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Experts: Role-based access to apps can improve productivity, training

The hardest part of implementing business process management (BPM), ERP or even customer relationship management (CRM) can be training users to do their jobs using the new tool. To trim that learning curve and improve productivity with the new software, some vendors are offering role-based access or persona-based interface design.

This approach gives users a view of only the functions they need to do their job.

“Instead of having access to 20 things, you get access to the two things you really need,” said Clay Richardson, a senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “You’ve eliminated waste and bloat.”

Vendors like Global360 Inc. and Microsoft have developed versions of their software that allow for role-based access for users. These packages include a number of defined personas, or user types. For instance, Global360’s persona-based BPM package includes three major groups of personas: the builder, the end user or participant, and the manager. Companies can then customize persona types based on what the jobs require.

The Microsoft Dynamics line of applications also offers a role-based design, developed after years of research on how users work with their ERP and CRM applications. This type of interface can help increase users’ desire to use the software and lead to higher job satisfaction and improved productivity, according to Jakob Nielsen, user experience director for Microsoft Dynamics. It can also cut training time. People “get more quickly up to speed and [can] be more productive faster,” Nielsen explained.

Have you heard of these persona-based interfaces? What has your experience been with them?

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