Mouse click more or less?!

“Mr Berends, before you start with your demonstration we would like you to bear in mind that we expect you to take account of the fact that we closely monitor the speed at which things can be recorded in the ERP system. We would like to know and to be shown that we don’t have to click the mouse a large number of times in order to obtain a result.” That puts paid to any further discussions before they even start! You receive a business case in which all the flavours that you could buy in a sweet shop have to be shown, including all exceptions that can possibly be thought of …. with a minimum of mouse clicks! Nice challenge. I can still remember that, using Triton along with hot keys and tabs, I could navigate through the system. I could do that really quickly and I was the very best at finding screens. I can still remember that I was faster on the numeric keys than the average checkout operator at Aldi. That was before barcodes were introduced to supermarkets. The reason I had to be as fast was because I had to search through all the orders, or quickly prepare an ad hoc report, or there was a filter missing on a screen. Constructing queries was technical work for the ICT department and running a query almost brought the entire company down. For that reason, every order was viewed and the results of the progress were added to a list. That is just the tip of the iceberg! Nowadays, an ERP package has to be able to do everything and all information must be immediately available. We are automating increasingly complicated matters and every now and then we also attempt the exceptions.

But back to my first remark. Does the number of mouse clicks say anything about the quality of the package? It does say something about the speed of order entry, but nowadays we want much more. Take, for example, controlling margins, ATP and CTP checks, purchasing/production decisions when an order is entered, etc. Whichever way you look at it, if you want all of this functionality available from one screen, you will still have to get the information from somewhere and inform the system to obtain that from somewhere. In many cases, this can be done using hot keys, but in many cases you will have to use your mouse. In this case the persuasion must not be based on minimising the number of mouse clicks, but how quickly I can obtain reliable information and how do I make sure that the data is entered correctly or can be interpreted correctly. In this case, a few additional mouse clicks gave a couple of enormous business benefits. First of all, on one single screen you have access to reliable and useful information. Secondly any additional data that is entered may ensure that the rest of the chain has the right information to be able to produce and deliver effectively. A second question that you could ask yourself is whether a reduction in mouse clicks has ever made money. I do understand that if you are a company with a huge flow of orders, order entry has to be very fast. That is why it is so important that the work planner adds all the information to the system, to ensure that the order entry is error-free. Creating new products will require more time for work preparation, but that time will easily be recouped through the order entry. This is just one of the many examples that I could rattle off. Do you recognise yourself in this example?