By Kevin Permenter, Senior Research Analyst, International Data Corporation (IDC)
The market for professional services is growing rapidly. In fact, IDC estimates that professional service spending for enterprise applications will grow by nearly 9% through 2022. With this level of spend happening within the industry, the market is becoming increasingly competitive. As a result, it has become important that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Professional Services Automation (PSA) applications find ways to differentiate themselves within the intensely competitive landscape. While the war over features and functionality rages on, end users are becoming somewhat numb to incremental functionality changes.
Not only is the market growing, but the professional services industry is also undergoing tremendous change. Client expectations are steadily on the rise, and the increasing competition is leading to tightening margins. To offset that, consulting and architecture and engineering (AE) firms are eagerly looking to technology to help them do more with less. As a result, and in the mad rush to add more functionality, many software vendors have lost sight of usability and the overall user experience.
Our research suggests that professional services firms are increasingly making user experience one of their key vendor selection criteria. Here are a few of the unwanted consequences for a lackluster user experience:
- Wasted time. Time is a precious commodity within professional services firms. A clunky or outdated user interface can lead to wasted time which otherwise could be spent toward billable activity or growing new business opportunities.
- Lack of user engagement. Organizations cannot gather insights from data that is not in the system. An ERP system that is cumbersome or frustrating from a user experience perspective can lead to billable hours being tracked outside the system or not being tracked at all. This avoidance behavior can wreak havoc on the budgeting and forecasting process.
- Lack of flexibility. Outdated user interfaces especially in terms of mobile experience leads to a lack of flexibility for firms. An updated user interface makes it easier for professional services firms to put the right people on the right projects even when their people are on the move.
With its Vantagepoint software, Deltek aims to address the issues plaguing the industry by reimagining the way customers interact with their products. The focus is to make it easy for ANY user to get his or her work done as efficiently as possible. Vantagepoint features a clean and straight-forward user interface which allows users to quickly access the information they need. Some of the key aspects of the update include:
- Enhanced configurability. Consulting and AE firms want more configurability to their ERP and PSA applications, not customizations. Deltek Vantagepoint allows end users to change/reconfigure interfaces without having to rely on IT resources or bring in outside consulting or IT services.
- Simplicity. Deltek Vantagepoint provides an intuitive experience that requires few additional/unnecessary clicks or repetitive key strokes. It also offers an interface with functionality (search, status bars, alerts etc.) that is similar to what users have become familiar with in consumer software.
- Accessibility. Deltek Vantagepoint allows users to interact with the applications using a natural language interface to type or speak a request. All of this will happen without the user being required to navigate through various menus, fields or buttons. This natural language capability can drive efficiency among users and increase the overall accessibility and ease of use.
Going forward, the user experience will be the key differentiation point among ERP and PSA software vendors. With the introduction of Deltek Vantagepoint, Deltek is showing that it has its finger on the pulse of the rapidly evolving consulting and AE markets. Deltek is working hard to provide a positive overall user experience including offering a modern user interface, proactive account management, and strong customer support, along with modern functionality. As a result, IDC anticipates that Deltek Vantagepoint will be a powerful addition to the crowded professional services ERP and PSA space due to its focus on the user experience. Deltek is not alone in its efforts. With the user interface a point of differentiation, other ERP and PSA vendors will also direct their energy to streamlining functionality.
About the Author
As a senior research analyst with IDC’s Enterprise Applications team, Kevin M. Permenter provides insights and intelligence across multiple areas including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), order management, financial applications, and project and portfolio management.
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