Using The Cloud To Accelerate Your Intelligent ERP Journey

Carl Dubler

Part 3 in the “Journey to Intelligent ERP” series

Ask any tech pundit, and you’ll likely hear without hesitation that the cloud should be your top IT priority. Wherever you may be with your deployment strategy right now, everyone’s pretty sure that we’ll soon be using the cloud to run all our IT.

But where does that leave you and your ERP system today? Are you ready to take the leap into a fully cloud-based ERP deployment? Or is there a way that you can use cloud technology to accelerate your journey to intelligent ERP, even if you choose to deploy the solution on-premise?

Choosing the best deployment path

If you are grappling with these questions, you’re not alone. In a recent ASUG survey, 33% of respondents reported that they are still unsure how they want to deploy their next-generation ERP solution.

In this blog, we’ll look at your options. We explore how the cloud accelerates your journey toward intelligent ERP while reducing the complexity of your operations.

Speed, simplicity, and staying current without capital outlay

The fastest and simplest way to implement an intelligent ERP solution is via the cloud, which gives you next-generation functionality without the costs of the infrastructure and training required to run it on premise. The cloud provider takes care of maintenance, and you also benefit from regular updates to take advantage of the latest innovations. You’ve known this to be true about public cloud solutions for years now.

But what if you can’t run ERP in the public cloud? Perhaps this is due to regulatory requirements. Standardization is required with a public cloud, and maybe you aren’t ready to fit some business processes to a standard determined by an ERP vendor. You might want a hybrid model or a multi-tier model—for example, running on-premise or private cloud at headquarters while using the cloud to support subsidiaries.

As discussed in my previous blog and this video, this is why it’s important that your ERP solution works consistently across private cloud; public cloud; infrastructure-as-a-service, or IaaS (AWS, Azure); and on-premise deployments, with the same code line, data model, and user interface. Some ERP vendors are public cloud only, with no private cloud or on-premise option. Others have completely different products for cloud than for on-premise. It is worth asking your ERP provider how they can provide not only choice, but consistency.

Faster testing and development with lower investment

I’m always struck by how much time and money companies spend on one-off prototyping projects using on-premise infrastructure. However, it’s still worth considering conducting testing and development activities in the cloud – even if you do decide that a fully cloud-based ERP deployment is not right for you.

By setting up a trial system using cloud services provided by an IaaS vendor, you can complete preparation tasks with significantly less investment than required for on-premise systems. And by using the cloud for development, testing, and quality assurance, you can get your on-premise ERP solution up and running faster.

Flexibility in extending and updating functionality

In an earlier blog in this series, I wrote about how custom code supporting specific business processes can hold you back when it comes to modernizing. However, there will always be some areas where standard functionality simply won’t do the job.

Here again, the cloud gives you much more flexibility and enables you to reduce complexity – whether or not you’re opting for a cloud-based deployment. By pulling custom code out of the ERP layer and into a cloud-based development environment, you won’t have to adapt custom code before upgrades can take place.

Where additional functionality is required to the extent that you need to create a new application, you can use a cloud-based development platform to build “side-by-side” extensions. Besides providing the infrastructure, environments such as SAP Cloud Platform offer software development kits with preconfigured templates that cut development time.

Meanwhile, you can also enable key users to make everyday changes easily to your ERP solution in the cloud. In-app extension capabilities enable you to make alterations – such as changing interfaces, adding custom fields to data, or customizing a report – in a way that won’t slow down future upgrades.

In the next blog, we’ll look at how to get the business on board as you journey to intelligent ERP. In the meantime, read more here about intelligent ERP in the cloud. You can also learn more by reading the SAP S/4HANA Journey Guide. 

Carl Dubler

About Carl Dubler

Carl Dubler is a senior director of Product Marketing for SAP S/4HANA. With an IT career stretching back to the late 1980s, he has done nearly every role in the business. In his ten years at SAP, he also managed SAP’s first commercially available cloud product and first cloud product on SAP HANA.