More and more organizations are moving their on-premises enterprise applications to Cloud solutions because they want to change the cost structure of their applications portfolios and reduce their risk for technological obsolescence while delivering growth, innovation, operational agility, and efficiency. There is more Cloud momentum today than ever before. In fact, 76 percent of finance leaders surveyed in Oracle’s 2018 ERP Trends Report said they intend to run ERP in the Cloud within the next two years. Due to this growing momentum, Oracle released a five-step guide that can help users learn “how to Cloud” and complete a successful Oracle ERP Cloud project. It provides a high-level sequential summary of recommended steps based on actual Cloud projects and advice from leading partners for successfully executing the journey to Cloud. This document is not intended to be a substitute for engagement with Oracle or one of its partners. It is simply a starting guide. Oracle recommends implementing solutions with input from experienced project and technical professionals.
There are different paths available for moving to the Cloud. For example, you can take a single process like budgeting to the Cloud or you can move all of your financial applications and processes to the Cloud at once. In most cases, the most beneficial path to the Cloud is a full move from on-premises to SaaS applications, which are designed and built for the Cloud and provide innovations to support a modern digital business.
In general, there are five important steps that everyone should follow when making the move to the Cloud:
Step 1: Plan
The first step is to plan – to define and establish project categories covering scope, design, teams, and messages. Managing a Cloud migration project may seem like running any other business and technology project. However, the advantages and differences are immediately visible when project plans and resources are clearly mapped. The benefits of a Cloud project, when compared to typical on-premises projects, appear early.
As the business case for a Cloud project gains approval, cost and schedule advantages stand out. This is also where tasks for Cloud projects diverge from on-premises. Smaller Cloud projects, especially hybrid efforts, receive approval even faster with less justification because they cost less and don’t require capital expense.
The components of a Cloud project fall into five categories:
- Project definition
To deliver a successful ERP Cloud project, you must collect the information across each category before kickoff.
This task establishes the foundation for a Cloud project. Failure to provide clarity and detail will create problems downstream. Start by establishing the project’s intent by writing a mission statement with a charter that incorporates objectives and goals. The next step is to build a project foundation that unambiguously defines goals, scope, risk, a detailed budget, and staffing requirement (both internal and external) – all mapped to a general timeline and task schedule.
These tasks are similar across on-premises and Cloud effort. However, this step moves along quickly with Cloud since there are fewer tasks. With Cloud, you don’t have to deal with tasks for hardware, software installation, custom code testing, and other on-premises components.
With a Cloud project, building a team is easier. There is no need for hardware architects, custom application coders, report builders, and software installers. With Cloud projects, skills focus on business process consultants and data analysts who configure and apply best practices, user roles and responsibilities, and the built-in reporting and analytics.
It is important to clearly define each project role and its associated responsibilities. Always include a dedicated project manager and select business partners as needed. You should also have a steering or executive committee. Find an executive sponsor who will advocate for success, remove roadblocks, and engage other senior executives.
Think of this portion as your blueprint for success. Primary outputs that should be included in the design document include:
- The applications to be deployed
- Any third-party applications
- Related systems that require integration
The design must also include detailed data definitions, user requirements, and all required business processes. Some of these components, such as the design of the chart of accounts, will require significant consideration. Having the design in place at the outset is critical. With the design work done up front, you can hit the ground running with configuration tasks. With modern Cloud applications, these tasks have been simplified.
In this step, you’ll need to determine which business units and geographies will be covered and in what order. Also, it’s important to identify the key requirements to take the new system live and into production. Establishing this go/no-go milestone early on serves as a logical check for the project schedule. Some capabilities may be earmarked for future deployment after the initial go-live. This is also where you should define goals and key metrics to monitor and assess after going live. As in previous steps, there are Cloud and on-premises similarities. However, since the Cloud delivers more simplicity, you get the added benefits of a shorter schedule and better scope control.
Internal communication is vital for a successful ERP Cloud project. Consider branding your project with a project name and logo to build internal recognition and awareness. Communicating on a regular basis about how the organization will benefit from the project and the project schedule helps build awareness and positive anticipation. Change can be hard, so investing in communication throughout the life of the project can help internal teams adjust and get on board quickly.
With the Cloud, the best part is the excitement and proven track record of Cloud projects. With users already plugged into their smartphones and other Cloud-enabled applications and platforms, changing from last-century on-premises systems to modern Cloud applications is natural, intuitive, and exciting.
Step 2: Implement
The second step is to implement – to configure and integrate, assess data and reports, and evaluate extensions. With preparatory work complete, it is time to implement your project design. This is the bulk of the workload in teams of budget, time, and tasks.
