No two transitions are alike, so it’s important to focus on your own opportunities and challenges, rather than comparing your situation to what happened with another company. It’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of various types of Cloud computing (public, private, and hybrid), and then strategically make decisions about what to house, where. It’s crucial to educate your leadership team and get buy-in for the transition so they can champion the transition’s benefits.
Here are a few more details. Until recently, the size of a company, its industry, and the business need for moving from Capex to Opex drove the approach in regards to moving ERP applications to the Cloud. Customers who implemented this at a business-unit level were quicker to adopt the Cloud, as did customers who did not need their ERP to have deep vertical functionality, primarily using it at a manufacturing or payroll level. Large enterprise customers have traditionally/initially used a hybrid Cloud to prove internally that the Cloud could work for their business before expanding to a more transformational model.
In general, when you transition your enterprise resource planning applications to the Cloud, your company has ready access to a broad suite of business tools, which provides for a more streamlined IT environment. This, in turn, boosts your business’s efficiency and facilitates innovation. Applications housed in the Cloud can be more efficiently integrated, with quicker time to market for products and services. You can embed business intelligence and enrich social capabilities, with the Cloud delivering measurable results.
This transition allows companies to move away from large transformation implementations and upgrades, also removing capital expenses at the hardware, technology, and support levels. This move allows them to focus on their core businesses without needing business analysts and large IT staffs to support their ERP. For IT professionals, this move reduces their need to support, patch, and administer overly complex and often heavily modified ERPs. The ownership of performance, security, tuning, globalization, translation, and so forth now falls on the software provider. Because Cloud ERP is not customizable—rather, it’s extensible—upgrades and updates happen much faster and more cheaply.
Having a rock-solid, experienced, and professional transition team is vital. Careful planning is also crucial, which includes communicating the process clearly throughout the organization in job-specific ways, implementing change management strategies from the start, and more. It’s also important to back up all data, ensure high levels of security, divide the transition in stages that make sense for your company, test assumptions, and implement in phases. It’s also important to continue to clearly communicate and adjust the timeline as needed.
Here’s something else to consider. The initial implementation is not what’s genuinely impactful to the operations teams. Rather, it is the ongoing change of Cloud. In the traditional world of on-premise, patching schedules and upgrades could be controlled and scheduled when the business wanted them. In Cloud, you are always on the latest release and your upgrades happen several times a year. Therefore, what can minimize the impacts are more around the ongoing training, testing, and organizational change management.
The biggest mistake may be seeing this implementation as a one-and-done process, without investing significantly enough in ongoing change management. Yes, the benefits of moving ERP to the Cloud can be enormous; and, yes, the technology can hugely streamline and optimize operations, but only if change management successfully occurs in key areas, including people and processes. Too often, the transition is seen as a technological change, but that’s really one leg of a three-legged stool.
As a second part of this issue, some organizations don’t take true “ownership” of the solution when the product is implemented. Due to the rapid implementation and ongoing updates, if the company’s power users and change agents aren’t heavily involved throughout the project, there is not a large training window at the end. The projects that are successful, then, are not successful because the executive team is forcing adoption, but because of the ground-up involvement of end users since day one.