Independent Review of Unit4 ERP Software

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: June 4, 2022

ERP software can be a vital part of a business's digital transformation. Not only does ERP improve process efficiency and collaboration across departments, but it also helps build better relationships with customers. However, not all ERP systems are created equal - there are many factors to consider when choosing the right one for your business. In this blog, we’ll go over the strengths and weaknesses of a particular system: Unit4.

Unit4 is one of the most common ERP systems used by those in the non-profit, government, professional services, education, public service, and other related industries and is one of the ERP systems that we commonly evaluate when helping clients do their software selection, as it is specially built for these industries and the specific set of requirements and needs that come with them.

But like with every system out there, there are strengths and weaknesses for this product. Let’s go over the main things you should consider when evaluating Unit4.

Functional & Technical Strengths

ERP software can automate manual processes, optimize inventory management, and provide real-time visibility into business data. However, when evaluating or considering any sort of solution as a shortlist candidate for your software solution, it’s important to consider your specific business needs and look at the functional and technical strengths of the product.

Unit4 functional strengths include:

  1. It’s built for smaller organizations. Unit4 can scale up as an organization grows and becomes more complex. Systems that can scale for growth tend to be too complicated for smaller organizations, however, Unit4 has proven to be good at satisfying a client base that ranges from small organizations to larger mid-sized organizations. If you’re a smaller organization and are planning to scale, make sure that you have a solution that can provide the breadth of capabilities you need now as in the future. For example, if you’re in one of the industries mentioned above and are looking for an EPR system that can do financial reporting, general ledger and accounting, inventory management, basic procurement, and human capital management, and you want the system to tie all those workflows together, then Unit4 can be a great fit.
  2. The workflow setup is easy. With Unit4 you can manage workflows relatively easily. You may also set up email notifications and alerts to help with workflow automation.
  3. It supports multiple currencies. Non-profits, hospitals, and other healthcare institutions, as well as government organizations, will most likely require multi-currency availability. Unit4 supports multiple currencies, including cryptocurrency, even though not many ERP systems out there can support this trending currency.
  4. It supports multiple entities. You can track multiple entities or locations, whether you need individual reports for the entities or if it needs to be consolidated to a broader corporate level. This is another feature that is usually reserved for larger organizations but is offered to small and mid-sized ones by Unit4.

When it comes to implementing the product and looking at how you will support and sustain that product in the longer term within your organization, you want to know that it fits your technological needs.

Unit4 technical strengths include:

  1. It’s a relatively integrated system. This is regarding look and feel and the technological solution, as different modules that integrate across workflows and functions. Part of this is because Unit4 it’s not as big and complex of a system as SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics 355. Unit4 is, on the other hand, tailored and right-sized for small to mid-size organizations in select industries.
  2. The reporting and analytic capabilities are strong for a product of this type, when compared to other tier 2 and tier 3 systems designed for small to mid-size organizations.
  3. It allows for highly customizable security profiles. If you have different roles or people throughout the organization that has different needs and you require to give them access to or restrict them from different sets of data, Unit4 allows you to do so in a seamless and easy way.
  4. Allows for a certain amount of customization of the product. If there are deficiencies in the product relative to your needs or if you require the system to do something that was not originally contemplated, Unit4 has some good customization tools that other systems don’t.
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Functional & Technical Weaknesses

ERP systems can be expensive, inflexible, and difficult to implement. Also, not all are configured the same way, so you’ll find some weaknesses when it comes to meeting your specific industry and business requirements. But, despite the challenge, ERP systems offer several advantages that often outweigh the disadvantages for many businesses.

Unit4 functional weaknesses include:

  1. The payroll module only works in the US and Canada. If you have employees outside of the US and Canada, the payroll module may not support your needs there.
  2. There is no robust CRM module. If you’re doing a lot of fundraising or sales outreach to stakeholders and customers, Unit4 may not be the best option for your business. If during the software selection you find that this ERP system fits because of other benefits, you may need a bolt-on CRM solution to address the deficiencies.
  3. The implementation can be expensive and time-consuming, compared to other systems in the market. Part of this is because the Unit4 product can do so much, but also because of the time-consuming nature of the configuration process. You must have a clear understanding and definition of what your needs are upfront to configure and set up Unit4 properly and avoid fixing rounds that can impact your timeline.

Unit4 technical weaknesses include

  1. There’s a split model approach. The functions and capabilities within the Unit4 software are bifurcated. Some are being done in a cloud-based model and some are in an on-premises model, so there is a division between different workflows and processes. This may be because Unit4 is still migrating functionalities to the cloud or that it’s just the way the software is built and architected.
  2. Error messages are hard to understand. When you’re going through the testing process, configuration, or customization, you may get error messages and not be clear on what they mean or what the potential solution should be. This forces you to rely on Unit4 consultants or outside consultants to figure the issue out.
  3. There’s a lack of updated documentation. This is actually expected for a smaller software vendor as they don’t have the resources of multi-million-dollar software vendors.

Is Unit4 right for you?

If the strengths mentioned resonate with you and you’re in one of the industries we’ve referred to, then Unit4 may be worth considering during your software selection process. If you’re with a larger organization that requires more scale or breadth, you’re looking for payroll functions that extend beyond North America or need CRM capabilities within your ERP system, then Unit4 may not be a great fit.

Whether you want to streamline operations and improve communication between departments, reduce costs and improve customer service or drive growth and gain a competitive edge, finding the right ERP system to implement during your digital transformation can be beneficial for companies of all sizes and in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, retail, healthcare, education, public service, and more.

Now ERP systems are available in a variety of configurations, so it is important to select a system that is tailored to your specific industry and business requirements. If you are considering implementing an ERP system in your business, be sure to consider your specific needs to ensure that you choose the right system for your company.

*Disclaimer: Third Stage Consulting is not affiliated with Unit4 or any other software vendor. Reviews are completely technology-agnostic, independent, and free from any sort of influence or input from software vendors.

July 2022 Update:

Unit4 Payroll natively supports payroll in the following countries: Norway, Sweden, UK, US, Canada, and Australia. 

For any other countries or global payroll, they can integrate with 3rd party payroll vendors.

Author:
Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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