Is Cloud-Based Dynamics GP The Right Financial Accounting Software For Your Organization?

Posted by Frank Gerome

Oct 9, 2017

When Microsoft Dynamics GP was updated and became available in the cloud, for the first time, companies could purchase a subscription to financial accounting software built on Dynamics GP. 

But is Dynamics GP in the cloud the right fit for your company? Here are several key facts to consider about cloud-based Dynamics GP as you research options for accounting software.

  1. Dynamics GP in the cloud is no different from the on-premises version: The only difference is how it’s accessed and paid for. With some vendors, access is as simple as logging on to a portal via a mobile device. The application launches right out of the portal. But, again, remember that the application itself is the same as the on-premises Dynamics GP.
  2. Subscription costs are less: Cloud ERP is cheaper because you don’t have to pay the support costs that you do with on-premises solutions. On-premises upgrades typically require new hardware, which is expensive.
  3. The cloud allows for flexibility with the number of users: The cloud solution is more agile, allowing companies to adjust the number of users up or down, while on-premises solutions only let you add users. Companies often want to consolidate the users they have. For instance, they might have 15 users today, and therefore 15 licenses they’re paying maintenance on. Later, they may realize they only need seven licenses, but with the on-premises software they can’t reduce that number. With a cloud solution, companies can lower the number of users, which saves the business money. 
  4. Upgrades are easier: Customers have reported that Microsoft seems to roll out updates for its cloud solutions faster than for its on-premises solutions. This is true. Cloud ERP software is designed to be upgraded automatically. With on-premises solutions, you’re paying for the rights to the software, but you also have to pay for someone to set up and implement upgrades such as new hardware, database updates and Windows Server software upgrades. This effort costs a lot of money and time.
  5. Integrations are instantaneous: When you’re using Dynamics GP in the cloud, integrations with other applications are built in. This integration is much cheaper than using an on-premises scenario, where if you want applications to work together, you have to pay an IT development firm to write the integration. And remember, application development work is about the most expensive type of work. Large organizations have spent millions on enterprise application development. Now, small- to medium-sized businesses can get it inside a cloud environment, enabling all customers to benefit from the integration. In the cloud, integration from your ERP to your CRM is already there. Companies don’t have to pay to get it built from scratch. There’s a monthly fee, sure, but this fee is far less than the cost of paying someone to build the integration for you. 

Building your company’s financial accounting efforts on Dynamics GP is a smart idea. And considering the flexibility with the number of users, upgrades, integration and built-in IT support, using a cloud ERP vendor to access the software is even better.

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How To Speed Up Your Month-End Close With Financial Accounting Software

Posted by Frank Gerome

Sep 29, 2017

“How can I close my books faster?” This is the question that so many companies, especially small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), ask all the time. 

But dealing with complex reporting, missed reconciliations or outdated information is certain to throw the timing of even the best-planned closes out the window.

The challenge for many SMBs is that their accountants conduct month-end closes manually. Often, they do this because that’s all their financial accounting software will allow. Other companies simply don’t have a financial solution that allows them to automate. With both of these situations, the margin of human error plays a role in compromising the accuracy of the close process. And mistakes slow everything down. 

You can’t blame these companies, of course. There are so many moving parts that the accountants must complete — necessary financial adjustments, account balance calculations and financial position reports, for example — that mistakes are nearly inevitable. 

The key to eliminating these mistakes and speeding up the process is to use powerful financial accounting software. Here are two ways that these kinds of solutions help to speed up your month-end close.

  1. Reduce human error: Not only is it time-intensive to manually entry data, but all of this shuffling significantly increases the risk of human error and redundant data entry. In the computing process, people are usually the weakest link. Without a high-powered tool to apply best practices and structure to your accounting processes, the ability to compare apples to apples is nearly impossible. Advanced technology can be programmed to require users to perform the correct tasks and achieve consistency. This means there’s no more tracking down versions of documents. You’ll be able to access and share real-time data in a single repository, and eliminate mistakes caused from emailing documents back and forth. 
  2. Automate processes: Financial accounting solutions offer the ability to build month-end closing procedures ahead of time. This means companies are able to build the reports once and then access and run them again as needed. By using one integrated system and not bouncing around from spreadsheets to QuickBooks, automation is much easier for performing weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual procedures. 

