ERP platform upgrades are an inevitability; an Azure-based solution just gives companies more flexibility in how they account for them.

This blog post is part 2 of a 3 part blog series. Read The Next Generation of ERP (Part 1): Microsoft Dynamics 365 to learn why your business needs a more up-to-date ERP.

Microsoft supports this agility through what we call “sealing the application. ” When a client customizes their platform, their new code is an extension to the core code, as opposed to overlaying the core code. In this new approach, customizations are preserved after updates to the core, with end API connections ensuring the unique elements still work automatically. Combine that capability with considerable no-code customization options in Microsoft PowerApps like Power BI, and you’ve made platform updates a problem of the past.

In addition, Dynamics 365, as well as other complimentary Microsoft systems, allow for approved updates—meaning many upgrades can still be tested by a company before they are pushed out to the core. Now, internal stakeholders can work in a controlled upgraded environment to evaluate foundational updates and protect against any damaging ripple effects. Control over updates still lies with the customer—it’s just the effort that rolls to the vendor.

Even if upgrades can be more complicated for companies leaning heavily into platform customizations, this is not an issue isolated to cloud-based systems—an on-premises solution would be equally susceptible to such problems. A SaaS tool’s client-managed update testing, however, can provide an earlier warning of potential misalignments. On-premises or otherwise, ERP platform upgrades are an inevitability, but a cloud solution gives companies more flexibility in how they account for them.

Remember that complication-causing updates are not without purpose. If an upgrade conflicts with existing internal processes, it’s possible that those processes no longer align to industry best practices and should be assessed. Foundational updates should be viewed as opportunities to evaluate your company’s methodology against the competition. After all, Dynamics 365 is more than just an ERP—it’s a continually optimized set of per-industry benchmarks that gives companies the tools to make smarter decisions.

That directly translates to a safer and smoother client-side system, especially when accounting for significant changes in global regulation like GDPR. Avoiding platform updates keeps those benefits at arm’s length. But migrating to a cloud-based solution makes solving the update problem a whole lot easier.

Reduced IT dependence and total cost of ownership

An obvious benefit to the cloud model is the boost in business performance gained through more efficient platform updates. The cloud brings improved best-practice data, innovative technological capabilities, and a more secure system. But using a SaaS tool can have a major impact on a company’s bottom line, as well— and those savings usually come through IT.

Simply put, running an ERP out of the cloud usually takes less time. With so many technical responsibilities now resting with the vendor, as opposed to the customer, internal IT teams have far fewer tasks to worry about when it comes to maintaining the system. Managing the platform update process is just one piece of the pie; tasks like hardware upkeep and product support represent critical time drains on even well-performing IT structures.

A phased approach can provide a smoother transition and ease cost burdens; it just requires smart planning and a clear set of end objectives. While expenses may spike during a phased analysis, the end savings and ROI of choosing a cloud ERP implementation should be crucial long-term considerations.

Cloud solutions don’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. Microsoft’s broad offering divides into three camps—software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Dynamics 365 is a true SaaS solution, operating as a browser-based ERP. Our power platform—filled with apps like Power BI and Flow—functions as a PaaS tool. And our cloud solution, Azure, is the IaaS. In tandem, these three categories provide a full-stack cloud ERP model for companies ready to embrace digital transformation. They just don’t have to be tackled all at once, giving businesses the opportunity to implement phased solutions when they’re ready.

That support extends beyond just patches and bug fixes. In SaaS tools like Dynamics 365, online support is frequently built into the platform itself, providing the kind of vendor proximity businesses need to run at peak efficiency. Such functionality is less common in on-premises platforms. The reduced dependence on internal IT teams, then, is more of a transition to a relationship-based model between vendor and customer— freeing up multiple internal departments to focus on business results. And with so many technological tools available in our cloud ERP, those business results have never been closer at hand.

Stay tuned for part three of this blog series next week.

To learn more, download our presentation, Running Your Business in the Microsoft Cloud – The Value of Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations.