I’ve logged a lot of miles in business travel. That means I've had the pleasure of watching hundreds of safety instructions during takeoff and hearing countless announcements over the intercom. There are a few flavors of the safety instructions that have been generally accepted: the safety video, the live safety demonstrations, and a few variations on these two.

Like most people, I’ve stopped paying attention. There are only so many ways to describe how to buckle your safety belt.

So, as my flight pushed back from the gate this week, I found myself actually smiling at the brilliant safety video on Virgin America. The safety video is a federal requirement.  It has to cover specific material. But it doesn't have to be drudgery, even though nearly every airline safety video up until this one has been.

I think it's time for a similar disruption in enterprise performance management. EPM customers have been accepting subpar user experiences for nearly two decades. I've watched several customers walk through their existing planning model in their existing tool. It never ceases to amaze me as they go through a series of steps that are not at all logically connected, yet seem to be oblivious to how counterintuitive the process is.

I think it’s because they’ve been conditioned to accept it, just like that boring airline safety video you’ve seen a hundred times. It's a necessary evil.

In the EPM market, it’s time to remove the evil from the necessary and rethink the user experience with a more modern, intuitive, customer-focused approach.

So what does this approach look like? A modern user experience must be:

  • Logical. The experience should flow naturally from one step to the next – making it easy for people to follow along – even if this is their first exposure to the application.
  • People-centric. A modern user experience conforms to the natural way people work, rather than expecting people to think the way the application thinks.
  • Mobile. While most managers insist they can’t picture engaging in FP&A work from a mobile device, once we hand them a tablet that gives them easy access to their model, data and process, two things happen: They smile, then start working in the app.
  • Collaborative. People are constant collaborators. Applications have to acknowledge and enable this without requiring additional, disconnected steps.
  • Simple. People should be able to quickly answer questions and get where they need to go, without referencing a training manual to get there.

Virgin America doesn’t have a monopoly on video production budgets or access to creative talent. Any airline could have produced a disruptive safety video. But the other airlines didn’t. They were satisfied with the status quo, even if it bored their customers and was completely ignored.

EPM software is the same. Any of the EPM vendors could have created a disruptive, people-centric user experience that was logical, mobile, collaborative and simple. But most haven’t. They’re satisfied with the old approach, no matter how painful and counterintuitive it is.

Are you willing to continue to accept the status quo in your organization or are your ready to transform your organization with an experience that removes the evil out of the necessary – letting you work the way you want?