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Why ERP software for service industries leads to higher requirements for usability and integration needs

Posted by  Dylan Llewellyn

In the service industry, does focusing on user experience and integration when selecting an ERP make any difference? 

Surely, if the ERP software has all the functionality you need, then it’s right for the job. So, what’s the problem?

There’re two problems with this thinking: can people use it, and why are they using it?

Can people use your ERP software?

Oddly, one thing that is often not considered, or at least not considered soon enough when choosing ERPs is People Experience. This is especially true for service industries who are much more people-focused.

Put simply, people will be using the system, so it needs to usable.

One major cause of this usability issue for the service industry comes from the fact many ERPs are product-focused, not people-focused. This comes from ERP vendors traditionally tending to have a manufacturing focus for their systems.

The problem for service industries is that these ERP systems struggle with the people-based processes they have when delivering services and projects. This can lead to unnecessary workarounds and overly complex processes to account for this.

Making these ERPs them harder to use and less efficient, which somewhat defeats the point of using an ERP.

Why people use your ERP software

The other issue that this product-focus causes comes from differentiation. These systems tend to follow the same processes, which isn’t ideal for people-focused service providers.

People in service industries need an ERP to help them maximize the efficiency and profitability of their projects. The ERP needs to help them:

    • improve resource allocation and utilization, 
    • manage project management, execution, costs and customer relationships,
    • find new business and expand into new markets, 
    • while helping them hire and retain the best people to do this. 

That’s a lot for any system to do. 

What causes both these problems is an ERPs lack of focus on usability and People Experience, but why?

The why

The simple truth is that many ERPs don’t tend to offer the necessary functionality, usability or integration that service industries need to achieve success for their projects. This is because they aren’t built with People Experience and usability in mind. It’s that product, not people focus again.

Whereas ERPs built around People Experience and project-based workflows offer a much more manageable solution. Letting service providers develop focused processes and systems tailored to their projects and customers. Helping people to deliver more and making that easier to do.

The solution is usability

So how do service providers get around this problem?

The answer is quite straightforward, use ERPs built for people and projects from the ground up.

ERPs developed with people and projects in mind offer numerous benefits, such as:

      • Focus on usability and how people work 
      • Comprehensive integrations with other systems
      • Cloud flexibility to allow for growth
      • Growing automations to remove unnecessary tasks
      • Virtual workspaces to help connect people
      • Standardized and simplified processes and workflows
      • Simple and fast data sharing
      • Powerful data visualization and analysis tools
      • Better project planning and management
      • Improved data security
      • Microservices that let people use what they need
      • Digital assistants to make use even more natural 

The result

Systems that focus on people, and how they work, boost productivity rather than block it. Intuitive, user-friendly functionality and design makes them easier to use, while automations make them indispensable for managing day-to-day tasks.

For people-focused industries, these are vital benefits from any system, but particularly important for your ERP. So whatever system you choose, make sure you’re asking the right questions, and that the system delivers more than simple functionalities, and focuses on People Experience.

Systems that focus on People Experience in this way are in our DNA at Unit4.

So, if your ERP software is the same, how does your ERP platform differ or make any difference?


Holger Mueller of Constellation Research has written a paper on how
Unit4 pushes the ERP Platform to the next level.

Dylan Llewellyn

Dylan is an industry specialist at Unit4 providing in-depth sector articles for Higher Education, Not-for-Profit, Finance, Professional Services and Public Services. Dylan previously worked at Thomson Reuters, SMRS and Tetra Consulting as a senior editor.

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