User Experience & Enterprise Software

One of the big challenges all companies face is trying to find software that helps its workforce to do their jobs in an effective and efficient manner.

Most large companies end up purchasing a broad ‘enterprise’ solution from a vendor like SAP, Salesforce or Microsoft and try to customise this to meet their internal needs. Whilst this has the virtue of providing a so called ‘off-the-shelf’ solution, it also suffers from compromises that often follow a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.

One of those compromises is user experience.

There’s the perception that solutions from big IT vendors are more secure, reliable & flexible (read enterprise ready) and that once a business hits a certain size, this is the route it has to go down.

However this is often not the case. It’s common to hear of cases where enterprise software had become a bottleneck for a business and caused serious problems further down the line.

The reality is enterprise software can be slow and difficult to use because it’s designed for an imaginary industry-wide user, with little regard for the domain specific requirements of individual industries or sectors.

The ‘one size fits all’ approach means the application footprint is large. Instead of being lean and well-tailored to the specific challenges that a company faces, these enterprise packages are full of unused code bloat that requires significantly more processing power, memory and storage. This often causes a slow end user experience for the consumer.

The systems requires a lot of training and a significant effort to get up to speed with and make use of, as the terminology and processes are unfamiliar to the user. In many cases, this can be so challenging for members of the workforce that they will simply not use the systems. You even see companies pass on hiring good workers solely because they aren’t already trained on the package!

These two quantifiable (yet generally unseen) costs of poorly designed user experiences in enterprise software end up reducing morale and can reduce productivity and efficiency.

In a system which has a well designed user experience, a new starter should be able to quickly and easily perform tasks and access any information required. In turn, this should reduce the amount of training and support and can boost morale as workers spend less time griping about bad software and begin to feel empowered in doing their jobs.

In many cases, it can be a better choice for a organisation to look at a more bespoke open source solution rather than diving in and purchasing a one-size-fits-all from one of the big IT vendors. We note that this month ThoughtWorks Technology Radar has put a ‘Hold’ status on ‘Big enterprise solutions’.

We see attraction in flipping the enterprise model on its head. Rather than starting with a huge platform that includes most of what you do want and a whole load of what you don’t: pick and choose a smaller collection of things you do need. In keeping with the continued industry-wide adoption of microservices, we’ve seen success in pulling together a collection of smaller solutions that are best-fit for the organisation’s domain, presenting them as a cohesive and tailored user experience.

We expect that over the coming years you’ll see fewer ‘big enterprise solutions’ and a shift to organisations adopting industry-specific technology platforms that have a user experience tailored for the needs of that domain. We hope to see less enterprise bloat, fewer multi-year platform procurement and rollout plans and user experiences that actually work for users.

About the Author

Rory MacDonald

Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Made Tech

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