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Don Cooper

Don Cooper

How Industry- Specific Compatible ERP Manufacturing Software Solutions and Related Applications Designed for Implementation in the Restaurant Industry Work (Part IV)

ERP Manufacturing

ERP Manufacturing Software Solutions and Related Applications Designed for Implementation in the Restaurant Industry Work (Part IV)

The Value and Importance of Partnering with Mergers for Small Restaurant Businesses: The Nature and Role of Mergers in the Implementation of Industry- Specific and Compatible ERP Manufacturing Software Applications Designed for the Needs of Small Restaurant Businesses.As noted previously, in the article from the series “How Industry- Specific Compatible ERP Manufacturing Software Solutions and Related Applications Designed for Implementation in the Restaurant Industry Work (Part III)”, there are various reasons why many businesses may wish to enter into the international cluster of ERP/Information/ Internet Technology relations. Some may wish to draw from all - or only some - of the multiple advantages presented by forming partnerships with all the parties involved (as is the case for example in a merger or business conglomerate - which can, under any aspects, be considered small- scale or miniature versions of a global associative industrial cluster such as the one that exists between the ERP/IT technology industrial sectors).

Other reasons to explain their individual decision to participate and form partnerships include the need to acquire an adequate understanding of the appropriate promotional tools (which are based on ERP technology and ERP manufacturing software applications), that are necessary to advertise their products, so they can expose them to bigger intranet/customer audiences. Other companies, instead, may be solely interested specifically in providing technical ERP and technological training for their employees; so that all company levels will know how to operate the multi- purpose functions of the company’s customized ERP manufacturing software solution to run either specific, single, or multiple (depending on the case) internal and external manufacturing, distribution and business/ market processes.

To understand how mergers – acting as collective collaborative bodies -can greatly benefit small businesses in the Restaurant industry, it is worthy to note that mergers create a system which places all participant parties in a condition of mutual and reciprocal growth and survival; one which is also promoted by the free and unrestricted exchange and inter- change of the respective functions/ roles played by each of the participants, and which affects everyone -from company employees to customers, vendors, consulting firms, supply/distribution sectors, manufacturing businesses of any type, local, state and national government, academic organizations and universities, professional institutions and anyone else that enters the “net” or “network” of ERP/Internet technology interests.

The reason is that, ultimately, associative clusters, by their very definition, are in fact net- working associations where every party can promote their business or discover the specific solution to their needs; including innovative marketing strategies to capture new audiences via the interchange of market logistics and technical ERP data and technological expertise regarding innovative technologies for new software upgrades and applications, or valuable market information as well as inside scoops into foreign audience/country demographics, and – last but not least - data on potential global customer audiences who may be interested in the specific services or products they offer. Such a network system assures that ERP technological expertise is disseminated and transferred back and forth continuously (touching new customer audiences and attracting them to the associative cluster) - and in the process - assimilated by every party in the chain of relations.

 

How Industry- Specific Compatible ERP Manufacturing Software Solutions and Related Applications Designed for Implementation in the Restaurant Industry Work (Part III)

ERP Manufacturing

ERP Manufacturing Software Solutions and Related Applications Designed for Implementation in the Restaurant Industry Work (Part III)

How Chef Ramsey’s Reality TV Show “Hell’s Kitchen” could Advance the Global Dissemination among Multiple Industries of ERP Technical knowledge and of Industry- Specific and Industry- Compatible ERP Manufacturing Software Solutions, by Introducing Related Demonstrations of the ERP technology at Work During the Show/ Some of the Primary Reasons why Small or Medium Sized Businesses may Want to Enter into Participation with the ERP/ Information/ Internet Technology Global Associative Industrial Cluster

Continuing from the end of the last part of this article, there are many positive advantages that exposure of ERP manufacturing software technology through TV advertising, and especially through the previously discussed Reality TV Show “Chef Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen”, would bring to multiple businesses from a wide spectrum of various industrial sectors.

