Can You Be Compliant with Your ERP in the Cloud?


Request a Cloud Impact AssessmentRegulatory compliance is something most CFOs will encounter over the course of their careers. They will be the ones responsible for making sure their companies comply with organizational, regional and even international regulations and laws. There are a number of common regulations businesses will need to meet if they do work in the cloud, and a good ERP system is a must to aid with the task of compliance.

The short answer to the question of whether or not you can be compliant in the cloud is: yes, you can. Most ERP cloud service providers have to adhere to many of the same regulations that your company needs to meet, and in some cases, they might even have more stringent policies than what SOX certification requires. Companies that need to meet SAS 70 certification should not encounter problems working with cloud ERP from a reputable provider.

Cloud ERP is also an excellent choice for companies looking to go public in the future. IPO-ready companies need policies and processes in place that are SOX compliant, and a good ERP cloud service provider will make the effort to ensure you are compliant long before it comes time to go public.

Compliance should not be a guessing game. When you decide to make the move to the cloud, investigate your potential ERP cloud provider carefully to make sure it will give you the tools you need to respond to audits efficiently and pass requirements without difficulty.

Request a Cloud Impact Assessment to determine if a Cloud ERP solution is right for your business!

13 Signs that Cloud ERP Is Right for Your Business


ERP in the Cloud or My Server RoomSaaS (Software as a Service) and Cloud technology have become some of the most talked about business resources today. But how do you know if adopting SaaS/Cloud solutions is better for your business than continuing with the traditional on premise software solutions? Here are 13 signs that your business may be ready for a Cloud ERP solution.

A Cloud ERP system is a good fit if you need to:

  1. Cloud Business SolutionReduce Capital Costs – Avoid the costs of purchasing and replacing hardware for your ERP system.
  2. Extend Your IT Department – By hosting your ERP application in the cloud, common help desk calls and other IT management tasks like procurement and server configuration are reduced, freeing your IT staff to concentrate their talents on tasks that will improve the business and revenue generation rather than on general technical problems.
  3. Improve Your Ability to Scale – You can adjust users and applications up or down to meet the changing demands of your business, try-out new applications without a large capital investment, and roll out new applications to smaller groups individually, reducing risk and spreading training costs.
  4. Improve Security – Cloud providers have enterprise level expertise in securing data and data is often more secure in the cloud than it is in most server rooms.
  5. Better Business Continuity – Cloud vendors’ core function is providing infrastructure business continuity, so you can focus on your people and facilitates in the face of a disaster.
  6. Gain Flexible Reporting – Gain anywhere access and visibility for reporting just as it would be on premise.
  7. Integrate with Office and Outlook – Microsoft Dynamics products in the Cloud have the same integration options as their on premise counterparts. Check with your cloud provider to ensure that your ERP solution will automate your common business processes.
  8. Launch a Start-Up – Cloud ERP is a perfect fit for startup organizations and startup divisions within an existing company. You can use the functionality that you need and expand your use as the company grows.
  9. Support Global Expansion – One ERP system can service business operations around the globe, eliminating complex manual reporting from multiple systems. You and your employees will access the application and your data from anywhere on any device.
  10. Expand Employee Access – Because employees can access your ERP system from home (or anywhere else), your business can support green initiatives or promote employee satisfaction programs. In addition, critical business data will be stored in the secure cloud and not be transported to and from the office on flash drives or laptops.
  11. Upgrade Without Interruption – In the Cloud, software upgrades take place behind the scenes and without the need to involve internal IT resources. Upgrades should be coordinated with your vendor so that you and your team are ready to take advantage of the new functionality.
  12. Get a Fresh Start – Moving to the Cloud presents you with the opportunity to assess and re-architect your business processes and systems so that they are as efficient as possible for your organization.
  13. Continue a Relationship with Your Trusted Business Partner – Just because you move to the Cloud doesn’t mean that your relationship with your ERP partner is over. By selecting a solution in the Cloud, you will still work closely with a VAR, like Socius, to implement the solution and provide ongoing training and support.

