Why SaaS is the beating heart of your digital transformation

Transitioning your ERP solution is now essential to business success – or even survival

Digital transformation has risen on the agendas of forward-looking organisations over the past decade. In some sectors, where digitally native start-ups have been ‘Uberising’ legacy business models, transformation of customer service and delivery by traditional players has become a matter of survival.

The current troubled economic and operational times are now accentuating the difference between organisations well on the path to digital transformation and those just taking their first steps. According to Forrester analysis, “The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we do business. It has forced firms and policymakers to do things that were previously considered impossible. As a result, business leaders are quickly embracing new, iterative ways to engage with customers, adapting to new ways of working, investing in technology innovation, and revisiting their business resiliency plans for long-term success.”

At the core of your business is your ERP solution. Unfortunately, if it is a legacy on-premise deployment, it will be more difficult to support continuous business innovation because it simply won’t have the flexibility to reduce operational costs, re-engineer outdated processes and enhance customer and employee experience in the digital era. Here are some of the key reasons why SaaS drives digital transformation.

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Tangible financial benefits

When you transition from on premise to SaaS, you immediately free up the servers you were running your solution on. They can then be retired – which removes the costs of housing, powering, cooling, backing up and maintaining this hardware – or reconfigured for other applications, saving capital costs. A SaaS platform also shifts the focus of your team from ‘keeping the lights on’, allowing them to concentrate on new business technology initiatives.

Once your TechnologyOne ERP solution is on a SaaS platform, both the application and the platform are updated twice a year – so you are constantly being served the newest functionality on the latest technology. Traditionally, on-premise ERP solutions are only upgraded every five to ten years, which then makes it a mammoth task, sometimes requiring a whole new re-implementation. Having done it once, IT teams are reluctant to do it again too soon – so, most of the time, their businesses are unable to take up opportunities to improve their operational processes. One example of SaaS ERP innovation is the procure-to-pay process. Its adoption digitises tedious and time-consuming manual processes, removing paper trails and unnecessary data entry with its consequent introduction of errors. With digital automation, your accounts team become ‘knowledge workers’ – freeing up 80 per cent of their time usually spent on data entry and reporting. They can then spend that time analysing data and resolving exceptions instead.

Another very important benefit of SaaS is that your provider is better equipped and has more resources to manage security aspects of your ERP solution – keeping ahead of the curve and updating your ERP solution to meet all the latest regulatory and compliance requirements.

Intangible financial benefits

Apart from eliminating the cost and human effort involved in upgrading your on-premise ERP solution, there are other advantages of a continuously evolving SaaS platform. It enables your organisation to be more agile, flexible and responsive, through a continuous optimisation process that will allow your staff to take advantage of the latest advances in capability to become knowledge workers and therefore, better serve your internal and external stakeholders.

Twice a year, the TechnologyOne SaaS platform offers new opportunities to create efficiencies, streamline workflows and generate innovation through the adoption of new capabilities. Effectively, these releases provide a mechanism to alter an organisation’s mindset – teaching people that they can work together to improve the way they operate to deliver on an ongoing basis.

Process improvement

With this refocus of internal resources comes the potential for additional value. Your people will begin examining just how the organisation functions through its processes and workflows. With time, they will be able to identify cohorts of costs they can alleviate in different areas of your business through the adoption new SaaS functionality.

Much as a new smartphone upgrade gives you a list of new features and functionality, your SaaS ERP solution delivers traditional release notes and online discovery itemising new opportunities to improve your processes – so your staff can decide whether they are applicable and when to start adopting these features.

Real-time business insights

Reporting, which previously took considerable time in reconciling multiple reports and massaging spreadsheets, now appears automatically via real-time dashboards. Apart from giving management an up-to-the-minute picture of how the business is tracking, it enables agile decision-making based on trusted data which can make a real difference to profitability. Reporting becomes self-service, with easy-to-configure dashboards displaying real-time progress against the KPIs each employee really needs ‘at a glance’ on a daily basis.

Employee engagement

Typically, traditional ERP systems are not liked by internal users. They are seen as inflexible and unwieldy,  with unfriendly interfaces and unable to produce up-to-date data how and when it is needed.  On a modern SaaS platform, the ‘ERP user experience’ now mimics the usability features and ways of working we’ve grown used to with mobile apps and online consumer services. Just one example is using shopping cart-like functionality for purchasing requisitions.

With a SaaS implementation you are stripping out the complexities – enabling your ERP solution to become your baseline platform for digital transformation. Then this transformation, along with a new organisational mindset, becomes a never-ending journey toward improvement.

Customer service

We are all now accustomed to interacting and consuming via mobile apps – which are contextualised to our specific circumstances and relationship with an organisation, as well as readily available and intuitive to use. As a society, we have become increasingly less willing to call a contact centre or even send an email; we prefer a self-service option (whenever it’s available) so we can get in, perform our transaction, then get out.

This is one of the most important reasons for transitioning your ERP solution to SaaS. It opens up previously unimaginable opportunities to better service your stakeholders – from enabling your employees to apply for leave to allowing your customers to pay a bill or submit an application. All from an app on their mobile phone, automatically personalised and contextualised to their specific needs. Essentially, ERP on a SaaS platform should provide mechanisms to externalises the relevant data and processes you hold so your customers can access it in a secure manner; without a SaaS platform, this is extremely difficult and complex to achieve.

This is the reason that the Big Four banks have been ripping out their legacy mainframe core banking applications, built over decades. These custom-built, tightly coupled applications simply couldn’t enable them to react quickly to compete with Fintech in the financial industry.

In this way, true digital transformation becomes a reality – by drawing on the data your ERP solution holds and the operational processes it supports. The only effective way to enable this great leap forward in delivering personalised customer experience is through the adoption of an open and agile SaaS platform.

The need for digital transformation in order to survive has become an imperative no local government can avoid any longer.

Where to start

Our ERP customers are constantly surprised at how fast and easy it can be to move from their on-premise solution to SaaS. We have built the expert resources, documentation and methodologies to successfully make the transition – including ways to prepare your legacy ERP solution, to the internal processes you will need and guidance on conducting user acceptance testing (UAT) before you ‘go live’.  Having performed nearly 500 ERP transitions, we have developed a track record for success across a wide range of industry sectors.

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Ready to learn more?

To take advantage of the opportunities SaaS ERP can offer, complete the form to speak to a SaaS transition expert.