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Enterprise software is the final frontier of good usability, so in a guestblog for UsabilityGeek we break down how to make enterprise applications more user-friendly.

Enterprise software: the final frontier. Or at least that’s how it sometimes feels when users come face to face with unintuitive, alienating or frustrating work applications. Enterprise software has around  twice the number of usability issues as consumer software, and almost 10x those found in websites, according to MeasuringU. Even enterprise big-guns can fall foul of bad usability: HP’s centralization of its ERP systems cost $160 million in backlogs and lost revenue, for example.

Enterprise software development and usability: what’s the problem?

So why is it so hard to make usable enterprise software? In UsabilityGeek we examine the main factors in detail:

  • Complexity and security: ERP suites can reach hundreds of thousands of pages or screens and, consequently, a huge number of user scenarios. Plus security concerns about access to information means that enterprise systems can end up inaccessible for all save the development team
  • The software buyer is traditionally from the C-suite and is not a user; they’re buying on costs, not usability concerns
  • Customization: global enterprises require bespoke software to meet their specialized needs, which effectively negates the possibility of users trying out a software before they buy, and means that usability tests have to be carried out on every single bespoke version
  • Without a UX department to advocate for the user, large organizations can sometimes forget about user needs
  • Switching from an unusable software is expensive, so businesses are loath to rock the boat. This reduces the pressure on manufacturers – if no one abandons a bad software, where’s the impetus to change it?
  • Enterprise software has to wrap around extremely complicated processes, such as manufacturing or global distribution
  • Multiple stakeholders mean multiple priorities, which makes it difficult to find elegant solutions

Why is enterprise software becoming more usable?

Lately, two major trends have begun to change enterprise software: consumerization and workplace dynamics. The buzz around consumerization is impossible to ignore, as the gap between enterprise and consumer applications gets smaller and users increasingly demand engaging, intuitive software in every part of their work and home lives. Global execs are aware of the trend, according to a 2015 PwC report, and organizations such as Deloitte and IBM are ahead of the curve. Add to this the growth of workplace programs such as Bring Your Own Device and the rise of agile working methods, and the pressure on enterprise software to up its usability game becomes even higher.

How to create usable software for enterprises

While there’s no quick fix for creating usable enterprise software (sadly!), there are opportunities for enterprises to bring the user into the center of the design/development process.

Read the rest on Usability Geek!

Cassandra is Marketing Lead at Justinmind

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