Take the next step toward a Cloud ERP solution and get a quote today!

Why Cloud Business Solutions Are Becoming More Popular


Cloud Gaining Traction WebinarThe Cloud is one of the most talked about technology resources. But what are Cloud solutions for businesses and what makes them so beneficial? The cloud is where successful business host their digital data and apply mobile, social and big data solutions to centralize and turn data into useful insight. With the endless applications available through the cloud, there are many reasons why adopting cloud technologies might be the perfect business solution your organization is looking for. Here are the top 6 reasons why cloud business solutions have become popular among many successful businesses:

  • Get a QuoteRapid Deployment – Before the cloud, it took weeks to order hardware/physical servers, receive it, go to the data center to install the servers, test to make sure it worked properly with customer requirements, and deploy customer environments. Today, all of this can be done in just a few hours through the use of virtual machines and downloads via the internet.
  • More Services Available Via the Cloud – The amount of features and options available with the cloud are limitless. Some of the service that are available include: accounting applications, CRM, online banking, school registrations, Office365, Payroll/HR/Benefits, storage/backup, phone systems, music storage/sharing, photo storage/sharing, and much more.
  • More Services Have Per User Per Month Pricing – You can easily predict on-going software/hardware expenses because of the easy to use budgeting features. Within the cloud, you can always access to the most up-to-date versions of your software. Cloud solutions adapt and change with your business. You can easily add or remove users without the hassle of paying large upfront software/hardware user fees upfront. Adjust the amount of users on your system during different times of the year to better fit with your needs and save you money.
  • Clients Researching and Educating Themselves – Because there is such an abundance of information that is so easily available on the internet, clients are educating themselves on different business processes so they have more confidence in working with the cloud. Having educational resources online can give you and your clients a guideline for dealing with day-to-day issues so you can all put your concerns to rest. Clients are much more likely to be using the cloud in their personal lives as well which makes them more comfortable with the concept.
  • Resources and Maintenance – Being on the cloud requires less dedication from IT resources needed for specific applications. This helps to lessen the burden on your IT staff and reduce training costs. Certifications that are required for the Cloud team can be obtained. The cloud proactively monitors the servers so you can feel safe.
  • Compliance – When it comes time for auditing, you can rely on your Cloud provider to give you all the details for expensive audits. You and your own people don’t have to spend as much time being involved in the process and you can know that it is being taken care of safe and effectively. You can also rely on your provider to keep you compliant on licensing.

Tech-Savvy Traits of Leading Businesses


Lessons on Technology and Growth InfographicRecently, around 4,000 small to midsized business (SMBs) decision makers were surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group. They found that revenue and job growth are consistent across gender, industry, and location. But what was the fuel behind all this growth? Take some time to look at how innovative technology propelled these other SMBs to new growth and a better bottom line.

Tech-Savvy SMBs

Compared to SMBs who used less advanced technology, the following statistics were found for more tech-savvy SMBs:

  • Revenue grew about 15% faster
  • Jobs grew by 2%
  • 95% use Office products
  • 6X more likely to have international customers
  • Nearly 20% in emerging markets have international employees
  • 2 out of 3 say that new technologies will continue to fuel their growth and profits
  • 2X as many are innovative thanks to technology advancements

Leap Ahead in the Cloud

Microsoft Cloud Services helps businesses of all sizes meet goals, provides insight, and drives productivity to meet your dynamic needs in a world where technology never stops changing. For those SMBs who adopted Microsoft Cloud Services, revenue grew 10 percentage points faster and job growth was 5 percentage points higher than those who did not.

Get the ReportThe Value of Partnership

Microsoft remains the top choice of tech-savvy small businesses. Socius is an award winning Microsoft partner who, for 30 years, has been working to fuel our clients’ transformation and growth through specialized expertise, innovative technology, and strategic partnerships. Here at Socius, we have been watching SMB leaders achieve what they never thought was possible.

Contact us today to learn how you can take advantage of Microsoft products and other innovative technologies that meet your unique business needs.

