Cloud Software Jargon Buster
Trying to understand the cloud software landscape? Rather than blue skies and clarity, do you feel it’s shrouded in mist-ery?
Let me try and lift the fog for you with this helpful cloud software jargon buster.
What is “the cloud”? How do I know if something is “on the cloud”?
Cloud simply means hosted on someone else’s server and accessed via a web portal or internet link. When you do your online banking – you’re using cloud. When you log into Gmail or Facebook, you’re on the cloud. In software terms, if you are using cloud, you access your system via the internet using a log in and password. The physical data sits on someone else’s server (often in mainland EU or US).
This is a combination of both public and private cloud platforms. Whilst the two operate independently, they can be integrated using software and processes to allow for porting certain data sets from one to the other.
The physical location of the servers owned by your software partner. The data centre is owned and managed by your software provider. It’s where your data physically sits. When you access your software, via the internet, from your desk, you are pulling low bandwidth screen shots from the data centre (cloud) to your computer. The infrastructure is so powerful often that it isn’t bandwidth hungry and you won’t experience latency, regardless of physical distance from the server.
When lots of clients share the same platform (services or application) on the same hardware (server).
Stands for Software as a Service and relates to the cloud based pricing model of charging customers an ongoing annual or monthly subscription fee for use of the software. The fee typically includes the cost of the software, all upgrades (which are automatically published out to users) and use of the data centre (including all associated costs).
Stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It’s a catch all term for the kind of software which fulfills more than one function in your business. For example, it might function as finance and sales software simultaneously. Or it could be manufacturing and product development software. The key is that it is one unified system. Each software element (or module) focuses on a single business function. The most common modules are finance, sales, manufacturing, project management, HR, distribution, stock control and e-commerce (although depending on your type of business you may not have all these requirements). ERP allows you to run a single unified system and is often preferred to the integration of a multiple stand alone systems. Integrations (the pushing and pulling of data between systems) can become messy and are fraught with danger and error.
Stands for Customer Relationship Management. It refers to the part of the software which handles the front office sales, marketing and case management (anything relating to customer management). CRM can be used on its own and doesn’t need to form part of ERP. Biggest benefits are gained when using CRM as part of an ERP system where front and back office functions “talk”. The benefits include streamlining processes, improving interdepartmental communication and removing manual and duplicated effort. CRM can include, tracking conversations with customers, pipeline management, task and phone call management, creating quotes and sales orders, managing commissions, managing marketing campaigns, handling customer complaints and of course, all the reporting which comes out of all the above.
Another acronym which relates to a specific function within ERP. SRP stands for Services Resource Planning and is the part of ERP which handles professional services – projects mostly. The financial components of SRP might vary to encompass things like milestone billing, revenue recognition, project profitability analysis etc. This software will also include things like standard project management, resource management and allocation, time sheet and expense management and customer management.
This one relates to Manufacturing and is the acronym for either Materials Requirement Planning or Manufacturing Resource Planning. This element of the software will help you control inventory levels, create bills of material and anticipate demand for your goods. You can also expect it to feature large doses of supply chain management functionality and things like quality control. MRP will take you from quote and job costing, right through the sales cycle to raising the works order, controlling stock and procurement and managing financials.
Customer Self Service
This is a feature which some cloud software suppliers offer, which allows you to give your customers access to their own portal on your software. Typically they might raise a case, reorder items or pay invoices from their portal. Usually this is free of charge to both you and your customer.
This is a term used for software which sits between between applications and operating systems. The middleware allows you to operate between both platforms and pass data back and forth.
Stands for Service Level Agreement and sets out the particular set of standards you should expect when engaging with your cloud software provider. This can include, guaranteed uptime, certain levels of responsiveness to queries or complaints or certain responsibilities which your provider must adhere to.
Stands for value added reseller. This is a company within a community of software specialists who are authorised to both sell and implement specific software products. Often called value added because they have specific skill sets (such as lots of sector specific experience or the ability to build integrations and middleware) which might make them a better choice when it comes to implementing your chosen software. Your VAR partner can often extend the use of the system beyond that which is out the box by building layers of applications on top of the current platform or by customising non-standard functionality.
Not to be confused with the word co-efficient, Cofficient is an amalgamation of the words “company” and “efficient”. This term is the name given to Scotland’s longest standing NetSuite and SAP Business ByDesign partner. Cofficient is a well-known value added reseller for both these solutions and have been awarded, through SAP’s REX (Recognised Expertise) programme, qualifications for Financial implementations, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare sector experience and SAP ByD implementations.
To talk to someone about how cloud software can make your company more efficient, talk to Cofficient.