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Unexpected Benefit – Cloud ERP Users Can Now Leverage the Virtual Office

By T. Lee Wylie

I was recently talking with a CIO who is in the process of evaluating a new Cloud-based ERP package. In his process of group meetings with all the stakeholders in the ERP decision, the head of production control posed a question that was not considered in their original requirements documents. He stated they had several openings for purchase agents and were having difficulty filling them with qualified individuals. They did interview several superb people that, ultimately, decided not to take the position because it involved relocating their families to an area that had a much higher cost of living. The production control manager asked if their new Cloud ERP would make it possible to use professionals in remote locations.

Their conclusion was that an individual located in a remote office, or home, would have all the same tools operating at the same efficiency as someone located in the company office with their new system. As a result of that conversation, several other departments, including finance, are now also considering the flexibility their new Cloud- based system would provide.

Such Flexibility “Old Hat” to Cloud ERP Systems

Cloud ERP has been providing the ability to share information with others on a remote basis for some time. In fact, it is one of the reasons that Unionwear, a manufacturer and embroiderer of headwear, bags, accessories, workwear and safety gear in Newark, New Jersey, selected Cloud ERP. Whether a customer, partner or employee, everyone can be connected and on the same page.

“Unionwear manufacturers completely customized products and we needed a cloud-based solution that will allow our textile and promotional clients to design accessories online, get real-time costing and stage opportunities that we flow directly into planning, procurement and production,” said Unionwear President Mitch Cahn. “The automation provided by Rootstock makes small batch manufacturing a more fluid, profitable experience for both us and our clients.”

“Companies around the world are looking to transform into customer companies,” said Ron Huddleston, senior vice president, ISV & Channel, salesforce.com. “And partners such as Rootstock are leveraging the power of the Salesforce Platform to help customers like Unionwear connect with their customers, partners and employees in entirely new ways.”

Communicating with the Virtual Office

The virtual office trend has been gaining momentum since the late 1990’s. Last year, the Wall Street Journal’s Neil Shah wrote a piece titled “More Americans Working Remotely.” According to Census Bureau data, in 1997, there were 9.2 million people working at least one day a week from home. By 2010, that had grown to 13.4 million or a 46 percent increase. It was interesting to note that the group with the lowest increase was production, transportation and material individuals with only a 21.8 percent increase. I suspect that legacy ERP and other enterprise systems were a significant factor in this statistic.

There is still a great deal of debate on the merits of the remote employee. Some organizations find the productivity of remote employee much higher than those in the company office. Others find the opposite. What is clear is that the new ERP Cloud systems give companies the flexibility to hire folks in any location. That’s something the on-premise legacy systems cannot provide.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: T. Lee Wylie, Executive in Residence at Maker Capital LLC, brings his 35 years of leadership in information technology and manufacturing with General Motors, IBM and Gartner Group to the Rootstock Advisory Committee. As Director of CIM at Gartner Group, Wylie created the concept of ERP to describe the evolution of MRP into next generation business systems.

PHOTO: A downloadable high resolution photo of Wylie is available at http://www.brighamscully.com/photos/root/LeeWylie_4340_8xHI.jpg.

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