Enterprise apps are too difficult to use and cost business millions, says Forrester

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Business enterprise applications waste companies millions of pounds because they are just too difficult to use for the average office worker, according a new study from Forrester Research.

The US research firm was reporeting the results of a study into software usability in which it set out to perform a number of standard tasks with applications from 11 different ERP companies, including SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, J.D. Edwards, Microsoft and Lawson.

The tasks included changing security profiles, which are used to control access to the applications and to sensitive data. Attempts were also made to modify the software to reflect changes in a company's organisation, such as a branch closing. Finally the analysts attempted to download software patches for bugs and updates via the vendor's customer support Web site.

Several applications were found to require "inordinate patience and expertise" to complete the tasks. The Forrester analysts received no user training before testing the software on the grounds that the tasks they were performing ought to have simple and straightforward.

The costs to businesses can be substantial. Companies often end up investing tens of thousands of pounds in additional training they hadn't budgeted for. In the worst case, workers simply abandon the software all together in favor of manual processes, negating the benefits of projects in which businesses typically invest millions.

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