To those that are tethered to legacy software and on-premise physical servers, we offer a warning to the wise: your competitors are riding off into the sunset, leaving you behind. And so we would like to extend an invitation to the cloud. It’s better up here, where the skies have no limits.
Lighthearted analogies aside, an exodus from on-prem to cloud-based ERPs has been the inevitable outcome of the always-on, interconnected world we live in. Driven more recently by the Work From Home movement, yes. But the larger impetus has been the increasing demand from ERP customers for more agile and sophisticated feature functionality.
We are witnessing a major transformation in the ERP landscape: more and more vendors are sunsetting legacy products in favor of cloud ERP solutions. With working from home accelerating the demand for cloud ERP, vendors are responding with better software.
It has made for a competitive set of choices — so how do you decide when it is the right time to upgrade? And what if it looks like you need to evaluate a new ERP system? In this edition of The ERP Advisor, we will provide guidance on how to upgrade from a legacy ERP and find the right software for your needs.
Vendors have been getting hammered by clients who want newer and better software. At the same time, the complexity of their requirements meant customizations — and new versions carry the liability of overwriting that custom code. Then there are all the attendant hassles of supporting and maintaining multiple versions of the software, with updates for each new tax code, regulation, ordinance, and so on.
The vendors decided to address these issues by building cloud-based ERP systems that allow them to maintain a central code base on a SaaS platform where they can push updates, patches, and bug fixes without the problem of on-site installs.
Upgrading software is important for many reasons, but some companies have made the unfortunate and difficult decision to forego upgrades for financial reasons. Often, they don’t realize there are risks in taking this step. Without timely upgrades, a company may find themselves left behind when the software vendor has moved on and no longer supports the older version.
Organizations may also find that the legacy software can’t keep up with a changing business, creating the need for bolt-ons or other tools to help fill the gaps. And if unable to find supporting software, they could end up unable to do basic necessary functions, such as process ACH payments, or run a vital report. Even if the legacy software is working well currently, the lack of support or upgrades can become a risk for an organization — especially if their system is crucial to keeping up with changing regulations within their industry.
If too much time has passed since a software update, it can be expensive to attempt an upgrade – if it’s possible at all. At that point it may be the same price, or more, to look at a new ERP system. This can leave an organization with no choice but to move onto a new ERP on the cloud.
If you need to stay on your legacy software and don’t know where to find support, we here at ERP Advisors Group can help. We have many contacts in multiple fields and we know where to find support for older software products.
What to Look for in a New ERP Vendor
When you make the decision to sunset your legacy software and opt for a new ERP, there are some important things to look for in a new software vendor, including:
- How much money are they putting into R&D?
- How big is their partner channel?
- What is their roadmap for the software you are considering?
- Are they trying to maintain too many apps?
You want to find a vendor that is constantly improving, as well as one that is prevalent in the market. You don’t want to have any trouble finding support or customization for your chosen product. To find vital data about a vendor, check out their website. Look for their latest press release — was it recent? Was there any data in it that might be a red flag, such as announcements about upper-level executives leaving, or the company being bought by another firm?
Tips for Migrating from Legacy Software to a Cloud ERP
Once you have selected a new software solution and vendor, there are some important steps to take before migrating from your legacy software to the new cloud ERP.
Make Sure You Have Buy-In
Ensure that board members, upper-level executives, and anyone else necessary understands exactly why an upgrade is needed. Do the front-end work to find out how the new product will provide the most bang for the buck, what functionality will be lost or what issues will occur if you stay on the legacy software. Be ready for tough questions about the cloud and security risks. Get data from your software consultant to address any concerns beforehand.
Educate Your Team
Give everyone, from your accounting team all the way across the whole company if necessary, data on what will be occurring with the upgrade and when. If you will be rolling out the updates in phases, ensure those dates are known along with which areas will be affected. Sometimes you will have to be a cheerleader to keep everyone going through the process.
Before stepping into an upgrade situation, you want to know everything that is happening with your current software. Document which departments have access to the current software, how many people are in each section and what data they need to see, as well as determine how many licenses you will need.
Be Ready to Do Some Cleanup
Before moving onto the new software application, it’s crucial to ensure that all your data is clean. Doing this cleanup prior will make the transition smoother and will be one less thing to worry about during the implementation.
Be A Visionary
When implementing a new cloud software application, you need to always be looking ahead. Look one, two, even five years out and make sure you will have the flexibility to be able to match what will be going on with your business in the future.
Ensuring Security in the Cloud
It’s understandable to worry about security issues when moving onto the cloud. How secure is it? Can someone get into your system from the cloud? These are valid concerns and there are ways to mitigate any risks, including:
- Assess current security and make any changes necessary, such as moving backups off-site. Look at your servers, hardware, even your network and your firewalls and determine how well you can keep viruses and other threats out of your network.
- Look at your existing internal IT resources on staff. Can those people get your system back up if there’s a problem? Look at continuity planning and disaster recovery.
- Look at the SaaS space of your new vendor. Make sure they have their SOC 1 and the SOC 2 reports and security statements.
- Research your new vendor and software online. Do searches for keywords like “security breach.” Check to see if they have an “uptime” website. Most companies will have a place where you can view their uptime for the past 6 months, such as “uptime.companyname.com.” Also, look for any information on what kind of cybersecurity education they are providing to their employees.
Sunsetting your legacy software and updating to a new application can be a tough decision. If you need help migrating to the cloud, contact ERP Advisors Group today for assistance.