The new user interface of cloud-delivered enterprise apps must be simple, intuitive and responsive, and able to deliver contextual information on any device.
Compare the enterprise apps you use (or are required to use) regularly with the consumer apps you use (or prefer to use) regularly. The difference in the UI—usability, responsiveness, aesthetics—should be obvious, if not stark. Consumer applications are forced to improve their UI and usability due to the nature of their business. They have to keep their end users happy. Enterprise applications, on the other hand, are not closely tied to their end-users, because their consumers are decision-makers such as the CIO, Controller or CFO, who in many cases do not use the application as much as the other users. Hence enterprise applications are not motivated or compelled to improve usability.
At Replicon, we approach this differently, and our focus has always been to design with the end-user in mind. UI design is a critical component of our success, and our goal is to bring the usability and aesthetics of the consumer world into the enterprise world. In the area of time and attendance tracking, a clean, easily accessible and intuitive interface is essential to encourage consistent time tracking, especially considering the typical resistance many companies experience when asking employees to fill out timesheets.
So, what are the attributes of a successful interface for time and attendance tracking software?
Task based, not feature based: We’ve designed our application with the end-user in mind, with emphasis on tasks that are regularly performed. That’s why instead of organizing screens and tabs around features or modules, our applications have sections based on what the user does on a regular basis.
Clean, no frills interface: All the user needs to do is enter time. The interface should be commensurate with the task at hand. So, it should be clean and accessible, with easy-to-read fonts, prominent entry fields and clear labels.
“Less Cow Bell”:Most applications tend to offer up a lot of options on a screen, like filters, buttons, controls etc. They do this because they want to handle all possible use cases. Unfortunately, this approach clutters the UI and ends up frustrating everyone. We looked at what most people do most of the time and determined the most common and useful functions. Only these elements will appear in the UI. This created a simpler and easier to use interface.
Progressive complexity: Users of enterprise application have differing needs based on the task at hand. Sometimes a user just wants to enter time, and at another time, the user wants to find out why his or her vacation balance is less than what he or she expected. We’ve designed the interface so that the user can get to more detailed data in a more natural and intuitive progression.
Historical data close at hand: Most enterprise applications defer to their reporting tools (if they have them) in case users need any historical data. Here again, we took a user’s view. For example, it’s natural for a user to want to know about time off tracking history and balance accrual when he or she is about to book some time off. So we put this data close to the time off calendar, within reach when a user is booking time off. For most common historical data needs, a user will not need to go and create reports. That data will always be close at hand.
Any device: Considering users will need to enter time from anywhere—at their desks, on the road, in the car, at home, or at a client site—cloud-based access via any device is essential to maximize productivity. Users should be able to pull up their timesheets on a smartphone, tablet or computer whenever they think of it, and quickly enter time. They should also be able to submit expenses using their device’s camera function.
A time and attendance tracking solution that’s simple to use, easy on the eye and accessible on any device will not only reduce frustration among employees, but will also encourage adoption and consistent time capture, ultimately leading to more accurate, more cost-effective payroll processing.