The global business landscape has become so competitive that successful organizations need to embrace the latest from the world of technology to be able to sustain and grow their market shares. Cloud-based tech tools offer an affordable and flexible mechanism for organizations to fulfill their techno-needs. In spite of being a very core and traditional technology, enterprise resource planning software is on the high-priority lists of an organization looking to modernize its IT by moving applications to the cloud. The move to a cloud-based ERP, however, is difficult to manage for an application as multifarious in its scope as an ERP. It’s difficult, yes, but not impossible, of course. The scalability, flexibility, and cost savings offered by a cloud-based ERP makes such a move feasible for companies.
Let’s tell you more about it.
The first and foremost brainstorming session that company executives have to undertake after finalizing a cloud-based ERP solution vendor is to identify critical business processes and envision how they will be mapped in the cloud ERP. Over the course of an ERP lifetime, the costs of switching core business processes becomes inhibitory. The cloud move is your opportunity to dissolve those switching costs into the larger project. Thankfully, you have the option of taking cloud vendors and transition partners’ support in designing core business processes such that your business key performance indicators are improved. By aligning your business processes with the best practices for your industry, you also facilitate easier and quicker implementation of cloud ERP.
Take stock of integration points
The longer an ERP stays in operation, the number of third-party tools and bolt-ons it integrates with grows. While managing the move of your organization’s ERP from on-premises to cloud, you get tremendous opportunities to take stock of all integration points. A cloud-based ERP could very well offer you in-house capabilities that can effectively replace some of these third-party applications, which in turn makes significant positive contributions to your ledger. For all other integration points, you’d do well to quickly initiate dedicated dialog with vendors to work out the best action plans to replicate the integrations in the cloud.
Managing data transfer
Data is a core pillar for your ERP. When transitioning your ERP to the cloud, you need to make some difficult decisions related to your data.
Some of these are around considerations like:
- How many years of archived data would you need to load into your new cloud ERP?
- Additional data processing activities you need to undertake to streamline the data.
- Additional data manipulation tools you need to manage structural complexity in the data.
- Understanding core data compatibility issues such as code page formats.
- Determining the roles and responsibilities of people to safeguard the data during the transition.
- Understanding the data securities protocols and practices adopted by the cloud ERP vendor, such as 256-bit encryption of data at rest and in transit.
Test like a pro
This is the difficult part, rife with uncertainty and laden with expensive risks. However, it’s crucial. Search through your vaults to find test plans and scripts from the time the on-premises ERP was implemented. Functional testing, user acceptance testing, integration testing, stress testing — as stressful as it sounds, you need to be prepared to manage the testing phase. Keep a buffer period to be able to manage defects highlighted during testing. Also, make sure you explain testing scope clearly. In case a few third-party apps have been decommissioned, communicate the same so that no false alerts lags are raised.
End user orientation and training
Unless your company’s move to the cloud is a massive changeover from a traditional on-premises ERP to an advanced ERP, you won’t have to worry a lot about this aspect. When the core product is changed, of course, you will need to plan for comprehensive user training. Otherwise, it’s more of an orientation practice, where you help super users become comfortable with the look and feel of the ERP. A good practice, at this stage, is to seek the vendor’s support in orienting the user base to the new screens and additional features. You will also need to manage corporate communications to broadcast news about third-party applications being removed from the infrastructure. It makes sense here to start investing in a known error database (KEDB) or knowledge base directory that can help end users quickly get their queries resolved without having to raise IT support tickets.
Know the capabilities of the cloud-based ERP
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make while planning and executing their ERP move from on-premises to the cloud is in closing their eyes to the new functionalities that the cloud ERP can add on to their existing system. Take, for instance, the fact that cloud ERP solutions are more attuned to manage mobile device communications easily as compared to on-premises ERPs. This can help organizations achieve their mobility aims much quicker.
Another example is how cloud ERPs enable quicker data backups and disaster recovery. Backing up your company’s ever increasing data on the cloud is easy enough by setting up sync rules. Restoring the backed up data, also, doesn’t take long. This can be a major boost to the business continuity assurance for the business. By taking a myopic look at the ERP upgrade, organizations risk letting go of such opportunities that arise out of cloud computing’s inherent flexibility, scalability, and affordability.
To make sure you explore the complete potential of these opportunities, be proactive in asking vendors to explain the advanced built-in capabilities of the ERP. Be careful though; vendors typically want to oversell, so ask questions till you get satisfactory answers.
After the stress comes the rewards
Remember, the path to cloud-based ERP is challenging and resource intensive. However, several organizations from your vertical have already completed the journey and are reaping the benefits of cloud’s flexibility, affordability, and scalability today. You should, too.