With the pandemic situation today, businesses are fast-tracking their digital transformation efforts and switching to cloud services at a frantic pace to enable remote operations and communications.
The situation has also led to more SMEs wanting to implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. The ERP solutions help track and monitor a businesses’ resources and processes, thus optimising operations and maximising profits.
However, SMEs face many challenges while shopping for ERP solutions.
“High capital expenditure and high implementation costs are typically the major entry barriers for ERP adoption among SMEs. Then there are also cost overruns that result from unforeseen delays in deployment, user buy-in, and employee training,” Ali Shabdar, regional director – Middle East and Africa at Zoho Corp.
“With the advent of cloud-powered business application suites that come with pay-as-you-go pricing, minimal infrastructure expenses, and cross-functional interoperability, SMEs today have a cost-efficient option to build a digital operating system that’s also quick to deploy and easy to use.”
George K Thomas, chief executive officer, Pinnacle Technologies, suggests that cloud-based solutions are the way for all business applications for SMEs.
“Cloud solutions make sense in many scenarios, even if it is not easy to generalise. However, the inclination to move in this direction is based on a range of factors that include organisational attitude or mindset, skillsets, and adaptability of employees, security concerns, investments already made for ‘on-premise’ technologies,” said Thomas.
There are nearly 350,000 SMEs in the UAE today, according to reports. This entails a substantial market size of a minimum of Dh 4 billion.
Cloud-based, low-code platforms give businesses the power in creating custom ERPs for their industry and the trend that’s spreading across the SME landscape. “In the present-day, organisations leverage hybrid and multi-cloud architecture patterns to run their business operations. But, from now on, as cloud adoption picks up pace, we will begin to see more and more businesses moving their entire operations online for better ROI,” said Shabdar. Typically, SME budgets for ERP solutions range from Dh10k to 50k. “Since cost is a major factor that comes up when discussing ERP for SMEs, the industry is ready now with ERP solutions for SMEs. “With cloud-based ERPs, which are now available with more cost-effective options including the subscription model. Industry-based solutions and add-on modules are also available,” said Thomas.
Industry experts believe the 80/20 rule applies to every organisation’s business software needs irrespective of the industry. Be it a retail or a real estate or an IT services firm, 80 per cent of the digital requirements are standard for all of them while the remaining 20 per cent are industry-specific.
Pinnacle’s Thomas advises that organisations may opt for the best breed applications in ERP or CRM for their requirements or an integrated suite. “In the best of breed option, the client prefers to implement the solution based on the best product that meets their business requirements. Integration possibilities with other solutions need to be worked out,” he said.
Today, we see a host of on-premise and cloud-based ERP solutions tailor-made exclusively for SMEs, which promise to solve the above problems, scale with business growth, and ensure better flexibility.
ERP solutions have long been known to be challenging implementations for SMEs due to various factors like staggering costs, data migration difficulties, steep learning curves, limited customisation, and so on. It seems to be seen if that era is now history.