by Alison Weiss
Today, leaders across all industries—even those in traditionally change-resistant sectors—are looking to embrace digital business by moving some enterprise resource planning (ERP) operations to the cloud. A 2016 report from Loudhouse Research (“Modern Finance: Driving Transformation from Within”) reveals that 74 percent of senior decision-makers surveyed believe that using financial software in the cloud is critical to reach their digital transformation objectives. And an IDG cloud computing survey found that in 2016, enterprise executives expect to invest an average of US$2.87 million in cloud technologies and will allocate 25 percent of their total IT budgets to cloud computing.
This growing demand for ERP cloud solutions presents an abundance of opportunity for Oracle partners. However, helping clients implement cloud technology can be very different than traditional on-premises ERP projects. But two pioneering Oracle partners with flourishing cloud practices demonstrate that it is possible to confidently make the transition to the cloud with potent and profitable results.
Deloitte started working with Oracle to develop cloud technology in 2007 and recently became the first partner to achieve Diamond Global Cloud Elite status in the newly launched Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Cloud Program (see sidebar). Deloitte has certified several of its more than 17,300 Oracle practitioners to work across Oracle’s portfolio of cloud solutions, invested in industry-specific accelerators to reduce the time to implement cloud-based ERP projects, and transformed their implementation and support methodologies.
According to Mark Hulyer, partner and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Oracle practice leader at Deloitte, cloud projects involve a series of steps prior to helping clients devise a plan for cloud. First, Deloitte practitioners articulate a common understanding of what Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud (Oracle ERP Cloud) is, to dispel myths and misconceptions. They then help clients identify the business changes they want to effect with cloud technology.
“Our clients need to consider how cloud can help them be more efficient or reduce costs,” Hulyer says. “What does it mean from a people aspect? Who’s going to have to do something differently? What business processes need to be changed?”
Compared to traditional, on-premises implementations, the cloud time frame is accelerated by minimizing customization. Streamlined projects also mean that clients can realize benefits more quickly, which is why long-time Deloitte client and London-based global banking giant HSBC decided to leverage Oracle ERP Cloud to fundamentally re-engineer the financial management processes across its global Operations, Services, and Technology division.
Evolving bank regulations in the UK require all large UK banks to “ring fence” their retail banking operations from their investment banking operations by January 1, 2019. In response to this, HSBC, which has complex banking businesses around the world, is in the process of establishing a new global services company structure. The implementation of Oracle ERP Cloud has enabled HSBC to quickly operationalize the Global Service Companies organization.
In addition, HSBC is leveraging its investment in Oracle ERP Cloud to implement procure-to-pay, expenses, and project accounting across all of the bank’s global businesses and functions—not just in the Global Service Companies organization. Ultimately, all of its third-party spending and a significant proportion of its global cost base will be managed through Oracle ERP Cloud.Quicker Implementations
Historically, HSBC built much of its own technology or adapted technology to fit its processes. But Joanna Fielding, CFO for the Global Service Companies organization at HSBC, knew that the cloud would standardize process and functionality, allowing the platform to be rolled out globally without changing from country to country.
Our clients need to consider how cloud Can help them be more efficient or reduce costs.”–Mark Hulyer, Partner and EMEA Oracle Practice Leader, Deloitte
With the support of Deloitte, Fielding and her team implemented Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud (Oracle EPM Cloud) for planning as well as project accounting, procurement, and expense management. Using an agile approach, it took just nine months to deploy Oracle EPM Cloud globally. And just one month later, the company went live with Oracle ERP Cloud in the UK, and in July 2016, 20,000 service company employees and 30,000 UK expense users were migrated to the platform. Eventually all of HSBC’s operating entities across more than 60 countries will make the transition by 2018.
“We took an out-of-the-box solution and plugged it in to our infrastructure without changing the underlying functionality,” says Fielding. “We had far fewer bugs compared to a traditional on-premises implementation.”