Firstly, it would demonstrate yet another example of the innumerable and ever-growing reciprocal relations which are formed within the continuously expanding global industrial cluster of ERP and Information/ Internet technology interests, and which unites multiple business sectors from the most varied industries the world over through the implementation of ERP manufacturing software technology and the partial – or fully global – deployment of their individual compatible industry-specific ERP solutions.

In fact, such a networking system represents a continuum of multiple interlocking interests through which parties come in and out of at will, participating either in the short or the long run, and depending on many factors such as whether this is in regards to a business that is “in the game” only for as long as it takes for it to gain the necessary technical training and technological expertise into ERP/IT implementation, to be provided to its employees - and that then intends to go on its own and venture into the “Seas of high- finance” with the knowledge it has acquired; or whether it is a company that intends to remain in the cluster until they find a solution to a specific single - rather than multiple – and either simple or complex individual need.

Other examples include consulting firms or private professionals that render their services at a limited time for instructing their client's customers on how to operate an ERP manufacturing software they have purchased; or if we are dealing with a small or innovative business that intends to remain in a long-standing relationship with ERP/ IT/ Info technology vendors and providers of ERP manufacturing software applications for the long term, in order to attract new customer audiences as their technological skill level and know-how into ERP technology improves with the aid of the partnerships formed within the associated cluster (especially by attaching business relations with bigger players and competitors in the conjoined ERP/IT  affiliated industrial clusters).

Ultimately all this is done with the objective of increasing their level of technological expertise and level of integration of innovative features to introduce into their ERP manufacturing software solution – thanks also to the aid provided by affiliating or partnering with big mergers; a strategy which is bound to significantly accelerate their level of technological innovation, market growth, and the visibility of these smaller players who seek access to the mutual benefits gained by the transformation that ERP technology - and ERP manufacturing software applications specifically – effect along the chain of multiple IT/ ERP industrial interests

 

It is hard to land on any industry online site today without encountering arguments for the business advantages of Cloud ERP. Right now, Cloud solutions seem to be the #1 ERP topic. The reason is pretty straightforward: Cloud ERP provides a more cost-effective alternative for organizations to reach their business objectives than traditional on-site implementations. As a bonus, Cloud ERP eliminates much of the IT overhead of managing hardware, software, networks, storage and people that are “behind the scenes” of small and medium size businesses (SMB) enterprise operations.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 1)

So how do you go about evaluating Cloud ERP solutions aimed at SMB firms? What are the key questions that should be asked? How can you be sure that the capabilities of the Cloud ERP solution you are considering will align well with your organizations specific business requirements, while also being sufficiently adaptable to meet the needs of change and growth? In this series of articles, we’ll sketch an evaluation methodology for SMB companies to use in conducting evaluations of Cloud ERP solutions.

Cloud ERP solutions can be attractive in many ways. They typically are much less costly to acquire and implementation can happen much more quickly than traditional software. The standardized functionality of today’s Cloud ERP enables greater integration of data and workflow, which leads to higher visibility and improved productivity across the enterprise. The Cloud ERP subscription pricing model obviates the need for investing in IT and data center infrastructure. Upgrades and new releases are absorbed automatically, in the background, minimizing disruption and enabling you to focus on the matter at hand. Cloud ERP is simplicity itself. All you need is Internet access; the rest is in the Cloud.

So how do small or mid-sized firm determine if Cloud solutions are a good fit with their needs? If you’ve already invested in an internal IT capability, are the savings substantial enough. If ERP functionality is the source of a key business differentiator, would you be better off keeping the application closer to home?

Or, if regulatory compliance issues require the ERP transactions remain behind your firewall, can Cloud ERP support that?

On the other hand, if your company has finite resources, limited IT infrastructure, or a distributed workforce in a sales- or service-oriented business, Cloud ERP might make more sense than any alternative.  Evaluating Cloud ERP should be approached as you would any other important purchase. Just because it moves from the CAPEX column to OPEX column doesn’t lesson the need for thorough due diligence.

