‘Retro’ often manages to evoke happy emotions in people, be it music, fashion, or even automobiles. But if you’re dealing with a retro software system at work, that’s got to be a feeling farthest from happiness.
Retro systems in this context don’t only refer to legacy software or SaaS products, but any system that hasn’t evolved to suit the contemporary needs of the users (employees) and the business.
Systems lacking in basic flexibility – from technical to infrastructural are a burden on the business. The brunt of working with a system such as this is borne by the employees who perpetually experience a sense of dread while using it.
Enterprise users heavily depend on their integrated systems to perform their job well. However, outdated systems continue to disappoint them with their sluggish functionality. Imagine what they would do to work with software that is intuitive and functions in a complementary manner. The beauty of such an intuitive system is what lends the users a sense of achievement while performing their duties, and thereby, develop a strong affinity to their job and organization.
Usability issues tend to have simple, doable solutions. If your users are suffering from any of the problems listed here, it’s time to consider getting a UX audit done.
Usability Pain Points in SaaS Products
1. It’s barely usable, forget being convenient
What does usability truly refer to? To begin with, it’s got to be simple in form and function and therefore, easy to use. There isn’t any place left for complicated workflows in enterprise apps anymore. Good design has to be an enabler – it means that the required job is done with minimum hassles. From the UI perspective, it should be task-focused, and clutter-free; above all, a well-designed product is something that people would willingly use, as opposed to being an obligation. Following Maslow’s hierarchy of user needs, the next level to attain is that of ‘convenience’. A convenient application goes beyond the parameters of usability to become more intuitive and capable. This is when the system is evolved enough to anticipate user needs, glitches, and contingencies, and adapts to serve them flawlessly.
If your system splutters and coughs when the users attempt to perform any tasks beyond the standard ones, it’s in for a UX overhaul.
2. It’s incompatible with contemporary software and devices
Incompatibility is among the star issues plaguing legacy systems. They’re known to provide limited support to file and data formats. As tech systems evolve – and they obviously do – legacy users are forced to make do with obsolete formats that their clients have moved on from. Like how the world moved on to HTML 5 leaving Adobe Flash behind for good.
According to this McAfee survey, 80% of employees were already making use of unapproved SaaS apps for work-related things. It goes without saying that mobile connectivity is a lifeline for businesses of today, since global businesses never really have formal business hours. The flexibility that comes with implementing cloud-based software is crucial for businesses as varied as warehousing, manufacturing, petroleum, logistics, warehouse control, oil and gas production, or logistics to financial services.
A UX intervention can help your company make a smooth transition towards establishing a mobile strategy. This would involve the creation of tools and apps that gradually accommodate necessary functionality and operations.
Having been developed as per the tech prowess of the ‘90s (not user needs, mind you), these systems usually require an expert team of designers and developers to give it a semblance of belonging in the 21st century. Instead, a well-designed IT strategy today is platform agnostic possesses the capability to support any device, Operating System and form factor.
3. It’s the primary cause of lowered productivity and morale
The average person today enjoys easy access to technology. He’s spoiled for choice by sleek and intuitive applications that help him order food or even find a date with minimal effort. Now, this average person is also your employee. If his place of employment has him work with software that’s a relic of the past, productivity and morale are sure to take a hit.
Until 2014, Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals in the US kept using their VistA interface based on MS-DOS for discharge summaries, progress notes, and other clinical documents. This obsolete system was a major source of frustration for the employees and negatively impacted their services. Complex, slow-functioning legacy software is no longer an obligation. It works as a wake-up call to the management which prides itself on commissioning applications that are too suave for their average users – as was the case of Avon’s controversial order management system.
4. It’s never there when your clients need it the most
An omnichannel customer support system is a service that clients take for granted today. As a user, you must have encountered cumbersome telephone calls with customer support staff who’d keep you on hold for endless hours and leave your issue unresolved in the end. Hopefully, the last time that happened was probably in 2015, or even earlier. Because, customer support today means being available 24/7, be it via chatbots, self-service portals, emails, or even social media – the client never likes being kept waiting.
Being tethered to the old way of functioning only means that you’re risking the loss of clients and thereby threatening the existence of your business.
5. It necessitates expenditure on rigorous training
A 2016 HR report states that the cost of hiring an employee averages USD 4129. Now, imagine piling on that cost with the added expense of employee training.
Legacy systems predate the creation of standardized UI features and usability principles, which make it complex and cumbersome. Taking into account that the workforce being hired now comprises millennials, this is one problem that will compound the hiring process and drain the company’s finances. Besides, clunky software has no place to exist in 2019. Being inherently outdated and slow, no amount of training hours can bring it up to speed.
Bank of America has already done away with thousands of obsolete applications. Even McDonald’s point-of-sale platform is now cloud-based. GE is adapting to the cloud as well by shutting and limiting its data centers. The eureka moment for these companies came about when they aligned the perspective of the management with user needs. Just as Tim Cook mentioned at the recently-concluded Apple Event, “By giving people wonderful tools you enable them to do wonderful things”.
Companies, guided by UX experts are now well-advised to implement systems that are cross-functional and optimized to accommodate overall functions and goals. With a UX audit, you receive a comprehensive list of usability issues that are driving your productivity and business down. The design team then triages the steps of action to be taken. Besides resolving glaring issues, a UX audit also unveils novel opportunities for conversion and engagement.