When software and data are in the cloud, Is local support still important?


For [email protected], a hosted, cloud based technology model has been a fundamental aspect of business growth over the past three years.

For [email protected], a hosted, cloud based technology model has been a fundamental aspect of business growth over the past three years. But as Paul Dallimer, Managing Director, [email protected] explains, this approach is not about anonymous US vendors – local providers with local knowledge have never been more important.

With a long background in ERP software sales, I admit I am probably better placed than most business owners to get the right solution for the business. However, one of the most important things I have learnt over the last 20 plus years is not to compromise technology functionality, reliability, support and longevity for a compelling yet unproven solution, however attractive.

[email protected] is firmly committed to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. With hosted ecommerce platforms and minimal onsite IT, the pure-play SaaS ERP vendors in the market were an obvious choice. However, having reviewed a number of products, including NetSuite, it was clear that maturity is a real issue. Not one of these products gave me either the long term confidence in the business or the product ‘unbreakableness’ I was looking for.

Instead, the decision was made to invest in Sage and its proven Sage 200 product – and also to work with CPiO which is located just a couple of miles down the road. Critically, CPiO could host Sage 200 in its CPiO cloud, enabling [email protected] to realise the off-premise IT vision without compromising on technology maturity.

Sage is a household name, with thousands of users, is tried and tested and totally fit for purpose; while CPiO has a great reputation, is local and has a long track record working with SMEs in the distribution business. That business knowledge and experience is incredibly valuable, especially to a new, start-up operation. Furthermore, CPiO’s reputation locally is based on the quality of implementation and experience – it is incumbent on them to do the right thing by their customers, or the business would be at risk.

This is a completely different experience to the pure play SaaS alternative where the vendor is in the US and support for the entire UK is offered by a handful of individuals in London. This anonymous approach bears no relation to the real, day to day interaction still required by organisations using ERP systems – irrespective of whether they are on premise or in the cloud.

The new, hosted technology model is compelling in many ways, taking away day to day concerns regarding backups, security and hardware upgrades.  But it does not take away the need for good support, strong account management or a supplier who will work with the business to get the most from the software. The truth is that the traditional principles of trusted local relationships are as important as ever.

*Please note, Sage 200c has now been rebranded to Sage 200cloud (January 2018)