More and more small businesses are moving into cloud ERP systems (such as ShopWork’s Cloud Hosted OnSite product). The advantages are many: streamlined implementation, lower cost of ownership, and saving yourself the expensive headaches of maintaining and upgrading your own server and software. It mainly comes down to the question of the ease, security, and accessibility of the cloud versus the risks of cloud-based software.
However, when considering a Cloud ERP system (or any ERP system, for that matter) you’ll want to ask yourself, your team, potential software vendors, and consultants some detailed questions to see if the new system will really meet your needs. We’ve published extensive articles on how to select an ERP System as well as best practices for implementing them. Here, we’ll condense it down to four focused questions for cloud-based ERP software:
Any new software will need some learning and adaptation from both management and production. But be wary of solutions that don’t match your current working business processes – you should dictate how your company runs, not the assumptions of some techie. Find a solution that helps you do what you do well and improve it, not one that will make you turn your business processes inside out to match it. If you can, try to find a vendor that has experience in your industry – and has helped other industry businesses.
Don’t just sit down in front of a whiteboard with a consultant to brainstorm requirements. All you’ll end up with is a long, expensive, often overkill wish list that might overlook a basic need. Make it a point to sit down with your team to carefully scope precisely what you need your new ERP system to do and what strategic problems it needs to solve. Many software vendors offer helpful needs assessment and solutions plans, but make sure it’s your plan, not the vendor’s.
Nail down exactly how configurable an ERP solution is. Make sure that adapting the solution meets all or 90% of your requirements – an “only 50%-70% can be met” solution is a red flag. Just as important, make sure exactly what “configurable” means. Does it mean you can shuffle around report fields but not adapt the software to your workflow or unique job requirements? Or does it mean a massive commitment to ongoing training and endless implementation cycles? Strike the right balance here because configuring your ERP system to your unique business processes is the most important part of the solution. This is also why question 2 is so important – you need to make sure that it can be configured to fit the goals outlined by your team.
This relates closely to question No. 1. An ERP system made for just generic business requirements can leave out a lot of needed functionality – resulting in, at best, expensive, ongoing customization and training investments. Better to start with a more complete and industry-specific solution.
A Cloud ERP system can give much to product decorators and decorated apparel sellers, but the questions above will gain those benefits faster, save money, and keep your team from pulling their hair out trying to actually get value out of it. Learn more about the benefits of cloud-hosted software.