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Time to embrace the cloud?

By Jessica Heald on Mon 24 May 2021 in Cloud

Time to embrace the cloud?

Still using archaic, on-premise systems like Sage and Pegasus? In this blog, we dive into the top 5 pain points for businesses using them, and explain how Wholesalers, Distributors & Manufacturers can achieve growth by moving away from “locked-in” on-premise systems to “best-of-breed” cloud apps.

In no particular order, let us step you through the top 5 most cited pain points by businesses using on-premise accounting systems, and explain how cloud-based software mitigates these challenges.

#1 Migration to Cloud

Cloud is available everywhere, freeing you up so you can work in the office, out on the road, or remotely from home. After being plunged into lockdown after lockdown, remote working has become essential. And it’s safe to say, a WFH approach is here to stay. With cloud apps, gone are the days of being tied to your office PC or relying on remote accessing an always-on machine – Sales reps can be on the road, visiting clients, whilst feeling reassured that any new orders, customer activity and quotes are visible to the rest of the team.

A huge drawback of on-premise systems is how costly they are (not just up-front, but how the expense mounts up as time goes on). Maintaining archaic systems is like restoring an old car – it’s costly to run, and when something breaks, it’s a money pit. But pricing structures for cloud software couldn’t be more different. It’s typically subscription-based, meaning you’re not tied into contracts for years on end, and updates to the software are regular (for example, we release a new version of Prospect CRM every 3 weeks – no manual upgrades required…the customer just automatically gets the new functionality as if by magic). Plus, cloud solutions tend to cover you for all the maintenance of servers, and with software like Prospect, you’re getting best-of-breed security with the likes of AWS and Microsoft Azure too (there’s more chance of your server being destroyed in the office than you breaking into one of their datacentres!).

And the cloud just keeps on giving. When you subscribe to cloud software, you’re not just buying into the system as it stands today, right now – you’re investing in a continually evolving system. As a business that’s constantly changing, your system needs to adapt and grow with you – not hold you back.

Many SaaS vendors (like us) want the customer’s say in how the software evolves. After all – the people using it day in, day out really matter. So it’s not unusual to see software companies shape their product roadmap around direct feedback and suggestions from the very people who are using the software. Because of this feedback loop, users are part of a community where their opinion actually matters and has a direct result on what features make it in the next release. The same certainly can’t be said for on-premise software (costly, manual, infrequent upgrades).

#2 Connectivity Between Apps

Buying a single solution may seem appealing – why get several apps if just one “does it all”? On the face of it, it sounds like way less hassle…fewer systems to get your head around. But truth is, although they might claim do lots of things (a bit of sales & marketing/CRM, a bit of accounting, a bit of inventory management) – they won’t do any of them very well. Why? They don’t have a function of focus. They’re trying do everything, but fail to execute anything brilliantly, or even averagely. By subscribing to best-of-breed apps, you’re buying into systems that focus their functionality 100% on one thing. And, when you integrate these best-of-breed, “not-trying-to-be-everything” systems, the result is even better. By having them link up and speak to each other, your team get much better clarity on data, because they literally feed into each other in real-time. This makes information clear, easy to view, available from anywhere, and most importantly – accurate. 

Nowadays, it’s super straightforward to connect cloud apps. For example, connecting Prospect CRM to a cloud-based inventory or accounting system takes minutes. You just grab the authentication keys, paste them into Prospect, and away you go. Done. No installation on PCs, licenses etc. 

Once integrated, true best-of-breed apps should enable you to work between the systems too. That means no logging in and out, just simply switch between tabs, and even open records from one system to see that information passed into the other. 

On-premise integration is really difficult to build and even trickier to maintain, but cloud APIs are a game-changer. They tend to offer dozens, if not hundreds of click-and-connect apps via an app store, meaning more flexibility to choose software that’s a good fit for your type of business. 

#3 Lack of Clarity on Stock Availability

As a product-based business, you need clarity on what’s on hand, incoming, outgoing and what you need to reorder and resupply. Best-of-breed inventory systems like Unleashed are built to serve up this info in a user-friendly format to your Ops team, and when integrated to a best-of-breed cloud CRM like Prospect, info that really matters to customer-facing staff becomes available to them too. Sales teams can see what’s in stock in the warehouses, what the pricing is and what’s due on purchase and when.

