Many considerations go into choosing an ERP, but during this time of economic disruption with entire organizations working from home, none are more important than opting for a cloud-based system to help your company adapt to whatever new normal emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
That was the message of the panelists in the recent MDM Webcast, “4 Key Things to Evaluate When Planning for a New Integrated ERP,” hosted and moderated by Tom Gale, CEO, MDM, and John Gunderson, VP, sales, analytics and e-business, MDM.
Upgrading to a cloud-based ERP is critical for many reasons, including the way it enables and empowers companies whose employees now work remotely and are likely to do so long after government-mandated shutdowns have ended.
But the pandemic is just one consideration. Other disruptions are lurking on the horizon, and cloud technology can help a company deal with all manner of threats.
“Cloud is fantastic to have today, but what is going to change in the future?” said webcast guest Kerrie Jordan, director, product management and product marketing, cloud, Epicor. “What are we going to need to have in our business as we look toward what might be coming? Industry is changing very quickly. Today’s distributors are exposed to so many forces that are impacting their organizations.”
Epicor conducted a survey in 2019 — even before the coronavirus altered the business world in unimaginable ways — that showed how cloud was growing in importance for companies across all industries. According to the study:
- 84% said cloud plays an important role in their growth strategy
- 90% said they run cloud applications today
- 31% said that they use cloud significantly
- 92% said they are planning to invest in cloud next year
“It’s very interesting to see such momentum,” Jordan said. “And it’s pretty clear that with industry trends like this, that cloud is here to stay for cloud ERP.”
4 Benefits of a Cloud ERP
Jordan outlined four benefits for a distributor that upgrades their ERP to a cloud-based system.
1. Predictable costs — There are many favorable economic reasons for investing in a cloud solution, Jordan said, from avoiding a spike in the initial investment to reducing capital expenditures and ongoing operational expenses, all of which help drive efficiencies across the organization. “Another benefit is when you have that predictable cost model for IT, then your IT resources can refocus on business priorities rather than fighting fires, rather than administering the servers,” she added. “Fundamentally, the IT organization transforms from a cost organization to a profit center for the business.”
2. Remote work — Every company has needed to ask or require some (or even all) employees to work from home in recent months, and there’s a likelihood that telecommuting could be here to stay for many businesses. Cloud computing empowers a remote workforce, Jordan said. Since March or April, our “dependency on technology has become so much more apparent. We need that ability to connect, to ensure reliable communication so that you could continue to respond to customers, especially those deemed essential to keep the business working.”
3. Cybersecurity — According to a recent Reuters article that Jordan cited, “Hacking activity against corporations in the U.S. and other countries more than doubled by some measures last month as digital thieves took advantage of security weakened by pandemic-driven work-from-home policies.” But a cloud-based ERP is less susceptible to a cyberattack. “This time poses so many challenges, just to ensure business continues,” Jordan said. “The last thing we all want to deal with is a ransomware attack. Having a smart isolation strategy, having a business partner that understands cybersecurity and can help you create that isolation among the applications will drastically reduce your susceptibility to a ransomware attack.”
4. Scale — Cloud ERP can scale — both up and down — much easier than an on-premises installation because it boasts a flexible technology platform that allows a company to take advantage of new technologies faster as the business is ready to acquire them. Cloud provides “the ability to scale your organization and take on new technologies or even drop some technologies that you were using, that you realize you no longer need, that needs to be replaced, or perhaps you have duplicate systems,” Jordan said. “Having a cloud technology platform allows that scale for you to scale up or scale down as needed.”
Cloud is just one consideration when planning and integrating an ERP. The other three — experience, omnichannel flexibility and future state adaptability. Gunderson, Jordan and Cameron Barker, VP of corporate operations, Purvis Industries, discuss them all in detail during the roughly hourlong webcast. For much more on what you should consider when evaluating and planning for a new integrated ERP, click here to listen to the entire program.