Cloud Based ERP for Manufacturing: Quick Overview

By Kenneth Gibson | July 14, 2022
12 min reading time

Since the start of the pandemic cloud ERP vendors have seen a surge in demand for their products and services in the United States and elsewhere. This is especially true for cloud ERP software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.  

Platforms for cloud based ERP for manufacturing, such as Business Central, can provide manufacturers with the flexibility and scalability they need to adapt to an ever-changing business landscape. 

If you're looking for a cloud based ERP for manufacturing, you may be wondering if Microsoft Dynamics is the right choice for you.  

In this blog post, we will explain in-depth at what Microsoft Dynamics Business Central ERP software is, how the cloud based platform for Business Central works, and how it can help your business grow. We'll cover the most recent history of ERP software and its transition to the cloud and compare Microsoft Dynamics Business Central to other popular ERP software solutions on the market today.

So, if you're considering making the switch to Microsoft Dynamics, keep reading! 

If you enjoy this article and would like to talk to Sabre Limited’s president Rob Jolliffe to chat about these concepts, you can book a one-on-one 30-minute call with him at https://calendly.com/robert-jolliffe   

The Secret of Cloud Based ERP Software 

This time last year on the Sabre Limited blog we wrote about the “dirty secret” in the cloud ERP world: that most of the big systems are cloud and subscription-based but they are year to year licenses. 

Microsoft's Business Central is one of the first cloud based ERP systems that fully supports manufacturing processes and is truly based on month-to-month or annual subscription. It has Microsoft Dynamics cloud as its infrastructure. This move represents the company's commitment to the cloud.  

Microsoft Business Central is now the best choice for small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses. With its pricing model, it's much more affordable than before when other ERP systems had a six-figure price tag just to get started! 

With its comprehensive features and Microsoft's reputation for reliability, Business Central is poised to become the leading choice of cloud based ERP for manufacturing companies.  

If you are a smaller manufacturing company in the United States needing an ERP, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is an easy way to get started. With just a credit card you can open a single user account and start using it today for just $100 USD month to month. 

Understanding the Microsoft Dynamics Cloud for Manufacturing Companies 

For manufacturers, cloud ERP is a new and different way of handling enterprise resource planning. ERP is a notoriously complex process, and cloud based ERP for manufacturing represents a major shift in how manufacturers approach it. To understand a little of why cloud ERP is so different it helps to look back at previous technology and the path that has led to this time. 

Cloud Based ERP for Manufacturing
Microsoft Dynamics Cloud futuristic graphic interface.

The History of Cloud Based ERP for Manufacturing

In the past, businesses would have to buy and support their own hardware and ERP software, which was costly and time-consuming. Let’s consider how the Great Recession impacted ERP. 

There was a huge refresh of ERP systems from 1998 to 2001 as part of Y2K upgrades. Most businesses replace their ERP systems every 10 to 12 years, so you would have likely expected another refresh around 2008-2009. However, the Great Recession put a damper on this, and a lot of businesses didn't replace their ERP systems at that time.

In the United States and elsewhere, many companies decided to do a minor upgrade only, rather than replace the whole system during the Great Recession. As the 2010s moved on, more companies began to move to Microsoft Dynamics cloud products. These products, such as AX and CRM, were offered as Software as a Service models. Not everyone got on board with these new developments, however.

Many businesses are now facing the consequences of not upgrading their ERP system during the Great Recession, with many running old technology that is ill-suited for remote work. Financial management is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business.

Client/Server: A brief historical overview

The predominant technology for ERP in the late '90s through to the late '00s was called Client/Server. Each client (each desktop or laptop computer on the system) did a lot of the work and analysis, while the server mainly just stored information. The server is basically a "dumb" server, meaning it doesn't do much work. If your laptops and desktops are not upgraded, any new ERP upgrade will negatively impact performance.

Prior to the move into the Microsoft Dynamics cloud, most Dynamics products were Client/Server. 

In a Client/Server environment, two computers need to be directly connected to each other. This is because the client is sending and receiving a lot of data to the server. If they were not directly connected, it would be too slow because the data would have to go across a Wide Area Network (WAN) which is generally very slow. You may have seen those blue wires running into walls and across the ceiling in large offices. That’s what those wires are for.

You can use Client/Server software on a "Terminal" server when we want to use it remotely. This is usually done when staff can't be at the office. It's not very efficient and has a lot of drawbacks, but in 1999 it was much better than the alternative. 

An on premise server is a computer that stores data and applications on the factory premises, while a remote server is a computer located off site.

Business Central Premium vs Essential for the Manufacturing Company
Cloud Based ERP for Manufacturing Company

The Cloud: What is it, exactly?

Since about 2012, the Cloud has been the most popular technology for new ERP systems. No one is working on cutting-edge Client/Server ERP systems anymore. Microsoft products that don't move to the Dynamics cloud will stay as Client/Server systems, but are becoming obsolete.

Cloud doesn't mean the server is hidden in the alps somewhere, and you are connecting via Elon Musk's secret satellites.  It just means the server does all the computations and calculations, and the clients are "dumb terminals."

Technically, a server can be cloud and still at your office.  It’s the fact that the end computers access it as if they were “dumb terminals” that make it cloud technology. We’ll cover this in a separate article. 

This might sound familiar to you! In the 1980s, many ERP systems were designed to run on dumb terminals. The server would do all the work. However, as we started buying cheaper and more common "smart" desktop computers, it made more sense to move calculations off the expensive server and onto the individual desktops.  

