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UX Best Practices for ERP Systems

September 23, 2020
by Aspirity team
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software widely used in organizations to help manage daily activities, like accounting, project management, compliance, risk assessment, and supply chain operations in one well-rounded ecosystem. Having an extensive shared database at its core, ERP enables frictionless workflow and information access for all members from various departments and, as a result, eliminates data duplication.

Despite all the benefits, these platforms would not be of any use without a consistent ERP system UX design. Regardless of their IT literacy, every employee should easily and effortlessly use and understand the system. Otherwise, the system will not be approved by the workers, which will diminish its benefits and lead to money losses.

A good ERP system is only useful when all the employees broadly apply it, and all the important functionalities are exploited. So, let's talk about the intricacies of creating an intuitive user experience when implementing an ERP system.

1

Why the ERP User Experience is So Important

Due to the nature of ERP systems, they ought to satisfy the needs of many stakeholders:
Individual users
Junior staff, accountants, sales representatives, HR consultants, and many others who are required to use your platform regardless of their opinions;
Functional managers
Sales department managers or marketing managers who need a transparent platform to build sales forecasts and at the same time do not have a direct line of communication with developers in charge of UX design.
Executives
The decision-makers will substantially impact the future ERP user experience; however, they are the most unlikely to use it daily.
Other stakeholders
Сustomers, analysts, and business partners. Some ERP systems will be used by both customers and business partners, which creates a conflict of interest. In contrast, analysts have the potential of influencing decision-makers; however, rarely considering user experience.
Let's see how to make an ERP UX design, keeping in mind all these different potential users and trying to satisfy everyone's needs as much as possible.

2

UX Best Practices to ERP Systems Challenges

2.1. Make it simple and graphic

Making a great ERP user experience can be challenging and complex; however, it is crucial to keep the result as easy and user-friendly as you can:
Integrate Custom Dashboards
Depending on their daily tasks and workflow, every user needs certain information they collect, monitor, and build predictions on. Configurative dashboards allow them to select the essential information, add role-based metrics, and monitor KPIs to create the best experience.

As an example of excellent ERP system user experience, let's take a look at EasyDev:
According to users' needs, these dashboards provide a clear overview of the important key indicators personalized and customized by users.
User-friendly tools
Integrate drag-and-drop solutions for the users to enable them to work with the system without having extensive knowledge about coding. Make sure that navigation is intuitive and easy to grasp — it'll shorten the learning curve and possibly save money on training.

Oracle is one of the most well-known providers of cloud ERP UX. The layout is user-friendly, and navigation enables to shorten the learning curve significantly:
Powerful search
Time is vital, so make sure that your users can quickly find and access important information. Integrate a powerful search functionality to help users find exactly what they want easily and instantly.

SAP S/4 HANA is a robust ERP system that incorporates many revolutionary features like RPA and AI, as well as provides a powerful search engine.

2.2. Provide training

Ensure extensive role-based training for your employees to help them learn the system quicker and more efficiently. While some users will utilize only a few ERP functions, power users need more in-depth insight into the system and its functionalities. Finally, don't underestimate the importance of an ongoing learning process by organizing regular training for new and old employees to teach them about new features and deepen their knowledge.

2.3. Deal with mistakes instantaneously

When a problem occurs due to ERP systems' complexity, immediately refer to your vendor's customer service. That is why it is crucial to work with well-established companies to ensure a quick and helpful response. Waiting too long might result in a decrease in usability and, thus, overall efficiency. In case your vendor does not provide adequate customer service, you can seek help from certified consultants.

3

How to Build an ERP system

First, let's tackle the most critical question: to build or not to build? An alternative is to simply purchase a fully functional ERP system from a third party, which might save you money and nerve cells. However, sooner or later, you may suffer from a lack of customization, which will eventually outweigh the cost savings. If you want to stay flexible, consider building your own ERP system.

Where do you start? How do you mitigate the risks and build a professional ERP UX design for your employees and other potential users?

3.1. What are your expectations

Before diving into the developing process, you must define your goals. To do so, answer the following questions:

  • What are the business needs that your future ERP system should satisfy?
To answer this question, consider the size of your organization and the scope of work you need to accomplish as well as the product or service you create.

  • Does your company have enough resources to build such a system by itself, or do you need a third-party vendor?
Finally, consult all major stakeholders and IT experts before finalizing your goals to make sure they are realistic and necessary.

3.2. Create an ERP system design

Firstly, you can browse through successful ERP systems out there to collect the typical components and best practices. For example, take a look at Acumatica:
Next, create a graphic blueprint of how your ERP system should function to cover each department's interests and needs.

3.3. Wireframing



This step requires you to tackle the following tasks
  • Define modules based on your business needs: CRM, supply chain management, financial or logistics tools according to your requirements
  • Evaluate the appropriate size of the development team and the resources necessary to finish the task;
  • Decide on the timeframe by setting the milestones and deadlines to monitor the team's performance and effectiveness

3.4. Choose the technology



Here we will dive into the technical side of the process and define the following:

  • Where will you store your data?
You have two options: you can host your ERP system in the cloud or run it locally. It is recommended to pick the first option due to the security that cloud hosting offers and the lack of continuous in-house maintenance.

  • Which programming language should you go for?
Most enterprises select JavaScript for its multipurposeness, wherein JS Frameworks are perfect for front-end development, and NodeJS is suitable for back-end tasks.

  • How do I choose a reliable database?
It depends on your organization's size: large enterprises with complex infrastructures should go with non-relational or NoSQL databases, whereas small companies can opt for relational/SQL databases.

3.5. Integrate the ERP with the existing infrastructure

Even if you are a startup company, there are probably several applications you already use to monitor your KPIs, performances, and other key processes. Make sure to integrate those with your new solution to create sustainable and smooth-running infrastructure.

3.6. Combine user experience and ERP



Poor UX design will inevitably lead to bad performances, negatively impact productivity, and eventually influence turnover and sales. It is a tricky area to confront at once, so start by considering the following components:

  • Data – ensure the informational elements are provided;
  • Users – make sure the users are satisfied with your design and find it easy to understand;

Functionality – don't forget about the actual purpose of your system while creating a modern high-tech design.

3.7. Testing



To conduct efficient testing, first, test the ERP system's functionality, security, and integration. Secondly, set focus groups to evaluate the performance of each component. Finally, run security testing to detect possible vulnerabilities and issues.

4

Who Can Help You

Building an ERP system from scratch is challenging enough, and on top of that, you need to keep in mind the importance of solid user experience.

Aspirity is a front-end development company with a focus on UX/IU design. We have an in-depth knowledge of dashboard design as well as an understanding of ERP technicalities. Our extensive portfolio of successful cases and satisfied clients speak for themselves.

This is what we've done to optimize the UX design of a US-based insurance company:

We developed a new quote management system for clients and optimized its functionality. Aspirity conducted the integration of accounting and third-party management software with a new ERP system. Finally, we ensured that the system is both internal and external by developing APIs and integrations.

Conclusion

Despite the initial cost and effort of developing your own ERP system, it will pay off in the long run. The modern world of technology forces us to stay flexible and ready to innovate to outrun competitors and win the market. If you want your business to be successful and scalable, the best ERP UX design is something you can't afford to neglect. Contact the Aspirity team to get a free consultation on your project.
Building custom software or have existing one?

Aspirity is a NodeJs + ReactJs development agency from Siberia. We specialize in management, admin and dashboard software.

If you have a custom software project — contact us for a confidential consultation or just read more from our blog.

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