Paul Dallimer, Managing Director, Shop@PhysioWorld explains the importance of a hosted approach in delivering essential business agility – and emphasises the importance of vendor reputation and credibility.
Investing in any ERP system is a big decision – especially for a start-up business. When is the company large enough to justify the investment? How much functionality is required today – and in the future? While the turnover may be small today – what is the five, seven, ten year plan? What other systems may be required – such as e-commerce or warehouse management – and how easy is the integration?
This is a technology decision a business cannot afford to get wrong. Whilst in the past companies worked on a five year ERP software replacement cycle, that model no longer applies. No business, irrespective of size, wants to face the inevitable upheaval and disruption associated with software replacement – from specification and vendor decision to implementation, testing and training.
The longer term ERP replacement cycle also makes it more essential for organisations to plan ahead. That means considering the longevity of the supplier and the company’s development roadmap; it means looking at a diverse preferably international customer base, and assessing the depth and breadth of add-on product offerings.
Increasingly, it also means looking for a cloud-based deployment model. While traditional SME business owners maybe concerned about the idea of devolving responsibility for all IT to a third party, the truth is that this approach delivers the business agility and flexibility that should underpin innovative business models.
For a start, by opting for a third party to host key applications such as ERP, a business owner no longer has to worry about critical day to day issues such as data backups; security patches or hardware failure. Strategic concerns such as business continuity, hardware replacement and scalability are also addressed.
Even more critically, however, the hosted model provides seamless route to business expansion. At the most basic level new users can be added as and when required with no concerns regarding overloading the server or needing an upgrade. Furthermore, the ability to have Sage 200 provided and hosted by the same company – in this case by CPiO Cloud – works really well. Critically, the hosted model ensures there are no technology constraints on growth. This business is enjoying 100% growth year on year – and a cloud based strategy will continue to be fundamental to providing the flexibility and agility required to support that continued growth.