SAP is one of the most successful software companies in the world. Their engineers and business developers have done a great job enabling big companies to plan and manage resources, CRM, products, supply chain, suppliers, analytics and more in the complex enterprise world. Despite being one of the most popular ERP platforms in the world, it is also one of the most cursed due to lack of usability by its users. Unfortunately this has continued with the mobile solutions by SAP as well as those coming from partners. Built by engineers for engineers is the explanation given, but does it have to be this way?
Salesforce have proven that it’s possible to make CRM simple and fun, Box and Dropbox have done the same for file storage and sharing, while Basecamp have accomplished it for project management.
A couple of years ago we set out to develop and integrate mobile applications with ERP platforms, and more specifically SAP, that are beautiful and simple to use.
To achieve this we established the following 6 rules and principles:
1. Defined our customer as the end user of the application rather than the product owner
2. Replaced the business analyst with a UX Architect who learned to understand the user interactions and business rules for the desired interactions by the end user
3. Integrated user testing and usability testing by the end users in every step of the developing process
4. Assigned a user interface designer who worked with the UX architect on creating a UI that would be just as beautiful as the popular consumer phasing iphone productivity apps
5. Agreed that we wouldn’t allow constraints in the ERP platform limit the usability of the application (we implemented workarounds where required)
6. Implemented the apps as fully native to avoid user experience compromises of hybrid and web apps
One of our first customers of the solution concluded that “SAP is really your best friend as they are creating a fantastic business opportunity for companies like you.”
Have we succeeded? We’ve made good progress but I won’t be satisfied until every ERP application is beautiful and simple. Unfortunately few companies seem to prioritise the end users and make the small extra investment. Due to the high cost of ERP, software application development is usually under heavy cost pressure, with usability coming far down the list of priorities.
Join our quest for user-friendly enterprise apps!