Enterprise software, often developed by a third party full-service software solution company, is used by growing businesses to automate and assist business operations such as planning, customer relationship management, production, management, and business intelligence. They help the enterprise to centralize customer or product information, manage resources, analyze data, and automate business operations. This article explores the growing importance of user experience (UX) design in enterprise software.

User-centric system design, interactive systems, and high levels of usability are vital factors behind any successful software. Years of contextual user research, behavioral analysis, and usability testing have resulted in great advances in the field of user experience over the past decade. However, failed enterprise software projects have one thing in common, poor user experience. The reason behind this phenomenon is that UX is not used as a primary assessment factor when it comes to selecting a developer for enterprise software. Enterprises usually get lost in the technical details and often overlook UX or leave it till “the end of the project”.

Successful consumer applications have exceptional user-interfaces and UX. If the mass market demands usable products with seamless interfaces, there is no reason why businesses shouldn’t demand the same. Vendors should focus on making enterprise software easier to use with an interactive user experience. The points below expound on how & why businesses should demand good UX. Good UX must be an important factor in the vendor selection process.

If UX is not an important part of your technology selection process, simply put, you are failing to analyze the usability of the technology you are going to invest in.

The Drawbacks of Poor UX Design 

Reduced Productivity 

Complex enterprise software is built on the assumption that future users will learn how to use the system and incorporate it into business operations, but in reality, there are several challenges that have to be overcome by users to accomplish this. If a common process takes longer using the enterprise application, this can significantly reduce productivity. Business process changes would take longer than usual if they are mandated through the system.

Reduced Morale and Increased Employee Turnover

There is bound to be a set of employees in any organization that resists change. If a system or software process is perceived as difficult to learn, they may decide to quit as there could be a decline in morale or even worse, disgruntlement.

Excessive Support Requests to Vendors

If the enterprise software is built without paying attention to UX, or if the buyer does not demand high UX development standards, end users would struggle to learn and use the new system. This normally results in excessive support requests that can flood the vendor who usually provides after-sales support. This may result in higher costs over the long run.

The Solution 

The rush to complete a project typically results in the failure of executing methods that evaluate how applications would fit with organizational workflows. It might be worth considering conducting multiple trial sessions during different phases of system development. This could save time and development costs as problems would be identified and nipped in the bud. A systematic approach could be adopted to ensure that your enterprise gets applications that successfully automate organizational workflows with procedures that are easy to learn and execute.

Identify target user groups for the new system

Gather a list of tasks the system should perform and assign users to test the system. Provide visual models of the current workflow and explain the purpose and benefits of automation. Users must clearly understand the reason behind the implementation of the new system.

Define key performance metrics to assess user experience during development

If you do not have an in-house IT team, gather information from users to produce a detailed report that provides insight on how automation could potentially help existing workflows. This could then be used as a benchmark for system performance.

The best approach to avoid the drawbacks associated with poor UX design would be to adopt a user-centered system design method at the outset. Usability testing must be performed in a way in which it assists the software vendor and the enterprise. This often results in enterprise applications that are built to fit end-user workflows instead of complex technical procedures. It is vital that the approach is taken at the start, or when a vendor is being selected. The vendor selection process must demand usable software that satisfies user requirements. Pilot assessments or trial sessions could slow down project completion but it is worth the time and effort as a system that fulfills user requirements will save your enterprise time and money over the long run.