Cloud ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is no longer a novelty or the next big thing. Experts agree that Cloud ERP is here to stay; its presence will only continue to grow. This is especially true now when more and more employees are working out of the office.
On-premises technology has its drawbacks – the most apparent being the requirement to be on-premises to use it. As organizations around the world seek to modernize, they are taking into consideration where, when, and how their employees work and need their ERP information and processes available to them.
If you find your organization in the position of wanting to move your ERP to the Cloud, there are multiple paths to choose from. Let’s talk about
Why Microsoft Dynamics 365?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a complete platform for combining all your ERP and CRM processes. Dynamics 365 is hosted in Microsoft’s Azure Cloud, and it uses standard web technologies to connect to Microsoft and non-Microsoft cloud services, such as Dropbox.
Dynamics 365 has applications for finance, sales, marketing, field service, mixed reality, and more to give you the tools you need for managing, analyzing, and optimizing your business.
Microsoft offers two editions for those who are looking for an ERP solution: Dynamics 365 F & O (Finance and Operations), includes finance and supply-chain management, and Dynamics 365 BC (Business Central), is designed for small and mid-sized businesses.
Microsoft Dynamics BC (formerly called Dynamics NAV) has a 30-year heritage as a standalone ERP. Now available as a Cloud solution, Dynamics 365 BC allows for a rich set of integrated data access functions across its platform.
Benefits of Cloud ERP Software
Agility and flexibility - As mentioned, one benefit of Cloud computing is that it can be accessed anytime, and from anywhere there is an internet connection. Sales reps and field technicians have long worked out of the office, but now more and more employees with various titles are working remotely. So, while 24/7 access is a convenience for some, for others it is a necessity.
Security – Cloud providers depend on their ability to provide superior protection for your data; they can’t remain in business without it. In fact, reputable Cloud providers such as Microsoft’s Azure can offer much better security than most organizations can provide on their own.
Business continuity/disaster recovery - When disasters occur, on-premises systems can easily be knocked out of commission. Access to your data, processes, and customer connections could disappear. Moving your data offsite to the Cloud protects it against local disasters and streamlines recovery.
Process automation – Access to and management of Accounts Payable in the Cloud can improve cashflow visibility, invoice management and approvals, vendor payment processing, and more.
These are just a few examples of the benefits of moving your ERP data and processes to the Cloud.
Three Paths to the Cloud
There are several approaches to migrating your business to the Cloud. The transition may happen all at once or be implemented in stages. You and your implementation partner can decide what is best for your business.
- Move your servers: The fastest way to the Cloud.
The fastest, easiest way to move to the Cloud is what we call “lift and shift.” Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) describes a situation where you keep your familiar software but hand over the operation of it to a Cloud provider. The provider now is responsible for maintenance, technical assistance, and upgrades. Your staff may appreciate not having to learn to use a new software solution, and the shift is generally faster and presents less disruption to your business.
- Sync your data to the Cloud.
If you don’t want to transfer your entire ERP system to the Cloud, you might opt to sync your data to the Cloud. You and your remote employees will be able to view the data and interact with it from anywhere, at any time. Business processes will remain on-premises but connected to cloud services. With this approach, users still access their legacy systems for transactions, but reporting and analytics are cloud-based.
One of the ways to accomplish syncing your data to the Cloud is by employing Microsoft’s Intelligent Edge. This is a read-only copy of the data in Business Central that gives you data visibility and reporting services. Remote workers can share data even if they don’t have direct access to your legacy on-premises Dynamics system. For organizations mainly concerned with remotely accessing data, this might be an excellent first step.
The drawback to this method is that you would still be using a legacy Dynamics solution and would have to upgrade to a later version of your software to have access to the Microsoft Edge tools.
- The full Cloud ERP solution.
The most comprehensive approach would be to access the Cloud both within and outside of Microsoft services, implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 BC with a non-Microsoft Cloud provider. This solution involves replacing your legacy software with Dynamics 365.
This approach is the Microsoft-preferred route. Your businesses would have the latest options and the most recent version their Dynamics solution. Your solution will integrate seamlessly with tools your teams use every day: Office, Azure, and third-party cloud apps such as GoToWebinar, MailChimp, DocuSign, and Dropbox. You’ll become a full-Cloud occupant equipped with the roadmaps needed to understand the latest changes and best practices for user adoption of your new technology.
Choose your path to the Cloud
Continuous, reliable, and integrated business operations are what we are all looking for in these times of change. Moving to the Cloud is a good idea, and there are several ways you can approach your digital transformation. Figuring out the right path for your organization is something we can help you with.