4 Ways the Cloud Can Help Distribution Companies

Why does the cloud have so much upside? Because when cloud technology is deployed to its full potential, it can remove the biggest obstacles to productivity at all levels of your business. The right cloud solution can do this in four ways.  

1. Delivering broad and deep functionality 

Companies are doing business in a highly complex environment. Yes, other businesses also must perform accounting functions, deliver cost estimates, manage their work forces, and so on. But companies with distribution operations also need a wide range of specific functionality. This makes sense when you consider that most enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors have to offer specialized versions of their products for distribution, and most distribution software firms don’t sell their products to businesses in other industries.  

The right cloud solution will offer industry-specific features such as: 

  • Inventory 
  • Project Accounting 
  • Order Management 
  • Financials 
  • Fulfillment 
  • BOM and Routing 
  • Estimating 
  • Purchasing 
  • Product Configurator 
  • Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) 
  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP) 

2. Streamlining integration 

While it’s technically possible to create one-to-one integrations for your various applications, you can save a great deal of time and money by working in the cloud. When you choose the right cloud ERP system, that platform will serve as the hub for all your business applications, connecting your software, data services, and equipment. You can use the vendor’s prebuilt integrations to connect most of your apps and systems, and then use your IT budget strategically to build any custom integrations you still need.  

The right cloud ERP solution will offer integrations that can help you:  

  • Streamline order processing from every channel.  
  • View calculated material requirements for order fulfillment and purchasing.  
  • Manage and sign documents digitally.  
  • Streamline document management  
  • Implement warehouse automation.  
  • Support multi-carrier shipping and automate shipping rules.  
  • Automate transportation management and freight fulfillment processes.  
  • Manage human capital and payroll. 

3. Removing your security burden 

Back in the file folder days, data security was a matter of locking your file cabinets and installing an alarm system at your headquarters. When businesses began to adopt digital processes, the security challenge expanded to encompass password protection, virus scanning, malware protection, and so on. In today’s increasingly mobile business environment, cybercriminals have seemingly limitless points at which to attack your network and steal your business data.  

Even considering the serious threats to your systems and data, avoiding mobile technology isn’t an option. To do so would hamstring your competitiveness. But attempting to protect your systems using your own resources could be risky. Most firms don’t employ large IT staffs—and staying ahead of ever-evolving cyber threats requires constant vigilance.  

A good cloud ERP solution will provide you with the highest levels of data security. Think about it: no reputable cloud ERP vendor would skimp on security and risk being put out of business by a serious breach. It’s in your vendor’s best interests to make security a priority—and it’s to your benefit to take advantage of this protection rather than try to build your own. 

4. Making it easier to incorporate emerging technologies 

What’s next on the horizon for the industry? Just about everything you could imagine. The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to take hold in every industry. Businesses are starting to see the value of connecting their equipment to computers—both to gather data that will help them optimize usage and to enable the predictive maintenance that prevents downtime. With IoT technology, virtually every aspect of distribution can be measured and reported upon.  

Cloud ERP software can serve as the hub for collecting and analyzing this information. The right cloud ERP system can help you track and report on the output and status of automated devices such as forklifts, storage and retrieval systems, and truck, air and rail carriers.  

A good cloud ERP system helps you monitor the movement of raw materials worldwide and connect your supply chain performance to your bottom line. 

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About the Author: AJ Amjad Khanmohamed

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