Usability Will Make or Break Your Enterprise Software’s Success

Enterprise software is notorious for being difficult to use. It’s complex by nature and it requires robust security that complicates development. And because multiple stakeholders are involved, it can be difficult to meet everyone’s needs.

How many times have you heard a story about an organization who spent millions of dollars rolling out a new software, only to abandon it within a year because people hated it? If you need a software solution and you’re spending money to build it and train your people how to use it, you want to ensure that it makes your team’s jobs easier so it will be eagerly adopted. Every enterprise software solution should start with and maintain a focus on usability. Here are our top tips on how to develop an enterprise solution that people will appreciate and use.

1. Think of the Enterprise User Experience Like You Would a Consumer User Experience

Business users want an easy-to-use interface that allows them to complete tasks quickly just as much as consumers do. The “consumerization” trend in enterprise software is long overdue. But attention to user experience in the enterprise world is becoming more common. And there’s a business case for a good user interface. Deloitte shares that in a representative case, focusing on usability in a redesign of an ERP system led to a 300% increase in worker productivity and a 55% reduction in training time. Organizations can improve their bottom lines with usability.

2. Create a Plan to Gather Input from All Stakeholders

Because the buying process usually involves C-level executives making decisions based on limited information about what the users need, new enterprise software often falls short. To build a system that generates ROI, you’ll need to fully understand your users. Model the users’ current behaviors to see what functions or data the software will need to capture and to identify how using the new system will fit into people’s current way of doing things. Find out how people work and what they actually need to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

Examine what functionality is essential and what would be nice to have. It’s also a good idea to investigate what conditions each user type is under when using the software. For example, team members out in the field on a job site will have different user experience needs than those sitting at desks in an office environment.

3. Bring in a UX Specialist

Due to the complex nature of enterprise software and the myriad stakeholders that must be accounted for, it can be helpful to bring in an individual or a team that specializes in UX design. If you know someone is dedicated to usability, you can be sure that it won’t get forgotten in the intricate process of building the software. Look for someone who has experience with user research and usability testing. This person or team should also be able to communicate with the developers while additionally being able to “sell” concepts and ideas to other team members to gain buy-in.

4. Build a Proof of Concept First

It’s hard to get all the input and insight you need from stakeholders hypothetically. To do sufficient testing, you’ll need to have a proof of concept — something you can build fairly quickly with the features that your research to this point has indicated are primary and a user interface that you predict will be easy to adopt.

Building a proof of concept will preserve resources that would otherwise be wasted. You’ll avoid spending money on unwanted features, incompatible technology, and other problems. You’ll also reach success faster because you’ll be able to identify what will work and what won’t early on in the process. With this time and cost savings, you can afford to experiment with different ideas to create the best possible solution for all stakeholders involved.

5. Test, Test, Test

Once you have a proof of concept, test it in a variety of ways with a variety of stakeholders. Testing is the only real way to get accurate feedback from users. Contextual investigation is essential. You need to see people using the software “in the wild,” in their various environments. Roundtables are another helpful tool that will allow users to brainstorm ideas to improve hangups where the UX falls short. Again, your aim is to streamline development, reducing time and cost.

In today’s world, organizations are pressed to deliver maximum profits and don’t have resources to waste. Enterprise software must deliver usability. While you do need to invest some time on the front end to build a UX that works well for all stakeholders, that time will pay off in multiples later.

Want to talk through ideas for your new enterprise software solution and explore a proof of concept? Get in touch.

 

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