By Ramakrishnan Subramanian, Infosys
Moving finance to the cloud can bring a lot of changes to a business. End users can get upended by frequent updates. IT organizations can get re-orged by job shifts. But with the help and guidance of an experienced partner, enterprises can navigate the evolution flawlessly and prime their systems for digital transformation.
It’s not uncommon for companies to deal with two or more updates a year. Compare that to the old on-premises world, where you might “stay put” on a software version for years while you recouped your initial capital investment. And when it was time to upgrade, so much time had passed that it was like implementing a brand-new system from scratch.
The cloud, on the other hand, keeps you on your toes. It forces you to do strategic planning on a near continuous basis, and your organization becomes more agile in the process. And the best thing is, you’re always near—or just one release away from—the latest version of a product. You don’t have to wait five years to get richer functionality.
Planning for frequent cloud updates is something that an experienced partner can help with. They should make sure that all your integrations and test cases are in order and ready to go, so the update goes smoothly. Even if your cloud solution was built by someone else, the partner should be able to come in at any point to ensure seamless updating to keep your organization agile.
One thing that can lead to a bumpy journey to the cloud is confusion over who’s doing what. Since there are usually multiple parties in the mix—notably the vendor, the partner, and the client—the customer can sometimes panic over who to call when an issue arises. A good partner can calm the waters by providing a clear up-front understanding about roles and responsibilities. Infosys, for example, nearly always takes end-to-end ownership of our client’s deployment, working with Oracle behind the scenes to solve problems along the way.
Some clients feel daunted by the prospect of transplanting their entire finance operation to the cloud in one fell swoop. That’s why we offer the option of fixed scope engagements, which allow organizations to move to the cloud in bite-sized increments. For example, you might start by moving the general ledger to the cloud. Then follow that with accounts payable, receivables, cash management and so on. Each step is defined by a separate, clearly-defined engagement.
Such fixed scope deployments can make budgeting and approvals easier, allowing you to logically assign tasks between the client’s staff and the partner. What’s more, if the partner isn’t performing up to par, you can stop after any given project and pull in another provider to deploy the rest of the financial platform. Such client flexibility—and leverage—helps keep your partner’s feet to the fire.
People often think that rank-and-file IT staffers worry that the shift to the cloud will hurt their job prospects. But that’s not the way I see it playing out in most companies. In fact, I see the opposite happening: IT workers are eagerly embracing the change. The cloud actually creates more opportunities for IT members to move into new, more strategic positions.
Take the example of a banking organization that has its legacy apps on a mainframe, but its ERP has moved to the cloud. How do I strategically manage across these environments? Well, you’ve just created an opening for a new cloud integration architect. Similarly, new job descriptions are being created for security architects and data-management architects. Other roles are emerging every day.
I remember one of our recent cloud deployments, where we had just created a global template for business process optimization. The IT organization was so excited and immediately took ownership of the strategic role of deploying that template across the rest of the organization. Frankly, they see the cloud as a career enhancement opportunity. These are opportunities that simply would not be available in the on-premises world.
There are so many ways partners can help organizations move to the cloud. Perhaps most important, partners can help by creating a strategic roadmap to get there. A well-conceived roadmap shows a client when they should adopt the cloud, what they should deploy, and when. With multiple engagements running across industry verticals, Oracle Diamond and Cloud Elite partner Infosys specializes in this all-important strategic planning effort.
Next, partners can help put together a detailed implementation plan. At Infosys, we utilize a tried-and-true process call the Infosys ACT methodology (Accelerated Cloud Transformation), based on the proven Oracle Unified Method (OUM), to draw up deployment plans that are flexible and cost-effective. We’ll help with training too, but here’s some good news: Training is easier in the cloud because you don’t have to deal with the myriad customizations that are so typical of legacy on-prem applications.
When you’re looking for a cloud implementation partner, make sure they’re not just focused on how to take care of what you’re doing today, but what you need to be doing tomorrow. Infosys’ Value Realization Framework helps clients push forward to that next level.
Finally, look for a partner who won’t abandon you after they’re done with the initial deployment. Infosys sticks around and offers ongoing cloud support services so you never need to worry about making your next month-end financial close.
They say the only constant in life is change. That’s emphatically true when it comes to the cloud. My recommendation: Evolve into the change, learn from it, and then become a change manager yourself. It’s an awesome journey and an experienced partner like Infosys can make it truly rewarding.
Ramakrishnan Subramanian is Industry Principal with Infosys and heads the Oracle Finance Competency. With more than 22 years of professional experience in managing and implementing ERP applications worldwide, he has hands-on experience in finance, audit and internal controls, and works with senior leadership to develop IT strategies and financial process road maps for customers.