How Cloud ERP Increases Agility and Resilience for Manufacturers
Technology has been a great enabler throughout the storm we have experienced this past year. Online meetings, VPNs, and collaboration tools have allowed schools, businesses, and faith communities to continue to function reasonably well, despite the many constraints imposed by the COVID crisis.
While technology and economic stimulus have provided much-needed lifelines throughout this crisis, the pandemic has also served as a wake-up call for business leaders everywhere, as widespread shifts in demand, supply, and workforce availability have exposed vulnerabilities that had never previously surfaced.
Businesses have sought to diversify their sources of revenue, preserve cash, and act quickly on new opportunities. Manufacturing firms, in particular, have struggled with uncertainties in the supply chain. They have faced constraints on equipment maintenance and workforce availability, and grappled with significant challenges around capacity management. This has compelled leaders to re-think their tools and processes and to seek out ways to foster organizational agility.
How can business leaders stay ahead of the next disruptive event, – whether it be a far-reaching incident with widespread impact or an isolated shock that affects a single industry or region? Agility and resiliency are popular watchwords these days, but executives must sift through the hype to identify the key enablers of agility that merit top consideration for investment. For companies that still run on-premise ERP systems, migration to cloud ERP should be on that list.
For several years, the big software vendors have been shifting their focus toward the cloud. Many manufacturing businesses were initially reluctant to make the move; but a growing majority of industry leaders are recognizing the value of cloud ERP in a world where agility and resiliency are so critically important.
Let’s look at some of the key ways in which cloud ERP can make a difference for manufacturing firms in today’s environment:
1. Focus on What Matters Most
It’s hard to move quickly when you’re juggling too many things at the same time. Businesses are most successful when they focus on core competencies, outsourcing non-core processes to specialist organizations that live or die based on their ability to execute well in a specific domain. In the manufacturing industry, efficiency and operational excellence are built around repeatable, scalable processes. The same is true of IT.
Every SME needs to develop and maintain a baseline competency in IT; but when it comes to advanced capabilities, smaller organizations simply cannot compete with the specialized, highly scalable companies that focus on IT every day. Hiring and retaining technical staff can be a challenge, and when a small IT department must fulfill a broad range of functions within the organization, it inevitably leads to a “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario.
Add a rapidly changing technology landscape to that equation, and the challenge becomes even greater. Keeping up with the myriad of new products, technologies, and security updates can be overwhelming for a small staff.
Managing an IT infrastructure in-house is growing increasingly complex in the context of expanded connectivity, growing adoption of mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Security concerns alone require almost constant attention, and small IT departments are challenged to keep up with the pace of change.
As a business leader, do you really want to spend your time and energy managing a data center, with all of the complexity that implies? Cloud ERP allows manufacturers to offload a large chunk of IT management concerns, enabling leaders to focus on new initiatives centered around the company’s core competencies.
2. Get Immediate Access to the Latest Innovations
Cloud ERP isn’t just about moving applications and infrastructure off-site, though; SaaS vendors are redefining the way software is delivered, providing new innovations far more frequently than in the past, without sacrificing stability.
With conventional on-premise software, system upgrades happen periodically, but they can cause significant disruption and introduce risk. As a result, upgrades have traditionally been viewed as a necessary evil, requiring a meaningful business case to justify the cost and risk. Unfortunately, that limits access to many of the new features that could benefit a growing manufacturing business.
Cloud ERP, in contrast, is designed so that small, incremental changes can be introduced seamlessly, with very little risk. New features and innovations can be made available sooner, without the disruption involved with a major upgrade project. As a practical matter, cloud ERP does away with major upgrades altogether.
For those who prefer greater control over the update process, Infor CloudSuite Industrial powered by Syteline provides an advantage; customers have greater flexibility than with other cloud ERPs because they can decide when to accept and apply enhancements to their Infor ERP system.
3. Extend & Scale with Ease
Cloud ERP also offers greater agility when it comes to extending and scaling information systems. As your manufacturing business grows, computing power can be scaled up quickly and easily, often in just minutes. If you need greater storage capacity, a new test environment, or additional users, the process can be initiated online or with a phone call, and the resulting enhancements are often available within minutes or hours.
Extending your ERP system’s capabilities, likewise, can generally happen very quickly. Provisioning asset management, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, or CRM alongside your existing Infor ERP software can happen extraordinarily quickly.
When the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic first became clear, many business leaders scrambled to diversify their revenue sources, seeking out new customers and striving to maintain closer contact with existing customers. Many rolled out CRM software to help them operationalize those processes and make them available to a remote salesforce.
Advanced analytics, likewise, has seen increased adoption as management seeks to gain a better understanding of business performance and explore “what if” scenarios in the context of a rapidly changing business climate. Amid the volatility of 2020, advanced analytics enabled manufacturing leaders to closely monitor revenue, cash, receivables, and logistics; and to respond quickly when circumstances demanded it.
While it’s important to invest some time in proper design, configuration, and rollout for new elements of your software systems, cloud computing dramatically shortens the time required to go live with those new components.
Infor CloudSuite Industrial powered by Syteline: the Agile Alternative
Cloud ERP has reached maturity, and after an extended period of investment and growth, the benefits of cloud ERP outweigh those of on-premise software. At Synergy, we’re working with clients every day to help them achieve greater agility and resiliency with cloud technology.
Infor CloudSuite Industrial powered by Syteline is an end-to-end ERP manufacturing solution that includes predictive analytics, collaboration, and lean production tools. Infor CloudSuite Industrial powered by Syteline is available for a range of industries and can easily be tailored to the unique needs of any manufacturing firm.
If your organization is seeking to increase agility and efficiency, drive rapid innovation, and create a foundation for growth, contact us today for a free demo.