Learn which cloud ERP system can best help your company

Last updated:July 2016

Editor's note

Questions of security, control and data integrity often arise when dealing with cloud computing. It's these tenuous topics that make organizations that implement ERP software shy away from moving their ERP systems to the cloud. But as cloud computing continues to mature, those concerns have begun to dissipate in the manufacturing community, and the jump to a cloud ERP system is, if not an inevitable leap, a now-valid option for those looking to upgrade their ERP software.

Now that it's a viable option, how does one go about choosing the right cloud ERP system for their company? In this buyer's guide, Adam Boyce, manager of IT strategy for Panorama Consulting, assuages any fears an organization may have when considering moving to the cloud. He lays out the benefits and drawbacks of deploying on premises or in the cloud and provides the information companies need to decide which type of cloud ERP deployment and which vendor works best for them.

The benefits of moving to the cloud are well documented. Such a move can allow workers to perform their jobs remotely and promote collaboration among teams, all to help drive business growth. Many companies in a variety of industries have been able to recognize the rewards of implementing cloud software, while some remain staunchly in the on-premises camp. In part one of this guide, Adam Boyce discusses the differences between and the pros and cons of on-premises and cloud ERP systems.

For a benefit, look no further than to what Ranier Laxamana, IT director for AMVAC, discussed with SearchSAP news editor Jim O'Donnell in a piece about manufacturers beginning to embrace cloud ERP software: "Why were we spending so much of our time keeping [an on-premises ERP system] up and running, when somebody that does that for a living can do that for us? Freeing up [the IT staff's] time allowed them to help the business grow because now we spend most of our time sitting with our business unit managers and asking them what their pain points are, what we can automate for them."

Drivers for cloud ERP systems

Every business desires to grow, but there are other initiatives that are making business owners consider using a cloud ERP system. Mobility, configurability and scalability are just some of the drivers Boyce mentions in the second article in this guide. For smaller companies with not many resources, letting cloud ERP vendors handle the back end is a necessity.

In that same article by O'Donnell, Raul Cantero, vice president of operations for the National Circuit Assembly, highlighted the importance of having his IT team free: "My IT group here is two -- and one of them is me -- so running the ERP system in house is something we can't afford right now. … [The cloud] puts it with somebody else. I don't have to worry about it. The updates are automated, and the backups are automated, so if we ever have a hiccup, I don't have to panic, so that peace of mind is worth the price."

What to look for when looking at a cloud ERP system

Once the decision has been made to get cloud ERP software, organizations then need to learn what to look for in cloud ERP vendors. Is the vendor a viable company, or are they set to flame out in a few years? Does the vendor allow for software customization, or is that something implemented by interested enterprises?

Going over cloud ERP vendors' offerings with a fine-tooth comb isn't the only consideration. Organizations must look inward, too, to find out which cloud ERP system is for them. They must consider their infrastructure. And they need to be aware of their strengths and shortcomings. In a recent article showcasing software maker BRG's foray into cloud-based ERP, president of management consulting firm Strativa Inc., Frank Scavo, told SearchFinancialApplications contributor Tony Kontzer that, "Most companies implementing ERP, or migrating to a new ERP system, have significant problems with inaccurate or incomplete data."

In part three of this guide, Boyce not only provides a check list to use when evaluating cloud ERP vendors, but also gives enterprises a means with which to evaluate themselves.

And just as there are differences between on-premises ERP software vendors and those who provide cloud ERP systems, so too are there differences among the cloud ERP vendors. In the fourth part of this guide, Boyce explores some of the top cloud ERP vendors in the market today, differentiating born-in-cloud ERP from the traditional ERP vendors who offer cloud services, and further breaking it down by which cloud ERP system works best for large enterprises and SMBs. To further augment this analysis, this guide also contains product overviews by industry expert and technology consultant Mary Shacklett. These overviews provide deep-dives into each product mentioned in part four, going into the technical aspects of each system.

Cloud ERP software is finally at a point where the majority of businesses in need of an ERP system can begin to assess it seriously. This buyer's guide helps that assessment and choice.

1Business cases for cloud ERP software

Cloud computing has changed the landscape of the business world, but manufacturers have been slow to adopt cloud ERP software until only recently. The use cases presented in this section help determine whether a cloud ERP system is best for business.

2Key features and qualities to consider when investigating cloud ERP software

A system's ability to scale, provide workers mobile experiences and be flexible are qualities everyone should look for when considering buying a cloud ERP system. This section highlights those and other qualities to look for.

3Bringing together your needs with the top cloud ERP vendors in the market today

In this section, Adam Boyce takes the use cases mentioned in part two and the key considerations mentioned in part three and combines that information to provide an analysis into which of the top cloud ERP vendors works best for different business scenarios. Are you a smaller company looking to grow? Are you a large enterprise looking to upgrade? Find out which cloud ERP system fits your needs.

4In-depth looks at the top cloud ERP software

Think you've homed in on the cloud ERP software that matches your organization's needs, but need more information? Look no further than these product overviews by IT consultant Mary Shacklett. These articles provide deep dives into the cloud ERP systems mentioned in section four, detailing technical and financial aspects of each product.