Despite significant growth in the wholesale and distribution industries, it can sometimes seem like the ERP technology needed to support those industries hasn't kept pace, especially when you’re in the market for an upgrade. However, there’s good reason to believe that more efficient and affordable — ERP solutions are becoming more widely developed and adapted. With this fast-changing technological landscape, many companies are looking to move to a cloud ERP system.
Moving to a cloud ERP (or a more unified hybrid solution — for example, a blend of your on-premise core accounting software and cloud software for your CRM and inventory management) is more feasible and affordable than ever before — and the ROI you can expect from a more streamlined technology environment is even more promising.
Perhaps you already use cloud software for certain aspects of your operations (like ecommerce) and you’re tired of the disparate systems. Or, maybe you’re feeling the strain that company growth is putting on your homegrown or legacy ERP system and want the flexibility of cloud software that can scale with your business.
However, despite these sure signs that it’s time to upgrade your ERP system, you still might be feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of moving to the cloud, and find yourself asking, “Can we really do this?”
The good news is that companies are successfully making the move to the cloud all the time. Here are some common roadblocks to moving to the cloud that companies can overcome.
The cost of switching to a cloud ERP system will be too great.
A cloud ERP system won’t accommodate our processes.
We can’t afford to pay for features we don’t need right now.
We don’t need a heavy CRM solution right now, so it’s a waste to get involved with an ERP system that provides that.
These are only a few of the reasons companies come up with to not migrate to the cloud. However, there are solutions to these perceived problems, and moving to the cloud has more advantages than many companies realize.
The cost of switching to a cloud ERP system will be too great
While there are undoubtedly going to be some significant upfront costs to switching to a cloud ERP system, don’t forget to take long-term benefits and the value of a competitive edge into consideration when making your decision.
The traditional business models of product-centric companies are being actively disrupted by digital business. Our world is changing rapidly as more and more business is conducted online. Consumers are becoming savvier as they learn how to thoroughly research their options, and distributors have to keep up with the times if they want to remain viable.
Moving to the cloud in order to take advantage of its many advantages, such as the scalability, mobility, flexibility, and online access, might require an initial investment, but beating the competition to where the market is headed is a clear and tempting advantage.
A cloud ERP system won’t accommodate our processes
As cloud-based Operational ERP providers ourselves, we hear this a lot, and our response is that it’s doubtful this is actually the case.
While there are certainly cloud ERP solutions out there that are not the right fit for your business, the range of options for companies looking to adopt a cloud ERP system is growing. Not only are the number of cloud ERP companies increasing, but also the number of cloud ERP add-ons.
Take, for instance, our SalesPad Cloud product. While offering a wide range of functionality on its own, integrations for QuickBooks Online, ShipStation, Shopify, Google Drive, PayFabric, and more already exist, and there are additional integrations in the pipeline. We’re not alone in this effort to provide as many options to the cloud ERP customer as required. If the functionality you need does not exist natively in the cloud ERP solution that you’re considering, it’s very likely that it exists in an add-on application that is already available as an integration, or that can be made available if requested.
Many of the best ERP solutions (cloud-based or not) also offer customization options. While software customization can add to the initial expense and time commitment, the benefits they provide in the long run make them worthwhile.
We can’t afford to pay for features we don’t need right now
Sounds like it’s time for some good ol’ fashioned cost-benefit analysis.
Set aside some time to take a nice long look at your business processes and determine how much time your employees spend performing tasks such as filling out sales orders, manually moving those sales orders, looking up customer information, picking and packing orders, preparing orders for shipment, and more. Chart the error rates that are a direct result of completing these tasks manually, gather data on inventory management issues that have cropped up in your warehouse, then sign up for some demos of the leading candidates for the right cloud ERP solution for your business.
When taking a look at your current processes, pay special attention to the picking and packing procedures. If orders are picked and packed without a barcode scanner, note the time commitment and error rate involved, as the ability to automatically track what has been picked/packed via a barcode scanner can be one of the most immediate, dramatic benefits of an ERP system (provided, of course, that your chosen ERP accommodates barcode scanning).
While spotting the weak points in your business processes yourself may be difficult, the data analysis will reveal these areas for improvement. And if there isn’t money currently available for migrating to a cloud ERP, consider the money that you’re already spending on processes that are slowing you down.
You and your company should never settle for a solution that simply keeps the ship afloat — you need an ERP software that scales with you, promotes growth, and increases your overall efficiency.
As with any product, as the market for ERP systems continues to expand, affordability improves along with it. If you did some shopping a year ago and concluded that you couldn’t afford an ERP system, you might want to look again.
We don’t need a heavy CRM solution right now, so it’s a waste to get involved with an ERP system that provides that
If you don’t need a heavy CRM solution currently, you might very well need it down the road. As your business continues to grow, your customer base will also grow, and the impetus on maintaining healthy customer relationships will become more and more critical to success. Similarly to the reasoning behind the first roadblock we discussed (that the cost of switching will be too great), strategically planning for your company’s future might very well entail laying the groundwork for more powerful CRM capabilities, should the need arise.
Choosing the right ERP solution all boils down to laying some solid groundwork for success. For your distribution company, that very well could mean giving a long, serious look at the cloud ERP options out there.
SalesPad Cloud is dedicated to providing customers with flexible, scalable, user-friendly Operational ERP solutions that facilitate growth. Head to our sandbox to get a feel for what our software is like, then contact your sales rep to learn more.