For many enterprise resource planning companies, cloud computing is a big deal. That’s predominantly because, for most of them, cloud computing is something new - it just wasn’t the way they have done things until market forces compelled them to make the shift. And if this is the case, customers should be ware.
Traditional ERP is infamous for at least two things: enormous cost, and enormously long deployment timeframes. That’s because it was built for an on-premise model, which required extensive investment in hardware, consulting, expertise and implementation skills to get it up and running.
On the other hand, those systems that were designed from the start for the cloud are faster to deploy and far less expensive to procure. An accelerating move to the cloud can be anticipated as more customers appreciate not only the value of reduced cost solutions, but also the operational benefits of information that is made available anywhere on any device. More people are realizing cloud solutions can be trusted, so long as the correct security measures are in place. Businesses are rapidly becoming more aware of their options with mobility and cloud services.
As a result, vendors have little choice but to offer their software in the cloud - but, for some, that means re-writing the entire architecture of the system, and if they can’t adapt they will die.
Which leads to perhaps the most important point of all: systems designed natively for the cloud actually work in the cloud.
Transposing an onsite model to the cloud isn’t a simple matter. Among the factors critical for success, especially in areas where infrastructure is poor or lacking like many areas in Africa, is the ability to work with very low bandwidth. And cloud ERP solutions should do that without compromising the user experience, while also operating across notebooks, smartphones or tablets. The really good ones, of course, provide the same graphical user interface, and not a web interface, regardless of the device, contributing to a consistent user experience.
Solutions offered over the cloud can be hosted anywhere in the world, which leads to one further essential feature that must be offered by vendors in SA: data sovereignty.
The introduction into law of the Protection of Personal Information Act puts a requirement on all companies to ensure historical customer information and records are kept safe and secure. That means you want the system hosted in this country and not just anywhere in the world.
Cloud ERP means more businesses than ever before can afford to access software, which was once the preserve of big companies. However, big companies with big budgets have had big problems with ERP in the past. There are no shortages of examples of major project failures and there are lessons in that: when choosing a cloud ERP solution, make sure it is actually designed for the cloud. Look for examples, proofs of concept, and understand where the data will reside. And make sure that if you value mobility, the solution not only works on low-bandwidth connections, but also provides you the freedom to use any device you choose.