March 13

Small Business ERP Implementation Projects – Is the cloud the best bet for me?

By Brad Tornberg

Everyone today feels the cloud is the way to go. It’s the greatest love of the technologists and developers. No systems overhead, no IT issues, no problems! Picture the blue water and the little island paradise with just a row boat on it. It’s as real as that – but not really.

Sure you have no on site network or hardware to deal with but you also give up a little bit and even a little more if you are a manufacturer.

First, ERP is an application that requires expertise in terms of support and in terms of implementation. Most hosting companies are interested in the transaction and not necessarily how you use the connection as long as you are paying for it. Buyer beware, technical support may not be an offering for your application you may still need it though the vendor.

Service interruption while not common is another issue. You are only as strong as your weakest link and your internet connection becomes that link. Are you willing to bet on it? Good question to ask. Sure you can buy redundancy but now all of a sudden the costs start to creep up and oh yeah by the way they occur every month as long as you want to use their system. At some point there is a cross over where the cloud loses its cost advantages so make sure you are aware of this. Make sure they have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that guarantees uptime and availability

Control and Flexibility is important to me as a small business owner. I like to work with my data and use it in many different ways and applications. I sometimes like to just add things and then remove them and having someone else manage this slows me down. Another problem is being reliant on the vendor for changes to your environment.

The biggest challenge I see at least for the short term is the lack of built out functionality in the “cloud” applications. Traditional on premise solutions have been around for 20 – 30 years and have a head start in terms of features and functions so make sure the functions that are needed for your business are actually present in the cloud solution. Many times I have seen some basic functions missing from the new cloud based applications.

The cloud makes sense if you can’t support it internally, have limited funds for the project startup (remember at some point you may be paying more over a longer period of time hence there is a crossover point that you should always be aware of), are concerned about your data or just don’t have the time or wherewithal to deal with it.


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