Selecting a cloud-based ERP for your small business

cloud erp

How to select a cloud-based ERP for a small business

Enterprise resource planning software. It sounds our of reach for most small businesses. A system reserved for big multinationals with thousands of users and lots of cash lying around. Perhaps it’s because of the name? In fact, more and more small businesses are adopting ERP. Advances in technology (think cloud) bring new levels of productivity at lower costs to businesses of all sizes.

These efficiency-boosting tools aren’t out of reach anymore. But choosing the right ERP for your business is a challenge. This quick guide will steer you in the right direction.

ERP requirements for small businesses

The abundance of choice can make an ERP selection mind-boggling. For small businesses with limited resources, the majority of research and decision-making rests on a small number of shoulders. Defining what exactly you need your ERP to do is the first step. Every business is unique in its challenges so you’ll need to align your strategic goals with your ERP requirements:

  • Map the processes you need to streamline and prioritize features accordingly.
  • Look for system failures specific to your industry and look for vendors who fit.
  • Calculate your budget and forecast your ROI
  • Decide if you have enough in-house experience or need an independent consultant

Cloud vs on-premise ERP

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses looking to invest in new software has been infrastructure. Traditionally, if you didn’t have the right environment or enough hardware to support it, an upgrade would require serious investment. Even if you did have the capital to get enough hardware and on-premise storage to handle an ERP system, your time to ROI could make the whole project untenable.

Luckily, the cloud has come to the rescue. Small businesses can store more data and implement new business apps without killing the bottom line. Cloud services are typically sold as a subscription service, making it easier to get underway without huge upfront costs. Cash flow is king for small businesses so fixed costs are preferable to spikes in investment that can you leave you vulnerable.

Cloud subscriptions remove barriers for small businesses that want to invest in ERP. But that doesn’t mean you should jump in with both feet. Compare vendor prices and models carefully. Look at your growth projections and contract durations on offer. If you expect to grow your user base, make sure you choose a plan that gives you plenty of breathing room. Most plans are priced per user (or on a range of users). You might think that 10 or 20 users are enough today, but what happens in one, two, or five years’ time?

Shortlisting cloud-based ERPs

Now you know what problems you want your ERP to solve, that cloud is the most likely route and how to create a selection process, it’s time to put the wheels in motion. It probably won’t take long to whittle your options down to a shortlist. Once you have a list of requirements, it’s time to set about requesting proposals.

ERP options have now become more affordable for small businesses to consider. We have experience advising small businesses on which functionalities would best suit their needs in their new ERP solution. If you would like to learn more about how cloud-based business solutions can help grow your business, contact allonline365 on or +27 (21) 205 3650.

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

Here are some mobile ERP case studies to learn from

mobile erp

As the old saying goes; “for every seller, there’s a buyer”; or in our specific case, an enterprise resources planning platform. More and more people are adopting mobile usage on a daily basis. On average users spend almost five hours per day on mobile devices, the majority of which is spent on mobile apps. Now, let’s consider what and how the technology specifically applies to the ERP segment.

What is a mobile ERP?

First, let’s take a quick refresher on the meaning of what we refer to as today’s mobile ERP. To paraphrase IGI Global, mobile ERP extends traditional ERP tenets and processes by independently collecting and exchanging data via mobile devices and wireless communications mechanisms. Standardized interfaces allow a direct and steady connection to distributed ERP systems, thereby leading to a more flexible and efficient enterprise business processing.

In more simple terms, mobile ERP solutions can be explained as virtual ‘all-the-time-everywhere’ operating platforms that can be leveraged by managers, workers, or customers in real-time. This universal value proposition allows the enterprise to force-multiply any scale of an enterprise; whether its a small ‘Mom and Pop’ shop generating revenues on the order of a million dollars or less, or a multinational industry titan generating billions on an annual basis.

Industry-specific mobile ERP apps

Today’s constellation of mobile apps ranges from the simple to the complex. Nevertheless, all offerings suggest the same business values; enhanced production and the promise of consequently increased revenues. To understand this assertion it is best left to the market itself, so let’s take a look at a couple of mobility-adept industries and their common functions/features applicable to today’s market.

  • Manufacturing – This category ranges from small fabrication operations to large-scale product developers such as auto or equipment brands. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes.deletes, time/stamp markers, geo-locators, user announcements, and security alarms.
  • Commercial marine operations – this category primarily relates to vessel processes and dock and port facilities. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes/deletes. time/stamp markers, navigational tracking, communication systems status’, geo-locators, standard/emergency user announcements, and triggered security alarms.
  • Oil and gas development – this category primarily relates to drilling, refining, production and delivery of fossil fuels. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes/deletes, time/stamp markers, geo-locators, standard/emergency safety announcements, and HAZMAT, and/or triggered security alarms.