To ensure the standardized Oracle ERP Cloud solution could scale for current and future needs, the Oracle ERP Cloud development team worked alongside HSBC to create the specific functionality HSBC required. As an example, HSBC needed the ability to calculate value-added tax at the individual cost center level rather than at the entity level. As a Diamond Global Cloud Elite Partner, Deloitte and its customers benefit from Oracle’s engagement and commitment to help transform their business on an accelerated basis. “Oracle has been very willing to work with us,” says Fielding. “There have been many advantages with our three organizations working in partnership.”Enabling Digital Transformation
Accenture has also maximized its relationship with Oracle to build a thriving cloud practice. In 2015, Accenture and Oracle launched the Accenture Oracle Business Group to deliver industry-specific solutions, prebuilt accelerators, and tools built on Oracle’s software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. Further, Accenture has obtained Diamond Global Cloud Elite status in the OPN Cloud Program.
Brian Sullivan, managing director of the Global Oracle Cloud Practice at Accenture, says he believes that today’s enterprise leaders are looking to the cloud for more agility, elasticity, and flexibility to be able to make quick business decisions, increase top-line revenues, and decrease expenses. Accenture Oracle Business Group experts offer their extensive industry, technology, and delivery experience to help enterprises create a flexible digital roadmap for migrating to the cloud. This can mean migrating an entire ERP footprint to the cloud or taking a hybrid approach.
“Moving ERP to the cloud is more than just implementing module functionality,” observes Sullivan. “Enterprises now have the agility to create a standard, modern ERP cloud platform that can flex as the business changes. It can extend to incorporate social, mobile, and the Internet of Things to drive greater business results.”
Percentage of senior decision-makers who believe using financial software in the cloud is critical for them to reach their digital transformation objectives (Source: Loudhouse Research and Oracle’s report “Modern Finance: Driving Transformation from Within”)
This focus on elasticity, agility, and flexibility is what recently encouraged a global wireless technologies manufacturer to work with the Accenture Oracle Business Group to implement Oracle ERP Cloud—in the company’s headquarters in 14 different countries that had never used any type of ERP solution—as the launching point for a broader corporate ERP cloud modernization plan. The company has been an Oracle customer for years and uses two instances of Oracle E-Business Suite on premises for manufacturing and corporate operations. In addition, the company uses Accenture to provide business process outsourcing services for some of its entities. According to IT decision-makers, migrating to Oracle ERP Cloud provides the flexibility to grow its cloud ERP footprint across the company and transform its business.Flexible Foundation for Growth
According to Sullivan, numerous ERP cloud strategies were considered for the project—but ultimately, leadership determined the best return on investment would come from implementing Oracle ERP Cloud across the 14 smaller countries and integrating the cloud solution with the on-premises Oracle corporate system. The reasoning? The countries without an existing ERP system would quickly benefit from better control and streamlined processes. And, immediate savings could be realized by eliminating the need to pay accounting firms for financial support services in each of these 14 locations. In addition, there would be intangible benefits to piloting the entire corporate functionality in the cloud and demonstrating that it could scale.
With the Accenture Oracle Business Group’s help and the use of its proprietary Cloud Connect accelerator, the customer has already been able to implement Oracle ERP Cloud in 7 of the 14 countries, with the remaining 7 expected to go live by fall 2016. In addition, an Oracle service-oriented architecture and the necessary security controls have been put into place to support a cloud/on-premises hybrid approach to enable ERP cloud modernization across the entire organization—with the goal of moving 100 percent of corporate Oracle functionality to the cloud over the next two years.
IT leaders don’t know precisely every step of the process, whether it will be module by module or by country, but they do know they want to expand their cloud footprint every year. With the support of Accenture, they’ve created a foundation that can flex different ways depending on what the business needs, with the eventual goal to have 100 percent of corporate Oracle functionality on the cloud.
For Accenture and Deloitte, the ERP cloud market holds many opportunities to expand their practices and help customers navigate their digital transformations. For some Oracle partners, continually keeping abreast of new cloud developments and solutions might seem daunting. But Deloitte’s Hulyer sees this as only positive.
“In the past with on-premises solutions, it could take two years before new features became available. But today, cloud products get updated two or three times a year with new functions. It’s exciting for my people, who are really interested in learning,” he says. “They actually like the new world of cloud and the way it’s changing all the time.”
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