Game on - why chess, Pac-Man and ERP software go hand in hand

Raising our game: applying the principles of gaming to transform merchant software

Games are fun to play, right? Well, the successful ones are – and deliberately so. It’s no accident that people get so addicted to particular games, and why gaming is such a massive industry worldwide. So what can we learn from games that will help your business?

Games designers are a very, very clever bunch, and they are in many ways experts in human behaviours and psychology. In short, they know how to get you hooked and coming back for more, constantly trying to beat your best score (or someone else’s) and telling all your friends about this great new game you’ve discovered.

Here at Ten-25 we love a computer game. As you might expect, our team includes many keen gamers. And that got us thinking. What if we could take some of the principles of game design and apply them to the software we make for our customers? Could we effectively gamify ERP software? And more importantly – why would we want to?

The principles of gaming

There are a few different theories around the core principles of gaming but effectively they boil down to:

- Make it easy to learn, fun to master

- Measure and celebrate achievements

- Have a good story holding it together

So how does each of those tie in with ERP software? And why did we think it was a good idea to invest in a games designer for business software?

Make it easy to learn and fun to master

When you learn a new game, you want to be able to dive in and start playing as quickly as possible. You can learn the more advanced controls as you go, but really what you want is just to get playing.

Same with business software. You don’t want to have months of training just to be able to raise a PO or quote. So simple, intuitive use was an absolute imperative from day one of design.

ERP software is traditionally clunky and complex. We have changed all that with a fresh, clean interface that puts all the information where you’d expect to find it.

You can start using it for the basics almost straight away, but there’s enough substance to support the most complex business functions, from flexible margin control and stock optimisation metrics to advanced reporting and analytics. This is no one dimensional point and click – but it’s super easy to use.

Not only does being easy to learn minimise the disruption of implementation, it also removes stress and frustration, boosts engagement and productivity, and frees up enormous amounts of time on a daily basis, leading ultimately to a more fulfilled and happy workforce.

Measure and celebrate achievements

If you’re playing a game for hours and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, have no idea how much further – or in which direction - you have to go and never seem to collect any bonuses along the way, chances are you’re going to get bored pretty fast.

Same with business software. If your targets and objectives aren’t clear, how can you hit them? If you have no idea of your progress, how can you take the right action to improve performance? And if your results aren’t visible or trackable, how will you know you’re doing a good job?

These were all principles we applied in designing Merchanter. Research has categorically proven that when targets are in plain sight, and your progress towards them is clearly visible, you are more likely to hit those targets. Worst case, at least you know exactly how big the gap is going to be so you can take steps to mitigate risk.

Encouraging healthy competition can be incredibly motivating (obviously within reason.) Having a transparent and instant overview of sales performance, stock management, margins and other business metrics is a great way for teams to get motivated and strive to achieve more. You might not want an actual leader board on show – but you never know! It’s human nature – and celebrating the successes is much easier when they’re visible. It also allows you to spot changes in performance more easily and potentially nip issues in the bud, both organisationally and on a more human level with individual people.

Net result: greater satisfaction, productivity and performance across the whole workforce.

Have a good "story" holding it all together

You might not really be that invested in whether the hero of your game triumphs or care too deeply about the back story in MarioKart, but the consistency, world-integrations and and engaging scenarios of the most popular games keep players loyally coming back for more, time after time. Basically, if it's got a great central principle holding it all up, you're probably onto a winner.

Same with business software. OK, bear with us.

If you are working in isolation without a more holistic view of the whys and whats of your business, chances are you are going to get confused, demotivated or thoroughly fed up.

Integrated business software that connects the dots and allows you to see how all the different parts of the business are working and performing, with up to date, accurate metrics for every department and a consistent user interface that encourages engagement and participation, will help you see the full story.

You can see how the buying and selling cycles affect stock, how pricing fluctuations are impacting profitability, when logistics planning is likely to run into difficulty. Being able to easily see all the moving parts of the business in a straightforward and consistent way is enormously powerful. Control, measurability, consistency and great tools are key.

Fast, fun, effective and easy to use.

Just like a computer game.

That’s why we invested in a games designer for our interface, and it’s why we get the feedback we do from our customers, telling us just how much difference it’s making every day.

And that makes us pretty glad we bothered.

Fancy a play? Just register here for the demo system and discover the beautiful simplicity of Merchanter for yourself.

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