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A walk through the integrated Cloud

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Neural Integrated Systems has attained better control over its business process through an open source, Cloud-based ERP solution By KTP Radhika

No doubt, Cloud computing brings great benefits such as affordability, scalability and manageability for businesses, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). And that’s one truism Mumbai-based Neural Integrated Systems had in mind while choosing ERPNext, a Cloud-based enterprise resource planning solution from WebNotes Technologies for their business.

Started in 2003, Neural is into the business of providing various customised electronic security and automation systems. The company imports, designs and integrates security solutions such as access control systems, CCTVs, various alarms, RFIDs, biometric solutions, etc. In the initial days of the business, Neural was using Tally solutions to run all its business processes. However, as the business started growing, it became a herculean task for the company to manage and control the business sans an ERP solution.

In 2008, the management of Neural decided to go for Sage Accpac ERP solution. Tarun Gupta, Director Operations, Neural Integrated Systems said, Till 2008, our business was less than Rs one crore, but then it started growing fast. Without an ERP solution, we found it difficult to manage the business.However, Sage’s solution did not solve their problem completely. Further, support for the Sage solution was very poor and the company was heavily dependent on the vendor. In addition, there were no updates on time. We chose a particular package and were stuck with it. We also faced a lot of challenges in doing accounts, especially at the end of the year,added Gupta. Non-compliance to set processes was another issue for the company. Neural also faced difficulty in tracking sales and purchase cycles timely. Accpac was an on-premise solution. So, Neural faced problems regarding mobility. We needed to be inside office at all times to work on ERP,he said.

The solution
The company started to look out for alternative solutions that would meet its requirements in the country. After conducting market research, ERPNext was chosen as a viable option for Neural. ERPNext is a Software as Service (SaaS)-based ERP solution that is built on open source technologies such as Python, MySQL, Apache HTTP server etc. The first thing that attracted us to ERPNext was that it was open source. It suited our midsized business, and gave us complete freedom to customise the solution according to our needs,opined Gupta.

Echoing Gupta’s opinion Rushabh Mehta, Founder, WebNotes Technologies believed that the future belongs to open source solutions. He said, “For SMB companies, open source solutions on SaaS have huge benefits. With open source model, customers are not locked to any vendor. They can move from one vendor to another or host it by themselves whenever they wish.

The company implemented ERPNext in April 2012. Another factor that prompted Neural to choose ERPNext was the hosted model. According to Gupta, the Cloud-based solution was apt for their budget as the company did not want to invest in hardware such as servers, which an on-premise solution otherwise will demand.

Benefits derived
Typically, an on-premise ERP system can take months for implementation. But the hosted model took only eight days for complete implementation and data transferring. Neural was able to start using the solution and get adapted to it much faster. After shifting to ERPNext, the overall business process has simplified a lot and we are now able to focus more on growth. The user interface is extremely good and also users are able to contact the vendor directly for support,said Gupta. With the new solution in place, the company is also able to track all its sales anytime, anywhere.

Another key benefit was scalability. The hosed model provided much more scalability for Neural’s growing needs. It also offered mobility for users. As the number of users is not limited in a Cloud-based solution, we could increase the number of users with the ERPNext whenever our business demanded. Also, since it is a web-based solution, we can now work from anywhere anytime, even on tablets and smartphones,said Gupta. Cost effectiveness and space savings were other advantages for the company. With the hosted model, we do not need to invest in huge servers and other peripherals. Apart from cost, it also saved office space for us,explained Gupta.

The company is also receiving regular upgrades and updates from the vendor. ERPNext is under continuous development. Every month, we are seeing new improvements, reports and updates for the solution,said Gupta. Neural is now waiting for getting its first financial results published using their new ERP solution. Also, the company has some future plans on their IT front. Our business is continuously growing and we should implement more modern IT tools to support the growth. In future, we will implement analytic solution and alerts for our business,Gupta summed up.

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