Lots of ERP vendors talk about roles. It’s a big part of the increased emphasis on user experience in the software marketing conversation.
Roles are important to us in our day-to-day affairs, both at home and at work. We all have roles that we engage as we interact with each other. These might include spouse, parent, friend and so forth. At work, our roles are more tightly defined.
Roles must be adaptable
The nature of any given role within the enterprise is driven by the needs of that enterprise. These are variable and they are somewhat specialized from company to company.
Here’s an example. If your role at the XYZ Company is to oversee the accounting department, you possess a certain number of skills and attributes that equip you to do your job. But, that doesn’t mean you can be picked up and dropped into another organization, let’s say heading up the accounting department at a large state university, and expect to perform successfully.
Why not? For starters, most state universities employee a whole different type of accounting system. If you’re not versed in fund-based accounting the transition from business- to fund-based may be a bit of a challenge.
So, adopting a role within an organization means there will be a certain amount of adaptability required on the part of the person fulfilling the position.
In the same sense, ERP software that is based on role-tailored architecture must facilitate some level of personalization to ensure that the elements making up each role conform to the needs of the enterprise.
Commonality: ERP and men’s fashion
Roles have a lot in common with clothing in terms of the individual variability they require. Consider men’s suits.
Off-the-rack suits feature a coat and matching pants pre-sized in the waist and shoulders with the idea that further tailoring will “customize” the garments for fit properly. This is fine if you are within an inch or two of fitting the sizing norms associated with height and girth.
As another alternative they can purchase a product called “suit separates” which provide fully-tailored coats, pants and vests in a ready-to-wear condition separately priced and tagged for sale. You select your trousers based on waist and inseam size and then select your coat from another rack based on sizes associated with your shoulders, arm length and chest size.
This option is typically lower-priced and better fitting for those of us that are not going to show up on the cover of Men’s Health anytime soon.
Finally, you can go to a tailor who will measure you and cut your suit from bolts of clothe to ensure the best possible fit. This is the best option but also the most expensive.
The point here is that the clothes must adapt to the wearer. The suit must be modified to fit the physical dimensions of the person wearing it.
Roles within ERP are exactly the same. They must be adaptable, customizable and conform to the specific needs of the job. If the fit is bad, the result will be awful.
You wouldn’t think of walking around in a suit that had sleeves extending several inches beyond your hands and pants that ended just south of your knees.
Select an ERP solution that facilitates a good fit between the role and the end user. An adaptable template-based approach to roles makes more sense than hardwired roles requiring lots of source level modifications in order to get them aligned with your needs.
Also consider the future. Will the role change and grow as the person acquires more responsibilities and skills? Suits frequently need to be altered as the individual goes through changes in weight and height.
You will want to alter your ERP roles as the user’s job definition expands and contracts.
So, when you are “trying on” ERP systems, look for a role-tailored-template approach. One size fits all doesn’t work with suits and it doesn’t work with ERP either.