Whether you’re in the market for a first-time or replacement ERP system, you’re likely considering at least one cloud-based solution. No matter whose research you peruse—third-party or vendor-specific—the writing is on the wall: more companies are taking their ERP operations to the cloud (the public cloud, more specifically). Is that the right strategy for your company? If so, which solution is “best” for your organization today—and moving forward?
What You’ll Find in the Cloud
As you do your due diligence and compare the features and benefits of various solutions, you’ll find some key differences between systems. Some of the differences might appear arbitrary, while others are more meaningful, depending on your business’s exact needs, growth stage, industry, employee profile, existing technology environment, and more. Indeed, certain ERP systems are “better” than others when it comes down to industry fit or the intended use of a software suite (e.g. focus on project accounting or distribution management).
That said, if you’re new to the search, what should you be looking for? What should you expect to find in a leading solution? Based on our experience helping clients implement the most prominent cloud-based ERP systems (e.g. NetSuite, Acumatica, and Microsoft Dynamics 365), we think this checklist will help you get started. Most cloud-based ERP systems offer:
Flexible Deployment Options
While we’re assuming you’re interested in a cloud-based software delivery model, be aware that there are different types of cloud deployments. Today’s innovative ERP vendors tend to offer a public cloud option, private or hybrid cloud options, or even on-premise deployment with which your data can ultimately be migrated to a cloud if your needs change.
Your company’s industry and/or regulatory environment may dictate which deployment model you choose—but know that most vendors want to make it easy and convenient for customers to implement their technology, and your IT partner can be counted on to help facilitate the process, whatever it entails.
Basic Core Functionality
ERP systems are designed to make it easy to you to manage all of your core business processes (and data) from one place, usually coming to life within executive dashboards for analysis and on-demand reporting. You can expect most systems to accommodate data from your existing finance, sales, customer service, and operations systems, and then have the flexibility to “add” new functionality as needed.
Your software suite might come standard with financial management and CRM modules, for example, but be ready and waiting for HR, field services, ecommerce suite, and other extensions (and even off-platform integrations).
Cloud-based systems, unlike their on-premise counterparts, are built for transformation and evolution. After all, their platforms are the product of an ever-changing and fast-moving technology universe: software vendors are constantly innovating and have the agility to act fast on customers’ needs. They are inherently flexible—they cater to companies who grow quickly, whose needs change frequently, and whose leaders and rank-and-file employees demand access to the latest tools and resources. As we discussed above, adding new functionality is generally hassle-free and doesn’t require tedious coding and customization.
It’s relatively easy to get started up with a cloud-based ERP system and even small (and growing) businesses can manage to introduce a cloud-based ERP system without making a huge up-front hardware or IT personnel investment. Thanks to the fact that cloud customers share resources and keep costs down for everyone, solutions are affordably priced—usually based on per-user monthly subscriptions that can be easily scaled (learn more about Acumatica pricing). What’s more, you don’t need new servers and computers to “run” the software, and the vendor and IT partners can handle the heavy-lifting, so to speak, of the implementation itself.
Exceptional Ease of Use
Cloud-based software is well-known for being “easy” in most regards. The new functionality introduced by any ERP system—namely, automation to replace manual processes—definitely helps add value by way of productivity and efficiency gains. But in terms of using the software, even the most non-technical employee can easily take advantage of their tools, by way of:
- Anytime, Anywhere Access—users log into their software from desktop and laptop computers as well as mobile devices.
- Built-in Tech Support—ERP vendors typically handle all software updates and support issues, freeing up internal IT teams to focus on business initiatives.
- User Training—you can expect your cloud ERP vendor, along with the implementation partner, to provide user training and other resources to ensure a smooth, successful implementation and user experience.
Where Do We Go From Here?
When it comes down to choosing the right cloud-based ERP solution, it’s critical to work with a vendor and implementation partner who has a deep understanding of—and functionality catering to—your business vertical. And choose a product that’s ready to work with your existing legacy system(s) and the way you work.
Learn more about Choosing an Implementation Partner Who Can Manage Your Expectations and contact us for personalized guidance while finding the right ERP solution for your business.
Additional ERP Resources:
5 Tips for Creating Your Internal ERP Implementation Team
3 Best Practices for Highly Effective ERP User Training