Getting ERP into the cloud is just the first step

Published on the 24/03/2015 | Written by Oxygen


UXC Oxygen SAP in cloud

General Manager of SAP Business One solutions at UXC Oxygen, Patrick Saundry, explains there are key issues to consider when moving to the cloud – and plenty of opportunities and challenges to consider once it’s done...

Cloud technology is proving attractive to SME customers, thanks to the cost advantages of its pay-as-you-consume financial model, speed of implementation, and ability for organisations to scale processing power up or down rapidly. The decision to move ERP to the cloud or go with a traditional on-premise implementation is often determined by an organisation’s current IT investments and future business objectives. The choice between the two remains important. For some organisations the criticality, complexity or risk profile of their existing technology will demand that some, or all, of their environment remains on premise.

At UXC Oxygen, much of the increase in interest from SMEs in SAP’s mid-market software, SAP Business One, over the last 18 months has arisen from the ability of organisations to choose between deploying the software on-premise or in the cloud.

Having made the decision to go to the cloud there is then the choice of what type of deployment to opt for. Ask ten people and you will most likely get ten different answers as to the merits of hybrid, public or private cloud deployments. There are a number of issues to consider, such as standards, privacy and security. It is important for organisations embarking on the cloud journey to seek out providers who have business and technical savvy, as well as a proven deployment track record they can reference. Finding the right cloud solution for your organisation requires rigorous planning and requirements gathering – it is not a one-size-fits-all deal.

Implementing SAP Business One via the cloud does provide cost and innovation advantages for many SMEs. But getting to the cloud is not the end game and it should not be seen as a panacea for avoiding IT project blow-outs or poor workforce productivity.

Organisations need to be aware that the cloud solution often needs to be integrated with other on-premise line-of-business systems and possibly other cloud solutions – and that can make for a convoluted technical landscape. For service-based organisations a common theme is the need to integrate an ERP solution with apps used in the field by a mobile workforce. The desire for mobility, work portals and the need to better manage or automate business processes outside the ERP environment are also becoming increasingly important.

“Organisations need to consider how, who and what connects to the ERP system in order to service users who traditionally wouldn’t have had access.”
Patrick Saundry, General Manager of SAP Business One solutions, UXC Oxygen

SAP software is globally seen as a core engine which helps automate and improve critical business processes, but increasingly we are seeing the real advantages lie in what is connected to the SAP backbone. Today, application environments are growing exponentially as users demand access to tools and data that allow them to meet customer demands for anytime, anywhere service.

A 2015 survey by global applications services company F5 Networks, entitled State of Application Delivery, indicates that the strategic importance of cloud-based and mobile apps is continuing to increase, as is the number of applications requiring services and the complexity involved in their deployment.

In other words, today, organisations need to consider how, who and what connects to the ERP system in order to service users who traditionally wouldn’t have had access. A SME may have 20 or 30 direct ERP users, but it also needs to consider how the system can help it run its business better for the other 100 employees in the organisation, along with its customers and suppliers.

The pressure to remain competitive is felt by people on the front line and it is these lineof- business users that are driving the demand for more heterogeneous business tools, particularly mobile apps. Business owners, senior management and more directly, IT departments, will need to ensure that these resources are available and appropriately integrated into the core IT infrastructure if they want their company to maintain or grow market share. Getting ERP into the cloud is often the first step on this path.

Cloud-based solutions give organisations the flexibility to build out solutions more easily and they provide a level of future-proofing and business growth thanks to their higher degree of elasticity. For example, an event management company could, once its ERP is in the cloud, provide specific web-based purchasing functions to an event team so they can buy what they need – connecting them to the ERP without burdening them with access to the entire suite. Thanks to the elasticity of cloud services that purchasing ability can be removed once the event has been staged. Multiple opportunities also exist to extend a specific business process beyond the browser environment onto mobile devices.

Customers need to ensure their provider is accountable not just for the delivery of the cloud or on-premise solution, but that they see it through and can continue to be answerable for the ongoing management of the solution. As the business moves forward, the need to maintain a managed cloud environment becomes essential.

Investing in cloud based ERP systems such as SAP Business One is not a trivial undertaking – an organisation needs to be of a certain size and maturity to get the best value from the software. Timing is also important. There is no point moving to the cloud if an organisation believes it still has value to extract from its existing IT asset infrastructure. But more and more the decision to make transformational change will be signalled by a compelling need to solve a process problem – and it will be an organisation’s business users driving the demand. When that time comes, the cloud option becomes advantageous. It allows organisations to meet that need at an affordable price and provides a platform on which to build and integrate future processes to keep staff, clients and suppliers happy.

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