Socius’ Cloud Choices Featured in CIO Review


Cloud Computing CompaniesJust a few weeks after becoming a Finalist for the Microsoft Dynamics Cloud Partner of the Year, Socius garnered more attention for their growing Cloud Services practice by being named to the 20 Most Promising Cloud Computing Companies list in CIO Review.

In the accompanying article, CEO Jeff Geisler explains Socius’ “Power of Choice” cloud philosophy and how it benefits businesses today. “Whether it’s a hybrid cloud, private or a public cloud, we give clients the power of choice as to how to deploy their business solutions so they can take advantage of the benefits deployment options bring,” says Geisler.

According to the article, “With deep knowledge and experience with foundation software (ERP, Accounting, and CRM) coupled with the knowledge of hosted environments; Socius has positioned itself as a secure technology partner for companies considering a move towards cloud. With new technologies and offerings undergoing a constant change in the cloud market space, Socius continues to provide clients with the power of choice in deployment models for technology whether on- premise, hosted, hybrid or Azure. It is perfectly poised to help companies translate those changes to their business strategy by formulating flexible and agile solutions to help clients truly transform and fuel business growth.”

Read the full article “Socius: Providing Clients with the `Power of Choice’ in Deploying Business Solutions” here.

Learn more about Cloud Solutions from Socius or request a Cloud Impact Assessment today!

7 Factors to Consider When Developing a Cloud ROI


Cloud ROI Webinar OnDemandThere are many different components that go into developing a Return on Investment (ROI). So what is the “right” calculation for your ROI? There is no one correct calculation, it can and should be modified to suite your situation. It all depends on what you want to include for your analysis. It is also important for you to decide what level of “disaster recovery plan” you envision for your company and deciding what is acceptable to you.

The 7 main factors to consider when developing your Cloud RIO are as follows:

  1. Capital Expenditure vs. Operating Expenditure: Understand the difference between the two and from there, you should be able to decide what will work best with your business plan.
  2. Location of the Data: Know where your data is, under a desk, or in a closet? What is your disaster recovery plan? If you rent a space at a data Center, know that cloud providers can get reduced rates based on the amount of space that is used. If you are able to, consolidate your data and invest in long term leasing plans. If you have considered moving to a Data Center, understand what the costs are for the move.
  3. Infrastructure: Usually hardware has about a 3 year life cycle, so it is important to know when that time is up if you need to purchase additional hardware or lease it. Develop your long term growth strategy. What is going to need to happen if there are any mergers or serious growth in the future? Cloud provides the ability to scale up or down as need quickly and easily. High upfront costs can be a barrier for new businesses.
  4. Security and Audit: Do you provide services that require an audit by a 3rd party? With cloud provider you can hand over SSAE reduce time and risk for your company. Make sure that your team is educated and proactively monitoring security threats. The cloud offers world class security on a small business budget.
  5. Staffing: How many people are currently on your staff and where do you envision this number to be in three years? Cloud provides “one-neck” philosophy where you are able to contact a provider 24/7.
  6. Licensing and Billing: Tracking licenses for administrative tasks and Microsoft Audits. Do you have enough licenses? Can you reduce and increase them as needed? The cloud helps you budget with pay-as-you—go services and flexible billing plans requiring no long-term commitment.
  7. Going Green: There is much to consider when you have a “Green” focus. Business are able to receive tax breaks and conserve energy and money. Telecommuting, offed by the Cloud, is a way to work from anywhere at any time on any mobile device or computer which can help cut down on fuel emissions and energy use.

To learn more about how to develop a Cloud ROI to justify your costs should you move to the cloud, view our webinar ondemand anytime.  If you are interested in moving some of your business solutions to the cloud, contact us anytime!

ERP On-Demand vs. On-Premise


Cloud Deployment Options eBookThe traditional model of ERP deployment is called “on-premise”, but it is no longer the only available option. You can also choose an “on-demand” cloud option for your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the size, type and scope of your business.