You still you need to be certain that the solution you choose will deliver all the benefits you expect.With that caveat, let’s explore the key criteria for system evaluation. An SMB organization considering Cloud ERP to replace an existing on-premise software implementation must take care to ensure that all Cloud ERP solutions under consideration are a good operational fit. To ensure that functionality and productivity improvements equal or exceed what you enjoy from your current system, SMB firms should evaluate Cloud ERP solutions carefully.  In following chapters, will explore how to do this effectively.

Continued in Part 2


The first thing to look for when evaluating a Cloud ERP solution is to make sure it won’t end up being a big step down from your current on-premise solution in terms of raw functionality. The convenience of having the Cloud ERP business solution accessible “in the Cloud,” via the Internet, is no substitute for the full functionality and coverage across the enterprise that you require.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 2)

If, instead, you are planning a Cloud solution that will be limited to a single function, such as Travel Expense, you still need to be sure that the solution, and transactional data, can integrate with your cfurrent on premise ERP solution and that it complies with corporate or regulatory standards. Finance, HR, marketing and sales departments and other departments may all need for access to Cloud-created data or have functional requirements that must be addressed.

Conversely, if the Cloud ERP solution is intended to serve as the enterprise-wide, integrated solution that manages all parts of the business, evaluation must include requirements from all departments that may be impacted, even if indirectly. If the most attractive Cloud ERP solution is short of some critical function, you may need to consider customization and enhancement and bringing in a Cloud ERP-experienced consultant or systems integrator to help develop the required functionality.

It is important to also consider all the variations in pricing, terms and conditions Cloud ERP vendors may offer. Be sure to look beyond the typical, vendor-provided rental model, typically “per user, per month”. Such fees are often just the tip of the iceberg. Are their additional storage charges and service and support levels that you’ll have to sign up for? Is a particular pricing model extensible and flexible as your business grows and processes change? Or will moving to another pricing tier reduce or eliminate the financial value of the proposed Cloud ERP solution?

Cloud ERP pricing is usually far simpler and more transparent than on-premise software pricing. Still there are myriad options and pricing tiers, often with substantial ramifications, that must be evaluated. For example, multi-year commitments might carry significant incentives. Consider total annual expenses for the Cloud ERP solution under consideration, including bundling choices, the upgrade paths/solution roadmaps. Before you make a commitment, be sure that it can grow along with your business, not inhibit that growth.

Another important Cloud ERP evaluation issue is the availability, or uptime guaranteed by the Cloud ERP provider, so called “service level agreements.”Beyond just promises, evaluate the data center competencies of Cloud ERP solution vendors. Who are their platform partners? Are they reliable? Ask potential Cloud ERP providers to provide you access to their uptime records. Many Cloud ERP vendors are claiming 99.5% availability, but some don’t offer any kind of service guarantees. This is important stuff. Insist any potential provider shows you data that demonstrates the consistency of uptime over the past several years. Have them fully explain the reasons behind any outages. Most businesses require consistent availability, and know customer service levels will drop without it.

 Continued in Part 3

 

Beyond system uptime, when evaluating competing Cloud ERP solutions, consider system response times. SMBs considering Cloud ERP should make a point of investigating system response time to ensure that performance levels closely match their needs and expectations. A system may have high uptime but not be adequately responsive. Most Cloud ERP solutions provide consistent near instantaneous response time. Ask prospective Cloud ERP providers to demonstrate a record of consistent sub-second response times, if your business depends upon it. Remember that you are outsourcing a big chunk of your data center as well as application functionality. That’s why it is important to ascertain that the Cloud ERP provider will equal or excel your own data center’s production quality.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 3)

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) has published its guidelines on how service level agreements should be structured to help enforce quality of service. The SIAA recommendation is that any SLA should contain base performance levels, credit mechanisms for underperformance and define how quickly chronic problems must be remediated . These are helpful, reasonable baselines. The SIAA maintains that performance guarantees must identify what is being measured and how it is being measured, and establish the number of times an incident may occur before being considered as chronic.

