The cloud is a buzzword across many industries and market segments, promising various advantages over traditional, in-house or outsourced server space and general operational efficiencies.

When it comes to enterprise resource planning systems, especially those in the manufacturing and warehousing industries, there are some specific benefits that the cloud can provide over a traditional implementation. It's often simpler and quicker to share information across work sites that aren't located on the same campus – or even the same country. Additionally, business intelligence produced by ERP systems using the cloud can be more easily accessed by employees working remotely or on the road. When implementing cloud-based software​, the company's IT department won't need to be as heavily involved in implementation efforts and associated hardware costs decrease as well.

Some ERP systems, including Microsoft Dynamics NAV, are available for implementation in both traditional and cloud formats, allowing businesses to choose the installation method and operational strategy that works best for them. As Manufacturing Business Technology points out, many businesses aren't switching to cloud-based ERP for specific benefits necessarily, but because their previous system has stopped receiving support from producers and vendors, or the platform is no longer adequate for the growing needs of a given organization.

Consider specific and unique needs
The biggest concern for companies trying to get more out of ERP shouldn't be whether or not the system is based in the cloud, but if the proposed solution improves efficiency, addresses pain points and generally helps an organization function in a better fashion. As ZDNet says, cloud-based systems help reduce the complexity of ERP, driving down employee time commitments and, therefore reducing costs. There are other methods that companies can use to bring the price of ERP down as well, including a modular approach.

Using targeted additions to a strong ERP backbone can specifically enhance functionality without a high overall spend, whether or not a system is based in the cloud. Using components to address needs like better inventory tracking or employee time management can be accomplished with a modular system like Dynamics NAV. Better yet, businesses don't have to pay for additional features that they likely won't use. When it comes to using the cloud, companies should consider whether the specific advantages – better remote data sharing and access, less technological requirements – make sense for them.