When it comes to single-suite ERP software solutions, there’s a long-standing myth that they’re only for big companies with astronomical budgets. But the rise of cloud computing has changed the game. The ability to do away with unwieldy and expensive on-premise software solutions hasn’t just benefitted giant corporations. In fact, moving such applications to the cloud has made leading technology easily accessible to companies of all sizes.
Today, the myth that single-suite ERP is only for the big dogs has been fully busted. Not only can small-to medium-size businesses (SMBs) in every industry tap into the same cloud software used by their Fortune 500 or even Fortune 50 counterparts, they get the same functionality, identical features, and broad benefits. Here are six ways cloud-based ERP applications provide small businesses a competitive edge:
Cloud applications and their delivery are often compared to a utility—for SMBs, that means you purchase what need, and then increase your usage as your company grows. It’s a simple concept, but it’s a true game changer for small businesses. For example, ERP systems were often out of reach for SMBs just because of costs. With the rise of cloud computing, however, you buy as few as 10 licenses for a SaaS solution, and you’re still using the same applications, infrastructure and technology as larger companies who may buy thousands.
Cloud applications are also infinitely scalable. So, small businesses access a technological solution at a price point that makes sense when their organization is small, and then add users – sometimes monthly – as their organization grows wherever they are needed regardless of geography.
In the past, when large companies would buy a software suite, the vendor’s partners would customize it to their organization. For example, if your company invested in a procurement system, the vendor would consult with your procurement team and then build out custom code based on their input. Cloud applications are more standardized, and that works in all SMBs’ favor.
Why? These companies continuously implement and update industry best practices directly into the infrastructure. Therefore, SMBs get the advantage of the best HR or finance practices without having to figure it out on their own or pay for expensive consultants.
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of having your company’s teams work off the same information. Prior to the cloud, it wasn’t uncommon (and still too often the case) for finance to operate off its own set of figures drawn from Excel spreadsheets and sales to work off completely different information gleaned from their CRM system (or perhaps another spreadsheet).
The result? Disparate data sources that make proactive, real-time decisions nearly impossible. With a single suite cloud-based solution, that problem disappears. Instead, you develop a holistic integration based on one source of data that is controlled, yet universally accessible via the cloud. Users aren't burning time trying to find information on the platform, and you can have more confidence in the decisions you make. This is especially critical for SMBs, which tend to operate with smaller margins and have less room for error.
If you remember a time before cloud services, then you likely remember the days or weeks that organizations dedicated to training employees on software applications. Cloud technology is more intuitive—and training on infrastructure is typically minimal, if it’s even necessary. Most people are already used to operating in the cloud, whether it’s shopping online or using an app to manage their finances. The majority of cloud applications mirror software and apps that employees may already use in their personal life. For digital natives, cloud adoption can happen within hours. That means there’s little productivity lost during a cloud deployment or with on-boarding new hires.
Competing for talent with larger companies as a small business is always a challenge. It’s hard for smaller organizations to offer the robust benefits packages or career opportunities that come with a big corporation. But cloud computing helps align experiences to career expectations: No one enjoys feeding sales leads into an Excel spreadsheet when they know the efficiency and benefits of using a cloud-based CRM. SMBs that provide a modern, cloud-based software suite elevates SMBs in the minds of potential hires, and ensures that their existing employees are ready for whatever position they take next.
On the flip side: An organization using an old or ancient application won’t be able to compete for talent in any marketplace. Working with green screens, function keys, non-mobile applications, and other last century technologies are certainly not on any candidate’s wish list for career goals.
When I encounter SMB owners, I often ask them how many employees or IT teams they have focused on their data security. The answer? Usually, it's none or some part of one. SMBs that take advantage of cloud applications benefit from the security measures and resources that the vendor puts into place. SMBs get access to these resources, regular security updates, and innovative initiatives aimed at outsmarting cybercriminals and rogue nations as part of their monthly subscription — without having to pay anything extra.
These resources deliver security regardless of your size, industry or geography. With security concerning attacks and thievery, you get positive assurance that end-to-end embassy-grade security is more than a great benefit for your SMB organization. It helps you sleep better each night.
Scrappiness is a valuable trait for many SMBs. But if you can avoid scrappiness, or apply those scrappy effort to your goals, why not leverage a competitive advantage by using the same technology tools used by your larger competitors? The cloud levels the playing field so you can focus on building a better company with better people and better tools for delivering better products and services. You are playing to win regardless of your competition’s size so why not enter the pitch with equalizers in your quiver?
After all, you are probably not spending time and money turning away public utilities for electricity, water, and sewer services. All of your efforts are being plowed into a winning strategy.