Ultimately, quality of service comes down to the user experience. And SLAs are nothing more than guarantees of a certain experience level. Metrics, then, need to be descriptive of that user experience. SLAs are also useful for establishing how and when problems will be corrected.

Demand a guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) that your Cloud ERP provider is willing to stand behind. Insist on a credit policy that offers pricing relief should system performance fall below promised service levels. Industry leading Cloud service providers have established the norm with real-time posting of system performance levels, online updates on planned maintenance activities that may impact performance, and ongoing metrics on transaction volumes and response time. When comparing Cloud ERP solutions, be sure to carefully evaluate all quality-of-service guarantees proposed by the prospective Cloud ERP providers.

If there’s one Achilles’ Heel many associate with Cloud ERP, it would be in the area of security and privacy issues. Decision makers within SMBs have understandable concers abiout how safe their data might be in the Cloud. Such fears, in fact have stood in the way of many smaller firms embracing Cloud ERP at all. The facts, though, are that almost all most Cloud ERP providers today have what’s known as SAS 70 Type II audit certification, which means that the provider has demonstrated that security controls are operational and that adherence to those controls is maintained. Actually, the level of technical safeguards employed by Cloud ERP providers are far more advanced than those their customers find adequate in their own facilities; your data is probably safer with a Cloud provider. Still,  any firm considering a Cloud ERP solutions must closely examine a providers’ security and privacy services, and ask specifically about Sarbanes-Oxley and SAS 70 Type II audit certification. If you are in the healthcare industry, a safe and secure a Cloud ERP solution must also support HIPAA compliance in regard to the Privacy Rule.

Continued in Part 4

 

Stuff happens. Natural disasters seem to be occurring more often. Humans are humans and dumb mistakes result. The point is, no matter how your enterprise system is deployed, backup and recovery plans are mission critical for SMB enterprises. That means you also need a plan to fall back on when something goes wrong with your Cloud ERP solution. Ideally, your Cloud ERP provider, or its hosting partner, will maintain a backup facility, one that mirrors every transaction in near real time.  Backup and recovery, the old adage says, doesn’t matter at all until it matters  too much. Any evaluation of a Cloud ERP solution is incomplete without a careful examination of the Cloud ERP provider’s backup and recovery capability.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 4)

The earliest innovators of Cloud ERP solutions offered little in the way of to customization. One size fits all was the opening mindset. Today, however,Cloud ERP offerings do support customized user interfaces, additions or changes to core functionality, even custom and proprietary data structures. That means even the smallest firms can ensure their Cloud ERP solutions adapt to their way of doing business rather than force them to change operations to match the limitations if the software. The latest generation of Cloud ERP providers are differentiating themselves by aggressively promoting advanced personalization capabilities, such as the integration of social networking and other collaborative apps.

Cloud ERP vendors have made customization as easy to use as, well, cloud ERP. Point and click personalization tools enable users to do their own customization to their desktop “look and feel,” and to even create their dashboards based on personal KPIs. If customization or personalization is important to your firm, you’ll find it easy to find a vendor, whether a Cloud ERP system integrator or other technical expert, to help you get what you need.

How can you integrate your Cloud ERP solution with existing on-premise apps, such as CRM or WMS, which you are reluctant to abandon? A Web services API can make that possible. Cloud ERP providers have for the most part developed their software by leveraging service oriented architecture (SOA) and utilizing Web Services standards. This can make integration a breeze, although buyers are wise to always plan for conditions and situations specific to their operations. Ask prospective Cloud ERP solution provider whether their services include a Web Services API to support integration with your existing software solutions.  While the answer is sure to be in the affirmative, it’s a good practice to ask the question.