By organizing data in a central location, simplifying reports and working seamlessly with your existing business software, financial accounting software improves the operational efficiency of your company. Human error plays a role in compromising the accuracy of the close, so it’s critical to use powerful tools, eliminate the manual approach and speed up your month-end close.

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3 Ways Cloud ERP Technology Can Help Improve Business Continuity

Posted by Frank Gerome

Sep 15, 2017

Just because your company’s data is stored in a server closet in your basement and is “protected” by your expert IT team doesn’t mean the information is safe. In fact, just the opposite is probably true.
Here are two true stories that illustrate why using cloud ERP technology to back up your information can drastically improve business continuity.
First, a horror story: Before switching over to the cloud, one company’s chief information officer (CIO) — someone you’d think would be among the most well-trained in handling technology — decided to do some dusting in the server closet. Sounds innocent enough, right? Not quite. While he was wiping away the dirt and grime, he managed to wipe away critical financial data.
When the CIO pulled out a hard drive from the shelf, the action caused the entire server to fail and the company lost all the data on the unit. And with none of that information backed up, the company lost weeks — maybe months — of work and transactions. Even worse, the company couldn’t process transactions for days, so it wasn’t getting paid and wasn’t making needed payments.
It took a team of financial accounting technology experts four days straight, including the weekend, to try to get the business back up and running. The company then spent another week or two manually entering in old transactions from previous months to catch up. It then had to buy new (very expensive) equipment to replace the fried unit.
Fortunately, not all accidents are quite so damaging and costly.
Another company also experienced a downed server. Early one morning, the employees discovered that none of them could log in. Fortunately, the company housed its financial data in the cloud and immediately called the provider. Within minutes, the provider discovered that, yes, the login server was down, and it restored access within 12 minutes. As it turned out, employees were using bad login information and the company designed its system to purposely block all users after several failed login attempts.
It was a security issue, but the provider was able to quickly diagnose the problem and restart the server to restore operations. The employees had 12 minutes of panic, but then they immediately appreciated the value of the service when it came back, especially since it could’ve taken hours or days to figure out what happened on their own.
This second example best illustrates why using cloud-based financial accounting software is very much like paying for car insurance. It’s easy to complain about the regular payments, but as soon as it’s needed, we’re very glad to have it. Often, people don’t recognize the value until bad things happen.
The point is this: Cloud providers are monitoring the information on the server 24/7. They perform patch management, maintenance, upgrades and system performance constantly so if something could potentially become an issue, the provider can find and fix the issue before it has a chance to become problematic. Often, the customer never sees the problem, because the provider is proactive about averting issues.
If your company’s crucial system goes down, how will you keep the business going? Backing up your system in the cloud in case of disaster or theft can keep costly issues from happening.
Here are three ways that technology can help improve business continuity.

  1. Regular backups: Having the information backed up daily or every few minutes prevents loss.
  2. Theft protection: The cloud provider is in the business of securing data and making sure it’s safe, protected against human error and natural disasters, at a level well beyond what you can do yourself.
    Try getting in the front door of a data center if you don’t have a keycard; try getting into a rack that’s not your rack. You can’t. So you can sleep well knowing that data centers specialize in this kind of protection. And if a tornado hits one data center, the provider likely has another one in a different part of the country, and redundancy protects your information.
  3. Speedy restoration time: Think about the equipment. What if the server fails? In a provider’s data center, you’ll have a backup and restore process. As soon as you know the system is down, you can be back up, typically within 12 to 48 minutes. If you have your own server in your own office — regardless of your IT department’s brilliance — do you have another server where you have everything backed up and ready to go? One of the many values of the cloud is the risk mitigation it provides.

Despite the above stories, if you’re still unsure about the cloud, there’s a baby step you can take: Have a really good off-site backup system. Don’t use an external hard drive for media; they’re prone to failure and malfunction. Invest in a mirror server. Use the hardware even if it’s doing nothing more than backing up your data. That will go a long way toward providing much-needed business continuity and peace of mind.

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How Can Your Small Business Start Using Analytics With Your Financial Accounting System?

