Blog & Opinions
Five most common questions asked about cloud ERP – Part 1
Software as a Service (SaaS) has been growing in popularity over a number of years. On demand software was first launched in early 2000 and despite early trepidation and slow uptake, it’s anticipated that by 2020 nearly 80% of all businesses will be using cloud based SaaS software. The cost effectiveness, scalability and flexibility of cloud SaaS has meant that many SMEs and start-ups are embracing the model.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that cloud ERP is without risk or challenge. Implementing new software into your business is a big decision. One you need to get right. If you are considering a move to cloud you probably have a number of critical questions which you’ll need answered.
I’ve been helping companies implement cloud based software for a number of years and after having helped hundreds of companies with their search and select, here are the top five questions I am most frequently asked.
1. How secure is my data?
It is generally accepted these days that cloud based software is incredibly secure. Roll back even four or five years and this was not the case. In fact, this was the number one objection I used to deal with when I first entered the SaaS market place. It still comes up during the sale of cloud software – and rightly so.
The perception that SaaS was unsafe came from the concern that if your data was not hosted on-premise it was out-with the control of the company. It was based on a misguided notion that keeping your company information in the server in the corner would be safer than handing it to someone else. The technology equivalent of hiding your money under your bed rather than putting in a bank account. Of course, the rise of cybercrime (especially in SMEs) has put paid to the fact that data housed “at home” is not (necessarily) safe. So sophisticated is cybercrime these days that it is incredibly difficult to ensure safety of data without the correct antivirus software, firewalls, regular pen testing and a robust business continuity plan.
Software giants like SAP risk their entire reputation and business success on being able to keep your business safe. Investment in their data centres is paramount to the attainment and attraction of customers. Their data centres are amongst the world’s highest in standard.
SAP’s cloud security and multi-layered defence are considered some of the best in the industry. In fact, it is considered one of their key differentiators. Over 300,000 customers depend on SAP to keep their data safe.
In case of a power outage SAP operate redundant back up power networks and batteries. Each data centre has its own power generator. There’s also back up cooling equipment and fire compartments walls to prevent fire spreading and to block unauthorised people from walking around. Doors are secured with the latest security clearance technology such as biometric logging. On top of this, all the data is stored in a back-up location in the event of a fire or natural disaster.
Unless your company can offer this kind of contingent security (or you have very deep pockets to protect to the same level) you’re practically guaranteed that your SaaS vendor will keep your data more secure than you can on-premise.
Click here to read about how GDPR might impact your business.
2. How long will it take to implement?
This is one of those “how long is a piece of string” questions. The length of your implementation will depend upon a number of factors.
- How simple is your deployment? If you have lots of complexity in your processes and the system requires lots of customisation, it will take longer.
- What kind of dedicated resource can you commit to the project? Putting a full-time project manager on the project will result in a faster go live and a time to value. Likewise, having additional dedicated resource to help with things like data migration and business process engineering will speed up the project. The less you leave to the consultants, the faster the implementation.
- What’s the availability of your implementation partner? It’s advisable to sense check how many concurrent projects the implementation partners are working on. If your time frame for go live is aggressive you’ll need to ensure your partners can resource to meet it.
That said, one of the main benefits of SaaS/cloud ERP is rapid time to value through speedy implementation. SAP have been able to bring decades of practical experience into the design of SAP Business ByDesign (their cloud ERP product) and have “baked” around 40 end-to-end business processes into the system. These business processes have been gleaned from multiple cross industry software deployments and are generally considered “best practice”. If you use the standard functionality and best practice processes already designed within the system, you will save yourself a whole heap of time.
There is an industry wide recognised “standard” time frame for full ERP deployment. It’s fairly common to anticipate a minimum of 3 months to 6 months for standard deployment of full ERP. Up to 12 months for a complex business.
In Part 2 we will discuss the various pricing models, cost and your exit strategy.
Are you going through a software search and select? Let Allied Worldwide guide you. With over 25 years global IT experience and SAP software in our portfolio we are perfectly placed to offer you sound advice.
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