Enterprise Resource Planning: online vs. local installation

Businesses have become accustomed to the fact that in order to stay on top of orders and deliveries, data needs to be kept fully up to date and readily available to employees.  The most efficient way to maintain real-time data and provide immediate access for the relevant individuals is still the topic of some discussion.  The essence of the solution, however, is effective enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Going online: the doubts

Many businesses still have doubts about online ERP for all their data storage and working systems.  This is perfectly understandable as precious data is at the very core of most companies these days.  Moving online is a major step, and although the possible advantages in cost saving and improvements in efficiency are readily apparent, many companies are still very wary about trusting others with their data storage.  This is perfectly understandable; those that are charged with making the final decision whether or not to move the data to the cloud no doubt experience some sleepless nights.

The decision whether or not to use the cloud will be influenced by the actual size of the business. There is little point in making such a move if the business is small and the amount of information to be stored can be easily handled by on-site hardware.  Security issues can also be easily and quite inexpensively addressed in a small business.  There is also of course the very important cost implication.  If a small business is considering moving to the cloud a cost comparison between going online and using a local installation should certainly be made.  The in-house system could well be a cheaper option.

Security of online data  

Placing data on a remote server(s) can cause anxiety, as there is a loss of control to come to terms with.  The faith in the company providing the storage must be complete; thorough research into a potential service provider is essential, as they have to be trusted to be secure, reliable and efficient.  Before signing a contract for services a comprehensive service-level agreement must be carefully studied to ensure that all that is required will be supplied.

The loss of control over data really worries some potential cloud users, as they fear that a third party could access confidential information.  This risk is probably less than it would be with an in-house system as the security levels will be higher with a cloud service provider.

Main advantages of going online    

The most obvious advantage for a medium sized or larger business of utilising the cloud is an immediate financial one.  Expensive hardware and IT staff to maintain it will be a thing of the past, and the resulting cost savings to a business can be substantial.

The chosen data storage company manages the whole system and updates it as required.

As the data is stored securely off-site the potential loss caused by a fire or criminal activity in an office building is eliminated.

The system will be scalable.  As the demand for storage increases extra capacity can be purchased.

Increased level of data security.

The decision to move to the cloud obviously depends on the individual requirements of a business.  It is probable though that in a few years time this method of working will be universally accepted and will be utilised with hardly a second thought.