Agility, scale rate highly in cloud ERP financial management systems

Companies are increasingly opting for cloud financial management tools

ERP products are undergoing some key changes and giving companies new ways of handling the volumes of daily transactions tracked inside their systems. The overarching trend is that ERP and other financial management tools are more often being offered with a subscription over the cloud.

As alternatives to legacy on-premises ERP, companies are increasingly opting for ERP features provided via software as a service and realizing significant benefits from the move, including easier use and scale and more agility, according to a January report by Forrester Research.

Before SaaS, when ERP software ran on computers on site, customizations were costly, repetitive and time-consuming, and it was sometimes difficult to access data. Financial management tools delivered as SaaS offer strong security with encryption and automatic and regular updates managed by the vendor, though a user has less say on upgrades and pricing.

However, the era of cloud-based software may still be in its infancy. Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd has said he expects all customers to eventually move to lower-cost cloud applications at their own pace, but he pledged the vendor would continue to support E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and other on-premises software that provide the lion's share of sales.

Meanwhile, many companies are obtaining ERP-like functions with SaaS or even on-premises add-on financial management tools. Wildman Business Group, for example, uses on-premises ABBYY FlexiCapture to automate accounts payable and integrates the tool with its on-premises Sage ERP for managing transactions and with Microsoft SharePoint for electronic filing. ABBYY is also planning to release FlexiCapture as a multi-tenant cloud-based SaaS product.

This handbook examines how users are obtaining ERP functions without buying a full-blown system and the reasons for the rise in subscribing to internet-based systems.