Client/Server technology was created because as desktop computers became popular they became less expensive and could do more,. It made sense to use their hardware for more calculations and rely less on servers. The servers also got cheaper but became dumber. Thus, we arrived at Client/Server where the client computer does the “thinking” and the server is just “memory”. This is basically a Smart Terminal and Dumb Server.

Cloud technology eliminates the need for a "Terminal" server. This is good because it means that you are printing, cutting, pasting, saving to your local device, so all those operations are much easier.

It is much easier to work with a cloud ERP for manufacturing and move data back and forth from Outlook or Word or Excel into and out of it. Cloud ERP is designed to run on any kind of modern computer, even a MacBook or Google Chromebook. Cloud ERP is a type of ERP software that is delivered via the cloud, instead of being installed on a company's own servers.

Microsoft Dynamics Cloud is Dynamics 365 

Microsoft is a big leader in Cloud ERP today. Microsoft's Office 365 is the standard for cloud email and storage. Microsoft has transitioned from a classic computer software business to a cloud services business with a significant focus on customer service. If you're a manufacturing company, then you know how important customer service is. It’s a remarkable transformation, Microsoft was behind Google and Amazon in the cloud industry a decade ago but has become a leader in recent years. 

Microsoft Dynamics made the transition to the cloud ERP by moving their customer relationship management CRM platform first, which was already web-based and easy to move to the cloud. There's no doubt that customer relationship management CRM is important for any manufacturing business processes. Microsoft had four ERP systems to choose from, and they migrated their AX (big enterprise) product to the Microsoft Dynamics cloud-first. From the other three products Microsoft needed to choose at least one as their Small Business ERP. 

Microsoft rebranded their Dynamics NAV product, the most cloud-ready of the three remaining products, as Dynamics 365 Business Central in April of 2018. This became Microsoft's official cloud ERP platform.

Business Central is an Entire Platform for Cloud Based ERP for Manufacturing

One of the most important characteristics about cloud computing is that it's not just a product, but rather an entire platform. An iPhone fits this paradigm beautifully because what made iPhones so successful wasn't their quality or features—it was the easy access to a variety of apps created by third-party developers! That system which makes creating apps easy allows us access to more than we could ever hope to use. 

Microsoft's goal is for developers and businesses around the world to create an ecosystem of add ons that can enhance their experience with Microsoft Dynamics, including add-ons for cloud ERP. That way, someone is always trying to improve the apps on the platform. Developers will create apps for the Microsoft Dynamics cloud to make money. This will make the platform more popular, which will in turn attract more developers. It is a cycle of growth and prosperity that is emblematic of capitalism at its finest. There is a suite of powerful tools for business intelligence.

Microsoft has made it free for businesses to develop apps for their Dynamics cloud products. They provide high-quality training materials to help developers create apps for Business Central. If your business wants to write an app for Business Central, you can do it today without purchasing a license. 

This has created a product that has many that has begun to grow dramatically in the feature choices available. More and more businesses need ERP consultants to help them choose the right apps. 

Cloud-based ERP systems are also great for supply chain management, any manufacturing process and inventory control. There are many supply chain management software options on the market, but ERP software is essential for any business that wants to be efficient and competitive. A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer using customer relationship management CRM software. Supply chain management (SCM) is the supervision of this system. Other types of cloud based ERP platforms include rootstock cloud ERP.

Conclusion: Getting Started with Cloud Based ERP for Manufacturing

A typical manufacturing enterprise produces a large number of purchase orders each month. Cloud manufacturing software can help your business in a number of ways. If you're like many manufacturers, you've been pleasantly surprised by the increased productivity of your employees who are working from home. When it comes to ERP software for manufacturing companies, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

As more and more businesses move to remote or hybrid work models, the need for robust and reliable cloud based ERP for manufacturing increases. Microsoft Dynamics cloud and Business Central are two tools that can help support employees working remotely or from home. The deployment options for today's manufacturing ERP software solutions are quite varied.

As the world grows more connected, the need for innovative manufacturing solutions increases. Cloud manufacturing ERP software provides a versatile and cost-effective option for businesses of all sizes.

ERP software is essential for supply chain management. For manufacturing companies, financial management is a top priority as well. The financial management department is in charge of making sure that there are enough funds to cover the costs of the raw materials. ERP allows for something almost like artificial intelligence in the way it can automatically produce orders and reports to tell a company how to take care of its business needs.

Fortunately, there are now a number of manufacturing ERP software solutions available that can help managers to gain greater control over their operation.

With cloud based ERP for manufacturing, you can provide your employees with the same level of access to information and data that they would have if they were in the office. And because cloud based ERP for manufacturing is flexible and scalable, you can easily adjust your system to accommodate changes in your business.  

Are you looking for a cloud based ERP for manufacturing? If you are looking for a reliable and versatile cloud based ERP for manufacturing solution, Microsoft Dynamics may be the perfect choice for your business.  

We’d be happy to discuss your specific needs and requirements for cloud based ERP for manufacturing and provide you with a custom demo.

Need Some Help? 

Sabre's unique approach to training and implementing is recognized widely as the leading Business Central Manufacturing Partner in North America. We've helped several companies start their own programs, adding value for each of our client’s needs with customized services that fit seamlessly into any environment. Reach out today if you're interested! 

If you need help with a Dynamics 365 Manufacturing systems choice, give us a call at: (519) 585-7524 x.45 or contact our team, we're excited to talk with you soon! And check out our social media accounts.

Have you tried using Dynamics or Business Central to support your remote or hybrid team? Let us know how it went in the comments! 

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