Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has long been an essential tool for large enterprises to manage key business processes and optimize operations. However, traditional on-premise ERP systems require significant investments in hardware, maintenance, and internal IT resources. This made ERP software inaccessible for many small and medium businesses.
The advent of cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) has enabled the development of ERP solutions that are hosted online and accessible via web browser. ERP online solutions provide the same broad functionality as traditional ERP, but with the benefits of lower upfront costs, faster implementation, automatic updates, and accessibility from anywhere.
ERP online systems deliver integrated management of core processes such as accounting, inventory, supply chain, manufacturing, project management, and more. By consolidating these activities into a centralized platform, ERP online enhances data visibility, streamlines workflows, and improves productivity across the organization.
This article will explore what ERP online is, its key benefits for businesses of any size, features to look for when selecting software, top solutions on the market, and considerations when choosing the right system for your needs. With the flexibility, affordability, and scalability of modern cloud ERP, there are tremendous opportunities for organizations to improve operations and drive growth like never before.
What is ERP Online?
ERP online, also referred to as cloud ERP, is a web-based software delivery model for enterprise resource planning systems. ERP online provides businesses with real-time access to the software and its functional modules via the internet and a web browser.
Whereas traditional on-premise ERP software is installed locally on a company’s computers and servers, ERP online is hosted on the vendor’s or a third-party cloud infrastructure. Users connect to the software over the internet via desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device. This approach eliminates the need for onsite IT infrastructure and internal maintenance.
Just like legacy ERP systems, ERP online integrates various business processes into a unified system covering functions such as:
- Financial management
- Inventory and order processing
- Supply chain and manufacturing
- HR and payroll
- Customer relationship management
- Reporting and analytics
By centralizing this information on the cloud, real-time data is available across the organization. Authorized users can access the system and key business insights anywhere, anytime. This enhances collaboration, agility, and informed decision making.
The cloud-based approach makes ERP software more affordable, quicker to implement, and easier to scale than traditional solutions. ERP online levels the playing field so organizations of any size can leverage the same enterprise-class capabilities previously out of reach.
Benefits of ERP Online
There are many compelling reasons why businesses today are choosing cloud-based ERP solutions:
One of the biggest advantages of ERP online systems is lower total cost of ownership compared to on-premise software. Rather than large upfront license fees, ERP online follows a subscription model with monthly or annual payments. This spreads costs over time and allows businesses to start small then pay as they grow.
With no need for servers or infrastructure, hardware costs are eliminated. Maintenance, troubleshooting and upgrades are managed by the vendor, reducing internal IT overhead. ERP online alleviates the financial burdens that previously deterred small companies from enterprise systems.
On-premise ERP software requires significant infrastructure sized for peak capacity. As business needs change, adding modules or users involves expensive upgrades and system downtime.
The flexibility of ERP online enables organizations to start with core functionality, then easily scale up or down. Adding a new warehouse, office location or acquiring companies is simple since the system is centrally hosted. This supports business growth and seasonal spikes in usage without disruption.
Real-Time Data and Reporting
On-premise systems rely on batch updates and overnight syncs between locations. This results in fragmented, outdated information. ERP online integrates data in real-time across the entire company for up-to-date visibility. Dashboards and reports provide actionable insights into current performance.
With everyone accessing the single source of truth in the cloud, decisions are made faster with contextual data. Sales teams see inventory levels when quoting orders. Production schedules adapt immediately to supply shortages. Real-time analytics drive better business outcomes.
By streamlining processes and providing anytime, anywhere access, ERP online eliminates duplicative data entry and manual workflows. Automation and simplified procedures let employees focus on more strategic initiatives versus administrative tasks.
Role-based interfaces deliver relevant information to users allowing them to be more efficient and productive. Collaboration across locations is enhanced when stakeholders can securely share and update information in the cloud-based platform.
Cloud ERP enables real-time information exchange across departments, partners and distributed teams. Sales knows immediately when new products are available to sell. Service technicians access customer histories prior to site visits. Inventory levels are visible across the supply chain.
Empowered with timely data, groups make better decisions through improved collaboration. ERP online unites dispersed teams and external partners into a seamless environment to execute business processes with high efficiency.
Enhanced Customer Service
With integrated CRM capabilities and real-time data, ERP online arms customer service teams with the information they need to resolve issues quickly and accurately. Agents can immediately verify orders, check inventory, initiate returns, and answer status questions without putting customers on hold.
By providing a single view of customer interactions across all departments, support teams deliver personalized service. Customer satisfaction is enhanced with swifter resolution resulting in improved brand loyalty.
On-premise ERP systems involve expensive, lengthy development to customize software to unique business needs. ERP online solutions allow much greater tailoring through configuration of settings, fields, screens, workflows, reports and integrations. This improves user adoption by matching software capabilities with specific requirements.
Vendors also offer development platforms and APIs to build custom extensions, many times using low-code options. While core ERP software receives automatic updates, customizations seamlessly carry over ensuring a future-proof system.
