Why ERP Software is so Hard to Use – a Theory

Full disclosure: I am not a video gamer, too old and more interested in analog pursuits. My actual breakfast bagel and coffee are 100% more appealing to me than the picture of your breakfast delicacy posted on Instagram.

But I have kids with an Xbox and over the recent holiday they tried to get me interested in playing Halo, evidently one of the more popular video game offerings in the market. But, again, what do I know.

OMG…what an eye opener!

The care and love that had to go into creating that game literally jumps off the screen. And at that moment it hit me… the people that develop and “program” games are themselves gamers! They are actual consumers of the product they produce. They do their jobs as much out of love for the product that they enjoy as they do for making money. Boy does it show.

Now let’s contrast that with the teams of developers that you have met that create ERP applications. Come to think of it, has anyone ever met an ERP software developer? Do they even exist? Do they hide the fact out of fear that there is a social stigma attached? Are the embarrassed that they don’t work on cool “apps?

One thing is obvious, none of them have to use the crap that they code on a daily basis!

That gives us the consequences that we, as consumers of ERP software, have to deal with:

  • Impossible to navigate user interfaces.
  • Flash over substance…Oooooh, let’s all look at that shiny dashboard…does anyone understand the underlying data?
  • Technology that literally slows down ERP system use for the average user.
  • Technology for the sake of technology that makes systems harder to implement and maintain. Anyone else remember when “C:install” was all that was needed to install your accounting software?
  • Technology decisions driven by business models rather than what makes sense for the consumer.

And no, I am not a luddite or an old cranky guy. At the same time, I doubt average users are demanding the continuous onslaught of “improvements” that do nothing for the average user.

If we have all of these technologies and tools, why aren’t ERP systems easier to install and keep running? Don’t other industries pride themselves on “progress”? Imagine if every year cars used more gas, cost more money and were harder to start, stop and handle but car makers trumpeted that this was the latest and greatest?

None of the major technological advances that have been applied to ERP software have benefited the average user. Everything is flash for the main stage at a conference. What has anyone done to speed up the entry of hundreds of vouchers? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Maybe every developer should be forced to eat their own dog food for a month. Maybe the next release would actually “empower every person on earth”.

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