It has been said many times before – and no doubt will be repeated in future. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is virtually unusable without extensive training, and making the technology more intuitive will force up implementation costs significantly, according to a new report by Forrester Research director Laurie Orlov.
Forrester, known for its occasionally outspoken criticism of ERP applications, looked at the products of 11 leading suppliers including SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft. It set them three simple application-management tasks: downloading a patch from the customer support site, altering the organisational hierarchy and changing an end user’s security profile. All technically passed the test but “several required inordinate patience and expertise”.
Finding the right patch to download often proved problematic – Lawson does not allow users to search for patches, for example, while JD Edwards expects users to find it in one menu but download it from another. At least security profiles are deemed “safe”: they are so unusable “no-one could figure out how to change them”.
Orlov says that businesses may have to spend up to 15% of their ERP project budget on user training – and even then, they risk wasting money on unused technology. She adds: “Would anyone buy a Porsche if shifting gears required weeks of model-specific training and a lot of muscle? It is a buyers’ market now, and buyers should exercise their power by demanding more intuitive systems.”