Features of ERP Online
ERP online solutions comprise a suite of integrated applications spanning all essential business functions:
Core financials make up the heart of ERP online systems. Key features include:
- General ledger
- Accounts payable/receivable
- Cash management
- Fixed assets
- Multi-currency support
- Budgeting and forecasting
- Revenue recognition
- Audit trail
Sophisticated yet easy to use financial tools provide visibility into performance and support reporting compliance. Integrated billing and invoicing improves cash flow. Financial data also informs decisions enterprise-wide.
Inventory and Order Management
Inventory and order management enables efficiency across the order-to-cash cycle:
- Purchasing and vendor management
- Inventory control and optimization
- Warehouse management with barcode scanning
- Order processing and tracking
- Drop shipping and returns handling
- Contract and rebate management
Automation streamlines fulfillment processes while robust analytics help optimize stock levels. Visibility across the supply chain enhances customer service and cash flow.
Supply Chain Management
Modern ERP online systems connect procurement, manufacturing and fulfillment into an end-to-end supply chain:
- Strategic sourcing and supplier collaboration
- Manufacturing scheduling and costing
- Quality control and traceability
- Transportation and logistics management
- Supply chain planning and optimization
Integrated supply chain capabilities maximize operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve customer response times.
Managing a workforce across multiple locations presents challenges ERP online can streamline:
- Organization chart with reporting hierarchy
- Employee database and profiles
- Recruiting and onboarding
- Payroll processing and compensation tracking
- Time and attendance monitoring
- Benefits administration
- Performance management
- Learning management
Centralized employee records and HR workflows boost compliance and productivity across distributed teams.
CRM and Sales Management
ERP online delivers a 360-degree view of customer interactions to enable superior service and sales execution:
- Contact management
- Opportunity tracking
- Marketing automation
- Customer support and ticketing
- Lead scoring and nurturing
- Sales forecasting and pipeline visibility
- Commissions management
- Field service management
Unified CRM capabilities help teams drive revenue growth, maximize customer lifetime value and improve satisfaction.
Handling complex initiatives like product launches requires robust project management:
- Project planning and scheduling
- Resource management
- Time and expense tracking
- Demand forecasting
- Project costing and accounting
- Billing and revenue recognition
- Project analysis and reporting
Shared visibility into portfolios, resources and financials are essential for successful project delivery and profitability.
Analytics and Reporting
Insights derived from ERP data guide better decisions across the business:
- Interactive dashboards with KPIs
- Self-service reporting and ad hoc queries
- Analytics for all modules and processes
- Embedded BI and visualization
- Predictive analytics and modeling
- Data integration, cleansing and warehousing
ERP online provides timely analytics so personnel at all levels can monitor performance and trends to take decisive actions.
Implementation of ERP Online
Transitioning from disjointed systems to ERP online represents a major change for an organization. While cloud solutions are faster to deploy than traditional ERP, implementing the software should follow a structured process:
Planning and Preparation
Define clear goals, scope the project, assemble key stakeholders, and obtain executive sponsorship. Audit existing systems and workflows. Select vendor and implementation partners. Allocate resources and budget.
Configuration and Customization
Configure software settings like workflows, fields, reports, and integrations. Extend core functionality via customizations using low-code tools as needed.
Testing and Training
Perform rigorous testing and fix bugs before go-live. Provide training on new roles and responsibilities. Gather feedback then reconfigure to match user needs.
Go-Live and Support
Roll out first to small group, verify, then expand deployments across the organization. Offer 24×7 post go-live support. Continuously optimize and refine the system.
Dedicated change management ensures a smooth transition and user adoption. Though faster than traditional ERP, a cloud implementation typically takes at least a few months. Selecting the right partner assures a configuration that delivers ongoing value.
ERP Online for Small Businesses
For small companies, ERP online provides an affordable path to replace disjointed systems with integrated management of key business functions. SaaS solutions level the playing field so smaller organizations can leverage powerful tools previously only accessible to large enterprises.
Key benefits for small businesses include:
- Cost: Subscription model provides predictable operating costs.
- Speed: Gets up and running in weeks or months versus years.
- Agility: Easily scales as needs change.
- Expertise: No need to build internal IT skills.
- Risk: Cloud delivery with automated upgrades lowers risk.
When evaluating ERP online solutions, small companies should look for:
- Simplicity: User-friendly interface and workflows.
- Flexibility: Customizations for unique needs.
- Mobility: Access from anywhere on any device.
- Integration: Connects to essential third-party systems.
- Support: Responsive vendor assistance.
Affordable, out-of-the-box ERP software gives small businesses big company tools to better compete.
ERP Online for Medium Businesses
As small companies experience rapid growth, limitations of entry-level systems quickly emerge. Disjointed applications strain productivity. Inflexible software can’t adapt. Tight IT budgets are overwhelmed trying to cobble together solutions.
Medium enterprises need the robust functionality of ERP, without the complexity. ERP online delivers with options to start with foundational tools then layer on capabilities as the business expands.
