A group of experts nationwide dedicated to assisting financial professionals in the ERP software selection process.
At the core of evaluating cloud solutions for your organization are the business drivers that determine the profitability of the business. Your ERP system is the foundation for operations and monitors the status and progress of those business drivers. While cost is clearly a primary driver, risk mitigation, compliance, operational efficiencies, or scalability may be higher priorities for your organization. As CFO you have more insight into the balance of all those business drivers than anyone in the organization.
Cloud computing is an opportunity to completely transform how your business and its people work. Saving the organization from capital expenditures that last longer on the balance sheet than in the server room may be the most often cited benefit, but there are some you may not have considered. Here are 13 questions every CFO should ask when considering the potential benefits of ERP Software in the Cloud:
1. What are the cost savings associated with moving ERP to the cloud? Capital costs are reduced because there is no need to purchase computer hardware to house your ERP system. Operational costs, including IT support, power to run servers and server operating systems are reduced or eliminated. CFOs also find savings in the ability to rely on predictable monthly costs.
2. How will cloud services affect the internal IT team? By moving your applications and workloads to a cloud platform, common help desk calls and other IT management tasks like procurement and server configuration are reduced. IT staffers can be reduced or allowed to concentrate their talents on tasks that will improve the business and revenue generation rather than on general technical problems.
3. How does a cloud ERP solution improve ability to scale? With cloud computing, you can adjust users and applications up or down to meet the changing demands of your business. You can trial applications without a large capital investment and roll out new applications to groups reducing risk and spreading training costs.
4. Will my data be more secure in the cloud? Many CEOs feel that when their data is in-house it is secure and under their control. What is often missed in this conversation is that cloud providers have much more expertise in securing data than typical internal IT departments do. Let’s face it, the server room in many companies is no more than a locked closet that does little to protect against break in or natural disaster. In most cases, cloud computing is more secure than an organization’s current situation. We’ll address this subject further in “Common Concerns.”
5. Is cloud ERP an effective business continuity strategy? As thousands of companies in Katrina’s path found, business continuity plans are better made now than when the emergency is upon you. Cloud vendors’ core function is providing infrastructure business continuity, so you can focus on your people and facilities in the face of disaster.
6. Will we be able to get all the reports we need from a cloud based ERP system? If flexible reporting is important to your organization, make sure that the ERP system that you choose provides your users with easy views into the data they need. Some ERP providers limit the number of reports that you can access.
7. Will cloud ERP work with Office and Outlook in the cloud? Some ERP systems have the same tight integration in the cloud as on premises, so you can send invoices and POs via email. It is important to ask your ERP cloud provider if you can automate common processes in your organization.
8. As a startup, is a cloud ERP system more than we need? Cloud ERP is a perfect fit for startup organizations and start up divisions within an existing company. You can use the functionality that you need and expand your use as the company grows. Since there is no capital investment and no IT team needed, you can test markets and change course if your business changes.
9. Will company divisions in other countries be able to use the same ERP system? Cloud computing is a driving force in supporting global expansion. One ERP system can service business operations around the globe, eliminating complex manual reporting from multiple ERP systems. You and your employees will access the application and your data from anywhere by using any PC, mobile device, or browser.
10. Will employees working from home be able to access the system? Cloud computing can help you support green and employee satisfaction initiatives by allowing employees to perform all of their tasks at home through an internet connection. You also significantly reduce the risk of corporate data being lost or misappropriated by eliminating the need to transport files on laptops and flashdrives.
11. Will our IT team still need to upgrade the ERP application? This may be the best news of all. With cloud based ERP, upgrades happen in the background without you having to be involved. Of course, you will want to coordinate with your vendor on the best time to upgrade to prepare your teams to take advantage of the new functionality.
12. Does the cloud provide an opportunity to re-architect our systems? Absolutely, especially when it comes to line of business applications, many IT professionals have historically lived by the doctrine, “if it’s not broken don’t fix it.” By moving to the cloud, you can replace aging line of business applications with systems that will support new world applications.
13. Will we still be able to get help from our business consulting partners? Many organizations depend on the expertise and best practices that their current VAR brings to the organization. Especially with an ERP system, VARs add the expertise of CPAs and business analysts to the implementation, upgrade process and continuing education of the users of the system. The cloud won’t change the need for personal relationships with application specialists that will help you get more value out of the ERP system than you could get on your own.
Want to know more about ERP Software in the Cloud? This information is taken from the new white paper 35 Questions Every CFO Needs to Ask about Cloud ERP Software. You can download the full white paper at: www.erpsoftwareblog.com/cloud-erp
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