When is the last time you read a manual for a piece of software you use in your personal life?
Unless we miss our guess, the answer is probably…never.
Spotify? Gmail? Dropbox? You don’t need to use a manual. How about your iPhone/Android? Nope.
Did you ever think about why that is?
Software Development Has Come a Long Way
Software development on graphical-based systems (GUI) is only a few decades old, kick started with brilliant software engineers stretching programming languages as far as they could go. Twenty years ago we were building our first programs for the web, and those were viewed as highly experimental and regarded as almost certainly doomed to failure.
And when these brand new programs started to come out? Well, it’s not a big surprise that they were a little clunky.
Many readers will be familiar with the progression from Windows 95 to 98 to XP, where each of those releases marked milestone improvements in the ease of use of the operating system.
If you think about it, you’ll have seen milestones like this all through the software world over the last twenty years. This is because many companies have stopped focusing on just software development – they started investing in the user experience.
The Age of User Experience
Data is really clear on one thing with software: If it’s hard to use, people will stop using it. In the industry we call this adoption and if you do some quick Googling you will see it’s a huge problem for many, many companies.
Now, a lot goes into adoption (training is one very important factor outside the scope of this blog post), but realize that user experience is at the core of it.
This is why savvy firms invest heavily into making sure their software is as easy to use as possible, which involves being well thought out (called UX – user experience) and visually well designed (called UI – user interface). Today, many firms put the user experience first when designing their software.
From a consumer standpoint, this means that there is absolutely no need for your staff to struggle to use software.
A Couple Notes, to be Fair
Perhaps you’ve tried to use Photoshop at some point in your life. Photoshop is a brilliant piece of software but without taking classes or looking at tutorials, good luck making anything wonderful with it. This is why graphic designers are considered skilled labor – it requires time invested to learn how to use this software, not to mention harnessing creative talent.
The staff at your hotel are not the same as graphic designers. Their jobs are not dependent on mastery of a single piece of software. They shouldn’t be expected to spend years learning how to use your PMS.
One last point – enterprise software will always have some challenging aspects to it because there are so many features inside. It’s completely fair to expect that – at some points – you might have to do some Googling or make a quick call to the company’s support team to figure something out.
That is okay. You could make Photoshop “easier” to use by taking out features…say you took out so many you turned it into MS Paint. Now the program is far less useful and graphic designers would hate the changes. This isn’t a great option.
Above all else, make sure you choose hotel software that’s easy to use. Your staff will appreciate it, and so will you. Here’s a tip: the newer a user interface looks, the easier it will probably be for your staff to use it.