The Modern User Experience in the ERP World

You’re probably aware of the growing buzz around the topic of User Experience (UX) design by now. In fact, as an end user of technology, you are inevitably impacted by UX design on a regular basis. You’ve had your fair share of both great and poor experiences with websites when navigating the vastness of the Internet – with some encounters being more memorable than others. Whether consciously or not, we tend to remember and default to using websites and applications that effectively meet our needs, while avoiding those that fall short.

The same principle holds especially true for ERP systems and user adoption. Having witnessed the success that good UX design yields, numerous businesses, corporations, and academic institutions have focused efforts on integrating better UX design throughout their websites, applications, portals, mobile platforms, etc.

If you weren’t aware of UX design until now – that’s okay! This blog will shed light on what UX design is, why it’s so important, and how it affects us every day – particularly in the context of the ERP world. Once you have a bit of background, we’ll examine a real world scenario – a PeopleSoft Campus Solutions project that employs the principles of good UX design. We’ll also dive into the tools and techniques available to support good UX design.

What is “UX”, and why is it such an essential part of business?

As stated by the Nielsen Norman Group, a leading group in the UX field, “user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.

UX design is ever changing, adapting as technology and usage circumstances evolve over time. It takes a comprehensive view – measuring aspects of how usable a website is, the UI design, business goals, integration amongst existing systems, user support, accessibility, and how a user feels when traversing the system – with a goal of providing something they walk away feeling satisfied about… “Hey, [company] took time to design for my needs. They care about me!”

In short, good UX design comes with an impressive array of benefits for both the end user and the business. Here are three key examples of measurable business benefits:

  • Help desk overhead reduced. When a user struggles, he or she may opt to pick up the phone instead of spending time searching the system for answers.
  • Increased efficiency for user. Less time is wasted on figuring out confusing processes; less money is spent on expensive training for users to understand how to use the system.
  • Increased traffic. Have audience numbers improved post-redesign? If e-commerce, have sales numbers increased? A smooth UX design means positive word of mouth, which can directly impact traffic analytics.

Where does UX design fit into the ERP world, and how is it done?

As an example, let’s consider an educational institution seeking to update its student information systems with Campus Solutions. Any institution can simply deploy ERP solution applications – but the key is actively bringing good UX design to the table early in the planning process, finding creative ways to leverage the new system to support this, and testing and evolving along the way.

The following techniques and tools are examples of what can be used to achieve great UX design.

  • Use The PeopleSoft Interaction Hub (iHub) / Portal as the gateway into your PeopleSoft ecosystem. The iHub is a flexible application, having the ability to integrate with systems on various levels. The iHub consolidates data into a simple and streamlined user experience. From the iHub homepage, students access simple navigation, and gather digestible snapshots of their class schedules, grades, program plan, checklists, holds, and more. The iHub can be configured to be responsive and accessible on any device – mobile, tablet, desktop, or other.

    The iHub sets the tone for everything else – thus, doing solid design groundwork is very important with great payoff.
  • Good UX doesn’t end at the landing page: focused WorkCenters, Dashboards, and Activity Guides can help audiences such as self-service users and functional business users improve their efficiency in the system. Having your work in one place makes life easier.
  • Implementing or leveraging existing single sign-on helps users get from point A to point B without the trouble of remembering yet another password.
  • Use Tools 8.54’s new and improved branding configuration tools to build a modern design. Maintain consistency with your visual identity to add a unified look and feel amongst the systems.
  • Consider redesigning delivered PeopleSoft pages with the new Fluid UI tools. To provide a finished look and feel, I’ve found that taking a hybrid approach, using both Fluid UI and Responsive Web Design techniques, delivered an ideal solution: device-flexible, branded, easy to use transaction pages.

With all of these pieces pulled together, a very cohesive self-service experience from start to finish can be achieved.

Good UX design fits great anywhere, and it’s universally needed

In the case of PeopleSoft, designing transactional self-service pages is made even more possible having new Fluid UI tools to work with – although this is not a prerequisite. Other techniques can be used, and sometimes it’s a matter of finding what works best with your project needs.

We live in an age of instant gratification, and users have higher expectations of technology, now more than ever. When considering ERP projects of any size, such as implementing new systems, replacing old systems, or even just reworking one trouble area of the solution – think about how you can incorporate UX design to solve or prevent usability issues. Even usability testing interviews with a handful of users can help uncover the majority of issues.

Don’t miss the opportunity to improve the lives of others. Spread positivity through good UX design by reinforcing confidence in your brand, engagement and interest amongst your users. If you do, your institution will reap the rewards.

About the Author

Kori Ludwig is a senior software and solutions consultant wirth Sierra-Cedar and has led multiple projects with Oracle’s PeopleSoft Interaction Hub. She exercises her creativity to bring ERP functionality to life through means of modern and responsive “any device” front-end development, with emphasis on user experience and usability. Kori often relies on said creativity to work around her three spoiled cats, who crowd her computer at any opportunity (including at the time of this writing.)

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