The ease-of-use bug is biting ERP vendors big-time.
SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft last week all said their enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications will be upgraded later this year with new user interfaces meant to make the packages less grey and forbidding to customers.
At the moment, ERP software often forces customers to click through multiple screens to enter orders and run other business transactions. And that will become a bigger sore spot as ERP systems are opened up to more and more staff.
SAP last week offered a first peek at the new R/3 at its software lab in the US. Due for limited shipments in July, the R/3 4.6 upgrade includes a more colourful look, menus tailored for a variety of different jobs and a first step toward streamlining the number of screens users have to contend with.
The vendor's top rivals are also in redesign mode. Oracle said a combined release of its ERP and front-office software due out by year's end will have a simplified user interface.
And PeopleSoft has decided to tie a new user interface modelled after Internet portals to its full ERP suite as an alternative to the current Windows screens. That interface, also scheduled to be ready late this year, was originally meant only for an upcoming series of self-service intranet applications.