risk of bad data entry incidence and reporting abnormalities. Mapped user options, logical to the task or process being executed can yield significant data integrity improvements. Simply changing the appearance or labeling of a key data field(s) within the business process can also yield significant data validity & reliability improvements.

Overall Costs – Inefficiency (non value adding data entry), IT service help desk calls, data error rectification & user training all have significant, underlying business & user empathy costs. According to a business survey conducted by Experience Dynamics (2009) found a 80% reduction in help desk calls following user centric design implementation.

Renovation of the traditional SAP GUI could easily address the above barriers to daily ERP interaction, using a design orientated, user centric approach………

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To conclude, usability should be viewed as a means of gaining competitive back office, user advantage. Integration of end users contextual requirements will inevitably become a key requirement of any future overall enterprise strategy as the workplace continues to evolve in a era of digital transformation, increasing analytics & mobilisation requirements. Furthermore, the increasing complexity of networked business processes, coupled with the growth of consumer/user interface expectations will continue to drive the future development of functional interaction with enterprise software, offering consumer grade task execution and streamlined workflow management.

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