And as an MD or COO, you should have complete visibility of key stock trends and top-level insights, like what the current risks are, where there are any bottlenecks and average age of stock based on its value, so you know exactly how to prioritise and what to action first.

#4 Stalls Growth Plans

We’ve already touched on how on-premise solutions don’t adapt well with businesses as they grow…but there are a plenty of other stark, fundamental differences that illustrate just how different cloud is to on-premise and how that impacts your business growth. 

On-premise systems are geographically focused (for example, Sage 50 is a UK product, Pegasus is sold in UK and Ireland – not globally). Functionally, they’re very broad. Think of it this way – in order to support R&D and keep their own business going, they have to offer a horizontal solution with a more generic feature-set that can cater for lots of business types and lots of use cases. 

Unsurprisingly, cloud software is the total opposite. By its very nature, it’s geographically broad – it’s available anywhere. So functionally, it can be much more focused. Efficiency is taken as a given, and instead, they deliver on business growth and choose to serve a niche. 

COVID-19 made 2020 an extremely challenging year for businesses globally, decimating SMEs, hospitality, and even the big household names. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, as quoted by the BBC, GDP in the UK shrank by an eye-watering 9.9%. Xero’s Pandemic Insights Report also highlighted that at peak, small business revenues fell by 27% in the UK. 

 

 

Yet many businesses who adopted cloud software didn’t just survive – they thrived. 

OK, who are these businesses? How did they do it? 

Clearly, thriving in a pandemic isn’t just down to cloud software – it’s about the people steering the business through it, the product they sell, and many other internal and external factors. But to put a stat to our claim, if you take all Prospect CRM customers (and exclude any Start-ups who had infinite growth), the average growth rate tax year 2020-21 compared to tax year 2019-20 for businesses who implemented Prospect between March and July 2020 (i.e. in the very peak of the first UK lockdown) saw a 38% growth. Let that sink in – whilst the UK economy was in tatters, product businesses using Prospect experienced actual growth, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic. 

#5 User Adoption

Fed up with searching for answers on lengthy, outdated forums? Help guides and videos created by the likes of Pegasus and Sage 50 are arguably as clunky and hard to navigate as their software. With cloud apps, you’ll likely find they have plenty of easy-to-follow online resources, like guides, videos, and even an Academy or hub to learn, as well as a managed onboarding process. “Managed” in that they’ll support you, step by step, in getting set up properly and critically getting value from the system, and “process” in that it’s a tried and tested plan that’s been carefully considered based on experience and customer feedback, not randomly cobbled together. 

Whether it be a single point of contact or an Onboarding/Customer Success team approach, they’ll be au fait with setting up videocalls and screenshares to make the experience super easy and smooth. And more often than not, you can expect them to give you a rough timescale for the onboarding process, as well as a visual map of what to expect.

Need more convincing? Here’s a what James Turton, Operations Director at Evolution Packaging Products Ltd, has to say about their motivations for moving away from Pegasus, and how cloud apps revolutionised their business: 

We moved away from Pegasus to Unleashed, Xero, and Prospect because Pegasus did (not quite) everything, not particularly well. Moving to software which specialises in their area and their area alone made a lot more sense, especially as they all link up well. 

Since moving to integrated cloud apps we’ve seen an increase in efficiency, and probably more importantly during the last 12 months, the software has enabled us to be a lot more agile. We were able to change the number of users, modules, etc. depending on who was on furlough and what areas of the business we needed to shut down for a short period of time. 

Unleashed, Xero & Prospect CRM has meant it doesn't matter where in the world our staff are working, they can all access the same information at the same time.”


Fed up with your generic, on-premise systems. Looking to move to the cloud, without losing any important data?

> Prospect CRM is the #1 Stock-Aware CRM for Wholesalers, Distributors & Manufacturers who sell products B2B

> Unleashed is also designed for Wholesalers, Distributors & Manufacturers, and is 100% focused on Inventory Management

> Both Prospect CRM & Unleashed have tight integration to Xero – rated the best accounting system for SMEs

Take a Free Trial of Prospect CRM and integrate it to Xero, Unleashed, or any of our other Inventory App Partners to gain a real-time, 100% free analysis on how to increase retention, drive upsell and reactivate churning customers through our RFM insights – here’s just a quick taster of what you can expect