There it is. You can see it: A modernized, streamlined, and cloud-delivered ERP system that is just the rocket fuel your business needs to reach the next level—whether it’s optimizing growth opportunities, investing for business improvement or enabling a new business model.
There are three primary reasons why so many companies are accelerating their shift to the cloud.
First, the shift increases productivity across all employee roles, including IT staff (eliminating mundane maintenance and upgrade projects), management (providing better, clearer reporting) and every single end user (intuitive work environments dramatically minimize training which maximizes applications adoption).
Second, it reduces operational costs for ERP by over 50%, according to Nucleus Research.
And, perhaps most importantly, this shift enables the next generation of employees who are arriving with extensive cloud experiences, expectations and education (far more than 5 years ago), which collectively drives a company’s competitive position today while improving both its survival odds and growth opportunities tomorrow.
Today’s enterprises run largely on networks, grid computing and mobile devices instead of an on-premises room of servers. Implementation timelines for shifting to a modern ERP system are much shorter, but technology itself is more mission-critical. Even short amounts of downtime are more detrimental. Data also has become vital to day-to-day work, and therefore requires more protection during a shift, as well as heightened security during the process and after.
How do you get there with minimal disruption to operations? The short answer is lots of planning and working together with good partners.
I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many such ERP shifts and have observed that there are eight steps in a successful implementation that takes place without interrupting operations.
In addition to picking the right partner (see above), look for internal team members who are passionate about improvement and will be committed to making the shift work. Look across the organization, not in just one or two areas. I’ve seen people shine on these teams as they embrace a new way of thinking. With a strong and enthusiastic team from the start, getting buy-in and support from users along the way becomes easier, especially when the excitement becomes positively contagious.
Scope is a high-level definition of what’s going to be moved where, who the move will impact, and when it will happen. You may want to focus on one operation (department, unit, function, location, etc.), build a successful model and then repeat that model elsewhere. You’ll develop important knowledge, and learn how to work better and deliver success across the organization.
Tactically, this entails taking inventory of your assets, and figuring out where they will fit and how they will be used in the new system. But discovery activity is also a time to identify all of the improvement opportunities that a more modern ERP system brings. It’s a time to reimagine how you do things and align with best practices, so be open to new thinking. Don’t just copy what you’re doing now without strategic thought.
This is your project schedule and task assignments—who does what, and when. The three previous steps will go a long way in helping you and your partner create the plan in conjunction with your team.
This is where having wide representation on the team is really beneficial. Those closest to processes have the best understanding of what needs to happen to improve them, as well as how changes will impact other areas hooked into that process.
Like planning, communicating about what is happening should be a two-way activity. As you use internal marketing to inform users about the shift, also ask them for input. Your plan could look perfect in your eyes, but how do you know you haven’t missed a great idea that would make the plan even better?
People get motivated when offered the opportunity to make their work faster, easier and less frustrating. Your employees really want to be more productive and work with modern technology and processes.
Mechanics includes architecture, configuration, testing, migrating, and mapping; but it also includes decisions about what to do with old systems and how to redeploy IT specialists into more strategic roles now that they won’t have ERP maintenance work. These resources hold value that you probably don’t want to lose, so they shouldn’t be left to worry about “later.”
Once the new system is in production, opportunities for improvement will start becoming more visible. Watch and listen to what’s happening so your team can respond and tweak. The beauty of having a cloud-based ERP system is that adjustments can happen quickly, and you have high flexibility to fit your needs.
Monitor, tweak, adjust, and repeat. This cycle should continue for ongoing learning. Be warned, though: my experience is that once an organization “goes cloud” in one area, others start to want the same thing. That’s why I’ve stopped calling these operational shifts “projects,” because the shift is toward a new way of working that includes continuous improvement. There’s no end date.
Because the cloud makes modern ERP is so adaptable and flexible, operational shifts can happen at any time. It’s really a matter of when your organization wants to start working with more ease and speed.
A good place to start looking is a comparison of providers. Choosing a partner like Oracle, which has decades of enterprise technology experience, is the best way to ensure modern best practices and the best available technical expertise are with you as you execute a successful, low-impact shift.