Is 2016 the year to move your ERP to the cloud?

Whilst businesses of all sizes and sectors have been willing to explore cloud-based applications for years now, many IT departments remain reluctant to move their ERP. It’s easy to see why. The on premise option gives a sense of security from knowing your business-critical processes are in your own hands.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Smaller companies can access up to date #ERP technology – which would’ve been impossible a few years ago”]

But has technology now reached a stage where cloud-based ERP is a viable option for your business? The honest answer is possibly. That’s not a cop out – like most IT decisions, it really is all dependent on your own business and processes.

Cloud-based ERP benefits are well documented. There’s the reduced upfront cost that comes with all cloud offerings. An on premise ERP system requires a significant capital investment, especially if you have to buy new hardware and expensive servers. In contrast, cloud systems are paid for through predictable monthly fees, becoming an ongoing operating cost which can be much easier to manage. It means many smaller companies can access the most up to date ERP technology, something which wouldn’t have been viable for them a few years ago.

has technology now reached a stage where cloud-based ERP is a viable option for your business? The honest answer is possibly

Then there are the lower ongoing costs. Running and managing an on premise solution requires a good level of IT expertise within the business, creating staffing and training costs. There is also the energy cost of running servers and the space needed to house them. For cloud alternatives, all that is taken care of by the vendor.

If you need to be up and running quickly, cloud ERP ticks the box yet again. The time to go live is much quicker with cloud than on premise, with the process measured in weeks rather than months.

Then there’s the added security and data recovery. People are becoming accustomed to internet based applications being capable of securing financial and commercial data – we all bank online don’t we? Even the biggest businesses struggle to match the data security, storage and back-up systems of the big cloud providers. Choose cloud ERP and you’re effectively storing your data in the world’s most secure data centres.

Add on the benefits of being able to work remotely and access your business information and processes on a range of devices in real-time, and you start to wonder why on earth anyone would consider on premise at all.

But as we mentioned at the start, cloud isn’t quite the panacea which solves every business issue just yet. One of the main obstacles faced by cloud ERP customers is a reliable internet connection. We work with a high number of manufacturers who operate on remote sites where internet speeds aren’t what they ought to be. Your ISP needs to be able to provide consistent and reliable high speed internet access, or putting your mission critical business application in the cloud can be a risk too far.

That said, there is a trade-off to consider. With on premise solutions, downtime can be created due to simple real world issues like snow and more drastic business continuity issues such as floods and fires. If you have cloud ERP, your workforce can work from home as easily as in the office. Only you can decide whether the benefits of that outweigh the risks associated with relying on your particular strength of internet connection.

If your business has less specialised needs, such as professional services firms, a straightforward out-of-the-box cloud ERP system can be ideal

Finally, the other critical factor that needs careful consideration is the nature of your business process. Today’s cloud ERP is inherently stable, highly scalable (up and down) and often has all the capability and flexibility of its on premise cousin. But if you have very specific, complex business processes and need a highly customised and integrated ERP solution, on premise can still be the best option. The need to integrate disparate systems might override any of the benefits of cloud.

If your business has less specialised needs, such as professional services firms, a straightforward out-of-the-box cloud ERP system can be ideal.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Today’s #cloud #ERP is stable, scalable and has all the capability and flexibility of on premise solutions”]

As with all IT investment decisions, it pays to find a trusted partner who can analyse your business’s needs and advise on the best option. Cloud ERP offers huge benefits for the right customers, but jumping in without careful consideration can cause more problems than it solves.

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