Posted by Frank Gerome

Sep 12, 2017

Data analytics is a huge deal right now, and most small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) agree that delving deeper into their own financial accounting business information is a requirement for success.
The good news is that although most SMBs don’t have significant resources to dedicate to mining Big Data, they can get more insight out of the data they already have without specifically paying for this kind of effort.
The need for improved business analytics is one of the primary drivers that SMBs consider when upgrading their enterprise resource planning (ERP) financial accounting software. QuickBooks and spreadsheet systems work great for a while, but they aren’t powerful enough to provide the insight and business intelligence that most companies need to stay ahead of the competition in today’s landscape.
In addition to a general need for more and better information, there seem to be two specific business scenarios that drive companies to invest in new financial accounting software, and thus small-scale analytics capabilities.
For starters, growing SMBs frequently have two or three companies they’re managing. Often, each of these companies uses QuickBooks, which means the parent company may have three separate sets of QuickBooks to manage.
The companies in this scenario can’t consolidate the data quickly or efficiently enough to perform timely analysis. Remember, without advanced software, consolidation can only occur by exporting the data to Excel, and then merging the companies’ data into a giant spreadsheet. This process can take hours, even days, just to get the information in one location.
The second most common reason that SMBs need analytics is that they’re operating multiple types of applications to help run their businesses, and none of these programs are compatible with each other.
In today’s world, most business applications needed to run a company are siloed. For example, if a company were running as its customer relationship management (CRM) solution, or using Excel or a database to keep track of customer information, then to manage its accounting efforts it might use QuickBooks or some other kind of spreadsheet system. Finally, if it were selling products online, it might run an e-commerce solution to manage the effort.
Suddenly, a company has three independent applications to keep financial data, and none of these programs can talk to each other.
Many SMBs may take in as much as $1.5 million annually, but by running all these incompatible applications, they’re missing opportunities. They have no ability to analyze customer data in terms of billing, e-commerce, inventory or a hundred other indicators. Essentially, they’re flying blind. They have multiple applications keeping the business afloat, sure, but they can’t actually view the data and make strategic decisions about the future.
This is a huge loss for companies. Performing analytics on their financial data — including closes and trends — is where they’ll discover their best value and greatest insights.
So how does a small business begin to incorporate analytics? Assuming it has a powerful financial accounting system, where should it start?
First, financial data should be the anchor of a company’s analytics efforts. Financials contain the most important customer data, including receivables. They house contact information, billing, purchase orders and everything related to how a company interacts with its customers. This kind of data is in an accounting system. In other words, the most important first step for quality analytics is to invest in a quality accounting system.
Second, be sure to incorporate and analyze customer information by purchasing a CRM system that salespeople will actually use. Unfortunately, most companies won’t use their CRM system to facilitate business transactions and so salespeople aren’t inclined to really get the most out of the application.
To find one that will actually benefit the company, compile a list of the information or key performance indicators (KPIs) that will drive success in the business. What does that data look like — is it customer or inventory data?
Next, identify the location of the data that you’re trying to access. Is it housed in one financial application or in multiple applications? Is all the data in a separate system or just a spreadsheet? Is the business built around an e-commerce billing system? Where’s the data today?
Once you know the information you need and where the data’s located, figure out how to get the information out. Remember, if your company is running QuickBooks or just using spreadsheets, it’ll be difficult and time-consuming. It’s better to find a system that can better provide access to the needed data.
Performing data analytics is one of the most important things that an SMB can do. And fortunately, investing in Big Data isn’t a requirement to collect quality insights from the data the company’s already generating. The key is to invest in a quality financial accounting system.
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Microsoft Dynamics GP Roadmap - GP 2018 to be released 2017 H2!

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Sep 8, 2017

Microsoft announced that Dynamics GP 2018 will be released the second half of 2017!


Stay tuned for new updates… 


Dynamics GP 2018 New Features:

  • Power BI Suite
  • Workflow 4.0
  • Document Attach Functionality
  • Financial and HR Optimization
  • Top Features Requested by GP Customers
    • Integration Improvements
    • Power BI Enhancements


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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics GP, Dynamics Great Plains, GP version updates

How Much Are You Really Paying For Maintenance And Support Of Your Financial Accounting Software?

