ERP systems are foundational for many businesses, but they aren’t typically easy to use, even for firms that have chosen web-based systems.
That can be a problem. If employees find their ERP system clunky and hard to use, they will avoid it whenever possible. That can cut down on the usefulness of the system, and even cause the development of shadow IT that bypasses the ERP system of record in some cases. None of this is good.
While there is no surefire way to get employees engaged or excited by your ERP system, there are steps you can take to drive adoption by making it more employee-friendly. Here are six of those steps.
Start with your business needs and processes, not the possibilities that come with your ERP system.
“Too often companies make the mistake of trying to mold their company around the system rather than the other way around, “A better starting point would be to take an inventory of job roles and gaps, and then build the ERP solution around the business.”
Where appropriate, build the ERP solution around your existing processes. When the system offers an improvement, adapt your processes to capabilities to take advantage of what your ERP system has to offer.
Many firms roll out their ERP system and then bring aboard departmental-level champions to promote system adoption. That’s already too late in the process, however.
“Some employees will embrace change while most will resist and may even undermine progress. “Having departmental champions involved end-to-end is essential to success. This allows employees to get local support within their department.”
When you deploy an ERP system and make a sudden change, many existing businesses processes break or are different. People don’t like change, so this can be jarring and make the ERP system feels inviting. One trick for making your ERP system more employee-friendly is progressively rolling it out, checking for suitability along the way and easing employees into it.
“In some cases, simple integration between systems as a short-term approach would be better. Or if the business is geographic in nature with many locations, you will want to progressively bring the locations on the board first one at a time, and then you can group together once you are comfortable that you have a success template.”
Different departments have different needs for ERP, so a one-size-fits-all approach to user interface doesn’t make sense. Make sure that your ERP system is customized for each group of employees and their needs in the system. And keep things simple.
“Too many older ERP system use short-cut terms, gigantic overflow screens of fields, and no or little sense of workflow, role, and results, “Don't force ERP users to become experts. They should be experts at their jobs, not ERP.”
This includes a flexible user experience.
“Every person's job overlaps roles and may change over time,” “An ERP user experience that makes it easy for users to adjust roles, adds fields, add processes and add collaboration makes it easier for employees to do their jobs.”
Making ERP more employee-friendly means making employees work less. One way that businesses can support this need is by getting smart about activity feeds and notifications instead of forcing employees to go hunting for information on what’s happening in the system.
“The user experience needs to support what we call ‘activity feeds,’ meaning notification of the completion of workflow, the signature of a contract, the fulfillment of the order, etc.,” says Quinn. “ERP user experiences should be proactive, not static, to help employees keep up to date.
Don’t make employees find out what happened to have the data come to employees, and in an easy-to-understand format.
Finally, a good way to make ERP systems more employee-friendly is by training and developing documentation for the system internally rather than having it come from the vendor.
It also helps with getting employees familiar with the system on the departmental level and works out early kinks in the system, which can be a boon for adoption.