Benefits of ERP online for medium businesses:
- Functionality: Handles increased transaction volumes and complexity.
- Flexibility: Adapts to evolving requirements.
- Insights: Advanced analytics for smarter decisions.
- Control: Standardized processes and visibility.
- Support: IT resources focused on strategic priorities.
Key software selection criteria for medium companies:
- Scalability: Ability to add users, sites, countries.
- Configurability: Adapt without coding to support changing needs.
- Interoperability: Seamless connections to third-party systems.
- Localization: Address global statutory and language requirements.
- Usability: Intuitive interface for user adoption across roles.
Purpose-built ERP online empowers medium enterprises to streamline operations and scale for the future.
ERP Online for Large Enterprises
Traditionally, large corporations invested heavily in on-premise ERP systems. However, maintaining these complex solutions has become fraught with issues:
- Costly upgrades and integration projects.
- Disparate regional systems limit insights.
- Inflexible technology inhibits innovation.
- Valuable IT resources focused on maintenance.
- Lack of agility disadvantages competitiveness.
By migrating ERP to the cloud, large enterprises address these challenges:
- Lower TCO: Reduce hardware and internal support costs.
- Global visibility: Unified platform across regions.
- Flexible growth: Simple to add geographies and entities.
- Strategic focus: IT drives innovation versus support tickets.
- Competitive agility: Faster adaptation to market changes.
Large organizations evaluating ERP SaaS should validate:
- Configurability: Tailor workflows without coding to support unique needs.
- Interoperability: Connect disparate applications via APIs.
- Compliance: Meets security standards and geographic regulations.
- Reliability: Proven uptime record and disaster recovery.
- Scale: Supports transaction volumes and user counts.
For global enterprises, ERP online enhances competitiveness through world-class yet nimble capabilities.
Top ERP Online Software Vendors
The ERP online marketplace has expanded in recent years as next generation solutions disrupt legacy products. Top vendors represent a mix of established providers and newer entrants.
SAP Business One
The cloud version of SAP’s popular small business solution offers affordable yet powerful capabilities.
- Part of a complete SAP ecosystem.
- Strong financial management and inventory.
- 700+ third-party integrations.
- Interactive analytics and reporting.
- Light on manufacturing features.
- User experience not as intuitive.
- Requires technical resources to customize.
Pioneer of cloud ERP delivers sophisticated tools for growing organizations.
- Robust functionality for complex needs.
- Customization through configuration vs. coding.
- Equally strong financials and CRM.
- SuiteAnalytics provides insights.
- More expensive than competitive solutions.
- Not ideal for basic requirements.
- Less vertical specialization.
Open source roots drive viral adoption of this highly flexible platform.
- Cost-effective pricing and implementation.
- Modular structure aligns with needs.
- Strong community support and documentation.
- Multi-channel customer engagement tools.
- Less vertical specialization.
- Functional depth lags premium solutions.
- Limited brand recognition.
Fast-growing adaptable platform great for distributed organizations.
- Elastic scalability and affordability.
- Excellent functional depth for price.
- Multi-language and multi-currency.
- Automates custom workflows.
- Partner network still maturing.
- Light manufacturing capabilities.
- Limited brand recognition.
This sampling illustrates the diversity of options now available for any size organization.
How to Select the Right ERP Online Solution
With the wide variety of solutions available, choosing the best ERP online system for your needs involves careful analysis:
Identify Needs and Requirements
Catalog current pain points and desired improvements. Define key processes and requirements. Assess user and transaction volumes. Envision future needs and growth plans. Involve stakeholders at all levels.
Compare Features and Pricing
Shortlist vendors that align with requirements. Review depth of functionality across relevant modules. Ensure scalability. Validate services and support offered. Compare total cost of ownership.
Evaluate Ease of Use and Customization
Examine interface and workflows. Test ease of configuration through demos. Assess options for customization including low-code tools. Integrations with existing systems should be straightforward.
Assess Implementation and Support
Choose an implementation partner with industry expertise. Understand timeframe, resources required, and costs. Confirm post go-live support and long-term vendor viability.
Selecting ERP software is a strategic business decision. Conduct thorough due diligence to gain confidence in the optimal SaaS platform for current and future needs.
The advent of ERP online represents a seismic shift, providing integrated, enterprise-class capabilities through the cloud. The benefits over traditional on-premise systems are compelling and inclusive of organizations of all sizes.
Lower costs, faster implementation, intuitive interfaces, and easy scalability expand access to advanced tools for streamlining and optimizing operations. Integrated data, flexible customization, and real-time analytics empower smarter decisions. Global accessibility and collaboration unify distributed teams.
Whether a small, medium or large organization, ERP online should be strongly considered to innovate business processes in the digital age. The expanding range of solutions makes it easier than ever to find the right fit. Following a structured selection process ensures maximum long-term value.
With the ongoing evolution of cloud platforms, ERP online presents an opportunity for organizations of any size to leverage the same information and insights as industry leaders. The door is open to improved productivity, performance and competitiveness through modern, integrated systems adapted to your needs.