As suggested earlier, these mobile ERP features apply to three industrial segments and represent only a small sampling of what mobility means in today’s global industry.

Mobile ERP case studies

Here are some examples to review as you determine how important mobile ERP is to your own business needs. These case samples range from mid to large-scale operations, however, all enterprises were either already involved with a current ERP platform or were applying active mobile capabilities during the various selection/launch/implementation processes.

1.  Transportation supply-chain operator

The company is a leading supply-chain operator in the road construction equipment segment. The company is a mature enterprise, encompassing a 40-year lifespan. Its product line is extensive, primarily supporting global transportation systems developers.

The mobility requirement

The company’s workforce expanded in recent years, requiring a need to streamline its administrative communications capabilities. Its goal was to ensure that all information related to personnel allotments and task assignments were deliverable throughout the company’s business infrastructure, The company also wanted to enhance field staff operations by equipping it with a native mobility capability oriented to enhanced customer support and affiliated reporting.

Baseline scenario

The company’s administrative manager typically assigns sales personnel to individual field sales managers. In turn, these personnel are assigned multiple customers. In the past, at the conclusion of each sales transaction, necessary paper forms were used to gather information, and then execute a manual data entry process using the company’s web portal. As the company grew it began to experience various operational logjams, largely driven by an ever-increasing number of active customers. Subsequently, a related internal investigation found that:

  • Sales personnel spent too much time searching for necessary customer information.
  • Manual data entry processes were redundant and prone to error.
  • Sales status reports experienced delivery lags since legacy processes only allowed for end-of-day batching.
  • New customer record updates were slow and consequently resulted in lost sales.

The company’s solution

The company already had an installed web application system, so after a thorough internal analysis, it proposed an iPad app development for its field staff. The app allowed the company to seamlessly leverage its existing online portal and active data store. Its design allowed for various record options including; customer-lists address books, an ability to register operational events, all the while employing direct geo-location. The design also allowed sales personnel to submit reports in real-time.


After development and implementation were concluded, the company successfully realized all stated goals. Resource Credit: Innomobile

2.  Mid-size retail sales chain

Various metrics relating to today’s retail environment suggest that a minimum of 50% of all retail customers involve themselves with smartphone device use. This non-mobile mid-size retail operator found itself facing increased competition from other mobile-enabled competitors.

The mobility requirement

The company was not mobile-enabled, and consequently was experiencing lost sales opportunities, particularly in the case of targeting young customers. Unfortunately, the company had largely depended on young users to increase brand value by means of word of mouth.

Baseline scenario

The company required a way to enhance its promotion, marketing, and engagement of products to young customers, while at the same time leveraging a seamless resources-based digital infrastructure. The company felt that by tailoring its sales offerings, while enhancing the company’s shopping experience, customers would be more attentive to its product attractions.

The company’s solution

The company engaged a professional mobile developer to ensure that a proper set of operational goals were established. Subsequently, the following solutions were developed and delivered to the company:

  • Mobile shopping cart – this capability allowed users to select and purchase items on-demand.
  • Mobile product search – this capability enabled users to do targeted lookups related to specific items from larger catalog products.
  • Mobile payment – this capability enabled customers to securely pay for purchases.
  • Mobile product ship and track – this capability enabled customers to manage inbound products while allowing the company to maintain active transaction tracking in order to resolve any delivery issues.
  • Wishlist – this capability allowed users to bookmark selected items for future purchase.
  • Store locator – this capability helped customers find the nearest outlet in the event that the customer wanted to leverage the app, but still wanted to do their purchases at one of the company’s brick-and-mortar outlets.
  • Direct support – this capability afforded customers to contact the company’s service center regarding issues or defects, and also afforded the customer 24/7 hotline enhanced with live chat.


Once the company launched its mobile app it reported a significant rise in customer engagement. Customer ease of access led to numerous positive responses from its sales team. Ultimately, customer retention has risen accordingly, in addition to significant increases in new prospect transactions. Resource credit: Innomobile.

3.  Global aviation manufacturer

While the company’s outsourced operations lowered manufacturing costs, it also added complexity and presented a need for rigid controls when managing day-to-day operations. Due to the limitations of a legacy MRP system, and while establishing a newly sophisticated multiple-module ERP platform, much of the company’s work had to be done manually which became increasingly more difficult to manage as the company grew. Consequently, a mobility-adept system was desired as a middle ground.

