Despite the proven success of ERP software in solving practical business challenges, there remain companies for whom the whole ERP thing has no delivered: Process are delayed and the cost of managing resources goes up rather than down. The reason for this, as we learn from practical experience, is mistakes in implementation.
If VoIP changed the way businesses communicate, the next wave in innovation comes from the cloud as it embraces voice calling. The concept is called cloud telephony, and is quickly making waves in the enterprise market. At its heart, cloud telephony enables businesses to set up a full phone system for handling customer calls – without needing to invest anything in the infrastructure. That means we are now approaching an age when businesses will be set up in a manner of minutes.
This blog is part of the series on IT empowerment for small and medium businesses as featured on CIOL.com, India's most trusted portal for IT companies. Mr Shyaam Sunder, Chief Knowledge Officer for Ramco Systems, builds on his experience of enterprise solutions.
Is cloud computing only for huge players who can afford to spend a lot building up a cloud infrastructure? For a while it was true, as cloud computing was new and vendors were still testing the waters. But the truth is that there are a lot of solutions now being aimed at small businesses, allowing them to improve processes and cut costs.
The way cloud computing is growing, the traditional idea of a software service may soon become obsolete. Cloud applications are already being used on a large scale. All this presents a peculiar problem: password security. Given that your passwords are the only defense for all your sensitive business data, it makes sense to learn a few best practices for passwords in cloud computing.
Working out the right backup strategy can be difficult, as IT administrators know only too well. The right time for backups, the right medium, as well as the right procedure – all these impact the quality of backups and determine how easily the data can be retrieved and restored when needed. Enterprises are used to taking on-premise backups, but they should now also look at the cloud, which offers many advantages over the traditional methods.
Not every ERP story is a successful one. There are enterprises who invested heavily in the most cutting-edge solutions they could find, only to realize that the system had managed to make things more complicated and slow. But if one were to look deeply, the failure is seldom of the ERP system. What actually happens is that companies fail at one of the critical areas of adopting a new ERP system, leading to an overall disadvantage.
Just think of Enterprise Resource Planning and the image of a giant multinational corporation with thousands of employees comes to mind. That was true until recently, because the cost of implementing a typical ERP system was many times more than the annual turnover of a small business. But things are changing fast. ERP systems are now being customized for small businesses, with the result that small businesses are also able to benefit.
For extracting the most out of your ERP, it needs to be flexible and robust enough to fit right in with your enterprise needs. That’s why ERP systems come in myriad configurations, also making it difficult to make a selection right off the cuff. Another reason you should invest a lot of effort in selecting an ERP system is that making a switch later on is an extremely time-consuming and costly exercise.
Authenticity of documents is of highest importance when business transactions are involved. In the current age of digital communication, this becomes a challenge as most of the times the partnering businesses are located in different time zones and a physical meeting may not be possible. In such cases, the solution is to make use of digital signatures.
The reason companies have drastically different experience with ERP systems points to the core of ERP success – implementation. It is only when the company has done the implementation right that all the promises of complexity reduction and operational efficiency are realized.
Enterprises are complex entities, with various departments each having its own processes and databases. The greatest challenge in any medium- to large-sized company lies in coordinating across departments for day-to-day business functions. For instance, sales and finance needs to be integrated well, otherwise a lot of time will be consumed in verification and cross-referencing.
ERP solutions have become the cornerstone for making data acquisition and related operations more efficient. But as most enterprises come to learn quickly, simply having an ERP solution installed is not much use. The need of the hour is to leverage business intelligence tools to make the data work.
In this part, we discuss the problems faced by customers in adopting the cloud and some of the solutions that vendors can offer. The fears and concerns have deep roots in people’s attitude toward the cloud.
Data Security: In an era, where most consumers are buying online, data security should not be an issue. The success of online shopping, ticketing, net banking, and payment gateways are examples. Yet, businesses find it difficult to take this first step to put their data on cloud.
The cloud is everywhere, and almost every type of enterprise is benefitting from it. This also has some implications for ERP solutions, which until now have been solely on-premise, and let’s be honest, harder to manage for small and medium businesses.
Any mention of “hosted ERP” is enough to make enterprises uncomfortable. They reason that ERP data is the most sensitive and precious of their commodities, and so cannot be entrusted to a third party, no matter how creditworthy. While the argument is sound, there are very good reasons for giving a thought to hosted ERP, which is already gaining popularity among businesses.
There comes a time in every company when you begin to have doubts about the existing ERP solution. How can you decide if it’s really time to upgrade, and not just a sense of unease? Much like the strategy of an enterprise, the ERP solution too needs to evolve, which means that the “one size fits all” approach is not going to go very far.
The way Internet and enterprise computing have changed in the recent months clearly points to a whole new paradigm. As such, businesses will find that the old strategy models do not fit in anymore, and need to be reinvented. Creating a digital strategy is also important because it defines the overview vision of the organization, and guides it through what can easily become a confusion of approaches and platforms.