On-Premise ERP

In this traditional model, you pay for the infrastructure, the hardware, the operating system and underlying software (such as database servers), the ERP software itself, the maintenance and the support. It is up to you to keep all of it going on your servers and workstations, and it is up to you to decide when you want to pay for upgrades.

Benefits of On-Premise ERP

The benefits of the on-premise model are that you are able to pay for a lot of the expenses up front, if you have the capital expenditure to handle it. Your ongoing payments are limited to maintenance and support, as well as any infrastructure costs. For a large enterprise, those costs may not be an issue. Another benefit is total control over how your system is managed, when it is upgraded and how it is implemented.

On-Demand ERP

This model generally refers to any number of cloud ERP subscription models, the most popular being software-as-a-service (SaaS). With on-demand, you often do not need any capital expenditure to pay up front. You instead pay a monthly fee, making it ideal if operational expenditure is all you have at your disposal, which is usually better for small and midsized businesses.

Benefits of On-Demand ERP

Some of the benefits for On-Demand include not having to pay for any infrastructure, hardware/software maintenance, tech support or any other IT expenses beyond the devices that connect to your ERP system. It is also very mobile, accessible from anywhere, and you do not have to worry about upgrades or new releases, since that is generally handled by the cloud service provider.

Which ERP Model Do You Choose?

If cost is no concern and you want that total control, on-premise might be best for you. If you are concerned about cost, like most businesses today, and/or may not want to maintain your own infrastructure, on-demand ERP is an excellent option. If you are interested in exploring more about on-demand cloud services, you can request a Cloud Impact Assessment at www.cloudtechnology.com/cia

Windows Azure in the Cloud: When is it the Right Choice for ERP Deployment?


Cloud Deployment Options eBookChoosing the right ERP software for your organization can be a long and arduous process when done correctly. Once you have selected the system you need, the process is not over. The next step is to decide on a deployment method that fits within your financial and technological limitations. At one time, an on-premise deployment was viewed as the only viable solution for a major software implementation, but now there are several cloud models that can benefit your business. Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform is one model worth considering.

What is Windows Azure in the Cloud?

Windows Azure CloudIn short, the Azure Cloud solution is Microsoft’s open cloud application platform, allowing companies to build, deploy and manage various Microsoft applications across a global network of data-centers. Azure allows developers to build applications in any language and integrate those within their current IT environments, providing the ability to reliably host and scale business operations.

Because you may need to purchase or upgrade server hardware and also maintain it yourself, on-premise software often requires a lot of money upfront, which may be just fine for larger organizations with sufficient capital expenditures. Small and mid-sized businesses may not have the resources to pay for on-premise software, and even some larger businesses may decide not to budget for it. They might also not have the infrastructure, IT staff or other resources necessary for on-premise deployment.

Perhaps the most popular method of cloud deployment is Software as a Service (SaaS), where the user pays a monthly fee for read-to-use cloud applications. An alternative to this is called Platform as a Service (PaaS), which provides an entire platform rather than a single application. For example, if you want to run Microsoft Dynamics GP or Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you can now do it all from the cloud with quick, ready-to-deploy apps in Windows Azure Marketplace.

Like on-premise and hosted options, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and GP are still available exclusively through Microsoft partners, even when hosted on Windows Azure. What is different is that you get a robust, secure Windows Azure Virtual Machine and avoid the hardware and infrastructure costs associated with on-premise deployment. It is a smart and affordable alternative.

Cloud ERP vs. Hosted ERP Software – Understanding Your Options


Cloud Deployment Options eBookWhen you are selecting a new ERP software system today, there are more options to consider than ever before.  Not only do you need to select an ERP system that has the functionality and usability that is going to make a beneficial solution for your business, but you also need to decide how that ERP software is going to be deployed – or where the data is going to be stored and how the system is going to be accessed.

As Voltaire (and Uncle Ben from Spiderman) says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” When it comes to ERP software, the power of choice you now have in your deployment option comes with the responsibility to learn about those options and truly understand them so that you can make the best choice for your organization.

