Procurement Technology: “Usability Goes Beyond the User Interface”

My colleague Peter Smith recently penned a non-technologist’s technologist look at usability in procurement applications – which arguably is far more important than a pure technology geek’s view into the same subject. You can download Peter’s paper here: What Does Usability Really Mean? Making Software Selection Decisions and Getting Behind the Rhetoric. Peter frames the considerations going into his analysis, noting that:

“Any executive considering a major systems investment in the spend management space should look carefully at what exactly they want in terms of ‘usability.’ What does it really mean, and how does it link to hard business case and financial matters? Which questions should you ask to get to the heart of whether you are considering a genuinely well-designed, coherent and simple-to-use system, or something with an attractive user interface, but is held together with string and sealing wax beneath the surface?”

We’ll explore some of the highlights and findings from Peter’s paper in the coming weeks. But a few things jump out immediately about reading his analysis:

  • Usability is not just what something looks like in a browser. I can’t put it better than Peter’s words: “Usability goes beyond the user interface.”
  • We must frame usability from multiple perspectives, including business users and suppliers. It’s not just a question of making an interface highly functional for an everyday procurement user.
  • There are many costs associated with underestimating the importance of usability – and we must think about quantifying them as we make decisions in what applications to roll out.
  • Usability is especially important for applications that affect a broader set of users, with eProcurement being the quintessential example.
  • With a poor user experience, it’s possible to rub the supply base the wrong way without even knowing it, causing tension and friction that has nothing to do with standard buyer/supplier interactions (e.g., negotiations, changing payment terms, credits/rebates, etc.).

Stay tuned as we dig into some of Peter’s findings in more detail shortly! In the meantime, you can download the paper What Does Usability Really Mean? Making Software Selection Decisions and Getting Behind the Rhetoric from our free research library. Basic registration required.

Voices (2)

  1. kris colby:

    Great thing to focus on! Advanced functionality doesn’t mean nuthin’ if no one actually uses it.

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