In the world of ERP, how things get done, how processes are structured, is known as workflow. It can be very disruptive for an SMB to completely upend their workflow and retrain everyone to accomplish familiar processes in entirely new ways. Initially, Cloud ERP solutions were quite rigid in this regard, but they are getting better. SMBs would be well advised to ask vendors how flexible their solution is and to what degree workflow can be customized. Also ask whether additional workflow can be added later on. It may be easier to simply re-map some business processes internally but you also want to ascertain your Cloud ERP system’s ability to adapt to changing business needs. If the solution you choose lacks flexibility in workflow, you’ll have a tough time optimizing business processes for greater efficiency or value. As Cloud ERP workflow capabilities continue to evolve, you’ll find greater and greater flexibility. Ask prospective vendors about their plans to evolve their solutions to provide greater workflow flexibility.

Concluded in Part 5

 

Stuff happens. Natural disasters seem to be occurring more often. Humans are humans and dumb mistakes result. The point is, no matter how your enterprise system is deployed, backup and recovery plans are mission critical for SMB enterprises. That means you also need a plan to fall back on when something goes wrong with your Cloud ERP solution. Ideally, your Cloud ERP provider, or its hosting partner, will maintain a backup facility, one that mirrors every transaction in near real time.  Backup and recovery, the old adage says, doesn’t matter at all until it matters  too much. Any evaluation of a Cloud ERP solution is incomplete without a careful examination of the Cloud ERP provider’s backup and recovery capability.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 4)

The earliest innovators of Cloud ERP solutions offered little in the way of to customization. One size fits all was the opening mindset. Today, however,Cloud ERP offerings do support customized user interfaces, additions or changes to core functionality, even custom and proprietary data structures. That means even the smallest firms can ensure their Cloud ERP solutions adapt to their way of doing business rather than force them to change operations to match the limitations if the software. The latest generation of Cloud ERP providers are differentiating themselves by aggressively promoting advanced personalization capabilities, such as the integration of social networking and other collaborative apps.

Cloud ERP vendors have made customization as easy to use as, well, cloud ERP. Point and click personalization tools enable users to do their own customization to their desktop “look and feel,” and to even create their dashboards based on personal KPIs. If customization or personalization is important to your firm, you’ll find it easy to find a vendor, whether a Cloud ERP system integrator or other technical expert, to help you get what you need.

How can you integrate your Cloud ERP solution with existing on-premise apps, such as CRM or WMS, which you are reluctant to abandon? A Web services API can make that possible. Cloud ERP providers have for the most part developed their software by leveraging service oriented architecture (SOA) and utilizing Web Services standards. This can make integration a breeze, although buyers are wise to always plan for conditions and situations specific to their operations. Ask prospective Cloud ERP solution provider whether their services include a Web Services API to support integration with your existing software solutions.  While the answer is sure to be in the affirmative, it’s a good practice to ask the question.

In the world of ERP, how things get done, how processes are structured, is known as workflow. It can be very disruptive for an SMB to completely upend their workflow and retrain everyone to accomplish familiar processes in entirely new ways. Initially, Cloud ERP solutions were quite rigid in this regard, but they are getting better. SMBs would be well advised to ask vendors how flexible their solution is and to what degree workflow can be customized. Also ask whether additional workflow can be added later on. It may be easier to simply re-map some business processes internally but you also want to ascertain your Cloud ERP system’s ability to adapt to changing business needs. If the solution you choose lacks flexibility in workflow, you’ll have a tough time optimizing business processes for greater efficiency or value. As Cloud ERP workflow capabilities continue to evolve, you’ll find greater and greater flexibility. Ask prospective vendors about their plans to evolve their solutions to provide greater workflow flexibility.

