Posted by: ahmedashfaque | June 17, 2014

Why ERPs are difficult to use?


After Steve Jobs revolutionized the IT industry with product designs which are marked by the easy to use features, people have expectation of getting IT products which are easy to use. The new IT product companies complied with these expectations and have introduced products which are easy to use. most of social media tools, computers. mobiles etc. are being produced with this user requirement in mind.

Nevertheless, ERP software products continue to be difficult to use. As reported by many news sources, people find them very difficult to use. Why so?

From ERP product vendor’s perspective, they thought that the new generation will not have any problem in using ERP products when they join the work force. This thinking was on the premise that this generation is already using IT products in their daily lives and so they will not find it difficult when they have to use ERP and large business application products. But this premise has turned wrong.

Most of the existing ERP products were built in the 1970s to 1980s (SAP. Oracle Applications etc.). They still carry the same look and feel as they used to in their initial days. The product developers in those days were paid just to create software products which would work no matter how it looked like or was it easy to use. Developing software products in those days was difficult as programming languages were not sophisticated and software development tools were not easily available. Software developers thus did not had the pleasure of getting code reuse, pre-packaged software components etc. So it would take a large amount of time to develop even a small software application. In those conditions, getting a software product developed in itself was nothing short of a miracle.

ERP products are extremely large in nature. For example, the SAP ERP which we see today has been under development for last 41 years (since 1973). Thousands of software developers have been working continuously in these laast 41 years in developing this ERP. You can imagine how large this ERP has become. Now if anybody wants to change the product design of SAP product will have to work for years with a large team of software developers. this is simply not feasible. Changing the product design of SAP so that it becomes more user friendly is almost impossible.

The other factor about ERP software products is that they are built for doing accounting and business transactions. The aspects of business transactions and accounting are taken care of during design of these products. For example, any transaction when initiated in any ERP must ensure that calculations are always correct. All other aspects are secondary consideration in design of these products.

To take care of different business scenarios and the way business is carried out at different companies and in different countries, the ERP product vendors develop functionalities which can be configured according to different business and legal needs. At the time of entering and processing business transactions, the user has to be provided with user screens where the user can select various options as well as can see and verify checks in processing the business transactions. These 2 aspects make the user screens of ERP products very complex and difficult to use.

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