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Sep 6, 2017

Truly understanding the total costs associated with — well, anything — is never easy. When it comes to cloud computing, online tools and just about any financial accounting software, this struggle is more than apparent.
Just try answering this question: How much does it cost to keep a system running? Don’t forget to calculate electricity costs, security precautions and the time it takes your IT people to fix problems.
Not easy, right? It can be particularly difficult to understand the cost of maintenance and support for cloud-based programs.
Regardless, overcoming this problem and determining the actual cost of cloud software maintenance is critical. Why? For one thing, most companies will realize that by including these costs into the price of managing the finances of an organization, cloud subscription models are actually cheaper than on-premises financial tools. The value of ongoing tax updates and year-end closings is considerable and should never be underestimated.
It’s also important to truly understand these costs because without quality maintenance and similar services, business as the company knows it can end the moment it’s unable to print checks, process payables or accept receivables.
The first step to calculating these costs is to understand what “maintenance” really means. Maintenance is often thought of as annual software license costs to stay current. But it really means much more than this. Maintenance is about keeping your system running smoothly for months and years at a time.
Think about maintenance for your financial accounting software the way you think about maintenance on your car. You’re not just making car payments to keep the vehicle under warranty, you’re paying to complete ongoing tasks such as washing the car, rotating the tires, changing the oil and gassing it up.
With financial accounting software, there are changes to the tax code every year that have to be addressed in order for a company to remain compliant. There are new laws to consider at the start of every fiscal and calendar year. These alterations to the code must be incorporated into the financial workings of a company, or it will fail to stay within the confines of the law. Financial accounting software must have continual updates for specific modules within the programming.
With the real definition of maintenance in mind, here are four factors to consider when calculating such costs.

  1. Internal IT personnel salaries: Accounting will always need tech support and “how to” application support. This means someone in the organization has to provide education to all employees who need to use the system. How much time does your IT staff or other employees spend trying to fix the accounting system? Remember, if the tools aren’t printing checks or paying vendors, business stops.
  2. Hardware maintenance and accessibility: This is an important factor that most companies don’t want to think about. Like an airplane engine, you want to be able to just turn on the server and have it run for the remainder of the product’s lifetime. Unfortunately, servers don’t run like that. You have to shut them down or they’ll shut down on their own. Keeping up with the hardware is critical and potentially expensive to do on your own.
  3. Licensing: Don’t forget the cost to license Windows, your database, applications, third-party add-ons and any other software. Companies often forget that they’re always paying maintenance fees on financial apps (whether on desktop or server), database software and other applications you’re running. Paying these bills and managing the vendors is another cost associated with this.
  4. Overall infrastructure management: Is the system running well or are there performance issues? Is there enough hard drive space to store data? These are issues often not thought about until something breaks or doesn’t work right. Support is part of that ongoing maintenance.

Can you go a day without paying your bills or receiving payment? Do your printers connect? Is your software up to date with the current tax code? When it comes to maintaining your financial accounting system, there are a lot of factors that can nickel and dime you into the red. 

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Migrating Your Financial Accounting Software To The Cloud: A 5-Point Checklist For SMBs

Posted by Samantha DeLaire

Aug 25, 2017

Is your small- to medium-sized business (SMB) finally moving your financial accounting software from your server in the basement to the cloud? If so, that’s a great decision!

However, successful migrations aren’t easy without help. Here are five tips on how to seamlessly move through this critical process and start enjoying the benefits of a cloud ERP solution. 

