Interview with Alan Fang, the Chief Operating Office & Co-Principal of ERP Logic, an SAP Partner and global business solutions implementation and consulting company. ERP Logic, Inc. possesses deep expertise in simplifying and streamlining business processes by leveraging the right IT solutions. ERP Logic is also an SAP Business ByDesign customer.
How has the Cloud grown with ERP Logic? What was your first interaction?
I joined ERP Login three years ago specifically to get into the cloud space. When I was introduced to SAP Business ByDesign, I immediately recognized the tremendous opportunities of moving to a cloud solution. My initial impression of cloud was that it’s fast and cheap. However, over the past three years I’ve worked with ERP Logic, that preconception has been challenged…and eventually tossed right out the window!
It all depends on your business and what you’re trying to achieve. We always strive to make sure customers understand that the cloud doesn’t always mean cheap and fast. When selecting products and partners for cloud solutions, we encourage customers to use the same standards and expectations they’d use for on-premise solutions – which could mean making a long term, strategic investment for the best results. This is especially true for small and midsized enterprise (SME) businesses; the risk is higher because they can’t afford a failed implementation. It is our duty as a vendor to articulate what the true value of cloud is, and ensure the customer understands the investment that corresponds to that value.
What cloud solutions are you currently using?
We run 100% on SAP Business ByDesign – we drink our own KoolAid. ERP Logic is a service organization, at the end of the day and that’s where SAP Business ByDesign is the strongest – we’ve had tremendous success with it.
What are the key benefits of moving to the cloud?
- Cost effective: The first is definitely the cost; we don’t have to worry about infrastructure and our connectivity is always up to speed.
- Support infrastructure: SAP basically manages the entire infrastructure for you, which frees us from allocating resources to manage it. That’s a pretty big advantage right there. If the system goes down, I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to recover my data – SAP takes care of all of that. If I have issues I need SAP to work on there’s a support mechanism in place to manage that, and I can keep my focus on running my business.
- Speed of implementation: The third benefit is the speed of implementation. Because we are actively out there selling SAP Business ByDesign solutions we know the system intimately – in our case the speed of implementation and getting to the value was much faster then the average customer.
- Scalable solution: The value that the customer comes to recognize a little later on is that it’s a scalable solution. As your business truly grows, cloud solutions will scale with your business quickly and efficiently, without the management expenses that drag your bottom line down.
How has the cloud impacted your day-to-day operations?
- Self Service: There were several “big gains” when we moved from QuickBooks to SAP Business ByDesign; one great example is employee self-service capability. Things like vacation requests and expense reports all became automated processes. We used to send around spreadsheets and our AP had to reconcile how many vacation days each person took – there were a lot of those types of inefficiencies that slowed our processes down. From an HR perspective, automation help helped us streamline, remove the bottlenecks, and run more efficiently.
- Efficiency: Another example is on the consulting side of our business; our consultants are out in the field all the time, now they can check and see when and what we’re invoicing the customers, how much they’ve billed, and when they’ll get paid. All those processes are streamlined and the information is easily accessible no matter where they are. Moving to the cloud has helped us reduce superfluous communication and enabled our workforce to access the information they need to do their job more efficiently.
- Real-time decision making: The third big impact is the real-time reporting that we now have access to. Before we moved to SAP Business ByDesign, requesting a PNL update took my accounting team 3 or 4 days to put together. Now I can log into the system from my dashboard and immediately access current information on project statues, cash flow, PNL, etc. All the data I need is right there in front of me whenever and wherever I need it – I can make decisions quickly based on real-time information.
What advice would you give others when selecting a cloud solution or vendor?
- Go deep: Be certain you understand what your requirements are. Cloud solutions are relatively new to the market and some are not as mature as on-premise solutions, so it’s critical that you have a clear understanding of what your business requirements are, document them, and benchmark them against the information vendors provide you during the sales process. Challenge the vendors to show you things you need to see.
- 80/20 rule: It’s important to recognize that there are no solutions out there that will meet 100% of your business needs. When you’re documenting your requirements, try to adhere to the 80/20 rule. Make sure your critical business processes will be served and areas where you’re flexible and can accommodate a work-around solution. This ensures that when you choose a system to implement, you go into the transition fully recognizing the risk that’s involved for you business.
- Choose the right partner: On the implementation side, it’s critical to choose the right partner. That’s easier said then done. Obviously reference checks are very important as well as taking the time to talk to existing customers. Really strive to understand the full capability of your potential partner, keeping in mind that because cloud products are fairly new there may not be a lot of consultants out there that truly understand the “ins and outs” of your system. You don’t want to be paying for somebody that’s learning on the job, when you spend money – doesn’t matter if it’s $10,000 or $1,000,0000 – you should get the full value of what you’re paying for. Do your homework!
What is one golden question every customer should ask when selecting a vendor?
I can tell you exactly what that is: What is the road map and how much investment is the vendor pouring into the product? When you buy a product you want to make sure the vendor you choose is a reputable company and they’re committed to investing in the R&D and growth of the product. At the end of the day, you don’t want to get a product that’s already stagnant with minimal growth potential. Vendor viability and commitment to continue developing that product is extremely important – your business relies on it.
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