For many of us, deciding between Cloud-based software systems or Enterprise software systems is arduous, and while we all attempt to weigh out the benefits, we often hone in on one factor – the cost. We take cost and run with it as if it is the key criteria, instead of considering the whole-of-life cost of the situation. And as quickly as that, keeping the cost low becomes our objective.
But does this really help our decision, or do we simply end up with a cheaper option that doesn’t actually meet our business objectives?
What’s in it for me?
More often than not, we purchase a new software system for one of five reasons:
- You have too many disparate and disconnected systems, performing different functions, and managing them is messy and expensive;
- Your business has outgrown the current system;
- You need to modernise to software that’s easier to use and supports current technologies;
- Your business processes have changed your system can’t be customised to what you now need;
- You need new specific functionalities, or;
- Your server or network equipment needs to be upgraded and your current system can’t be migrated.
Once we know which problem(s) are trying to solve, we can tend to focus on the cost – Is it too much? What does the market pay? What more can I get for my money?
The problem with this thinking is that we can fall into the trap of limiting our new focus and purchasing a system that doesn’t actually do everything you need it to. While the system may seem cheaper upfront, you could have potentially signed yourself up for hours of painful management issues later on – ultimately costing you much more of your time and money in the long-run.
Acquiring the wrong system for your business can lead to:
- A system that doesn’t actually do what you need it to because it has not been tailored to fit your business;
- Dissatisfied staff because the system also doesn’t meet their needs, meaning more work for them due to poorly suited software; and
- Requiring add-on systems to fill the functionality gaps of the chosen software, adding cost and complexity to your systems.
Based on my experiences working with numerous businesses both here in Australia and overseas, such issues can cause significant pain to your business and be exhausting for both you and your staff.
So, what’s the difference between Cloud and Enterprise?
While Cloud-based systems seem cheaper and most certainly have their benefits, in the long term their limitations can be difficult to manage. This can play out in a number of different ways:
- The limitations of cloud-based systems are generally very focussed on what each “module” can do (for instance you might need one for accounting, one for counter sales, another for warehouse management and yet another for custom reports) often built to a template, meaning you actually need to pay more if you require specific functions or enhanced versions;
- Each “module” is generally provided by a different company, meaning there is no single point of contact when things go wrong; and
- The “look and feel” can vary quite a lot between different “modules” making staff training (especially for new starters coming inboard) more difficult
- Your data is available “to anyone and from anywhere” if the wrong people get access to your security settings.
While Cloud-based systems do work for some smaller businesses, they can create the risk of adding too many contrasting systems to your business, causing complexity.
Enterprise systems on the other hand, while they seem more expensive upfront, can be custom-configured to suit your individual business, saving you time and money in the long run.
Generally, with Enterprise systems:
- You can choose how the system needs to be configured to suit your exact business needs;
- Provide a single integrated solution with common “look and feel” across all components;
- Your data is always searchable and secure as it is stored on “known” server(s) either in-house or co-located for you;
- All functionalities are precise and can be automated, saving you hours on tasks like invoicing or fixing errors; and
- If there is a problem, you only need to call one person to have it fixed.
Six questions you should ask yourself before purchasing software for your business.
Choosing the right Cloud-based or Enterprise system for your business can make your life much easier. Think about it this way, if you need a new car you don’t go into the dealership and buy the first one you see. You also don’t buy the components from many various suppliers! You go with a list of requirements and features and then work back against your budget – same goes for your software. Figure out exactly what problems you’re trying solve – what are you willing to pay to make that pain go away?
It’s okay to get help from the right places
You’ve just started to explore all the different software solutions, but for a solution provider, this is their entire world. Leverage their deep expertise to ensure you achieve the best solution for your business.
Consider the following questions:
- What problems am I trying to solve in my business?
- Do I want to rent, buy, or finance?
- How do I want my software configured and can the one I purchase be made to fit the best?
- What functionality and flow of information do I want?
- Who needs access?
- How is it implemented?
- Who will be looking after me and my staff during and after we “go-live”
It can be overwhelming to figure these out on your own, and the good news is… you don’t have to. At Micronet, we often work with our clients to help them figure out what great looks like for their businesses.
Once you have answered these questions and determined your objectives, don’t lose sight of what they are. Put it this way, your objectives allow your provider to create a solution that’s right for you. From these, they can determine your modules, training, timing of installation, and the outcomes you should expect. Leveraging your trusted provider and getting all this right will not only make your life easier, but will benefit your costs significantly as it ensures your system does exactly what you need it to, without costly errors.
How can we help?
Micronet works with companies to ensure their software does exactly what they need it to, when they need it to. We have helped many businesses reduce their long term operational costs drastically by implementing software that just works for them. Micronet Systems automates tasks that can otherwise be complex and manual, and eliminates issues that too many disparate systems just can’t do properly.
Micronet Business software has been implemented in over 2,000 companies worldwide and has enabled us to “tailor fit” the software to suit each one. Our software and systems can help you:
- Achieve better control of your finances;
- Ensure your customers get their purchases delivered to the right place, at the right time, at the right price, every time;
- Help your staff be more efficient and limit the potential for mistakes – be it by improving workflows, finding customer/product information rapidly, managing customer pricing, protecting sales margins, maintaining efficient stock levels, managing efficient delivery runs, tracking purchases and products being imported, and much more!
- Ensure you can get the right information at all times; and
- Gain access to the Micronet team who are knowledgeable and experienced professionals to help you with your new system journey.
If you’d like to speak with me in more detail about the right software solution for your business, please feel free to contact me directly. You can reach me on 02 9542 2000.
Stuart Duncan is a Senior Sales Consultant at Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient processes regarding sales, inventory and accounting systems by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of your key processes, then leverage Stuart’s 35 years of experience to help you drive real change in your business.