The cloud is no longer “something we’re thinking about”. Software as a service has become the near norm in 2016 with everything from office products and CRM to ERP, PSA and supply chain solutions being moved to the cloud. Of course, there are many flavors of cloud to keep things interesting. We have multi-tenant public clouds, private clouds and even hybrid clouds. We’re more than familiar with terms like “software as a service” (SaaS) as well as “platform as a service” and “infrastructure as a service” (PaaS and IaaS, of course).
Does familiarity make the decision any easier when deciding whether or not to fundamentally change the way we deploy, manage and pay for something as mission-critical as our ERP system?
How do you know when it is time to embrace the cloud?
The fact is, you are already. Very few companies have escaped the move to cloud. Services like Office 365, Google Analytics, ADP, FedEx, Adobe Creative Suite, GoToMeeting, DocuSign and ZenDesk are just a smattering of the hundreds (or thousands) of mainstream business solutions in use by over 90% of enterprise companies. Click here to download our white paper on the value of cloud computing.
Moving your ERP and supply chain solutions into the cloud may be a tougher decision. The value proposition isn’t unclear, but your risk tolerance is very low so there is no room for failure.
Signs you may be ready for ERP into the Cloud:
- Employees are asking for it – a lot. Your staff may already be there. People live on smartphones and inside the world of social media. They expect to see the same usability and access to work activities as they do the rest of the technology they depend on. The younger they are, the more they’ll gravitate towards anytime, anywhere access. If your systems are still tethered, so may be your ability to improve and grow operations.
- It’s time to remodel the server room. This goes without saying. The closer you are to cycling your servers and other hardware, the more enticing the value of a cloud solution. Retire the old hardware and let someone else deal with storage, CPU power and the rest of the plumbing.
- You’ve waited too long to upgrade your current ERP. Many companies are in this situation. Customizations, costs and old habits have kept you from upgrading to the latest versions and now you’re looking at an expensive, time-consuming undertaking to catch up. Take a chance to learn about your solution and find out if the newer versions even live up to expectations. Often, legacy ERP systems apply new interfaces or web-based access portals that only bandage outdated architecture problems. A clean move to an updated, cloud-powered solution could be the better option.
- You’ve noticed your ERP Vendor moves slower than you: Regulatory requirements, reporting and user access change frequently. Older, on-premise solutions typically require more “waiting until the next release” than cloud solutions. Native cloud solutions publish updates frequently and typically with much less ado. Your business can consume these small bits of change with far less cost or disruption to daily operations.
- You’re growing, going public, acquiring or expanding into new markets. Whether you’re preparing for an IPO or moving into new markets around the globe, a cloud solution will provide a more flexible, agile platform that can be deployed in new markets without large capital expense. And, the nature of subscription pricing will allow you to increase/decrease user costs as the business naturally expands and contracts throughout these transitions. Hopefully, we’ll all do more expanding than contracting!
- You need IT to re-focus IT on optimizing business operations. This, above all, is the most common reason why executives choose to look towards the cloud. For some companies, a cloud strategy will result in a lower total cost of IT ownership. For others, it will stay the same or even cost more. There is simply no arguing that having a large, security-driven cloud host (like Microsoft Azure or AWS) in charge of managing infrastructure will free up time to focus on elsewhere. Your IT organization can spend their cycles on improving workflow automation and supporting the team instead.
The six reasons outlined above are all good jumping off points to consider cloud ERP, but in reality it is probably just a matter of time before most companies make the transition. The advantages for most companies already more than compensate for any costs incurred in making the transition. Most importantly, you should understand that most software vendors fall into one of two buckets: Those that can and those that can’t.
If an ERP vendor is able to transition to their solution to the cloud, they are already there or working on it. Many solutions were designed in a way that just doesn’t allow them to efficiently make the transition. These vendors hang on to their mark share as long as their customers will allow it and ultimately exit the market. Today, private cloud offers a viable solution for many legacy ERP packages. As native cloud solutions continue to mature, they will soon be in a position where their value proposition just doesn’t compare.
Don’t be the last to leap. Make the decision to move forward on your terms.
If you would like to learn more about the value of the cloud, I would suggest downloading this fact sheet from SBS Group.
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, SBS Group
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions. From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem helps SBS Group customers maximize benefits from the ERP investments.
Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Vice President, Enterprise Group where he provides thought leadership and manages the enterprise delivery team. Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.