Spend Matters Papers – What Does Usability Really Mean?

Here’s a plan - through August and into September we’re highlighting all the research papers, briefings and so on that we’ve produced in the last two and a half years. We’ll  include what we said when we first launched it, and of course the link so you can download – free on registration. Why not use the quiet time in August to brush up on some procurement thinking? And they haven’t dated, in our opinion.

Today we have “What Does Usability Really Mean? Making Software Selection Decisions and Getting Behind the Rhetoric", and it was sponsored by Coupa.

 Here’s what we said when we launched it just a couple of months ago.


We’ve published  another new research paper that you can download (free on registration) here. It’s titled:“ What Does Usability Really Mean? Making Software Selection Decisions and Getting Behind the Rhetoric”.

In it, we’ve looked closely at the very topical angle of “usability” in terms of business software, particularly that of interest to the procurement community.  These days, consumer applications are so intuitive that users don’t think of them consciously as “software.” Ordering goods online; checking train schedules from a smart phone; using social media applications like Twitter or Facebook – they’ve all become regular and intuitive events.

So you can understand why pretty much every announcement we see now from a B2B software firm talks about how easy it is to use the product. The model for business software is no longer SAP or Oracle – it is Amazon, Facebook or eBay. Making things really easy for the user is the goal of every firm it seems. And that’s great – one of the reasons why procurement related software has often seemed a disappointment has been its lack of user friendliness. That has led in turn to poor adoption or compliance, and has done little for the reputation of procurement amongst a frustrated user community in many organisations!

Usability is therefore undoubtedly a Good Thing. However, in this paper, we have struck a few warning notes. “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” as US politicians are fond of saying. It’s not that difficult these days to make the most visible elements of the user interface look attractive and fairly simple to use. But what lies beneath the surface may be very different.

Is the user experience consistently good, not just for the most basic processes? How easy is to configure the software and make changes to permissions, approval routings or key screens? In an eProcurement context, usability is about more than simply a decent catalogue with nice pictures. And how does it look and feel to the supplier? Is the experience of working with the software easy for them?

Assuming usability is something you’re concerned about in terms of your procurement software, (and you should be), then you need to dig into what it really means and how that sexy looking product will really be like to live with on a day to day basis. So we’ll get to those questions and more in this paper, which is sponsored by Coupa but written (as is the case for all of our papers) from an independent perspective.

We’ll feature a couple of extracts from the paper over the next few days – but do download the whole thing here.

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First Voice

  1. Market Dojo:

    Our view is simply that usability = adoption. This is been our mantra from our humble beginnings combined with transparent pricing and professionalism as that is truly taking the consumer SaaS product philosophy and making it available for the B2B community. No longer should changed management be a chore. Designing a good product actually makes it fun with benefits for management and the end user. If you feel you do have a well designed usable system then you should always let the customer try on their own before they buy, as it is always easy to make a demo look good. This is why we developed a sandpit for a customer to try our solution for free from a host and supplier side. I am very pleased to see more products like this and Coupa is certainly a great example.

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