A User-First Guide To Optimizing Your Current IT Investments

  • Jul 11, 2019,
  • By Jay Hinman

IT leaders are often measured in part on how their carefully-considered technology choices are adopted across their organizations. Maximizing your organization’s current IT investments can go awry if the actual day-to-day users of these systems don’t quite align with, nor understand, your reasons for adopting the specific ERP or SaaS systems you and your IT organization have chosen. 

Rather than scrapping some existing system because you’re finding it’s underused, there are a number of strategies to be employed to help optimize your current IT investments, and help increase employee buy-in and use. Let’s examine how understanding your users and meeting them where they actually are can be an effective tactic in getting the most from your current ERP or SaaS systems.

Understanding The Differences Between Power and Casual Users

Naturally, the first step in addressing an employee base’s concerns with a new system or application the IT organization has chosen is to understand the users: who they are, and what their unique needs happen to be. It’s important to differentiate between two main types of users within an organization: the power users and the casual users. Let’s use an example of submitting expense reports via a software platform to better understand these two types of users.

Casual users may be line-level managers, who have expense reports submitted to them by their employees once per month, or perhaps even less frequently. They’ll log into the source software on these occasions, complete their approval task(s) for these reports, then log out. There are many casual users for any given system, sometimes including C-level executive management.

Power users, on the other hand, are typically those higher-level members of a management team who might review and grant final approval on dozens, if not hundreds, of expense reports. Depending on the size of your organization, these power users may spend a solid portion of a given day or week processing these types of reports – or, as is all too often the case, just clicking “approve” without really looking at the underlying data and expenses. These power users – who, depending on the system, may or may not be managers – often have many other reasons to dive into the software on a daily basis, as these sorts of applications or systems are where they typically spend a large portion of any given workday. 

Meeting Your Users Where They Are – Not Where You Think They Are

Understanding how these types of users and interacting with your existing SaaS or on-prem systems, and differentiating between them, can provide you with powerful insights into how to best meet their unique needs, thereby leading you to step two: meeting them where they are today. 

Going to where your users are isn’t just a theoretical concept. It’s a tangible strategy that helps to maximize the success of a particular ERP or SaaS system. 

Imagine a typical workflow in which employees are logged in to the many specific programs they need to use regularly, such as ServiceNow, Oracle Cloud, Ariba or Workday. By being required to log into multiple programs to complete various tasks, it can generate significant resistance. If users aren’t well-informed on how to effectively use these systems to complete all their tasks, they’re likely to abandon one or more of them in favor of alternative workflows that they perceive to be more efficient. 

Part of assessing your employees’ workflow – and how best to optimize it – is determining the daily apps and collaboration tools that they’re using to get their work done. You might even have been the one that launched these collaboration tools across the enterprise. From there, you can find forward-looking solutions to integrate your ERP and SaaS systems with those tools. 

Example 1 – Slack

For example, if your team uses Slack for communication, you can top up your existing ERP by integrating approvals software such as ApproveSimple for Slack. This allows your users to continue to use an app like Slack that works well for them and that they’re comfortable with, all while allowing managers to easily review and approve their approval requests from multiple Slack clients.

Example 2 – Microsoft Teams

Another example where this type of integration works beautifully is with Microsoft Teams. If your organization uses Teams for communications, it can also be elegantly integrated with ApproveSimple to optimize your current SaaS and on-prem systems that have approvals as a key control point. Integration with Teams gives your employees the ability to access approvals across multiple systems, from any & all Teams clients. Managers are able to view receipts, invoices, purchase orders, change requests and a nearly infinite list of approval types, and receive instant notifications when their employees submit any new approval requests. 

These seemingly small capabilities can make all the difference in ensuring that your chosen systems don’t fall flat, and actually work in the spaces where large percentages of the modern workforce are spending major chunks of their day-to-day existence in 2019. Applications you’ve spent months deploying across the enterprise can now travel beyond the power user, right into the hands of the line-level manager, executive and casual user, who often only need to dip into and out of these applications for approvals. 

When your employees actually use the systems that you’ve carefully selected, you’re maximizing your investment, as well as the company’s potential for output and efficiency. It doesn’t hurt that it helps you look like an IT hero as well.

Jay Hinman

Jay Hinman is the VP of Marketing at Capriza, focused on helping organizations achieve greater business agility and faster decision cycles by accelerating approvals.

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