SaaS and Cloud Computing…It Just Makes Sense for Small-to-Mid-Sized Businesses

February 3, 2011
By grippen

Cloud and SaaS – Enterprise Capabilities Included

I saw a line in an article recently that drove home a good point regarding the power of SaaS and Cloud computing for the small-to-mid sized company. Though the line is far from being headline material or delivering an earth shattering new observation it does simply says it as it is:

For many small-to-mid-sized companies, SaaS and Cloud-based ERP systems offer features and capabilities available to billion dollar companies at an affordable price.

When I think about improving inventory control, enhancing the bottom line or building solid customer relationships as lifelines to a healthy operation, I am reminded of the important benefits that a comprehensive enterprise-wide business management solution can provide, to any company, and of any size.

Today’s ERP software options

Until recently, small-to-mid-sized companies had very few options available to them that would provide the information needed to run their businesses, without the high costs and complexities associated with traditional ERP software. Today however, companies have choices that include software as a service (SaaS) as well as traditional software deployed on a Cloud computing service. To me, SaaS and Cloud computing makes a lot of sense for small-to-mid-sized companies that have need for strong ERP functionality, but lack the IT knowledge, IT infrastructure, or financial resources for an enterprise-wide business solution.

Choosing a Cloud ERP provider

But in order for this to make sense for the smaller company, they must also be smart about choosing the right SaaS and Cloud computing provider for their businesses. I believe that companies should ask their prospective SaaS and Cloud providers the following important questions.

  • Web Interface: Does the solution offer a true web-interface allowing access from anywhere, rapid enrollment, elimination of client software, platform independence (PC/Mac/Linux), and mobile device access?
  • Deployment Options: Is there a choice of deployment? Can the vendor provide both a SaaS offering and/or the option to deploy the Cloud ERP on-premise, or also host the solution on a virtual or dedicated server of the user’s choice?
  • Deployment Flexibility: Can you switch from SaaS to on-premise? As your company’s needs change, will the vendor allow the company to change from a SaaS deployment to an on-premise deployment and back?
  • Licensing Options: Are you locked into recurring fees for the life of your business or do you have the option to purchase a license. If the vendor increases pricing, are you locked-in to the solution or is it easy to get your data and switch providers?
  • Ease of Customization: How easy is it to customize the solution, even by non-programmers? It is also important to know how the customized areas are impacted by system upgrades. Is it easy to interface with other on-premise or web-based systems that the company needs?
  • Scalability: Does the software offer unlimited users, without additional costs and capacity constraints? Can the solution scale quickly? Verify that you don’t need to purchase additional hardware as you add users.
  • Security: How do they provide Data Controls and Security? Do they meet the physical, transmission, storage, access, data, and application security needs of banks, health-care, and government organizations? Are there security features such as access controls, data encryption, and server based processing built into their system?

Summary – Act Big

When it comes to successfully managing a business, small-to-mid sized companies have the same needs that larger companies do, but many times not the IT knowledge, infrastructure or monetary backing in place to operate what they need. Because SaaS and Cloud computing offers small-to-mid sized companies comprehensive features and capabilities available to billion dollar companies at an affordable price, SaaS and Cloud computing truly does make sense for smaller companies competing in the same marketplace as their largest competitors.

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