By Deborah Hamilton, Senior Director, Outbound Product Management, Oracle
One of my favorite presentations at this year's Oracle OpenWorld wasn’t glitzy or given by high-level executives. Many of us in the audience weren’t familiar with the company's name. But it was the simple title, “Oracle Financials Cloud Implementation: A Customer Experience,” that intrigued me. The audience was hungry for details and hoping for candor.
They got both, in spades.
"Talking to other customers has made more of a difference to us than anything else."—Katie Eure, Accounting Manager, Alex Lee, Inc.
No matter how many times we at Oracle say something, it means a lot more coming from a customer. That’s why we’re so appreciative of customers like Alex Lee, Inc., who are willing to do the talking for us.
This $3 billion, privately-owned retail grocery store and food distributor is headquartered in Hickory, NC. The company gave the lowdown on its Oracle ERP Cloud implementation to a rapt audience at Oracle OpenWorld 2016. Whether it was the forthright discussion or the lively Q&A—or both—this session was a hit.
Katie Eure and Derrick Walters, Alex Lee’s accounting and corporate applications managers respectively, shared seven things they learned from their cloud implementation:
Take time to consider the downstream effects of your configuration decisions. For example, a long ledger name can take up valuable screen space in the reporting tools. If you don’t know the impact of a certain configuration, you should ask your implementation partner.
When people push back on the no customization rule, they probably don’t understand the configurability of Oracle’s cloud applications or the extensibility that Oracle Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers. But don’t let that deter you. Eure and Walters reiterated the benefits of cloud: “Putting a system in place that prevents customization can work in your favor. It helps you through the upgrade and maintenance process.”
Based on Alex Lee’s experience, “Change management is going to be a bigger challenge than you think. Even if you get up and running quickly in the cloud, it doesn’t mean any less change for your people.” In fact, Eure reported that they pushed out the go live dates for Oracle Procurement Cloud and Oracle Expenses Cloud so that the Finance team could get comfortable with the new accounts payable process. It wasn’t a matter of the system not being ready; the people weren’t ready.
Make sure users understand the tradeoffs between on-premises and cloud software. For example, if people complain that they no longer can call an IT guy down the hall and demand immediate help, remind them that changes to on-premises software come, on average, every 10 years or so—whereas enhancements to cloud applications are provided in a much more timely fashion. In addition, Oracle now has a window into how organizations use the software which they didn’t have before.
In a cloud implementation, you’ll be working with Oracle Support from Day 1. They’re still there to address issues, but they also provide help with new functionality and a path to cloud operations. For example, if you want to make a production-to-test copy or a test-to-test copy, you contact Oracle Support. Learn how to navigate the support organization while you’re in the implementation phase because that will put you on a strong footing going forward.
As soon as you know your upgrade window, be sure to allow for a couple months in your test environment. You’ll want to look at new functionality and learn how to take advantage of it. At Alex Lee, the majority of training happens through testing.
If you need advice or have a problem, find the right people in Oracle to help you. As Eure told the audience, “Most people have never heard of Alex Lee. But we feel like Oracle listens to us and wants to partner with us.”