“Future-proofing” your business sounds great, but trying to get to the details behind the slogan can be a bit frustrating. What does it actually mean to future-proof a business? The concept is often presented in the context of IT, particularly Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), but the connection between ERP and the future is not always self-evident.  What does future-proofing have to do with ERP software? This article will try to answer the question.

What’s going to happen in your business tomorrow? How about next month? Five years from now? If you’re honest, you probably have little idea of what’s coming in a year or more. As the last six months has shown, it can sometimes even be hard to imagine what the next week will bring.

Future-proofing means building systems that can adapt smoothly to unknown future requirements. This is partly a matter of technology, but it’s also a cultural and organizational issue. People have to handle change. Leaders must know how to execute change management processes as future business needs affect the way things work at a company.

The technological and organizational/human factors have to work together. You can have a team that’s ready to change, but if the software won’t budge, they won’t be able to accomplish the change agenda. Conversely, if the software is easy to change, but the people can’t, you’ll still be stuck.

In our experience, cloud ERP offers the potential for future-proofing. It’s not that legacy ERP can’t do it. The issues are time and expense. Older, on-premises ERP solutions generally cannot adapt quickly or economically enough to flex into future needs. With that in mind, here are 10 ways cloud ERP can future-proof your business:

  1. Handle unknown numbers of users, locations, etc.—cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica let you add or subtract users are needed, without licensing penalties. This takes the pain out of handling unknown usage levels in the future.
  2. Be able to build future workflows—your business processes are going to change, probably sooner than you think. Then, they will change again, and again. Cloud ERP gives you the ability to modify workflow continually in response to changes in the way the business functions.
  3. Be able to implement unknown future operational changes—your company might want to add new lines of business that require ERP support, e.g. logistics or field service. Cloud ERP lets you add new operational modules with relative ease.
  4. Change sales management and marketing practices—over time, your sales and marketing practices will change. For example, you might shift from direct sales to working with channel partners. Cloud ERP lets you adapt and keep the sales process moving forward into the future.
  5. Change IT infrastructure, endpoints, etc.—infrastructure and endpoint devices like smartphones will surely change in the future. Cloud ERP lets you change your underlying IT without affecting how ERP runs.
  6. Change security and compliance practices—security and compliance are not static. IT and security managers are constantly having to modify workflows and data retention practices to enforce new policies. Cloud ERP makes this simple.
  7. Change data architecture and meet evolving BI needs—using data analytics to drive decision making relies on the ability to change the underlying data architecture quickly. Cloud enables this capability.
  8. Change entity structure—if you’re planning on spinning off a subsidiary or opening new corporate entities in multiple states in the future, cloud ERP gives you a streamlined, resource-light way to take these steps.
  9. Be read for future M&A—conversely, if you envision buying companies and integrating them into your entity, cloud ERP can also let you do this without extensive work and hassles.
  10. Adapt to reorganizations—your corporate organization may change shape in the future. ERP has to keep up with changes in division structure and reporting relationships. This can be a big issue in access control, for example, where supervisors have to approve of direct-reports’ access permissions. Cloud ERP has functionality that makes adapting to these future requirements quite manageable.

In today’s hypercompetitive business environment, organizations need to be more adaptive than ever to stay resilient during these challenging times. While organizations have used traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to address these needs, Forrester argues that they are poorly suited to these new demands. Learn more in the Total Economic Impact of Cloud ERP.

The future is unknown, but you will have to adapt to it. That’s a fact. Cloud ERP offers a flexible design and user-friendly change management processes that enables you to future-proof your business. We can help. We have worked with many companies on the implementation of cloud ERP solutions that are set up to change as time goes on.

Additional Resources

Practical Benefits of ERP

What to Look for in an ERP Software

How to Select the Best ERP Solution for Your Organization