January 9, 2012
When talking about the Lawson Smart Office, there are many perspectives to consider. In general when talking with the market and analysts, we present LSO as the Workplace that was designed for the user. A workplace that brings together People, Processes and Information to drive efficiency. Gone are the days when customers have to choose between a rich user interface and the ease of deployment. We talk of our insight in leveraging IBM on the server and Microsoft on the desktop. These are strong and relevant messages to the market.
We also talk about how, if you really want to get the most out of LSO, you need to use it in conjunction with Lawson Business Intelligence, Lawson Enterprise Search and ProcessFlow. This is the platform that drives dramatic user productivity improvements.
But what you need to understand better is how LSO by itself, truly drives tangible gains in user productivity. It’s time to take a look at the User’s View.
There are four aspects of LSO that we look at when we are talking about productivity gains:
- Faster Time to Answer
- Click Reduction
- Increased User Acceptance
- Shorter Time to Custom Solution
You can use these points as a framework to explain how your organization will experience an increase in user productivity. With an understanding of a tangible set of criteria, you will be able to justify the time and money needed for an LSO implementation.
Faster Time to Answer
Most Lawson users spend a large portion of their day dealing with interruptions. Things come up that are not part of their normal daily grind. Re-engineering their standard processes only drives out some of the inefficiency. The hidden gem here is the time savings associated with lowering an employee’s time to answer. Basically, how long it takes them to answer a question or track down a discrepancy or variance and take corrective action.
Though each interruption may be unique, what they have in common, at a most basic level is:
A Question is raised (work is initiated)
- Verbally in a meeting or on the phone
- Or it could be self-initiated (worker notices an anomaly or discrepancy)
Investigation is done
- Queries are run
- Reports are printed
Corrective Action is taken
- Records are adjusted
- Comments are entered
The answer is communicated to the pertinent parties.
- Calls are made
- emails are sent
- paper is passed
There are many opportunities here:
IT shouldn’t write complicated queries or reports and print them out, users can use list-driven forms and InfoBrowsers to quickly find all of the records that meet a specific criterion then edit them inline or launch them in a work list. The results can then be emailed to relevant parties and the process is done.
Now, take it a step further and work on prevention.
- Use conditional styles to make problem records quickly identifiable.
- Users can set up alerts or watches to notify them when issues arise.
- Create InfoBrowsers that show exception records only. (Out of balance invoices, error suspense transactions, Vendors on hold, POs that are partially received, past due reviews, employees without benefits or on leave or…)
LSO offers users many opportunities to get answers much quicker, using less resources and not only does that help their productivity, it also helps the employees who are waiting for the information or corrections.
The whole idea of “click reduction” may seem like managing minutia but it is here that real productivity gains can be best measured. For users who spend the lion’s share of their day entering records, it is even more important to reduce clicks. LSO has many opportunities for a user to set up their screens to streamline entry.
Simply setting a default for a key field like company number, vendor group or customer group on a form can save 5 strokes of the keyboard. Now consider hiding the 10-15 fields on an input form that are not leveraged by the organization. Change the tab order so it more closely matches an input document. These simple changes in LSO lead to real, measureable efficiency gains vs entering records in LID or Portal.
Now multiply the number of reduced clicks by the number of records entered by a user in a day. Multiply that by the number of users using the same screens then by the number of work days in the month and the savings really add up.
User Acceptance is a little bit harder to measure using quantitative analysis methods but the savings are real none the less. Think of the way users or “you” for that matter, use your computer. You can choose what picture you want for your wallpaper or what color theme you want. You decide what shortcuts you have on your desktop, what favorites you have in your browser and how you organize them. You can set up your start menu and run multiple apps at the same time. But, as soon as you go into the portal, or any ERP system for that matter, your hands are tied.
LSO brings together those capabilities and the other features that end users expect when running a modern application. It allows them to work the way they want to work, leverage the skills they have developed in a way that feels more natural to them.
Bottom line: This makes workers happy and happy workers produce more.
Reduced Time to Custom Solution
End users are rarely, if ever satisfied with the way that software comes out of the box. There is always something that needs to be changed (beyond the configuration).
To make changes for LID, IT had to use the CASE tool, a character based tool with a steep learning curve.
The use of either of the aforementioned tools required someone on the business side to define the requirements and pass them to IT. IT would then interpret the requirements and code the changes. Then the business user would test the code. More often than not, users would find that what they received was not what they wanted (even if it was what they asked for). These iterations can go on for a long time and when the length of time that the request sits in the queue is included, the time required for a custom solution can be quite long.
With LSO the end user can do many of the personalizations themselves. They can get immediate feedback as to whether the change is truly what they want and make adjustments accordingly. Furthermore, these changes can be rolled out to individual users, groups of users via roles or globally. IT can roll these changes out or the business users can do it themselves in a matter of minutes.
Business users can have compelling, customized solutions in less time than it used to take to even document the requirements.
There are many ways that organizations can benefit by implementing the Lawson Smart Office but how to sell people in your organization on the efficiencies that LSO brings can be difficult. By using a framework for your discussion built on: a Faster Time to Answer, Click Reduction, Increased User Acceptance and a Shorter Time to Custom Solution, you will be able to convey the information you need to justify the inclusion of an LSO implementation in your upcoming budget.