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August 29, 2016

ERPOnce a company has decided to move to the cloud, one important question usually remains: How fast can we do it? In today's high-speed, hyper-competitive environment, the lengthy enterprise resource planning (ERP) software implementations of the past will not work.

Here are 5 best practices to speed your transition, with a common theme that ties them together.

Involve users in creating the user experience:Don't underestimate the importance of user experience to the success of your project – quick adoption of the UX will make for a quicker execution of the project. Usability issues still can be a challenge with ERP tools. One key: Make sure business users see and inform the user interface early in the development process.

Focus on business objectives:Cloud transition projects can cause some customers to lose business focus. Companies that fail ERP implementations are typically those that try to do everything all at once, under the noble but incorrect belief that this will be good for the business. Companies that succeed are the ones who know where to focus. A banking customer of ours discovered significant inefficiencies in some of its HR processes and moved to silo HR data to correct those problems before they became a competitive, operational, or financial liability.

Create a clear roadmap of desired digital business outcomes:Companies need a well-defined roadmap of desired digital business outcomes, so the ERP plan can be aligned to it and executed accordingly. A roadmap is only effective if it is followed, so it's important to stay within the project's scope, to realize stated business outcome.

Invest in change management:Moving ERP tools to a cloud model requires a great deal of change management, and the mission-critical status of these tools requires support right from the top. The CEO needs to reinforce company wide that this ERP software change in line with the overall business strategy. Additionally, transitions of this sort may create significant cultural upheaval within the IT department, which can’t be ignored. IT’s role changes in the cloud-based model, offloading administration tasks and freeing up time for business innovation work. But what exactly does the new Software as a Service product handle, what does IT handle, what does your systems integrator handle? For some companies, IT’s role is still evolving. Strong executive support to redefine IT’s role in the digital business transformation is mandatory.

Rely on standardized business processes:Software customization is the antithesis to a speedy transition, so it's important for companies to adopt standardized business processes. Traditionally with ERP tools business dictated requirements and customization was widely expected to make it work. With cloud, bespoke technology is synonyms with time and money. So how to determine whether a customization makes sense? Some companies set limits around customization tied to revenue; for example, writing rules such as “if the business process affects less than $5 million in revenue, we won't customize it. If the business process affects more, we’ll review it for possible customization.” But the bottom line is that any customization has to be backed by strong business case.

Do you see a common theme here? It's simply keeping a hawk eye on business goals. Take away or short-change any of the five factors above and you'll end up with a messy, out-of-business-alignment implementation that will cost you much more both time and money.

At Oracle Open World, my team will share how we helped in creating an agile business for our customer using Oracle Sourcing Cloud. I look forward to talking with you at OOW, September 18-22 in San Francisco. Please schedule time to meet with TCS' Oracle experts and business consultants and share your comments and questions here.

Sunder Singh is an ex TCSer and used to head the Global Oracle Practice at Tata Consultancy Services where he lead global teams that design, implement and optimize Oracle solutions to bring new innovations to TCS clients. With more than 25 years of IT experience including programming, system analysis, and large program management, Sunder held management positions across many geographies and industry verticals, including banking, manufacturing, insurance, and print publishing and information services.


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