Learn the Ins and Outs of Cloud ERP
Cloud-based ERP solutions are one of the fastest growing segments within the IT industry. These new solutions come with a wealth of options, features and benefits. What does Cloud ERP look like? In this blog, we outline the key features in 8 areas that differentiate cloud ERP.
1. Network & Configuration
Cloud-based ERP solutions are offered on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. In a SaaS model, information is accessed via the Internet. In most instances, only a website address and a login are needed. Users can login from a variety of devices and work at anytime from anywhere. Once the system is deployed and users learn how to use it, it’s as easy as opening a browser window.
Cloud-based ERP solutions are available 24/7 every day of the year because the portal door is always open. As long as they have an internet connection, employees can work from wherever, whenever, and in any time zone without worrying about network availability.
Response times are as rapid as internet connection speeds, and all employees are running transactions at the same time. There’s no need to wait for software upgrades or data to load in order to login and see what’s going on. Team members see what other employees are doing as they are doing it because everything happens in real time.
Many cloud-based ERP options offer 99.98% uptime, meaning that their servers are down or going through maintenance less than .02% of the time. 99.98% is usually much higher than companies are able to achieve with their own server storage facilities because when onsite equipment goes down, that facility remains down until it is fixed.
Cloud ERP solutions are managed by the service provider, so companies only need an in-house employee who knows how to use the system. Updates are done system-wide and most often happen to all users at once, meaning that employees access the current version each time they login. The service provider monitors the system, protecting from hacks, watching uptimes and looking at system peaks and valleys. Companies can focus on running their businesses, not worrying about their ERP systems.
4. Hardware and Software
With a cloud-based system, companies no longer need hardware/servers for ERP storage or software. A good cloud-based ERP system will also reduce the total number of systems needed, giving users the ability to see, use and analyze data all together in one place. Many cloud ERP solutions offer the newest technology, like mobile apps, and are even compatibility with advanced technology like wrist and ring scanning devices, location trackers and voice technology.
5. Storage, Data Retention & Disaster Recovery
With cloud-based ERP, transactional data and files are stored at a secure data center. Companies no longer need to worry about how much server space they have, and they never have to buy more. Service providers who keep historical data can reference transactions from the first day of a customer’s implementation.
Most SaaS ERP providers have complex emergency plans to ensure data is protected. This is far better than housing data onsite where it is subject to any number of issues. Many data centers also back up their network and data at a redundant data center. A benefit that isn’t provided when housing everything onsite.
When a system is set up, each person is assigned a unique user ID and password. Usernames can be activated immediately and can be instantly deactivated if employment status changes, giving companies complete control. All users are tracked in the system by name, time and date stamps. If something is entered into the system incorrectly, management can see who created the issue and go to the person to assist in working out the solution. This helps to resolve problems quickly and reduce errors.
Many modern ERP systems allow companies to restrict or grant access based on IP addresses. This ensures people are clocking in from the correct workstations and allows people to see data based on the location of their computer. In cloud-based, SaaS ERP solutions, users can be assigned specific permissions or belong to groups with other users who share permissions.
SaaS ERP solutions offer tremendous flexibility and scalability. The service provider manages peaks and valleys in data transactions, sustaining stability during high and low transaction times. Companies don’t have to worry about lag time due to busy times or because a department is bogging down their system. Because users can be added or deleted as needed, it isn’t a problem to increasing users by 10 or 100, or even opening a facility in different country.
8. Business Management
At its core, a new ERP system should help a company better manage its business. When data is available in real-time, decisions can be based on today’s data, not just when physical inventories are done. This leads to better decision making and reductions in physical inventory, including raw materials, work in progress and finished goods. Manual processes are reduced or eliminated, and non-value added activities can be eliminated.
Modern ERP solutions provide real-time, instant reporting, giving a complete and total view over the movement of a company. Reports from all areas of the ERP system – scheduling, CRM, shipping, quality, financial, maintenance, HR, security, purchasing and inventory – give team members the information they need to make important decisions.
For more information on cloud ERP, visit our blog, “The Case for Cloud.”
Our experience manufacturing consultants have been working with companies for over 20 years to help them maximize the value of their ERP systems. If you would like to find out more about today’s cloud ERP solutions, give us a call at 614-212-1111. We would love to change the way you think about ERP.