  1. Build the perfect timeline for the migration: Planning the right time of the year is critical. Determine your own busy periods and avoid them. If you’re starting an implementation, give yourself 90 to 120 days to pick a kickoff date for the project. From there, work backward to time evaluations and decision-making. Assume a 45- to 60-day sales process to work toward that deadline. This allows time before completing the contracts for an evaluation period.
  2. Pick the right vendor by asking around: Evaluate possible vendors as much as possible before engaging in the sales process. Referrals are highly important. And remember, you can learn a lot from a company and its solution before you ever commit to entering the sales process. In other words, know what you want and need, and make sure the system provides those features. Some companies make the mistake of jumping into the conversion process and must learn about the software along the way. This is a bad idea because you might get directed into a point of view that’s not in your best interest. Vendors that provide evaluation tools and white papers are most likely to have a good sales process, because they expect you to evaluate them. Peer evaluation can provide authentic “from-the-trenches” views on the software.
  3. Avoid hidden costs and fees: Make sure you clearly understand what you’re paying for. The value of the cloud is that it removes a great deal of costs — hardware, support, maintenance, etc. — that are ongoing but not always considered appropriately. Often, the biggest problems occur when companies don’t understand a contract or deliverable. Scope creep happens because companies keep asking for features not included in the original price. Deployments will last longer and cost more if you don’t read the fine print. This is why you must demand a fixed bid.
  4. Don’t undervalue the cloud: Don’t dismiss the value that the cloud brings. Avoid getting hung up on license or monthly subscription fees. Instead, look into the lowest total cost of ownership. Your on-premises financial accounting software solution won’t seem so cheap if you calculate all the costs to maintain and upgrade the system. And remember, a cloud ERP system includes updates to the tax code, service packs, tech support and many other additional services within an application that you need but will never have to ask for.
  5. Always review deliverables: Be clear about the deliverables. Include these expectations in excruciating detail. Otherwise, you’ll hear this phrase: “That wasn’t included in our estimate. It’s extra.” Get everything in writing as part of the statement of work (SOW) before you sign any contracts. If something you expect isn’t contained in the SOW, make sure it gets added and that the provider tells you if it’s not. 

You’ve made the right move! You’ve decided to empower your financial accounting efforts by moving to the cloud. Just make sure you comb through the fine print and put everything in writing. If you do, your migration to the cloud should be a great experience.

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Could A Cloud ERP System Save Your Business Time And Money?

Posted by Frank Gerome

Aug 11, 2017

So many small- and medium-sized business (SMB) leaders aren’t thinking about what their on-premises ERP solutions cost the company.

They have other “more important” financial issues to worry about such as the price of fuel, health care costs and tax increases.

Except, if you really think about it, knowing the cost of your on-premises system is critical, especially if there tools out there like cloud ERP systems that could save the business significant time and money.

At the very least, it’s important for SMBs to know the hidden “gotchas” about on-premises solutions. For example, who supports the system after the consultant has set it up? And how much does it cost for that support?

Here are five hidden costs that every SMB executive should consider before buying or significantly upgrading an on-premises ERP system. This is important because you just might discover that cloud ERP solutions are significantly less demanding on your time and wallet.

  1. Maintenance and support: There is huge difference between what you get with a cloud subscription model compared to a traditional on-premises program. Ongoing annual maintenance, patches and updates to the accounting application are included in cloud ERP. With an on-premises system, you’re usually billed for ongoing support after the initial setup.
  2. Hardware and software upgrades: With on-premises models, when you upgrade it feels a bit like going through the implementation all over again. The cost, time and potential scope crawl are there for a second time.
  3. Hardware and extended hardware support: Will your on-premises solution work with your current printer or device? If not, you’ll need a patch here or an upgrade there, and on-premises vendors typically charge for such changes. This is not often considered a hidden cost, per se, but it’s dismissed by vendors as a real problem for these kinds of solutions.
  4. IT resources: While you may already have your IT staff to manage other parts of the business, some SMBs are tempted to consider it a sunk cost. But if you think about how much time they’re spending to support and maintain your equipment, then that changes everything. You have to allocate a percentage of what you’re currently investing or hire additional people to help your IT staff maintain everything else you’re doing on your on-premises solution.
  5. Data backup: It costs money to store information, restore it or back it up. You don’t want to lose even a day’s worth of data. Buying a terabyte backup drive and plugging it into your basement server is just not going to cut it as a safe backup method.

So how do you circumvent these five issues and avoid hidden costs? The answer is by using a subscription cloud model.

All of the costs and functions associated with providing a comprehensive solution are bundled into one single monthly, quarterly or annual payment. All of those items assumed by the customer are included in the cost of a single bundled subscription offering in the cloud-driven market. Subscription models remove the need for upfront capital, offering a controllable operating expense. 

