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Your Unique Needs Can Be Your Advantage—In the Cloud or on Premises

By Himanshu Palsule, Epicor President | August 03, 2020

With market changes and geopolitical volatility a constant concern, leaders are increasingly embracing technology solutions that allow them to retain better business resiliency. Whether your solution is on premise or in the cloud, one of the key factors your solution needs for success is flexibility.  

But how can you find a truly flexible solution? You need a vendor that understands what makes you different and offers tailored technology solutions to help make you more successful. To gauge flexibility, ask these three questions:

  • Does the vendor have industry-specific expertise?
  • Are the products and innovation customer-driven?
  • Will the vendor’s customer experience meet your expectations?

Industry Expertise

Consider the industry expertise of the software solution vendor. It will contribute greatly to your success if they have a keen understanding of the specific business challenges in your industry. For example, whether you need access to capital, inventory tracking, the ability to process payments, or to manage changing regulations.

In recent years, many industries needed to adapt to significant shifts driven by competitive pressures, collapsing supply chains, and the desire for instant gratification. These adaptations include:  

  • Brick and mortar retailers adding ecommerce capabilities by setting up online payments.
  • Manufacturers gaining agility on their assembly line to make on-demand modifications.
  • Distributors providing various types and times of delivery.
  • Retailers demonstrating pricing flexibility and sophisticated recommendation engines

Naturally, the urgency to implement digital solutions has heightened due to Covid-19. With further strain on the supply chain, businesses now more than ever need manufacturing and distribution agility. They also need to address price and distribution flexibility.

Cloud uniquely gives you the flexibility to do business where you need to.

Fortunately, technology innovation in recent years—particularly in the cloud—bodes well for helping companies respond to these requirements. Cloud uniquely gives you the flexibility to do business where you need to—in your factories, offices, or at home. It also gives you opportunities to develop cost structures that can move from upfront, fixed-fee implementations to the flexibility to subscribe to cloud services over a period of time.

Regardless of whether you have on-premise or cloud solutions, as a business leader you need a vendor that understands the big picture as well as the current, complex, and vertical-specific challenges of your industry. A vendor’s expertise in your field lays the foundation for their ability to provide you with ultimate flexibility in your ERP solution.

Customer-Driven Product Development and Innovation

Your software solution is far more likely to bring you success if it’s designed to meet your industry-specific needs.

“One size fits all” fits no one. For example, a small party supplies retailer has very different needs than an F-1 race car manufacturer. Even within the same industry, needs can vary greatly.  A mid-size distributor with a small showroom for selling light fixtures faces different challenges than a billion-dollar global electrical machinery distributor. 

Solutions that you can customize are even more beneficial.

When products are customer-driven, they are often more “informed” and flexible for you. Lumber is another great example. The process from forest to frame is complicated, involving a journey from the lumber yard, to the distribution center, to the manufacturer. A tech solution with functionality that estimates the cost of this journey as well as flags proper handling of different wood types for weather and durability can save you time and money.

Due to the dynamic times we’re in, solutions that you can customize are even more beneficial. Businesses may need added functionality for curbside delivery, a touchless supply chain, and inventory rationing or they might need flexible conversion options. For instance, one of Epicor’s steel manufacturing customers needed to address the challenge of converting their cost base from the weight of steel to dimensional sizing. They also had to track the adjustment through the supply chain to the final delivery of steel sheets. Having this granularity in tracking costs was critical to driving margins and retaining a competitive edge.

If you’re in the process of searching for technology, here are two things you should look into when it comes to product development and innovation:

  1. Learn how the vendor updates and makes innovations to their product. It’s a good sign if customer feedback weighs heavily in innovation, whether it’s customer advisory boards, user groups, or via product feedback.
  2. Learn how often the vendor makes updates to the technology. If their development shop is agile, frequently adds new functionality, and provides updates tuned into your requirements, those are good signs.

You want a vendor that is committed to continually adding value to your partnership—one that adopts the approach of always-improving to stay in front of industry innovation, and one that brings tailored solutions to you quickly, affordably, and in a way that can be easily consumed by users.

Customer Experience

Finally, look for a technology vendor that provides a superior customer experience. Your relationship doesn’t end when your solution goes live. It’s an ongoing journey built on collaboration that always strives toward a better, more flexible way for you to do business.

Any professional services or support team worth their salt will function as your partner, will be accessible, will welcome open dialogue, and will take care of you by taking care of the product. This level of support helps you focus on running your business instead of the IT department.

Also keep in mind that a vendor with a professional services or support group trained in your industry can make a significant difference, particularly if they serve not just as an implementation team, but as a business advisor on how the product is used within your company. Industry expertise can help ease growing pains and prevent pitfalls.

Bottom line, whichever solution works best for you—on prem or in the cloud—look for a software vendor that treats you as a “universe of one” and provides a flexible, industry-tailored solution to match.  

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