Cloud applications are systems that process and store data on a network of servers hosted remotely on the internet. They have been around for a quite while, but really made their way to mainstream in the last 10 years.
Many business applications are built to run on the cloud nowadays. From CRM, project management, to HR and purchasing management, as well as any system that a business might need. They have some significant advantages compared to on-premises systems. In this blog we take purchasing management as an example to look at some of the most valuable benefits that SMEs can enjoy from adopting cloud based systems.
A purchase management system often consists of a client application, a database system, and server-side services. The software components need to run on adequately specified hardware in order to provide responsive performance. Supplying the right hardware and software can be a costly and high effort task for typical SME IT teams.
The first and most obvious benefit of cloud based systems is that they run somewhere in the cloud, remotely. This means that there is no IT infrastructure required on your premises. Right away the investment previously needed for your own server hardware and software is no longer required. Deployment and implementation are hugely simplified as in most cases all you need is online login credentials from the software vendor. Moreover, as they run in the cloud, you don't need to assign capacity from your IT team to maintain them, which reduces a lot of ongoing burden from your IT resources. This is especially attractive to SMEs where IT budget and resources can be limited.
Simply put, as cloud based systems run on the internet, all you need to access them is an internet connection. In today's world, internet connection is abundantly available. This internet-oriented nature makes cloud systems much more accessible than on-premises systems.
With on-premises software, if a team is working from home, or a key approver is out of office, without access to the system purchase requests could get stuck, and other downstream activities could be forced into a standstill. On the other hand, with the easy accessibility provided by cloud based systems, reviews and approvals of purchase requests can be done from wherever your teams are, so your business continues to flow, not affected by the workplace arrangement.
Cloud systems are normally distributed in several different cross-region edge locations by the platform they are running on - not just to prevent downtimes, but also to provide global accessibility. This means your team around globe can access and collaborate on the same dataset in real-time continuously. For example, your buyer on the ground can raise requests near the factory and that can be dealt with by approvers in the headquarters 6,000 miles away in real-time.
In short, cloud systems provide anywhere, anytime access, facilitating greater collaboration between teams.
Having data stored on premises, you are required to exert great effort to secure it from incidental loss and theft. Loss of essential business data could bring great disruption to your business operation, and in some cases serious financial setback. Typical a purchasing system holds data of purchase orders and supplier invoices. Not only are they confidential, but they also need to be kept secured for legal compliance reasons. Loss of such data is a very difficult problem for businesses of any size to deal with.
Cloud systems running on reputable platforms benefit from market proven data security measures such as highly secured platform design, latest updates of security patches, and the latest data encryption techniques. Also your important data is stored and backed up in secured datacentre locations. If ever needed, data recovery is much easier than that of an on-premises system. All this means you do not need to worry about incidental data losses that could affect your productivity and business continuity.
Cloud based services are an excellent choice for many businesses, from those that are on a path to continuous growth, to others planning changes for their future. By their nature, cloud systems can easily scale with your usage with little to no adjustment, giving businesses greater capability to take on greater workloads. There is no need to invest or physically install new servers, which are not just costly, but also wasteful when you decommission them as business requirements change in the future.
Cloud systems often provide multiple pricing plans that suit businesses of different sized. For example, a cloud based purchasing system might have different pricing options based on how many purchase orders and supplier invoices you process per month. You choose a plan that fits your current scale, and only pay for what you need. Should you need more or less as your business develops, you can easily switch to another plan, or just pay-as-you-go. With this flexible pricing, you avoid having to incur large perpetual upfront costs that you might have to with on-premises hardware and software.
On-premise systems begin to age as soon as you purchase them. They might also need a suite of supporting infrastructure products in order for them to function. When you carry out an update to the application itself, you might also need to update a whole host of other supporting hardware and software, such as rack servers, operating systems, database systems, licensing systems, etc. Hence bringing your on-premises applications up to date is often costly and takes a great deal of effort to implement properly. Cloud based systems always evolve with new features and security updates. You automatically get the latest and best version without any hidden upgrade fees and hassle of manual implementations.
Many cloud based purchasing management systems provide built in analytics and reports. As the cloud system continues to bring new features in, the analytics are always improved at a faster pace than on-premises systems. With data in the cloud, insight is delivered to decision makers of all levels and locations in your organisation 24/7 continuously.
Business insights help to inspire improvement ideas. For procurement management, do you know who your top suppliers are? Are they changing by year, department, or project? Do you have a big enough volume to strike a corporate deal with the suppliers? Which business areas have the largest expenditure? Are they the right areas in terms of business focus and strategy? With analytics and reports provided by modern purchase management systems, it's much easier to see the big trends and revealing profiles through automated analysis of data. Cost control and business practices are reviewed and considered beyond day-to-day processes, and improvements can be achieved by more strategic measures.
Cloud based systems provide many benefits to businesses, particularly to SMEs where resources could be tight. Cloud systems remove IT burden, reduce risk of investment, provide easy access with data security, offer scalability and flexible pricing. They can really help SMEs to benefit from the latest technology with minimal effort and upfront cost, and enable businesses to direct their resources and focus on growth.
Approvol is a solution for efficient budgeting and purchasing management. Being a cloud base system, it provides all the above benefits with easy access. If you are considering a move to modern and cloud based purchase management, Approvol can help. Contact us today to request a demo or to find out more.