Implementing a Cloud project requires far fewer tasks than a traditional on-premises solution. Jettisoned tasks include hardware activities, custom coding, software loading and patching, and most (but not all) testing and training. Implementing a Cloud project typically covers four, and sometimes five, core activities collectively called CIDER:
Cloud applications are focused on configuration rather than customization. It is important to configure data structures and hierarchies, organizations, and user roles and responsibilities early on in a project. Coupled with the delivered standard business processes and their workflows, core business activities can be set up quickly.
Few solutions, especially at large enterprises, embrace all business functions. Integrating third-party solutions or legacy systems into Cloud applications preserves prior investments and unique capabilities. You should expect some integration work. This is an area where you should partner with your IT colleagues on the project team, as they may have existing integration frameworks. Consider taking advantage of Oracle Integration Cloud to support your integration requirements.
Moving from on-premises systems involves moving data into the Cloud. Once the quantity of data and its definition are defined, this implementation task requires extraction, transformation, and load (ETL) skills covering data quality and normalization tasks. With complex data scenarios, instead of spending time and budget preparing everything in advance, consider using Oracle Enterprise Data Management (EDM) Cloud, which simplifies data environments.
One of the fundamental advantages of Cloud applications is that they are designed to be configured rather than customized. However, when necessary, applications can be extended or complementary capabilities can be developed using Oracle Platform as a Service (PaaS). Pre-integration with Oracle SaaS applications removes the complexity for the most common types of integration, and extensions are preserved when the application is updated.
Oracle Cloud Applications come with many reporting capabilities and predefined reports. At implementation time, sort reporting requirements into two buckets:
- Reports can be replaced with real-time, onscreen information and the embedded analytics included in the new Cloud application
- Reports that need to be generated and distributed
As a starting point, consider the inventory of nearly 600 Cloud financial reports from Oracle.
Step 3: Verify
The third step is to verify – to check configurations and relation implementation items against project definitions. Once implementation tasks are complete, it is important to check the accuracy and completeness of the work against project requirements.
Similar to on-premises testing it is critical to confirm:
- Data quality: This is the fuel of all enterprise systems. Verifying the following four checks related to the migrated data: 1) cleanliness (including spelling), 2) conformity to the data dictionary, 3) concurrence with the predetermined period pull, and, most importantly, 4) correctness of data.
- Data archive: Preserve old system data. Legacy systems usually have lots of old data. With a new Cloud system, you only move the required years of data forward, and you don’t discard the past. Instead, archive data that is not migrated and maintain data preservation with read-only access.
- Workflows: Connect and drive business processes. Business processes connect with workflows, which drive end-to-end enterprise activities. Verify the primary and branch paths – including the decision logic variations of each workflow.
- Security: Thoroughly test CRUD: copy (download), read (view), update (alter and change), and delete (erase) access to system logins, sensitive data, user configurations, account management, and report modifications. Determine and verify security protocols with Oracle.
- Roles: Check that all applicable job roles, positions, and titles are properly identified and implemented.
- Responsibilities: Responsibilities are different than roles. They are defined work activities and tasks. The correct mapping of responsibilities to roles is critical for security and workflows.
Unlike on-premises systems, Cloud deployment will be easier to verify. Since the project is deploying Cloud applications, the physical infrastructure, security, code currency, applications, and functionality don’t need the complex testing approaches used with on-premises systems. It’s all ready to go.
With Cloud projects, verification is focused on CIDER – configurations, integrations, data, extensions, and reports. With good design documentation and effective data migration, this is essentially a checklist exercise.
Once the project team is satisfied that the implemented solution matches all aspects of the defined project, it is time for user acceptance. When the project was defined, key stakeholders across business units and executives were identified. They also were key to preparing the project’s definitions. Return to these individuals and get their signoff – confirming that the implemented project matches their requirements.
It is also important to engage business process owners at this stage. They can be the champions of best practices and keep the organizations from straying from modern standards. Business process owners (BPOs) are also the vanguard against customization efforts and can advocate for promoting and communicating best practices across the organization. If you don’t have BPOs at this point, this is the perfect time to establish this critical role.
Sometimes there is misalignment. This is the opportunity to revisit requirements and correct the problem. After the fix, be sure to re-engage the appropriate stakeholders.
Step 4: Prepare
The fourth step is to prepare – to get ready for production. With business approvals in place, the countdown to a production Cloud system begins.
Work these three tasks in parallel:
- System readiness: Complete the list of final items to be addressed or corrected (known as the punch list) and set initial values in the system. For example, set the first purchase order number to be issued in the Cloud.
