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How cloud ERP can ensure business value and continuity

Cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a transformation solution helping companies doing business online. It replaces traditional onsite ERP. Cloud computing is enabling digital transformation by providing benefits to companies (56% of companies surveyed in the 2020 Edition of the PwC Executive Survey have moved part of their applications to the cloud). During the COVID-19 crisis, cloud ERP has played a vital role in maintaining business continuity. This made many companies increasingly aware of the importance of ERP for the viability of their businesses. Access to business information in real time, from anywhere and on any device is proving to be vital.

Many of our clients now understand that cloud ERP is something they must implement. It ensures that the workforce can continue to work, from home remotely on their own computers, or even abroad in the case of being stranded in a foreign country due to travel bans.

 

What are the benefits of Cloud ERP for finance organisations?

Capabilities and business value

The cloud serves as a single platform to access data across the organisation, allowing a single source of truth and less reliance on data from multiple systems. For example, CFOs can access financial statements in real time, and access data from other areas, such as procurement, and evaluate the impact on the finances. Over the past years, cloud ERP has become more and more powerful, providing holistic and consistent financial information with limited reconciliation needs.

 Multidimensional analysis and embedded analytics were developed to provide CFO and controllers with more insights into accounting and transactional data. The flexibility provided by cloud ERPs enables finance to create tailored reports with real-time data. This provides answers to specific questions and supports decision-making with timely and trusted financial statements. This means that CFOs can quickly assess the impact of an unexpected event on financial statements and take appropriate action.

Cloud-based ERP offers streamlined ways to benefit from latest technologies and regular innovation (e.g., robotic process automation, machine learning, and predictive analytics). CFOs can benefit from the latest innovations such as data visualisation, analytics, and artificial intelligence. On top of that, regular innovations result in cloud applications benefiting from automatic security updates, keeping the system secure.

Lower costs

Rather than being purchased outright, cloud-based ERP implementations are paid for through a subscription model, which typically includes not just the software but also the hosting and support costs. Thus, the initial capital expenditure required for implementation is significantly lower than for traditional systems, and operating costs can often be lower as well.

Quick deployment and implementation

One of the impediments of any ERP system is the implementation time. The cloud-based ERP business can normally start up and run more quickly than on-premises, as it does not require selecting and setting up hardware or hiring and training IT staff.

Flexibility and scalability

Cloud ERP is enabling digital transformation, such as flexible user interfaces, streamlined data integration and improvement of financial reporting efficiency and accuracy. The user flexibility ‘accessible anywhere at any time’ functionality of cloud ERP is proving to be vital during the pandemic, as restrictions on mobility forced companies to rapidly adjust to remote working. When it comes to business continuity and crisis recovery, many companies now understand that cloud ERP is something they must do, no matter what.

As cloud ERPs aim to streamline processes, they are effective tools to manage financial processes efficiently. Hence, cloud applications are easier to use as well as relevant for the business. Moreover, cloud deployment allows users to access information from anywhere and from any digital device.

Recommendations and lessons learned based on client experiences

  • Companies can implement cloud ERP solutions to manage, improve and automate back-office processes much faster and at a lower cost than traditional, on-premises ERP solutions.
  • Overall process simplification, alignment and transition to standardised solutions is one of the most important criteria for future state.
  • Minimise custom development and focus on standardisation.
  • Allocate adequate business resources to the program: sufficient internal staffing must be planned, and put in place, for the overall duration of the program.
  • Focus and start the master data management and data conversion process as a preliminary stage.
  • Develop a formal roadmap and business case, prior to undertaking a major transformation initiative. Along with the implementation costs, a business case also considers the added value that the cloud ERP can generate through the definition and translation of opportunities and requirements into value drivers (including growth, efficiency and financial drivers). The business case ensures that the system capabilities and values are aligned with the strategy and growth ambition of the organisation. It shows the value that the investment generates, evaluates the added value, benefits, costs and risk of alternative options and provides a rationale for the preferred solution.
  • Change management was one of the biggest challenges of cloud ERP implementation, despite a clear focus on organisational change throughout the project. For effective transition, people and change impact must be incorporated into the program from day one.

Contact us

François Jaucot

François Jaucot

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 473 65 89 84

Mathieu Van De Poel

Mathieu Van De Poel

Director, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 499 56 77 51

Sana Benyaich

Sana Benyaich

Manager, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 499 58 95 58

Connect with PwC Belgium