How to Select an ERP Solution

Determining an ERP solution for a business can be a daunting and time-consuming task with many pitfalls along the way. When it comes to evaluating a system, it is important to understand the steps the organization must take to ensure the procurement process runs as smoothly as the most refined solution on the market.

With ERP systems on a steady rise, it’s important that a business selects a vendor that can meet its needs — now and into the future. A true ERP system should provide customers with the flexibility to start where they need and grow with them, adding applications and adjusting for users with an affordable and sustainable plan.

Gartner predicts 17.3% growth in 2019 to total $206.2 billion in the cloud services market. Many companies that are migrating to the cloud, don’t know where to begin. Here are some key points to consider:

System Requirements

Assessing business needs and what is required from a prospective system is an imperative first step; one that needs to take place even before reaching out to prospective ERP vendors.

ERP systems will operate across the organizational layout and while implementation may start out focusing on only a few primary areas, it’s very likely the system will grow to encompass more as time goes by. Because an ERP system grows to cover more areas and evolves with the company, it’s essential to review all departments, including those it may take a couple years to impact. The project team should be sure to consult relevant parties and establish a list of requirements.

Company Goals

Project leaders should also determine how a new ERP system will assist the business in achieving its short-term and long-term goals. This task should be straight-forward, unlike the system requirements phase. The company’s goals should already be established — look to its strategic plan and those of various departments as a starting place.

Take a look at how the ERP will assist in bringing these goals to successful fruition. Perhaps the short-term aim is to improve system efficiencies, or the long-term goal is for your business to branch out into new markets; the business should have an idea how an ERP system can help achieve business goals.

System Integration

An ERP system is the core component of a company’s primary system structure. It will need to “play” well with other applications employees use to perform their work functions. Make sure the ERP the business chooses, works well with these other systems and even potentially compliments them. Integration is a key benefit to cloud-based ERP systems, as it offers infinite flexibility.

With true cloud solutions, businesses will find, more than not, ERP systems that are widely-used and won’t buckle to the challenge of integration. Additionally, many ERP systems offer a partner network — take a look to see who they’re already working with!

Training

It’s essential that companies determine their needs before they choose a solution — this will prevent surprises that could negatively impact the budget. A misunderstanding in regard to cost and responsibility for training can severely derail an implementation rollout.

Fortunately, top ERP vendors offer flexibility in this area and will offer unlimited licenses and a broader approach to training. To make matters easier, the systems are generally user-friendly, which means it won’t take heavy lifting to get users comfortable within the system; there are also additional resources such as manuals, training partners, and user forums that employees can turn to as they’re ready to advance their knowledge.

References

Customer reviews and references play a massive part in all buying decisions, and the ERP selection process should be no different.

Seeking out references from business in similar industries and situations as your company can provide unique insight. Reach out directly to these companies, and, if possible, visit to see how the software is working. These conversations often provide the best chance to evaluate whether the system is a good fit for the business; it may also make a company aware of potential pitfalls that could lie ahead with this particular ERP system.

Budget

An ERP system implementation should be a top focus for many businesses. While it’s important to look at cost-savings along the way, make sure the system the company chooses fits its current needs — as well as where it would like to take the business in the future.

While the price should be a strong factor in the overall decision, it’s not always about getting the cheapest possible solution. An ERP system that is well-suited for a business can provide it with endless efficiencies and ultimately profit. Look at the big picture.

Getting Started

A company deserves the freedom to focus on its growth. A well-developed cloud strategy gives businesses the advantage they need, thanks to powerful tools available at any time, from anywhere. To learn more about implementing an ERP system, contact us today!

Why SMBs Should Upgrade to the Cloud

Technology innovation is moving forward at lightning speed and companies that fail to keep pace risk losing their competitive edge. This is of even more concern for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that lack expansive amounts of IT and financial resources. The quickly changing technology landscape can be intimidating for businesses without the ability to adapt at the pace of competitors.

What should SMB’s do to remain competitive? Looking to the cloud can help such organizations respond to the demands of the day with modern technology that allows them to go nose to nose with businesses of like size, as well as larger corporations.

The New Normal

Today, SMBs are taking note! Cloud adaptation is the number one trend for these businesses — something that probably comes as no surprise. According to a recent study by the SMB Group, areas where SMBs are using the cloud the most are:

  • Business intelligence and analytics (37%)
  • Marketing automation (36%)
  • Sales and contact management (31%)

Accounting and finance lags with a surprising 62% of those surveyed still using on-premise software. Concerns about data security and compliance are likely responsible, but with cloud vendors making major strides and building a new sense of trust, this is an area expected to explode. In fact, SMB Group reported 42% of customers surveyed cite better security and reliability as a top reason to migrate to the cloud.

