There are plenty of articles from vendors of cloud software describing how their solution has lots of whiz bang features that will change your world. This isn’t that article! This is how you should approach transitioning to that new scary cloud system.
I’m going to break it down into 5 areas that are key to success.
- Transformation Strategy
- Business Readiness
- Future State
- Change Management
So addressing each in turn,
This sounds like a complicated undertaking but it is quite simple, you should aim to go with whatever the cloud software delivers in terms of processes / functionality / configurations in terms of accelerators / common business processes etc. Your software vendor and implementer have done this before so they know how far you can go without compromising the cloud software ethos.
For ERP software your approach could be to create an extension to the cloud software so that your current purchase order approval process can be exactly replicated (which is the process customized into your current solution to match the manual process that existed 50 years ago). Going with this approach is going to make the project late and over budget. Step back and think about the bigger picture.
Be prepared for technology limitations that require alternative thinking, bring creative solutions Accepting an interim-state will allow you to move past the blockers and go-live.
Go-live is always difficult, there is never a right time – don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Remember with cloud that changes can be added incrementally as additional functionality is added into the system. You never know, that purchase order approval process you dream of may be possible in the next release!
A key to getting the project completed is to get your best people onto the project. Because these are your best resources they will tend to be busy and embedded into your current way of working. Find a way to release them from their day job and dedicate them to the new project. Empower them and let them make decisions. Be conscious that these staff may do something different once they have been through the project but see that as an opportunity to grow your staff and encourage them to be a part of the journey, they will be the champions of your success across your business.
In summary, make sure your business and users are ready for the new system. There may be some ‘functional disappointments’ but you can counter that the system is new and shiny, it looks modern, it’s easy to use and you can promise that it ‘will only get better’. To make life easier, start by gathering together everything that you do now, you don’t want to find out just after go-live that you have missed something vital because you forgot to include it in the scope.
To help with adoption, gather user stories so that users know what they will be doing once the system goes live. Make sure you don’t totally ignore any missing functionality but capture it and keep for future enhancements. Use the delivered business processes with the system as a starting point for any user documentation. Don’t overly document a cloud solution, remember that it will have regular updates so you don’t want to create a cottage industry to keep all your documentation and screenshots up to date with every release.
You’ve gone live, congratulations! However the worst thing to do is to sit back and relax, go-live is just one of the points on your journey, you now have to embrace the system and carry on enhancing and tweaking the system. You need to get on top of the train of new functionality that will be delivered to the system and decide is this going to be useful to your business or not. If it is, what do you need to do to adopt it? Do you need to retrain anyone? Can this replace any existing systems? Do I have to do it now or can I batch this up into a mini project?
It is better to treat the system as a living evolving entity that will grow and develop over time. Don’t be afraid to hitch a ride and go where it takes you
The lifeblood of your business is data, whatever replaces your current system will need an infusion of clean transformed data to bring it to life. There is no point waiting until you have bought a cloud solution to clean your data, you can do it now. Also be very ruthless in determining what actually needs to move forwards and what may be better to be archived or left behind. The more data you migrate, the higher the costs. Not only in storage or cleansing effort but perhaps in setting up the configuration to reference all those obsolete values or structures from yesteryear. When you are extracting data, use tools to help you, this makes it repeatable and will reduce cutover challenges. Repeat as often as necessary so that you understand all the processes and timings. Reconcile your data with the existing system. All of this will make production data conversion as smooth and automated a process as possible.
So, you have transformed your processes and adopted the standard ones delivered by the vendor. Your data is the minimum for go-live and you are all set. Now’s the hard part, you have to bring the business along as well.
The automation in the new system may mean that the amount a user has to do is reduced or even eliminated, remember that this is probably part of the business case for adopting the new system in the first place but this has to be done sensitively and at the appropriate time. Other users will find their roles changing or expanding so work with your change management team to set these changes in place before go-live. With any new system there will always be those that resist the changes and want to stay where they are, the culture of incremental change needs to be driven from the top to bring people along, ‘yes it is different, no it doesn’t work like the old system, yes we will improve it over time and we would really appreciate your help on the journey’.
You are not alone, plenty of customers have been on the journey to cloud and they will be happy to tell you, warts and all of what they did right (and wrong) on the way.
About Namos Solutions
Namos Solutions are an award-winning Oracle Partner, specialising in the implementation and support of ERP, EPM and HCM business solutions, both in the Cloud and on-premise.
With global experience together with an impeccable track record, our business is built on our passion for delivering successful business transformation. Passion underpins everything we do at Namos – passionate about delivering beyond expectations, earning trust and building long-lasting relationships with our clients.
Although based in central London, we work wherever our clients need us to be. Many leading organisations located all over the world trust and rely on our expertise to deliver industry-leading business solutions. Namos customers can currently be found in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific, North America and Africa.
For more information, please visit www.namossolutions.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.