ERP systems seem to be naturally low on the trust/adoption index, making it an uphill battle to ensure that all data and transactions flow through them. Ironically, it is that lack of trust that leads to the exact conditions that effect adoption, creating a circular and self-fulfilling prophecy for failure.
Although we’re surrounded by technology, few people truly understand how it all works. As a result, maximizing adoption requires users to have a sufficient level of trust in whatever systems they are asked to use. The less intuitive and user friendly a system is, the more trust is required to ensure usage – and the easier it is for that trust to be eroded, leading to poor adoption.
ERP systems are plagued by multiple types of trust busting doubts, several of which stem from the need to manually enter data into the system in addition to the other pressing tasks on a user’s to-do list.
1. How late is too late? The reality of business is that data may not be entered into the system at the same time as information becomes available or in the moment a transaction takes place. No one expects users with other important responsibilities to drop everything each time new data is available. But this may create a grey area around the impact of resulting delays. If I don’t have to stop now, how long is too long to wait?
2. Do you want to go first, or should I? Just as a user must balance his or her operational responsibilities with time spent manually updating the ERP system, there are many users in and out of the system in parallel. The grey area of delay is an issue on an individual basis, but what about users with overlapping or conflicting updates? When timing is in question, and users are unaware of the entries of others, it is (unfortunately) very easy for one user to over-ride the data from another.
3. Is this really the newest information? There is data entry and then there is data retrieval or reference. Most users going to the ERP system to access the information provided by others have at one time or another been the ones entering it. This means that they know the information has to be taken with a grain of salt. Instead of functioning as a unifying single source of truth, the ERP system becomes more of a… ‘suggestion’.
When these lingering questions lead to doubt about the information in the ERP system, professionals that want to do a good job on behalf of their company will naturally turn to something they DO trust. More often than not, that means working in spreadsheets rather than in ERP. While spreadsheets are disconnected, users at least understand how they work and where the information in them came from. Over time, the problem spirals and the information in the ERP system loses so much trust that it is unable to serve the role it was implemented to fulfill.
Don’t underestimate the importance of system trust in user adoption – especially when it can be achieved by fully integrating your ERP system with more intuitive, user friendly technology that reduces manual data entry and erases the need for doubt.