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Benefits and Challenges of Implementing Cloud-Based Business Information Systems (Part 1)

Choosing the Correct System for Your Business

This is the first in a two-part series looking at the benefits to businesses, along with the challenges, of moving to a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP solution.

Although moving to a cloud-based business information system isn’t a new concept, the events of this year have greatly accelerated cloud adoption and migration, and more and more organisations are seeing the benefits of such a move.

These solutions are also commonly referred to as ERP – or ‘Enterprise Resource Planning’ – systems. In essence, these allow businesses to gather and organise their business data within an integrated software solution. ERP software can help with automating and streamlining many business functions such as accounting, procurement, project management, human resources management, risk compliance, and supply chain operations – to name but a few.

Examples of these ERP systems include Workday, MS Dynamics, Sage, Oracle, SAP and Unit4, just to name a few of the better-known packages.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Systems

Although there are hosted or on-premise solutions available, with the surge in digital transformation and the shift for the majority of us to remote work where possible, it simply makes sense to have a cloud-based solution for your business.

The ‘access anywhere’ nature of the cloud allows for flexibility and business continuity in your working practices, and modern solutions are not only secure and capable, they’re also easily scalable and customisable for your business needs.

How do I choose?!

I’d always advise that you should begin any transformational project by completing a thorough review of your business issues in order to clearly define, understand, and prioritise them.

Very often organisations choose an ERP solution based on low price, or the amount of buzz surrounding them – it’s important to avoid this ‘shiny new object’ syndrome as no ERP is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution!  Make a clear and extensive list of your unique business requirements, and carefully define the scope of your project.  But don’t make a ‘cottage industry’ of defining your detailed requirements to the Nth degree – it will take a lot of time and effort, and you may never find an off-the-shelf solution to meet every requirement.

Assess your priorities and what you want from the system – for example, do you want detailed reports and metrics? Or do you want to streamline your payroll? How good is the overall visibility of one system over another when it comes to remote project management?

No two systems are the same, and some will have the functionality you require in-built, while others will offer them as ‘add-ons’ which may cost extra. Security features are an important concern too, particularly if you operate within a highly-regulated industry.

You also need to consider how well a particular solution will integrate with your existing legacy or office systems, in order to optimise costs and avoid a prolonged and complicated implementation.  And it’s also very important to understand how you would go about migrating your existing information from your current systems to the new cloud-based solution.

Considerations with the ‘New Normal’

With the events of this year and the radical changes to the way you work, it’s important to consider how ‘mobile friendly’ you need the solution to be.

Flexible working, mobility and bring your own device (BYOD) is on the increase across most industry sectors, and desktop-only access to ERP systems is an outdated option for many. If this is the case for your business you need a system that has functionality across multiple mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and that will allow users to be just as productive using these devices.

As a final word, I’d ask you to keep in mind that any solution you choose should be in alignment with your longer-term digital transformational goals, and able to scale as necessary to accommodate these – after all, the future is only going to become more digital!

Next Steps

At Monro Consulting, we can help you choose and implement your ideal cloud-based ERP solution. We aren’t tied to any one SaaS provider, so we can offer you truly impartial advice that is 100% in the best interests of your organisation!

As an example, take a look at this case study detailing how we helped a leading UK not-for-profit organisation implement a new cloud-based ERP system on time and on budget.

If you’d like to talk to us about your options please do get in touch!