What are SMBs looking for as they embrace the cloud? Topping the list are cost effectiveness, ease of use, and a better customer service record. A central theme among respondents identified that SMBs will be looking at new ways to use the cloud.

As of a 2017 SMB Group survey, 48% of all SMBs were planning to engage in activities that will help them adapt and transform for a digital future, while 36% were already implementing activities to support digital transformation.

The Value of Cloud ERP Software

A free SMB Group eBook gives an in-depth look at SMBs and what is driving cloud growth. As SMBs invest in the cloud and expand their business capabilities, they will be driven by key factors, such as:

  1. Cost efficiency (51%)
  2. Easier/Faster deployment (50%)
  3. More Flexibility (48%)
  4. Improved security (42%)

It’s essential for growing businesses to have speed and agility benefits that the cloud can offer, as well as having all their business-critical information stored in one database. When a company implements a cloud-based ERP system, employees are able to access real-time data and information from anywhere, anytime — driving better business decisions. A cloud-based ERP also provides visibility that can help to align messaging between different departments or areas, which in turn helps staff to present customers with informed and consistent service.

There are various cloud options available to businesses. This helps to meet a company’s needs now and into the future. SMBs are able to choose between:

  • Public Cloud/SaaS: “Do it for me” approach
  • Private Cloud: “Do it yourself” approach
  • Hybrid Cloud: “Blended” approach

Whatever the choice, it’s essential companies select a true-cloud ERP. A native cloud solution will be built in the cloud from the ground up, multi-tenant, single code, scalable, and flexible. It will not be hosted on-premise and require manual updates.

Selecting the Right Solution

SMBs should do a thorough business assessment, specifically looking at business goals, what kind of resources the company has available, and the amount of customization that’s required. An incremental, yet integrated approach is suggested. Pay attention to reporting capabilities, including third-party providers’ integration solutions.

Reviews, analysts, and trusted advisors can help identify solid ERP vendors. Limit top picks to two or three, at max, and make sure they have a “successfully validated SAS 70 Type II audit” — this confirms the vendor has made security measures a priority.

CCS Technology is familiar with the top cloud ERP options available. Our approach includes getting a holistic picture of how your business works so we can make the right recommendation. We can also provide support during deployment, ensuring your new system is up and running without any glitches. Contact us today to learn more.

Choose the Right Cloud Model to Meet Your Business Needs

Matching technology to your business needs is always complicated. When it comes to cloud, understanding the different “as a service” models is important to make sure you receive the benefits you’re hoping to get by using this technology.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service (SaaS) is perhaps the simplest cloud model. In SaaS, you are a subscriber to an application. The application vendor hosts the application on their own site and stores all the data at their site as well. You have no responsibility for supporting the hardware or for making sure there’s sufficient storage for your data. You are also not responsible for applying any patches or updating the application. However, you are responsible for ensuring that user privileges are granted only to authorized employees.

Infrastructure as a Service

With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), the cloud provider gives you a virtual machine and storage, both sized according to your requirements. You’ll also get the basic networking services. The cloud provider handles the hardware support. You are responsible for all application support, usually including the operating system. The cloud provider will ensure the physical facility is secure, but you’ll need to handle the security of your virtual machines and your applications.

Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service (PaaS) provides you a virtual machine and frameworks needed to deploy and run applications. The goal is for these services to allow your internal developers to write, test, and deploy code faster, often using a “DevOps” methodology. In some ways, PaaS is like SaaS, where your developers are the subscribers to the development software.

All three of these models offer agility and scalability. You can add users and resources on demand, as you need them. There can be large cost savings, as you don’t need to have spare capacity purchased and provisioned in advance.

Software as a Service is ideal when there’s a vendor product that provides the exact functionality you need or the application isn’t a core business function. Platform as a Service is the right choice when you need to build custom applications but don’t want or need to handle the lower-level infrastructure that supports them. Infrastructure as a Service gives you the most control and the most flexibility to tailor your cloud environment to your exact specifications.

Everything as a Service

In addition to the three “standard” cloud models, you’ll find many other products offered “as a Service.” This includes Database as a Service (DBaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Identity as a Service (IDaaS), Security as a Service (SECaaS), and more. These offerings provide access to specialized functions and may be appropriate choices to meet specific technology needs.

Adopting and Adapting to Cloud

Whichever cloud model you choose, it will take time to adapt to it. You’ll need to migrate your existing technology to the new cloud platform and train your team to monitor and manage it. It’s often helpful to get support from a managed services provider with expertise in cloud to make sure your new environment operates properly and you get the benefits you expected.

CCS Technology Group provides cloud services that help you turn the flexibility of cloud into a competitive advantage. Contact us to learn more about choosing and using the right “as a Service” model for your business.