Baseline scenario

To prevent counterfeit items from entering its supply chain, the company bought a significant number of parts domestically and consigned them to factories in China. The practice required a manual calculation of needed components based on finished assembly usage and inventory levels at the factory. In addition, the company had to calculate the necessary excess to purchase based on historic scrap levels.

If these challenges weren’t difficult enough, communicating with Hong Kong and China operations required them to share and access data around the clock which proved challenging given various time differences.

The solution

The company implemented a multi-module ERP system including; accounting, purchasing, sales orders, and inventory enhanced with mobility.

Once the program was completed the company’s critical data was being shared across functional areas of their business in real-time while maintaining a comprehensive financial status as required. Inventory interfaces with accounting, bill of materials were created that drive demand based on inventory levels across its four factories in China. Additionally, a quality module was included to help the company work through various international compliances, including capabilities such as sub-part traceability and lot coding.

The results

The company’s ROI increased by 50% of sales growth by year four. Resource credit: IQMS

As you can see, industrial mobility and more importantly mobile ERP is becoming a game-changer regardless of the particular business segment. Consequently, it is time to ask yourself, is your enterprise ready to make the jump to mobility lightspeed? 

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

11 Important KPIs for a Highly Effective HR Manager


As the competition grows, workplaces around the world are facing pressure to attract, engage, and retain employees. Under the scrutiny to demonstrate the value they add to a company’s strategy, many human resources (HR) departments are turning to analytics supported by key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics.

Assessing HR Goals

HR managers are responsible for balancing the needs and goals of both the company and the workforce. From talent acquisition to performance management, there are a number of goals that an HR manager needs to prioritize every year that align with the organization’s overall business objectives.

Here are some specific S.M.A.R.T goals a typical HR manager would be working towards;

  1. Hire 20 new employees this year to grow the company’s headcount by 5%
  2. To create an engaging work environment and reduce turnover by advancing professional development and implementing a referral program
  3. To improve employee performance and productivity by 10%

Once you have clearly identified goals, it’s time to start thinking about the measurable values that you will use to track and determine your progress towards achieving them.

11 HR KPIs and Metrics to Monitor

In today’s data-driven world, the role of HR is changing from an administrative and operational function to a more strategic and advisory one. HR managers are using supportive data quantifiable measurements, like KPIs and metrics, to back up their employee hiring and retention related decisions.

To measure the effectiveness of your HR department, not all KPIs are relevant. You can come with KPIs for everything from compensation and culture to employment and performance – but you don’t want to measure them all. Not only is it extremely time consuming, but it’s also an inefficient use of your time. Once you have selected the KPIs that align with that your department plans to achieve this quarter or year, you can place them in a KPI dashboard for a quick snapshot of how you are performing.

Using the examples developed in the previous section, here are 3-4 corresponding KPIs that an HR manager could use in an operational dashboard to monitor progress.

  1. Hire 20 new employees this year to grow the company’s headcount by 5%
    • Cost per Hire: Shows the number of resources invested in acquiring talent
    • Recruiting Conversion Rate: Helps identify the best recruitment method
    • Open Job Requisitions: Shows how many jobs are currently open
    • Job Offer Acceptance Rate: Shows how many job offers have been accepted (working towards your 20 job goal)

2. To create an engaging work environment and reduce turnover by advancing professional development and implementing a referral program

    • Absenteeism Rate: Shows the amount of labor and productivity lost due to sickness or leave
    • Turnover Rate: Indicates the success of retention efforts
    • Employee Satisfaction Score: Using a company-wide survey, this is a key metric for understanding talent retention
    • Net Promoter Score: Measures how likely an employee is to recommend the company to their network

3. To improve employee performance and productivity by 10%

    • Performance Rating: Rating is achieved through internal performance reviews
    • Employee Productivity Rate: Helps to measure workforce efficiency over time
    • Average Time to Achieve Goals: Quantifies how effective your employees are at meeting the goals they set each year

One of the biggest challenges with developing goals and KPIs is making them relatable and realistic. That’s why it’s important to include your employees and managers in these bigger discussions. When employees are engaged and understand how their work relates to the company’s overarching goals, they will be more committed to using and optimizing analytics.

Start Building your HR KPI Dashboard

Now that you have established your HR goals for the year and the KPIs and metrics you plan to use to track progress, you can start creating your KPI dashboards. To make your dashboards super effective and useful for your role and department, we have a few tips to share on building your dashboards that we wrote about in a previous post. Included in the post are 10 best practices and some advice on business intelligence solutions designed for Microsoft Dynamics that will help you get started quickly.

Resource Credit | Jet Global 

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