The users of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system – or any business system for that matter – have the potential to make it or break it.
That’s why companies need to take their users into consideration when implementing ERP. This is the opinion of Paul Marketos, Managing Director at Bluekey Software Solutions which specialises in implementing SAP Business One: “When implementing any new system including ERP, it is essential that users accept it. If they are averse to change; or the system is hard to use; or if it doesn’t benefit them through making their jobs simpler, they won’t use it. If the system isn’t used, or is used, but not properly, a company will not realise the return on investment expected and it will quite literally be back at square one where existing systems simply were not cutting it.
“For a system to be accepted, it has to be easy to learn, intuitive and easy to use in practice. It must therefore be capable of customisation to the point that the skills level and authority of users is taken into account. This not only ensures that users aren’t intimidated and are therefore willing to use the system; but it also helps minimise errors. If screens and process flows are personalised and automated users cannot make mistakes, manipulate the system or make changes that could cause disruptions and delays, and even cost the business financially,” says Marketos.
He says that the ease-of-use of SAP Business One is one of its biggest strengths. SAP Business One is easily and quickly tailored. Companies can modify the screens and process flows according to the level of each user so that they only see what they need to see and no more. For instance, one user may be allowed to see cost prices or make changes to customer information while another user cannot. The look and feel of the screens can also be modified to suit individual or department requirements. The terminology and fields used can also be tailored so that they look familiar to the user and there is no confusion over what a term means or what information needs to be inserted in a field.
Because SAP Business One can be personalised, it enables companies to enforce segregation of duties and stricter authorisation and approval mechanisms. With these control and authorisation mechanisms in place, employees cannot perform functions they are not authorised to; and red flag alerts are raised when they try. This means that there’s less likelihood of fraud, and it’s easier to detect if it does happen.
Best of all is, because SAP Business One is so easy to adapt, companies are empowered to configure rules and make changes without having to call in a third party specialist to do it.
“Although there are other products which offer similar customisation, these are typically aimed at large companies, and none of them keeps it simple like SAP Business One. Usually, there is a lot of legwork and time involved to initiate modifications and, very often, these are not easily migrated when the system is upgraded.
“With SAP Business One, companies almost have the ability to modify their own ERP system interface, to ensure they meet their business requirements while taking the level of their users into consideration.
As our customers have seen, a small change can create a huge difference. One such customer hid a button that allowed lazy users to auto-select batch numbers, at a stroke tightening up on processes and ensuring that newer stock was not delivered ahead of stock closer to its expiry date. Often with systems, the less choice a user has the less room there is for error.
“Very few systems give companies this high degree of control and flexibility, while remaining easy to use. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why SAP Business One is fast becoming the preferred ERP system for smaller businesses,” he says.
Marketos concludes saying that for an ERP system to create value in a business, the end users of the system have to see the value in using it.
“If it’s easy to use, and makes their job easier to do, there’s immediate value for users. A system that delivers value is less likely to end up as a white elephant and another un-recovered expense.”