- User readiness: Provision users with their usernames, passwords, and related information. Let them know how they can get assistance when the solution goes live.
- Organizational readiness: Focus on completing change management and core training as required. If the project faithfully embraced change management in the initial prepare tasks, users will be ready to go and well informed about their new workhorse.
In the preparation phase, Cloud projects have advantages, once again, over on-premises projects. There is less to do, which shortens schedules and reduces budgets. It also makes it easier to move forward when project team members are evaluating the decision to go into production. When confidence is high regarding the collective readiness for production, there is one final step prior to going live. In the first step (plan), recall the project’s established “go/no-go” criteria. Review these criteria with the steering committee and executive sponsor. Select an appropriate date and insist on a unanimous decision to confirm go-live. If there are any doubts, investigate and correct. It is important to go-live with everyone on board and communicate the decision broadly with supporting information.
Step 5: Deliver
The fifth step is to deliver – go live in production, promote it, and party! For projects that have followed the previous steps, go-live should go smoothly. A few isolated problems may occur, but these should be handled by user assistance identified in the readiness chapter. The project team with associated IT infrastructure and network staff should diligently monitor system performance. At the same time, check with users on their tasks and their overall experience.
The biggest difference between a Cloud and on-premises go-live will quickly be obvious. There are far fewer issues. With a successful go-live, the end is really the beginning of a new cloud lifestyle. This transformation from a last-century applications approach is a great reason to celebrate the project’s success.
Start by throwing a party. Invite the steering committee, business partners, key business stakeholders, and others who were instrumental in orchestrating the project’s success. Besides having fun, a party is a great vehicle for discussing the ups and downs of the project as a reference point for future endeavors.
Once the party is over, consider these seven additional activities:
- Monitor and measure: Review the metrics identified during the initial preparedness step. Regularly measure and report on their performance while considering their value and potential use in other efforts.
- Review the project: Take time with the core project team, including partners, to document lessons learned and identify what worked well and areas to improve in a future project. Pay attention to company cultural aspects, user acceptance, and change management approaches. Consider presenting a comprehensive project debrief to the steering committee and executive sponsor.
- Stay engaged with Oracle SaaS Support Services: Be proactive and stay connected with the Oracle SaaS Support Services team. They are a great resource that is included for free with your Cloud services, and they are dedicated to your success.
- Establish ongoing training: Ongoing training is important to maximize system productivity and applications knowledge. Establish training programs for new hires, refresher sessions, and deep-dive learning by utilizing Oracle LaunchPad, Oracle’s free interactive cloud education platform, where you will find thousands of online courses.
- Join the conversation: Join the Oracle Cloud Community to add your voice to the global conversation around Oracle Cloud Applications and learn from other users across products, industries, and locations. It is the simplest and best way to get involved and be heard.
- Be a reference: Remember when the Cloud applications selection process was underway, and talking to your peers who had made the Cloud journey with Oracle was an important step? Consider speaking to others who are considering the migration to the Cloud. Being a reference is also a great vehicle for networking and visibility.
- Plan the next Cloud project: After a successful Cloud project, there will be major interest in new efforts, especially for retiring other on-premises systems and expanding the Cloud footprint further. Build from the experience and plan your next Cloud project.
Advice from Caesars Entertainment on Migration to Cloud
Caesars Entertainment moved financial operations from a 30-year-old on-premises system to Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud and Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud. Caesar’s VP of Transformation Michel Mann provided 11 tips for completing a smooth and successful ERP Cloud project.
- Don’t underestimate the data conversion process.
- Give testing your undivided attention.
- Involve your partners and suppliers in that testing.
- Test the application under extreme conditions.
- Line up senior management support.
- Tackle change management head-on.
- Dedicate full-time people to specific project roles.
- Avoid integrations wherever possible.
- Document everything to pass audits.
- Enlist people from your Cloud vendor for your implementation team.
- Engage the network team.
It’s your move. If your organization is ready, take the leap and move your ERP to the Cloud. This five-step guide has provided you with the steps to ensure a successful ERP Cloud project. The Cloud is within your reach and Oracle and its partners are ready to help you at every step of your journey. Speak to your Oracle representative today to find out how you can begin your journey to Cloud.
For more information about how to complete a successful ERP Cloud project, check out the additional resources attached below.
For more Oracle ERP Cloud resources, case studies, best practices, etc., check out Quest’s Oracle ERP Cloud Content Center. There are resources and training available for all aspects of ERP Cloud, including risk management, financials, extensions, and more!