To better understand all of your options, get a complimentary copy of our eBook: Understanding Cloud Services Deployment Models & Licensing Options When Selecting ERP

Of all of the options available, the two that raise the most questions are Cloud ERP and Hosted ERP, more specifically, “what is the difference between them?”

Both Cloud ERP and Hosted ERP are options available through Private or Hybrid Cloud deployments.

Hosted ERP – You may see the term “Hosted ERP” used interchangeably with “Infrastructure as a Service” or “IaaS.” IaaS means that you purchase and own your ERP software licenses, that your server licensing needs are leased through your cloud services provider. This can lower your up-front, out-of-pocket costs by removing the need to update existing or acquire new hardware infrastructure at the beginning of an ERP implementation project.  IaaS can also reduce your ERP implementation timeframe because your cloud provider will already have a proven methodology in place for installing your ERP environment. When you use a Hosted ERP or IaaS deployment for your ERP software, you will pay annual software maintenance fees as well as optional software support plans if desired.

Cloud ERP – The term “Cloud ERP” could refer to any of the deployment options for ERP solutions available, but most often it is referring to “Software as a Service” or “SaaS ERP.”  SaaS ERP enables you to lease your ERP software and the infrastructure that supports your solution, like servers, back-up, disaster recovery, etc.  This option is typically priced on a per user per month basis.  With this option, if you decide to move your ERP system on-premise or to change cloud providers, you will need to purchase the software (this option does not exist from all Cloud ERP providers so it is critical that you understand up-front who owns your business data and how to take it with you if you need to change deployments or providers.)

To get an outside, experienced perspective on whether or not your business is a good candidate for a Cloud ERP or Hosted ERP solution, request a Cloud Impact Assessment today!

Remove Barriers to Better Distribution Analytics


Only 12% of distributors report relying on analytics for all of their sales, marketing and operational decisions, including pricing and product and customer selection, according to the 2014 State of Analytics in Distribution report by Modern Distribution Management.

If you are not part of this 12% and you don’t have analytics to help you make these critical business decisions, then you are essentially guessing, which is not going to lead to great results.  Also, if you don’t have analytics to inform your decisions, then the odds are good that you aren’t going have great analytics to assess the results of those decisions.  Without analytics, it can become easy to get stuck in this cycle and continue to use ineffective processes and miss out on opportunities for your organization to grow.

So, what is getting in the way of great analytics for your distribution company?

If you are like most distributors, you’ve likely run into one of these barriers to better analytics:

  • Weak technology infrastructure
  • Lack of correct talent to use the data
  • Inefficient means of capturing and analyzing data

Removing these barriers can be a challenge, but will pay off with enormous dividends once you are effectively analyzing your business data.  Here are some ideas for moving past these barriers and achieving analytics success:

Consider new options for upgrading your infrastructure.  Yes, updating your technology infrastructure can be expensive and time consuming – but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.  With the proliferation of cloud technology, you can store information in online data warehouses or move some or all of your business systems to the cloud so that the burden is no longer on your in-house hardware. There are a lot of options and it can be difficult to know what combination of online and on-premises systems and storage will work best for your business, so consider working with a business consulting partner that can help you identify your best options.

Assess your existing staff and identify opportunities for improvement.  By taking an in-depth look at the skill-sets of your people, you can see if you have the right talent in place but perhaps they would benefit from some additional training, if you have the right people in the wrong roles and can make adjustments, or if you need to recruit some individuals with the analytical skills or knowledge of your technology to help bring your organization up to speed analytically.

Determine if you need to change your processes, add on to your solutions, or replace them.  Sometimes an inability to capture or analyze your data is simply a matter of not aligning your business systems with your business processes.  If this is the case, you can assess your processes as well as the data that they produce and adjust your use of your systems accordingly to make the most of what you have in place.  However, a new feature or new system is often required in order to attain the level of data collection and analysis that you need to really make an improvement to your business.  If you are in this position, work with a trusted partner to assess your current business management systems and identify new add-ons or solutions that can help you reach your analytical goals.

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