Your remote workers need a cloud ERP more than ever

Can your people work from home if all your systems are on-premise?

For over 50% of the businesses we surveyed, their people can’t. Not while still relying on outdated, on-premise ERP solutions. With many using accounting (54%), finance (54%), and risk management (55%) applications that have no cloud functionality.

Which during a global pandemic has proved highly problematic. Why? Because without cloud ERP functionality, these organizations aren’t able to give their people the tools and support they need to do their job. They’re also missing out on some pretty huge benefits that could have been crucial during this time.

But why does this matter now? Well, just in case you missed it, here’s why remote working matters, and why, if you’re not already, you need to start considering it.

COVID-19 and remote working

The COVID-19 pandemic put rocket boosters on the need for remote working. From the enforced lockdown to the current fluctuating post-lockdown restrictions, the pandemic forced many people to work from home, almost overnight. And despite some easing of this need, the number of people working from home is still significantly higher than ever before.

For many organizations, this has created a need for either wholly remote capabilities or to be able to offer blended options that combine remote and office work. The issue is, not every company that needs to do this is currently able to.

75% of those participating in our survey had between 51% and 100% of their employees working remotely. 84% agreed that remote working had increased to such an extent in their organizations because of the pandemic. And nearly all (85%) understood that remote working is here to stay even once all the distancing measures are gone.

The People Experience position

Unit4 has a people-centric ethos. Both for its solutions and also towards its employees. Our journey to a new better has a strong focus on new ways of thinking, new ways of working and new ways of having impact in our better normal. The pandemic accelerated this and we started an exercise to define what working at Unit4 will look like as things return, taking as many positives as possible to create a better flexible working environment. Why is this important? The aim is to define very clearly the Unit4 way of working, going forward.

Even before the survey, we considered the basis for people returning to the office. The key point for us was to base any return on the criticality of being in an office. The people-centric view was that if the work doesn’t require people to be in the office, we’re not asking them to attend. This means our systems, like yours, needed to be able to support this.

That’s what we wanted to understand in this survey. How does remote working impact organizations and the people who work for them? And what part the cloud has to play in making this possible.

So what does cloud ERP offer your people that on-premise doesn’t?

The traditional, on-premises model of ERP works – as long as everyone is in the office. The minute your people start moving around, things become more complex.

Cloud ERP solves this. It also gives your people a flexibility and versatility of access that more traditional remote access solutions, which involve going via your corporate network, cannot. Meaning your people can access cloud services anywhere, on any device, with just an internet connection. Nothing else is needed once these solutions are up and running.

But is that the only benefit?

Benefits of cloud ERP

To find out, we also spoke to organizations already using cloud ERP to see what benefits, if any, their organizations and people were reaping from it.

The big findings were fascinating. For most (48%), easier remote working for their people was the biggest benefit, but it wasn’t the only one. Some other significant benefits included increased scalability (36%), improved productivity (35%), and a reduction in operating costs (35%). To read the full list of benefits, you can download the white paper here.

With nearly half of organizations benefitting from remote working, the relationship between remote working and the cloud becomes critical. And the enhanced productivity many found is also linked directly to this point. As people working from home have the tools and the time to do more than ever before.

What’s more interesting is how many benefitted from enhanced scalability when using cloud ERP compared to on-premise solutions. Scaling an on-premise ERP is likely to be labor-intensive, potentially risky, and almost certainly expensive. Cloud services’ ability to be ramped up (or down) almost immediately with an enterprise’s needs has been core to their growth.

In summary

Remote working, in many industries, is now very much the norm. Three-quarters of our research participants had a majority of their people working remotely, and 84% said that remote working had increased in their businesses to a considerable extent because of the pandemic. Very few expected working lives to return to the pre-COVID norm.

The importance of remote working could be seen in the benefits that businesses are reaping from cloud ERP, along with improved productivity and scalability. Many were also benefiting from reduced capital and operating costs. While their people benefitted from greater flexibility and freedom.

It will be years before we understand the full effects of COVID-19 on our socioeconomic fabric. The businesses that survive will be the ones who focused on the needs of their people and who developed solutions using cloud ERPs that made them agile and able to scale operations as required.

Your ERP will become the applications that power your business. Without them, businesses cannot operate. Delivering ERP via the cloud is the most flexible, scalable, and cost-effective way to operate. It enables and powers remote working – and the following improved productivity – that you need now and in the future. Traditional ERP delivered via on-premises infrastructure was designed for a different era. It will have a difficult time adjusting to the realities of our post-pandemic world.

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Image of Lisa Dodman - Chief People Officer at Unit4

Lisa Dodman

Lisa has spent 25 years in HR working globally within generalist roles, and 18 years in the software industry largely in ERP and PLM organizations. Used to defining strategy and driving business transformations, Lisa has been instrumental since joining Unit4 in 2015, refocusing the business on talent enablement, leadership development, millennial hiring and engagement