Companies today are constantly dealing with the changes that come with a growing enterprise. One of the biggest challenges that goes along with an expanding business's lifecycle is selecting the best technology that can shift alongside the organization. For this reason, many decision-makers are looking toward the cloud for a range of software-based capabilities, including enterprise resource planning.
Increased adoption: Faster than expert predictionsForbes contributor Louis Columbus recently reported that the business sector was adopting cloud ERP systems at a quicker rate than Gartner's experts predicted. Gartner's Adoption of Cloud ERP survey found that nearly half - 47 percent - of companies plan to migrate their on-premise ERP systems to the cloud within five years.
A main factor driving this push toward the cloud is the competitive advantage such a strategy can provide for an enterprise. Columbus noted that with a cloud ERP system in place, businesses see a faster time-to-market while reducing costs at the same time. In addition, cloud ERP enable the internal IT team to focus on other mission-critical tasks, knowing that their planning system is being properly managed and maintained by the cloud provider.
A Lightwell white paper echoed these sentiments, noting that moving an on-premise software system to the cloud allows company leaders to focus on more important projects directly related to the firm's corporate goals. As many businesses have experienced firsthand the benefits that the cloud can bring with other technological systems - including customer relationship management and human capital management - it only makes sense to migrate the organization's ERP platform as well.
"It has been documented that cloud ERP is faster, more economical and more suitable for today's global businesses," the white paper stated. "It offers benefits that an on-premise ERP cannot and most importantly, cloud computing takes IT off the critical path for expanding businesses."
For all of these reasons and more, cloud ERP has seen rising adoption rates which are poised to continue over the next few years.
How to choose a cloud ERP: Best practices and considerations
According to CIO contributor Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, the company's upper management team should play a vital role in choosing the solution. And although corporate executives need not know every detail of their company's technology choices, they should fully understand the business need for the solution.
At the same time, however, AMR Research senior vice president Jim Shepherd told TechTarget that there should only be a small group of decision-makers involved in the process. This ensures that things don't get overly complicated when too many administrators are included in the selection.
"What happens then is that instead of arriving at a consensus, you tend to set up a series of armed camps," Shepherd said. "So you find that the people in finance like the product from vendor A, the people in manufacturing think they can only use the product from vendor B, the people in procurement really like product C, and so you tend to move further and further away from any kind of consensus and solution. So they're much better with a small, targeted group of people who are capable of coming to a consensus."
In addition to including a small pool of stakeholders, IT Toolbox contributor Petra Jorgenson advised thinking about the solution in terms of its functionality as opposed to the technology it is based on. While a cloud ERP should gel with the company's existing IT strategy, it is more important that the system provides the functionality needed to help the business achieve its corporate goals.
As far as the technology itself, the white paper encouraged decision-makers to focus on the platform's potential customizations, how it integrates with the enterprise's other systems, the possible upgrades, overall security, its availability as well as the vendor's ecosystem.
"Selecting a cloud ERP vendor can be challenging, but making the right decision for your business is a key to successful ERP implementation," the white paper stated. "Beyond the evaluation of the functionality offered by the ERP solution, a thorough evaluation is required in order to make sure that the technical aspects of the cloud vendor pass muster."
More cloud enterprise resource planning tools from Lightwell: