Using UX Principles to Solve Enterprise Software Challenges

Let’s talk about Jane. She’s a typical enterprise software user. An employee of a fortune-500 company, Jane works in the Human Resources department as a recruiter. Her daily responsibilities include managing leads, contacting potential employees, taking notes on their interviews, and managing a set of employees for whom she’s responsible.

Every morning, Jane sits down at her desk, logs into her computer, opens her email, and then logs into her company intranet. Sadly, this is the most pleasant part of Jane’s day.

Jane’s first task for the day is to locate a form that she needs to send to a potential new hire. She goes to her company intranet site and looks in the Human Resources section for her file.

Nothing there matches what she’s looking for, so she types what she thinks is the file name into the search bar. It returns a set of spreadsheets from five years ago, but no form. Jane has no idea where to go next to find her file.

She’s faced with a dozen links to other areas of the intranet, along with an enigmatic search function that can’t seem to focus on her section of the intranet.

Jane is now stressed, and it’s only 8:45 AM.

Does this sound familiar? We thought so.

Tens of thousands of professionals face Jane’s problem every day, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Jane’s company could fix her problem by applying a few basic UX principles to their enterprise software.

At their most basic level, enterprise software solutions are tools that make life better for users. Now by that definition, we just put enterprise software on the same level as Snapchat, Facebook, Angry Birds, and Yo. So let’s make an important distinction here:

Snapchat, Facebook, Angry Birds, Yo, and insert your favorite app here all make people’s lives better by providing entertainment. Their core purpose is to consume media in small bites and to give their users a diversion.

Enterprise software solutions should make lives better by performing tasks and providing resources. They should speed up workflows and enable collaboration in teams, allowing people to log in, find what they need, and get on with the important stuff. But most of the time, things don’t go that well.

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s break down how Jane’s company can make her life better.

Challenge 1. Jane has dozens of tools available to her and has no use for 90% of them.

Solution: Leave the kitchen sink at home.
If you’re implementing a new enterprise solution, take the time to evaluate what features the different divisions need. While there will be some shared needs, I guarantee you your Sales department doesn’t need the same tools as your Accounting team, and your R&D team could probably do without a list of every potential client in the eastern hemisphere. Give your teams the tools they need to focus on their jobs, and keep the rest out of their way.

Challenge 2. Jane hates having to go through a maze to find the tool she needs.

Solution: Make it a highway, not a maze.
Consider giving your users a “favorites” space on their homepage where they can add links to their most frequently used tools. Letting your users shortcut to frequently used tools can increase their productivity by 25% or more. That translates to happy employees and successful projects.

Challenge 3. The search function has gone rogue.

Solution: Manage your Knowledge.
Jane’s life would be so much better if her company had continued to emphasize knowledge management as their files grew and aged. In her case, what was once a carefully organized system has become bloated and full of documents that don’t belong in their current spots.

You can fix this by re-organizing your file structure and implementing a new Knowledge Management program. However, this isn’t a one-time fix. It requires buy-in from all involved parties and demands constant attention to maintain it at a high level.

These aren’t easy fixes, but they will make a huge impact in the life of each employee at your company, and will help put you on the fast track to success!

Not sure what Knowledge Management is?
Read our handy primer on the subject!

Familiar with Knowledge Management, but not sure how to get it started at your office?
Check out our guide on creating a KM MVP.

There are dozens, if not hundreds more challenges that come up when you’re dealing with software on an enterprise level. If you want to learn more, sign up for our Newsletter! If you’re ready to get moving on a Knowledge Management or Enterprise project, Contact us directly!

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