Why Your Supply Chain Software Has to be User-Friendly
Published on 14 April 2021
When it comes to supply chain software, companies are quickly learning that user experience or “UX” is everything. Put simply, it doesn’t matter how much a company invests in technology systems that provide all of the latest bells and whistles, if employees either don’t know how to use it - or, if they simply won’t use it - then those supply chain solutions will gather “virtual” dust in the corner as workers go back to their old ways of doing things.
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Digital Natives’ Expectations
This is particularly true for the younger generations who are entering the workforce, and who know a good (or, bad) user interface when they see one. These digital natives grew up with mobile phones, devices, and applications in their hands, and expect the same experience with their business technology.
As the Baby Boomers continue to retire—and as they take their memories of using IBM Green Screens with them—Generations Y and Z are becoming the next supply chain managers and leaders. These new entrants to the field expect to have technology tools that make their jobs faster, easier, and more accurate.
Professional and End-User Friendly
“Making things as easy as possible for the end user is the best way to ensure successful adoption and use of any new communication tool,” Information Week states. “While organizations are understandably keen to arm workers with the best technology to boost productivity, end users’ needs aren’t the only priority. Throughout the evaluation process, it’s important to remember that the user interface (UI) is just as vital for IT professionals as it is for the end user when it comes to adoption.”
What is UX?
As the name implies, UX is all about creating an immersive experience for the user while keeping costs of development and implementation under control. In the context of software development, user experience looks like something focused purely on design and entertainment.
“UX has become a cornerstone of custom software development. Companies aiming to develop customer-facing software use this as a top competitive advantage, while those creating enterprise applications for internal use have learned to pay attention to this dimension to improve user acceptance of new software,” UX Planet explains. “This is no longer just a nice-to-have layer added at the end of the development cycle, but a significant aspect included right from the design phase.”
It's important to note that where user interface (UI) is the collection of tangible elements that allow a user to interact with an application or website, UX is not defined by a specific set of visual objects, but rather what the user takes away from interacting with those visual objects that make up the experience. In this sense, UX is all about the subjective, internal feelings of the user. For example:
- How does the experience leave users feeling?
- Are users empowered or inhibited?
- Are users engaged or distracted?
- Are users encouraged or frustrated?
“In a world where we spend most of our workday interacting with technology,” bakertilly writes, “shouldn’t we at least feel empowered, engaged, and encouraged while we are doing it?”
Functional, Intuitive, and Easy to Use
When supply chain software has a good UX, the typical user can learn the program by simply using it, rather than reading a manual or taking lessons. For example, a program with intuitive icons and simple menu bar options may be easy for a new user to understand, TechTerms points out. “However, if a developer creates a program with non-standard icons and complex menu options, it will make the program less intuitive, likely resulting in a negative user experience.” Efficiency is maximized when a solution such as a WMS enables users to streamline their processes in the easiest way possible. Find out more about ease of use and results, click here.
A product that provides a positive user experience is:
- Functional: It does what it says it can do.
- Intuitive: The program was built with a friendly interface.
- Easy to use: It doesn’t make it too hard on the user.
- Reliable: It’s there when the user needs it.
- Enjoyable: The software is easy and fun to use.
When shopping around for supply chain solutions, such as WMS, look for user-friendly software that not only comprises functionalities that can benefit the user, but also makes it easy for users to access all its features. “The goal of efficient software development is to make the product reliable and compatible for end users,” software development firm Rezaid states. “To deliver an excellent user experience, it is important to know your users well.”
As companies continue to invest in digital supply chain technologies to increasingly automate the supply chain, the ones that put their users first will surely get the best return on investment (ROI) and results from those applications. By seeking out software that features intuitive, easy-to-learn interfaces, companies can more readily integrate those new solutions into their busy operations without missing a beat. Those that ignore this advice may find themselves up against a formidable force when it comes to putting new innovation to work in their supply chains.
Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.