While software used in their personal lives gets more attractive and intuitive daily, most business software like enterprise resource planning (ERP) lags behind, prompting many respondents to an IFS North America study of manufacturing executives to say they would use Microsoft Excel and other systems -- or even change jobs, rather than use their company's enterprise software.
According to the study of more than 281 manufacturing executives, 75 percent of study respondents aged 35 and under report using desktop spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel instead of their company's ERP, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM) or other enterprise software when those enterprise applications get too cumbersome or difficult to use. Among respondents aged 36 to 45, 58 percent said they would use desktop spreadsheet software instead of their company's designated enterprise applications.
Respondents also said they would consider using a broad array of free and low-cost web-based applications instead of their company's enterprise applications. Google Docs was cited most frequently, a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, slide show, form, and data storage service offered by Google. Google Docs may be seen as a stand-in for a company's own document management system, or a way to compensate for ERP or other application environments that lack integrated document management capabilities.
Perhaps most surprisingly though, more than 65 percent of respondents age 35 and younger would be at least somewhat likely to change jobs due to negative experience using their company's enterprise software.
"Employers invest in attractive offices and other benefits designed to attract and retain young talent, but this study makes it clear that the enterprise software people use every day has a significant impact on the quality of life for today's professionals," IFS North America Chief Technology Officer Rick Veague said. "IFS sees ERP usability as essential not only because of this issue, but because when employees work outside of ERP, they are reducing enterprise visibility, increasing enterprise risk and in general diminishing the value their employer is realizing from their investment in enterprise software."
Study data illustrates the strategic importance of enterprise software usability, particularly in industries IFS serves that are characterized by a high degree of complexity and diversity. According to Veague, the need to ensure IFS Applications streamlines complex processes rather than adding additional complexity has driven IFS to continually invest in usability in order to ensure that IFS Applications leads what he hopes will be a usability revolution in enterprise software.
"A company that is making a product and placing it on the shelf could certainly benefit from a usability-optimized enterprise suite like IFS Applications," Veague said. "But our customers, complex engineer-to-order manufacturers, project-driven companies, asset-intensive companies, the aerospace and defense sector and the electric generation industry, are faced with daunting complexity. Poorly designed enterprise software represents an additional layer of confusion. As ERP becomes more intuitive, this degree of complexity can be resolved somewhat, and real business efficiencies achieved."
IFS is a public company (OMX STO: IFS) founded in 1983 that develops, supplies, and implements IFS Applications™, a component-based extended ERP suite built on SOA technology. IFS focuses on agile businesses where any of four core processes are strategic: Service & asset management, manufacturing, supply chain and projects. The company has 2,000 customers and is present in more than 50 countries with 2,700 employees in total.
For more information, or to download the study report, please visit: www.ifsworld.com.