With cloud computing, attention to mobile and the promise of a common data model for Microsoft Dynamics ERP, CRM, Office 365 and Cortana Business Intelligence, your path to “digital transformation” is complete.
Most companies are far from checking the digital transformation box and even more are still struggling with making improvements to the user experience. That includes companies of all sizes as well as those who make their living creating, implementing and supporting software. As 2016 begins to wind down, business users receive daily press releases about the consumerization of IT, and new technology innovation that improves on user experience. Most of these improvements have more to do with feature improvements, how software is deployed and paid for or how users can access it more readily than in years past. But has the user experience in the business world kept up with consumer apps? Not really.
First, let’s define “user experience” to be sure we’re all on the same page. Below is a simple definition I came across in a blog written by Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, a company focused on Evidence-Based User Experience Research, Training and Consulting. (click here to read their post)
Mr. Norman contends that “User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products”. In this brief video, he elaborates to be sure we understand that user experience isn’t just about how software works, it is about every interaction you have related to the product or company.
That covers a lot of ground, right? While I agree with his definition, I’m more focused on user experience when it comes to software and your own employees in this post so I’ll try another. Here are 4 elements of software user experience as defined in an article posted a few years back by Uxmatters. I believe it is just as relevant today:
1) Value: Is the solution useful?
2) Usability: Is it easy to use?
3) Adoptability: Is it easy to start using?
4) Desirability: Is it fun and engaging?
This really hit home for me. When it comes to enterprise software, value and usability get the lion’s share of effort. Adoptability and desirability are often lumped in with usability. After all, what could be “fun and engaging” about an enterprise ERP system? How could something so complex be easy to start using? Microsoft has always been a leader in providing the most intuitive user experience and the evolution of “apps” has moved them (and most others) forward on this front over the last 10 years. However, complex business solutions will always require some level of training. Most businesses have their own way of doing things so the specific application of any technology will vary from company to company.
Is Training the Answer? Yes, in concert with product design and intelligent workflow, but far less focus should be placed on traditional training methods. Classrooms and online courses still have their place, but today’s employees are more interested in guidance available at the time of need. And, they expect guidance to cater to them and the situation at hand. Guided tasks in Dynamics AX are a great example of intuitive, tailored guidance that is made available to end-users where they need it, when they need it.
Guided Tasks in AXIO for Dynamics AX deliver “where you need it” and “when you need it” guidance.
Let’s take a look at how SBS Group utilized Guided Tasks in Dynamics AX to improve the user experience in their AXIO Professional Services solution (built on Dynamics AX).
They have created guided tasks that assist users in completing tasks they feel uncomfortable completing on their own. Step-by-step instructions appear on the screen, guiding users through different task processes. By integrating guided tasks directly on AXIO, users don’t have to toggle between two screens or look up how to enter a certain type of project. This enables users to continue their work flow, complete tasks more quickly and adopt the ERP solution faster and more completely.
Watch as a Dynamics AX expert shows you how easily guided tasks make the user adoption process!
Guided tasks are an integral element of the learning and adoption process in AXIO for Dynamics AX. Guided tasks provide a fully customizable, controlled, interactive experience through the steps of a business process. Users are instructed to complete each step by way of a pop-up prompt (or “bubble”), which will animate across the screen and point to the element that the user should interact with. The “bubble” also provides information about how to interact with the element, such as “Click here” or “In this field, enter a value.” A task guide runs against the user’s current data set and the data that is entered is saved in the user’s environment.
Guided tasks are also added to a line of a hierarchy in a Business Process Modeler (BPM) library in Lifecycle Services (LCS). A list of steps and a business process flow chart will be generated and shown in the help menu. Remember – we’re not just talking about recorded videos here. When running guided tasks in a production environment, the data you are entering is the real deal. The solution is not just explaining processes, but guiding you through the execution of the process.
In the example below, a new employee is creating a project for the first time. Although they have been through training, they are not really confident in their ability to “get it right”. So, they choose to leverage the guided task for creating projects which takes them through the process step by step. This will not only reduce anxiety during the learning curve, but will serve to improve consistency and adherence to best practices going forward.
Guided tasks can be updated easily to adjust for changes in business practices and managed easily in the cloud using Microsoft Dynamics LCS (Lifecycle Services).
While guided tasks are only one component of the overall user experience, they do fill am important gap between “training” and “providing guidance when and where it is needed. When used correctly, and with some creativity, guided tasks not only explain how to interact with the solution. They relieve anxiety, promote quicker adoption and increase productivity.
Want to see AXIO Guided Tasks in Action?
To learn more about AXIO for Professional Services companies and Microsoft Dynamics AX, be sure to attend our live solution demonstration on September 13th, 2016. You can also browse through our video and collateral library.
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, SBS Group
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions. From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem helps SBS Group customers maximize benefits from the ERP investments.
Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Vice President, Enterprise Group where he provides thought leadership and manages the enterprise delivery team. Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.