Concluded in Part 5

 

Beyond system uptime, when evaluating competing Cloud ERP solutions, consider system response times. SMBs considering Cloud ERP should make a point of investigating system response time to ensure that performance levels closely match their needs and expectations. A system may have high uptime but not be adequately responsive. Most Cloud ERP solutions provide consistent near instantaneous response time. Ask prospective Cloud ERP providers to demonstrate a record of consistent sub-second response times, if your business depends upon it. Remember that you are outsourcing a big chunk of your data center as well as application functionality. That’s why it is important to ascertain that the Cloud ERP provider will equal or excel your own data center’s production quality.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 3)

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) has published its guidelines on how service level agreements should be structured to help enforce quality of service. The SIAA recommendation is that any SLA should contain base performance levels, credit mechanisms for underperformance and define how quickly chronic problems must be remediated . These are helpful, reasonable baselines. The SIAA maintains that performance guarantees must identify what is being measured and how it is being measured, and establish the number of times an incident may occur before being considered as chronic.

Ultimately, quality of service comes down to the user experience. And SLAs are nothing more than guarantees of a certain experience level. Metrics, then, need to be descriptive of that user experience. SLAs are also useful for establishing how and when problems will be corrected.

Demand a guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) that your Cloud ERP provider is willing to stand behind. Insist on a credit policy that offers pricing relief should system performance fall below promised service levels. Industry leading Cloud service providers have established the norm with real-time posting of system performance levels, online updates on planned maintenance activities that may impact performance, and ongoing metrics on transaction volumes and response time. When comparing Cloud ERP solutions, be sure to carefully evaluate all quality-of-service guarantees proposed by the prospective Cloud ERP providers.

If there’s one Achilles’ Heel many associate with Cloud ERP, it would be in the area of security and privacy issues. Decision makers within SMBs have understandable concers abiout how safe their data might be in the Cloud. Such fears, in fact have stood in the way of many smaller firms embracing Cloud ERP at all. The facts, though, are that almost all most Cloud ERP providers today have what’s known as SAS 70 Type II audit certification, which means that the provider has demonstrated that security controls are operational and that adherence to those controls is maintained. Actually, the level of technical safeguards employed by Cloud ERP providers are far more advanced than those their customers find adequate in their own facilities; your data is probably safer with a Cloud provider. Still,  any firm considering a Cloud ERP solutions must closely examine a providers’ security and privacy services, and ask specifically about Sarbanes-Oxley and SAS 70 Type II audit certification. If you are in the healthcare industry, a safe and secure a Cloud ERP solution must also support HIPAA compliance in regard to the Privacy Rule.

Continued in Part 4

 

The first thing to look for when evaluating a Cloud ERP solution is to make sure it won’t end up being a big step down from your current on-premise solution in terms of raw functionality. The convenience of having the Cloud ERP business solution accessible “in the Cloud,” via the Internet, is no substitute for the full functionality and coverage across the enterprise that you require.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 2)

If, instead, you are planning a Cloud solution that will be limited to a single function, such as Travel Expense, you still need to be sure that the solution, and transactional data, can integrate with your cfurrent on premise ERP solution and that it complies with corporate or regulatory standards. Finance, HR, marketing and sales departments and other departments may all need for access to Cloud-created data or have functional requirements that must be addressed.

Conversely, if the Cloud ERP solution is intended to serve as the enterprise-wide, integrated solution that manages all parts of the business, evaluation must include requirements from all departments that may be impacted, even if indirectly. If the most attractive Cloud ERP solution is short of some critical function, you may need to consider customization and enhancement and bringing in a Cloud ERP-experienced consultant or systems integrator to help develop the required functionality.

It is important to also consider all the variations in pricing, terms and conditions Cloud ERP vendors may offer. Be sure to look beyond the typical, vendor-provided rental model, typically “per user, per month”. Such fees are often just the tip of the iceberg. Are their additional storage charges and service and support levels that you’ll have to sign up for? Is a particular pricing model extensible and flexible as your business grows and processes change? Or will moving to another pricing tier reduce or eliminate the financial value of the proposed Cloud ERP solution?

