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ERP User Experience: Managing Back Office in a Mobile World (Part One – The Challenges)

We live in a connected economy.  We live in a connected world.

We want our games, our movies and our friendships to be accessible on our phones and tablets.  Why wouldn’t we also want to be able to manage our work life on those mobile devices as well?

Answer: we do.

Most modern applications are designed from the ground up with mobile support in mind.  For these applications, security is designed around the idea that identity is the new perimeter (check out our Security blog entries for more about that). 

And, to meet today’s consumer expectations, modern applications invest a lot of dollars in the development of mobile-friendly user interfaces that utilize modern technologies, such as HTML 5 and other responsive technologies that provide a smooth and efficient user experience.

But, what about legacy applications? What about ERP systems released in the 90’s? 

These applications were usually designed to be accessed only from within the network, and typically only by a select few users using tailored client applications running on the desktop.

Those legacy systems are still being used by many companies to handle critical operations including human capital management, financials and supply chain. 

How can these applications meet the demands of the new connected world, where managing my work life via mobile is just as important as managing my personal life?

Before we talk about solutions, let’s talk about some of the usability challenges of exposing those applications to a mobile world.

Mobile Devices

Smartphones, tablets and all of the other evolving mobile device footprints vary in their features and specifications. And typically, their capabilities fall well short of the routine desktop computer sitting in your office or home.

How?

  • Drastically reduced screen size
  • Limited power and processing capabilities
  • Challenging data entry methods (virtual keyboard, etc)
  • Range of operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc)
  • Lack of standard security models

Mobile Connectivity

Desktop computers typically rely on wired connections to a network. Those connections have historically been stable and reliable.

Mobile connectivity is far more more dicey and depends on local conditions that dictate reliability, bandwidth and consistency.

We’ve all had a game of Candy Crush crash because we moved into a cellular dead zone – haven’t we?

Don’t judge me.

And, like the phone games we love to engage in, ERP systems also typically rely on long-lived sessions and multi-step transactions that depend on stable connectivity and session persistence.

The End User

Historically, applications had been designed around technology-oriented interfaces. We get back to the old model of legacy applications being implemented for selected users via a dedicated user interface that maximized the user’s ability to get their job done.

Modern applications, with mobility in mind, take a user-oriented approach to interface development. When you push connectivity out to the mobile world, you need to be able to support end users with different levels of skills (self-service, admins, etc).

How do you provide a user experience that supports retirees, many that may have accessibility challenges, trying to access benefits information via a phone? How do you support students that want quick and easy access to course scheduling and performance reports? How do you provide a mobile user experience that allows managers and administrators to access application functionality required to perform back office tasks?

More to come on this topic. 

After all, challenges breed solutions.

In the meantime, please reach out to info@appsian.com (or just click on our little onsite chat helper that tends to hang out at the bottom right) to get more info on how Appsian can help bring ERP into the connected world.

Accessibility, UX/Mobile/Responsive
April 3, 2019
2 mins read
Scott Hirni By Scott Hirni
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Adopting Cloud: Fact or Myth – “Hybrid as a Best Practice”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

Do you want to get the most from your ERP? Then you must move to the cloud. Your bottom line will appreciate it, your users will appreciate it, and your IT security team will appreciate it.” Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

In our upcoming blog series, we examine some of the most popular cloud adoption myths. By myths, we mean that there is a flipside to every story – and the cloud is no exception.

It’s important to note that we are not “anti-cloud.” Cloud HR functions serve an important purpose, and while there are undoubtedly benefits to moving some functions to the cloud –  it’s important to not get too caught up in the hype.  So, before you undergo a traumatic “rip and replace” of your core ERP and trade it in for that shiny cloud product – we invite you to stop and take a quick breath.

Hybrid as a Best Practice

From Gartner in their 2016 report, “…the extreme of having nothing cloud-based will largely disappear with Hybrid being the most common usage of the cloud.” As organizations determine specific business cases that are best served by a cloud solution, the corporate “no cloud” policy will become increasingly obsolete. This approach is fully supported by GreyHeller and we contend that using specific business cases to guide your cloud migration initiatives is a best practice. With that being said, the business case for a “rip and replace” of your core HR function is rare and can come with many negative implications. This blog series serves to examine just some of those implications and discuss the negative consequences that can occur.

Stay tuned as we release additional blogs in our upcoming “Adopting Cloud: Fact or Myth” blog series, where we address the truths behind:

  • Cloud as a platform for Innovation
  • Improving security via the cloud
  • Offloading operational costs
  • Market trends towards cloud adoption
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Don’t let the DOJ take your foot off the “accessibility compliance” gas pedal

We are disheartened by the recent publication of the Trump Administration’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions which changed the status of its web accessibility rule-making processes related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to “inactive.”

What does this mean and why are we – and many of our friends in Higher Education – so disheartened? From the Seyfarth ADA Title III News & Insights Blog:

In the absence of website regulations, the courts are filling the void with a patchwork of decisions that often conflict with one another. The uncertain legal landscape has fueled a surge of lawsuits and demand letters filed and sent on behalf of individuals with disabilities alleging that the websites of thousands of public accommodations are not accessible.

Based on all of this, we believe that institutions should carefully consider their ADA compliance profile for PeopleSoft self-service systems. With the lack of clear regulations, your institution could be at risk.

We fully subscribe to our customer – University of Minnesota’s – position that Accessibility is a diversity issues. Our recent blog – University of Minnesota made PeopleSoft truly accessible. Here’s how.

Lastly, we encourage you to be proactive before you’re forced to be reactive – preview GreyHeller’s solutions for ADA compliance and UX modernization – PeopleMobile/PeopleUX. Contact us to request a demonstration today!

Accessibility, UX/Mobile/Responsive
August 22, 2017
< 1 mins read
Hendrix Bodden By Hendrix Bodden