For many organizations, moving their enterprise resources planning (ERP) software to the cloud isn't a question of "if," but rather an issue of timing. Sixty-seven percent of organizations in mechanized, distribution and services would consider cloud for a future ERP deployment, while 51 percent believe software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP is their top choice. 

The cloud can offer clear compensation to organizations at every stage of the ERP adoption curve; both for companies that have been using on-premises solutions for years and first-time adopters. Tech expert Lawrence Gilliam states that organizations who are already using ERP can anticipate the following benefits: 

  • Cost savings 
  • Flexibility and mobility 
  • Better growth scaling 
  • Speed and security

While any period of technical change can present challenges, cloud migrations have the unique attribute of being a "battle of complexity" against obtainable IT architecture and hybrid options. In order to drive meaningful advantages from the change to the cloud, careful migration planning is crucial.

1. Attain the Right Balance of Old and New 

You've heard of hybrid cloud, but have you heard of hybrid ERP? Some organizations are choosing to use both on-premises and cloud-based ERP modules, with data and workflows split between the two options. Many organizations have a goal of moving completely to the cloud, while others plan to keep sensitive data on-site indefinitely.

2. Plan for Extensive Testing

Quality testing should occur after your migration, but it should also be built into your migration processes. Optimally, by the time your organization is fully reliant on the cloud-based system, you'll have everything fine-tuned. Ways to test extensively before your go-live date could include: 

  • Sample data imports 
  • Configuration adjustments 
  • Simulation 
  • User Training

3. Understand Impact on Existing Architecture

Cloud ERP represents a new way of thinking. Instead of customizing the ERP to your workflows, you're responsible for configuring it so it can receive real-time software updates from the vendor. You're also responsible for revisiting integrations.

As you plan your new architecture, consider whether systems that integrate with your on-premises ERP could also be taken into the cloud. Migration is a smart time to take advantage of available cloud applications while taking unnecessary on-premises databases offline.

4. Clean Up Your Data 

Garbage into the cloud, garbage out of the cloud. In some cases, a poorly planned cloud migration can make existing data-quality issues worse. Bluelink points to customer addresses as one example that's riddled with risk -- if you've been consistently ignoring state or zip code fields that are required in the new system, charging ahead with data import could turn into a nightmare. 

5. Accommodate the Internet of Future

Firms that use cloud ERP in manufacturing, healthcare, and other industries are preparing wisely for the coming storm of the internet of things (IoT) technology. Sensors and connected devices are already generating a flood of fast-moving data, and a cloud-based ERP positions your organization to process these insights.

While adoption of IoT technology will necessitate adjustments and configurations to your ERP system, you're wise to consider your organization's future strategy in the present. By choosing an ERP solution that offers best-of-class security, reporting, and speed, you won't drown in machine-generated insights down the road.

Conclusion

Any ERP project can be a massive undertaking. While cloud ERP migration is unlikely to be as intensive as a first-time implementation project for organizations, it's still a technological force that shouldn't be underestimated. By understanding the switch-over as an opportunity to examine hybrid options and integration points critically, you can simplify your process.

By testing extensively at every stage, avoiding disastrous data imports and planning for IoT, your organization can achieve the security, suppleness and cost-savings benefits of cloud ERP. With careful planning, IT leaders can ensure they're not accountable for a big-bang implementation that falls flat.