Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Chatbots. Voice recognition. These are more than just the usual buzzwords associated with the software industry. Emerging technologies are poised to revolutionize productivity in the workplace. Research estimates that new technologies delivered by the cloud could add as much as $2 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade.
With the rapid development of cloud solutions, many companies are turning their focus toward finance. While migrating your finance processes to the cloud will involve a significant work effort, it will also give your organization an opportunity to re-evaluate processes to better support your overall business. As you develop your cloud migration business case and strategy, here are 10 key thoughts to consider.
1. Use the opportunity to innovate.
Do your homework. Figure out where you can streamline processes and automate manual tasks so you’re improving the effectiveness and productivity of your finance team. You don’t want to just “lift and shift” outdated processes into the cloud. And of course, be sure to prioritize the innovation and overall change to give you the biggest benefit.
2. Follow a clear finance strategy, not just a technology strategy.
Before you initiate a cloud project, be sure to set clear goals, priorities, and success metrics. By having a clear set of priorities— for business change and process improvements— it will be easier to make critical decisions about where you can compromise and where you can’t.
3. Don’t underestimate the business changes that come with cloud.
In the past, ERP projects focused on gathering requirements, the technical implementation, migrating data, and testing. Change management likely accounted for 10 – 20% of the work effort, with training and communications mostly tied to the go-live. With cloud, this paradigm changes significantly. Instead, SaaS applications typically drive a more standard way of working. Therefore, change management accounts for about 70 – 80% of the work effort.
As my colleague, Faye Hawkins, mentioned in her article, People, Not Technology, are the Long Pole in the Tent, “The longest pole is the one that goes up first, and holds the tent up. It gives it height and structure. So, it’s the most important element at the heart of the tent… Delivering the technology is just part of the process. You need to plan for a much longer period to allow people to get used to it.” Your people are at the heart of your cloud implementation—your longest pole. It only makes sense to focus most of your effort on making sure your employees know how to use the new solution effectively.
4. Break it up into “bite-sized chunks.”
Taking a modular approach facilitates adoption of new processes and allows you to speed up or slow down the implementation to keep pace with the user learning curve. You can also align a modular implementation with year-end and reporting cycles.
5. Change your finance mind set.
A transformational cloud implementation requires an open mind from those involved with the project: to put aside the way things are today and consider new ways of working.
6. Get involved from the start.
Successful SaaS implementations are business-driven. Key finance stakeholders, like procurement and supply chain leaders as well as budget owners, should be fully invested in the cloud project from day one.
7. Make sure you get the digital plumbing right.
It’s critical that your finance cloud solution seamlessly integrate with your overall technology infrastructure as well as any third-party solutions. This is where having a complete suite of cloud applications,
platform and infrastructure (such as Oracle offers) can be an advantage.
8. Take a digital approach to training.
With cloud applications, guided learning tools can facilitate end-user training with in-application, real-time guidance to walk users through each step of a process as if they are working in the application. This approach helps reduce up-front training and provides a “just-in-time” learning option that is tailored to each individual’s role. Oracle Guided Learning is updated to keep pace with system changes and is always available for new users. I highly recommend this training approach because cloud applications are designed to evolve over time as functionality enhancements are deployed, and this approach is also designed to keep pace with application changes.
9. Don’t forget about the support model.
Support shouldn’t be an afterthought. Be sure to take proactive steps to ensure that your IT team is prepared to support the new finance solution. Cloud applications are typically supported by the provider as part of the monthly fee, so the type and amount of support that your IT team is offering will likely change—freeing them up to work on more strategic projects.
10. Consider the advantages of a multi-pillar strategy.
Finance functions don’t sit in isolation. Both processes and data are shared across every facet of the organization. Although you may begin your journey to the cloud with the finance department, you should consider a complete, or multi-pillar, transformation of your back-office functions. The advantage to a multi-pillar Oracle Cloud solution is that you will ultimately give employees a common user experience to drive productivity with a standardized data model for enhanced reporting and analytics.