Why use ERP?
As a service-based organization, you already know you're only as productive as your people. So, can you find ways to make your people more engaged and more productive?
And can this be done while also doing away with low-value tasks and giving them more time to focus on work that really matters?
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, maybe not.
Despite how challenging that all sounds, there is a simple way to do this. Welcome to the world of ERP.
What is ERP?
Enterprise resource planning or ERP is a single solution for helping your business manage business functions, including finances, projects, procurement, reporting, forecasting, and payroll.
Its power comes from bringing all these different functions into one flexible and simple to use system. Sharing data from all areas of your business instantly and creating a more collaborative and engaging environment where work simply flows.
Boosting this functionality with smarter AI workflows can create the ability to use automated processes to take away low-value or repetitive admin tasks. Giving you a highly adaptable and intuitive solution built with people in mind. It also frees you up to do more than ever before, creating a better way to work.
So, with ERP, you can offer not just a better place to work but a better way to work.
However, times change, and so do ERPs. And as our white paper, The Unit4 People Platform: Delivering on the Digital Revolution, shows, product-led organizations may have driven the initial design of on-premise ERPs – but service businesses are helping drive their evolution. And these older on-premise solutions are quickly being replaced by more flexible and adaptable solutions in the cloud. Why?
People aren't widgets. Their needs evolve as your business changes, and the ERP solutions they use must evolve along with them. Imagine what would change if your people could cut out tasks that waste their time and spend that time delivering intelligent insights instead.
That is where people-centered ERPs in the cloud come in. And it's why the development of ERPs in the cloud is so exciting for professional services, public-sector bodies, educational organizations and not-for-profits.
Why cloud ERP?
On-premise-only ERPs still do a reliable and valuable job making business processes more efficient. The problem is many of these systems are old and have become highly personalized to the needs of the business over the years. Meaning they now need constant expert care. Making them extremely rigid and expensive to run, update and replace, which created an appetite for more flexible and cost-effective solutions.
When “cloud for business” services arrived, forward-thinking businesses saw how this could benefit them, letting them reimagine processes, savings, and efficiencies. It was now possible for these businesses to access ERP data more cost-effectively as part of a managed service – hugely reducing their IT risk and spending while making it easier than ever to share information.
However, “cloud for people” lets you take things to the next level. For businesses looking to innovate and grow, the cloud allows them to focus their ERP on people's needs directly. With services that realize the cloud's full potential by improving how you collaborate, use data, and engage with each other while working anywhere.
People-centric ERPs fill this need and are designed to equip your people-based organization for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Want to know more about the evolution of ERP from on-premises to the cloud? Then learn about our next generation ERPx or download our Constellation Research paper: Unit4 Pushes ERP Platform to the Next Level to get the full story.
What's next for ERP?
The future for ERP has never been more exciting. Why?
Let's take a look at some of the key shifts currently taking place and how they impact what an ERP could be doing for you:
Moving to consumer-grade microservices
It used to be that the technology you used at work was way beyond anything you would use at home. But that's changed. Instead, consumers now use app-based microservices hosted on accessible and user-friendly platforms. And they carry all this power in their pocket.
So, the simple question is: Why isn't work using these systems?
Eventually, this question became impossible to ignore. The good news is ERP developers are now doing something about it. Here at Unit4, we've developed ERPx, a game-changing cloud ERP built on the microservices model.
ERPx is more flexible than anything before it. Adapting intuitively to the needs of your business as they change. So, you use only what you need, wherever and however you want to use it. And that's just for starters.
Consumer-grade tech is finally back on the agenda at work.
The power of People Experience at work
The ERPs' focus on people will only continue to sharpen. In particular, making the experiences people have central to how ERPs evolve in the future. But what does this mean?
With people-centered ERPs inspired by consumer-grade microservices tech, for example, your people will be able to access things like timesheets and invoices on their phone; or use chat messages or a voice assistant to reply and complete simple tasks in your system.
Gone is the monolith system, replaced by a loosely collected group of services that your people use and need every day. And it works where they work, on computers, mobile phones, and tablets, to help fit around them.
Of course, different roles will need different microservices, but that's the point. These services adapt and flex to what the individual needs to create experiences tailored to them and their work.
This people-focus will allow you, your partners, and users to create specialized solutions that work for everyone. You can see this in action with the Unit4 Extension Kit.
The impact of machine learning
Consider this: what if all these people-centric services also adapted to how your people use them on their own?
Well, for starters, it would boost productivity, reduce costs, and save even more time for the people who need it most. And with AI and machine learning, this isn't just a dream.
One way this is possible is by using instant apps powered by machine learning. These lightweight services that evolve to meet your specific users' needs are one of the most exciting ERP trends. Why?
Let's say you work in accounts, ‘smart invoicing,’ machine learning could develop predictive info for planning or pre-populate your frequently used timesheets and reports.
You might think these are only small savings but repeat that step 100 or 500 times in a week across your organization, and it quickly adds up. Suddenly you’re more efficient, but you're also freeing up significant amounts of time for people to focus on tasks that require more insight and engagement.
Meaning your ERP evolution and growth are as intertwined as your ERP experiences and evolving technology.
To get there, you'll need a more innovative way to use data, and an advanced ERP can deliver this too. Using data, contextually and relevantly, putting you at the heart of the solution – and this will only develop as machine learning and AI improve.
The evolution of remote working
In recent times the shift towards remote working has been forced to accelerate at unprecedented speed. And with it, the demand for services that meet people's business needs has grown too. And cloud ERPs have been there to meet this demand.
The evolution of the ERP reflects the evolution of work itself. How we work is always changing, and any solution we use must keep pace. That’s no different today.
For too long, businesses relied on outdated technology that became more of a burden than a solution as time went on. Cloud and microservice ERP solutions are the answer to this problem. Highly flexible, 100% adaptable, and ready for any challenge your business can throw at them.
How can Unit4 help you move to an ERP?
So, when choosing an ERP, you need to know that the provider is committed not just to the evolution of their ERP – but also to the demands of today's and tomorrow's workplace.
Take a look at how Unit4’s ERP solution transforms work and how people feel about it, so you and they can thrive.