How a Cloud Based ERP Enables Workforce Flexibility and Reduces Costs
It’s a fact of modern life that many businesses require their workers to be flexible, being able to perform their duties wherever they may be based. There are signs that the number of employees working from home has increased, 59% of employers who responded to a 2011 survey said they offered some form of teleworking facilities.
Cloud based ERP systems can really help home and remote workers with a number of benefits:
Access from any device
It is more cost effective for businesses to allow their staff to work from home and use their own equipment, so if a cloud based ERP system is fully web based, it should need no extra software to be installed and work on almost any computer an employee may have including, tablets, PC’s, Macs or Smart TV’s. This article discusses some of the approaches used to enable home and remote working for various technologies.
Many employees may need to access data on the move, particularly when visiting clients. Web access to an ERP system using mobile devices such as laptops and phones allows staff such as sales representatives to access information such as quotations, invoices and orders, especially when they are out visiting clients.
There are significant benefit in using ERP systems that have built-in document management allowing office documents, pictures and drawings to be attached to electronic records such as orders and invoices. This saves the trouble of trying to find and access documents on large fileservers, particularly with mobile devices.
Many businesses operate over separate sites, sometimes even in different countries; by having a fully hosted ERP system, there is no requirement to use complex VPN (virtual private network) or expensive leased lines to provide connectivity to employees based in separate offices.
A fully web based ERP system can help businesses keep track of stock in separate locations such as remote warehouses and vans.
A number of ERP systems provide customer portals to allow clients to check order statuses, request quotations and copy invoices. The complexity of providing such services is greatly reduced as the customer is able to log in to a web based ERP portal through their own internet connection; there will be the added benefit that the more customers can “self-serve” so that less administration effort will be required by the owner of the ERP system, whilst can ultimately reduce costs and save valuable staff time.
With an online ERP system, it’s also possible to give suppliers access to receive purchase orders and submit invoices for payment; this also gives the added benefit of reducing administration overhead.
Management, support and upgrading
With a cloud based ERP system, all software components are hosted by the ERP supplier so there is typically no need to upgrade, install software on each employee’s, customer’s or supplier’s device that connects to the ERP system.
As all data is hosted in the cloud by the ERP supplier, there is far less of a requirement to store data on local devices that could be lost or stolen. Furthermore, many ERP systems are able to produce complex custom reports, so there is far less of a need to download data into local programs like spread sheets to carry out data manipulation and custom reporting.
As dedicated ISP data centres typically have better internet connectivity than most SME’s, much greater resilience is provided for connectivity, so if the likes of an ADSL link fails, a business could connect using other means such as 3G.
Neil Cavanagh is the owner of Xpress Data Systems Ltd. He has over 15 years’ experience as Chief Technical Officer in large organizations in both the public and private sector. Having recently launched CamisOnline, a web based ERP System, Neil is actively contributing advice to help businesses thrive on the web.