Many organisations are re-evaluating their ERP strategy and, quite rightly, are recognising that cloud could be an enabler for better business operations, whilst potentially being cheaper and more cost-effective.
As an ERP hosting provider ourselves, the team at C24 regularly sees clients who are looking at how to best leverage cloud for their new ERP platforms. But we also come across many who have jumped into a cloud ERP solution that either doesn’t work from the beginning, or quickly creates problems for the business when it fails to integrate well.
That’s why we’ve put together the “Top 5 things you SHOULDN’T do when deploying ERP in the cloud” to give you some ideas about what to avoid when evaluating cloud ERP for your business.
1. Expect a Mini to drive like a Jeep.
Very often, organisations get stung by cloud solutions because they choose the ‘wrong’ cloud service for the job. Like cars, every cloud make, model and version is different, and each is attuned to solve a different IT challenge. Getting it wrong means you end up with a solution that isn’t fit for purpose.
Because ERP permeates throughout the entire business’ operations, it is important to get the right cloud for the job from the start. This is unlikely to be a low-cost, public cloud, multi-tenant, scale-out environment. ERP relies heavily on the ‘grunt’ of the infrastructure beneath it, so the technology needs to be up to the job.
2. Look for the lowest cost solution.
In an ideal world, ERP cloud hosting would be as cheap as web or email hosting. However, it rarely is. Hoping to drastically cut your ERP costs by moving your onsite infrastructure to the cloud is perhaps a little unrealistic, so setting expectations early on about the true cost of cloud ERP hosting is key – and your ERP or hosting provider should be able to do this.
Being aware of the costs enables you to understand how other cloud services can be offered at such a low cost; usually the result of infrastructure being shared by many customers at once, or by security levels being lower than mission critical environments.
If you can afford to risk the uptime or security of your ERP estate then a lower-cost public cloud option may be suitable. But if like most businesses you need a good degree of certainty when it comes to your business’ central operations, then looking for a more robust and comprehensive solution is key.
3. Think that one supplier can do it all.
Some cloud ERP suppliers offer an all in one, software-as-a-service model that may be perfect for businesses with simplified operations. However, the companies we usually work with tend to have complex systems, spanning manufacturing, invoicing, and customer services – that all need to be integrated into the new ERP solution.
The team at C24 always works with ERP vendors or specialist resellers to craft a holistic solution for our customers – if we did it all in house we just wouldn’t be able to retain the levels of knowledge about individual ERP applications that our ISV partners have, and likewise they wouldn’t be able to deliver the expertise around the hosted infrastructure and analytics layer that C24 can. Choosing a partnership that has been tried and tested instead of selecting one supplier who is a specialist at just the ERP application layer is a surer way of making a safe choice when it comes to your cloud ERP deployment.
4. Be the client and the project manager at once.
We have found that every ERP deployment is different, with its own nuances and idiosyncrasies. This has given us a wealth of knowledge when it comes to new ERP projects that we can draw on, alongside our partners. Trying to reduce costs by going it alone can prove costly in the long run – as project timescales for ERP projects can quickly slip into years, if not managed well.
Trusting a proven supplier or consultancy to project manage your deployment is a good step – however it’s also important to make sure that all parties involved (consultancies and suppliers) can work well together and communicate.
5. Buy an off-the-shelf product for a not so off-the-shelf company.
Unfortunately, ERP projects aren’t simple. We can tell you that from experience. Because the ERP system touches almost every part of a company’s operations, projects have to be delivered with precision and care to mitigate risk at all stages.
Sometimes clients purchase an off-the-shelf product with the aim of driving standardisation throughout their business, and that is a great aim. However, if your business and IT isn’t ready for standardisation, due to the way you invoice, or the way that your clients require orders to be handled or processed etc., then that shiny new off-the-shelf product isn’t able to deliver the change you need.
Instead, working with specialist ERP providers who can tailor solutions to you, whilst also building in a roadmap of how to better standardise current ERP operations so that you can achieve that level of simplification you desire, is a much safer way to drive consistency throughout your organisation.
Hopefully that’s provided some thinking points about what to avoid when deploying ERP solutions in the cloud. Can you think of anything we have missed?