The implementation of new business software is a step forward in the development of a company, but to be most successful, you need a detailed strategy and perfect workmanship, so that the new system fits perfectly to the company and can be used immediately. One of the main issues that need special attention is usability.
A study conducted in 2010 showed that usability problems with the average business software at the time were two times higher than those with consumer products and 10 times higher than with websites. What has changed so far? How can developers create the desired user experience that will increase the productivity of the company’s employees using the product? Here we will look at the possibilities of building web software that is efficient and easy to use, as well as accessible from all connected devices, including smartphones and tablets.
What are the challenges?
The fact is that business software is more complex than that intended for a wide consumer audience. Complexity together with security is one of the main challenges in its development. Online store management software, for example, can contain an extremely large number of screens, as well as countless user scenarios. As for security, it must be extremely high, especially given the ability to work on any connected device, while availability and usability are not reduced.
There are other challenges that are directly related to usability. The software is ordered by the management and is used mainly by the employees. It often happens that the communication between the two levels is not clear enough. At the same time, it is difficult to balance the needs of different departments, especially when it comes to a larger company with more activities. Thanks to modern technologies and processes for building business software, the challenges can be successfully overcome, especially by a team with experience in making custom software solutions that fit exactly the company.
Modern business software – focus on users and the dynamics of the workplace
As in any technological niche and in the software for companies, there is a rapid emergence of new trends. Two of the most current are the focus on consumers and the dynamics of the workplace. They are directly related to usability and therefore we will look at them in detail.
The focus on consumers, for which the modern term consumerization is used, aims to make business software more intuitive and engaging, similar to user software. Companies are already confidently embracing this idea. Over 75% of CEOs of companies surveyed in a recent survey confirm that the design of the user experience is important to them. The results of its improvement can be impressive. The giant Deloitte gives the following example with their customer – increasing employee productivity by 300%, reducing the time required for training, by 55%, and 21% sales growth.
Modern changes in the culture of the workplace are also an engine for creating business software that is easier to use. Replacing the strict hierarchy with teamwork and collaboration at all levels determines the need for multifunctional solutions that have a high level of customization. More and more employees are using their personal smartphones, tablets, and laptops for work. Here, web-based solutions are an adequate answer. Access from various devices is no longer desirable, but mandatory to achieve the goals of companies.
Creating business software with excellent usability
It is essential in building enterprise software to use all the opportunities for placing the user at the heart of the process. The new system will bring a complete change and it must be incorporated into the company’s culture. How can this transformation be smooth? The answer is: through transparency. Employees need to be aware of the reasons for the change and the benefits it will bring to the company and to them specifically.
It is important for the company to create its own team of representatives to work closely with the software developer. They need to know in detail the business processes in terms of technology and the difficulties and challenges they face. It is recommended that this team include the end-user of the software in its development. This will avoid making assumptions when defining the problem or problems to be solved. Some of the techniques for involving the end-user in the development of company software are direct research, prototyping, and testing by future users and discussions. The data collected can be incorporated with those of the business analysis to obtain a match between usability and efficiency.
The so-called approach of design thinking has already established itself as fundamental in the development of custom business software. It is a three-step process – building a conceptual design, creating prototypes to present the concept, and refining.
Testing prototypes and receiving feedback from the customer is the basis for achieving good results. Static prototypes are mostly used to test navigation and information architecture, while more accurate ones are used to assess how well work can be done with future software.
Design thinking creates a natural process of solving tasks. It allows you to build user experience for a high-tech system so that all employees can engage, regardless of their technical skills.
Testing as a tool for improving business software
Testing should answer one question: whether the technological product is easy and efficient to use. However, when testing company software, there are two starting points – the individual user and the company as a whole. Both are equally important. When assessing the usability of the software from the company’s point of view, it is necessary to consider how it will affect it over time, taking into account factors such as maintenance and optimization.
There are several leading techniques for testing firmware. They must be applied methodically and in a timely manner in order to optimize the use of resources. Testing involving training – is becoming more commonly used. Business software usually requires training to be able to use due to the incorporation of many different processes. So users can’t test it without preparation. At the same time, they should not be taught how to test it in advance, as this will distort the results. The solution to the problem is to add an element of learning to the testing process. With this technique, users usually read learning materials in different formats and have to complete the same task several times in order to detect possible imperfections.
The so-called field tests make it possible to assess the impact of web software on the processes in the company, as well as on individual employees. Evaluations regarding leading factors such as how quickly the tasks are completed have a direct impact not only on the construction of the final product but also on the training that will accompany its launch. It is possible to set measures at an early stage of the project to reduce the period required for training and the costs of its implementation.
Discussions are also an important element of the testing process because they allow the customer team, and through it the entire company team, to give feedback. This allows developers to focus on all the factors that are important for achieving the company’s strategic goals. In this way, complete refinement can be achieved before the final product is launched.
The days of old software systems that are difficult to use are already numbered. The focus is shifting to consumers and the workplace is becoming more flexible, even in more traditional companies. Companies with a vision for the future are investing in web software where the level of usability is such that it allows full user engagement, which leads to greater productivity, reduced costs, and increased revenue. Challenges diminish and opportunities increase. All you have to do is take advantage to reach the higher business goals you have set for yourself.
Tell us what you expect to achieve with web software designed specifically for your business by contacting us now.