Cloud ERP pricing is usually far simpler and more transparent than on-premise software pricing. Still there are myriad options and pricing tiers, often with substantial ramifications, that must be evaluated. For example, multi-year commitments might carry significant incentives. Consider total annual expenses for the Cloud ERP solution under consideration, including bundling choices, the upgrade paths/solution roadmaps. Before you make a commitment, be sure that it can grow along with your business, not inhibit that growth.

Another important Cloud ERP evaluation issue is the availability, or uptime guaranteed by the Cloud ERP provider, so called “service level agreements.”Beyond just promises, evaluate the data center competencies of Cloud ERP solution vendors. Who are their platform partners? Are they reliable? Ask potential Cloud ERP providers to provide you access to their uptime records. Many Cloud ERP vendors are claiming 99.5% availability, but some don’t offer any kind of service guarantees. This is important stuff. Insist any potential provider shows you data that demonstrates the consistency of uptime over the past several years. Have them fully explain the reasons behind any outages. Most businesses require consistent availability, and know customer service levels will drop without it.

 Continued in Part 3

 

It is hard to land on any industry online site today without encountering arguments for the business advantages of Cloud ERP. Right now, Cloud solutions seem to be the #1 ERP topic. The reason is pretty straightforward: Cloud ERP provides a more cost-effective alternative for organizations to reach their business objectives than traditional on-site implementations. As a bonus, Cloud ERP eliminates much of the IT overhead of managing hardware, software, networks, storage and people that are “behind the scenes” of small and medium size businesses (SMB) enterprise operations.

ERP Software

Cloud ERP Evaluation for SMBs (Part 1)

So how do you go about evaluating Cloud ERP solutions aimed at SMB firms? What are the key questions that should be asked? How can you be sure that the capabilities of the Cloud ERP solution you are considering will align well with your organizations specific business requirements, while also being sufficiently adaptable to meet the needs of change and growth? In this series of articles, we’ll sketch an evaluation methodology for SMB companies to use in conducting evaluations of Cloud ERP solutions.

Cloud ERP solutions can be attractive in many ways. They typically are much less costly to acquire and implementation can happen much more quickly than traditional software. The standardized functionality of today’s Cloud ERP enables greater integration of data and workflow, which leads to higher visibility and improved productivity across the enterprise. The Cloud ERP subscription pricing model obviates the need for investing in IT and data center infrastructure. Upgrades and new releases are absorbed automatically, in the background, minimizing disruption and enabling you to focus on the matter at hand. Cloud ERP is simplicity itself. All you need is Internet access; the rest is in the Cloud.

So how do small or mid-sized firm determine if Cloud solutions are a good fit with their needs? If you’ve already invested in an internal IT capability, are the savings substantial enough. If ERP functionality is the source of a key business differentiator, would you be better off keeping the application closer to home?

Or, if regulatory compliance issues require the ERP transactions remain behind your firewall, can Cloud ERP support that?

On the other hand, if your company has finite resources, limited IT infrastructure, or a distributed workforce in a sales- or service-oriented business, Cloud ERP might make more sense than any alternative.  Evaluating Cloud ERP should be approached as you would any other important purchase. Just because it moves from the CAPEX column to OPEX column doesn’t lesson the need for thorough due diligence.

You still you need to be certain that the solution you choose will deliver all the benefits you expect.With that caveat, let’s explore the key criteria for system evaluation. An SMB organization considering Cloud ERP to replace an existing on-premise software implementation must take care to ensure that all Cloud ERP solutions under consideration are a good operational fit. To ensure that functionality and productivity improvements equal or exceed what you enjoy from your current system, SMB firms should evaluate Cloud ERP solutions carefully.  In following chapters, will explore how to do this effectively.

Continued in Part 2


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