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Smarter Reports Make Smarter Decisions

Posted by Frank Gerome

Aug 4, 2017

If you polled small and midsize businesses and asked them which reports they use most frequently to monitor and track performance, you’d almost certainly get hundreds of different answers.  It’s pretty obvious that the goals any business wants to achieve impact the decision-making process and, therefore, the data they need to make the best decisions.  However, most businesses exhibit the “80-20 rule”:  20% (or less!) of the reports that the business utilizes likely drives 80% (or more!) of the performance monitoring and decision-making process.

So which reports do you think are the top 5 or so to help you get the complete “high-level” overview of what’s going on with the company?  Some of the classics:

1. Profit & Loss Report with all the typical data points (current month actuals, last month, last month prior year, budget, year-to-date, etc.)

2. Balance Sheet

3. Cash Flow

4. Narrative management summary report (very unique—check it out)

5. KPI/Scorecard report for your top metrics

6. Top 50 sales transactions for the month

7. Payables report showing the largest payments made this month

8. Receivables report showing the oldest aging receivables

9. Graphical trend reports or dashboards (from Dynamics GP or right in Excel!)

Assuming you have a set of “favorite” reports that you and your managers consistently use to help manage the company, here are the next questions:

•  Do you have the technology to produce all of these reports as part of an automated process, or is it a manual process to pull everything together and to deliver it to your management team?
• Do you have a process to capture the discussions once managers have reviewed the reports?
•  Do you have agreed upon thresholds in your report package that can trigger management actions based on the thresholds (for example, if free cash flow passes a certain level, a manager can make a certain investment without delaying the decision with approvals and meetings)?

Hopefully this could spark ideas for anyone trying to put together the “ultimate” management report package.

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Have you been wondering what the benefits of a hosted ERP solution really are?

Posted by Frank Gerome

Aug 2, 2017

Hosted ERP solutions provide a wealth of compelling financial and technical business advantages to today’s small and midsize organizations. These benefits include:

  • Minimized initial investment. Unlike conventional onsite ERP solutions, a hosted ERP solution does not require a substantial upfront investment. A typical onsite ERP implementation involves purchasing and maintaining servers, housing them securely, then deploying, configuring, and maintaining the software. In addition to a sizable upfront capital outlay, this also requires the time, effort, and associated costs of hiring and maintaining a staff of experienced IT personnel.

By comparison, with a hosted ERP solution the burden of implementing, maintaining, and keeping the application up to date is shifted from the customer to the solution provider. This approach eliminates the costs and complexities of installing and integrating additional hardware to support the software and hiring additional staff to support the application on an ongoing basis. As a result, a hosted ERP solution is particularly advantageous for small to midsize organizations with tight capital budgets and limited IT resources.

  • Accelerate and Increase Return on Investment of the Application. In keeping with the business model of SaaS applications, hosted ERP solutions can be implemented with relative ease and integrated faster into the organization’s day-to-day business than their onsite ERP counterparts. In fact, most typical hosted ERP solutions can be up and running in mere weeks, rather than months or even years, as may be the case with traditional onsite ERP software. This enables organizations to begin realizing the business benefits earlier, which, in turn, results in a more rapid payback, a greater return on investment (ROI), and a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) over the course of the investment.
  • Seamless Upgrades. With traditional licensed ERP software, organizations typically must wait for the next release to benefit from the latest features, upgrades, or security patches. In addition, the cost, complexity, and potential disruption of moving to a new onsite software version often cause some organizations to defer upgrading to the newest release. This, in turn, prevents employees from taking advantage of the latest productivity enhancing tools consistently being added to the applications. Hosted ERP systems, however, eliminate this common problem. Under this delivery model, the provider continuously and unobtrusively adds latest features and upgrades, which means that users can be assured that they’re actually using—rather than waiting for—the latest technology, without drawn-out upgrades, customization, and consulting costs.
  • Reduced Dependence on Internal IT Resources. Hosted ERP systems typically require significantly fewer technical resources to manage than onsite ERP solutions because the hosting provider manages the software, hardware, and network administration. This reduces the strain on the organization’s IT department, allowing it to redeploy IT resources to focus on other, business-building tasks.
  • Make Changes on Demand. Hosted ERP solutions are easily scalable and flexible to meet changing business requirements. Adding or removing users can be done on demand and will simply change the monthly subscription fee. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for growing, seasonal, or cyclical businesses that need to quickly change their user base to meet their unique business requirements.
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