ERP is no longer considered just a backend application that keeps the lights on. Instead, there are organizations who are saving multi-millions in costs by using Cloud-based- ERP transformation front and center of how they run their businesses. Those organizations enable their people to realize the true value of investing in Cloud based technology solutions. 

Within the ERP ecosystem, gone are the days when clients would think “if” when considering a Cloud-based ERP solution. Now, the mindset has shifted to “when,” and, more importantly, “how” they’ll transition to Cloud.  

Product maturity, combined with data security, reliable, scalable solution options, and new functionalities within Oracle Cloud are just a few of the key reasons behind this change in customer mindset.  

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of ERP implementations achieve their full value for the organization because for most of these projects, the value is lost during the planning and implementation phases. 

So, what’s the secret sauce that makes the difference?  

In this article, we’ll discuss some baseline questions (and answers) that will help prepare you for Oracle Cloud-based business transformation. 

Is Oracle Cloud ready for my organization? This is one of the most common questions our clients ask. Cloud based transformation requires not just the product, but also organization’s alignment towards the end goal of realizing it’s true value. So, we'd rather ask, is your organization ready for Cloud? 

Here are a few things to think about: 

What is the motivation behind considering Oracle Cloud ERP? 

The answer to this question will drive the approach you take and will impact potentially the next 5-10 years of your business, if not more.  

Some of the most common reasons that our clients look for Cloud based SaaS solution are: 

  • Minimize ongoing IT support spend 
  • Make the support structure scalable
  • Enable Oracle Applications to be more reliable
  • Reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for Oracle ERP

However, these reasons are more focused on IT spend and technology rather than enabling the business to get ahead of the competition in the market. 

Let’s look at some other important reasons that you may want to consider Oracle Cloud: 

Look for tangible benefits to the business. These could include savings in FTEs or dollars within each Business Unit/Department as it moves to the ERP. However, this should be measured in TCO (total cost of ownership) over at least a 3-to-5-year period.  

Don’t ignore the intangibles! Whether it’s onboarding a new customer onto a customer portal, redlining a procurement contract with a vendor, or sourcing material from the cheapest supplier in the quickest manner, all could make a significant impact in business process efficiency. 

Focus on your people. Your people are your most important asset. Even best of the breed ERP implementation can fall apart, without user readiness to deal with the changes to business processes and individual job profiles that come with it. So, ensure your key users are getting trained on the ERP starting Day 1 of the implementation and are well connected with the project all the way through design and test cycles. This way, they’ll be ready to make business process changes on the way, be well prepared for user acceptance testing and lead end user training.  

Look for automation across business processes. Because of the reporting and analytics capabilities that come built within Oracle Cloud, you’ll be able to develop third party integrations, or use additional enablers like RPA (Robotic Process Automation). 

Modern day technology enabled innovation. Remove unnecessary overheads that could just be a ‘hangover’ from the last ERP implementation that happened years back. Get rid of the baggage – processes, data, and customizations to understand how your enterprise can benefit from the modern best practices in Oracle Cloud and run state-of-the-art technology that supports mobile, AI, and machine learning. 

Do you have buy-in from all the stakeholder groups? 

An ERP implementation project is always a huge undertaking for any organization, and it deserves the respect that comes with that undertaking. An ERP implementation requires team member support along with top leadership commitment.  So, what does this involve? 

Don’t Assume Anything!  

First, identify and involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process, to decide on the ERP and to keep them engaged. When in doubt, over-communicate to your stakeholders.  

Plan for Worst Cases to Mitigate Risk 

Ensure there’s a well-defined risk management and escalation process built into your plan, so all stakeholders have a way to identify and escalate risks before they become bottlenecks. Instead, focus on identifying and mitigating risks on an ongoing basis so that your stakeholders become partners in the project’s success.  

Is your organization ready (and willing) to standardize its processes? 

The base premise for Oracle Cloud is that it’s an enabler for standardizing business processes instead of wasting time on tedious customizations. As an organization, making this transition requires commitment to change old business processes and leverage innovative technology. 

Standardizing processes globally not only eliminates maintaining multiple custom processes for different user groups in the organization, but more importantly it enables the business to streamline operations, and meet larger, long-term goals like shared services, rollouts, or mergers & acquisitions. Standard processes also help to eliminate silos and establish a more uniform culture. 

Is Oracle Cloud customizable?  

Despite all the focus on standardization, the reality is customizations could be required to fill valid process gaps.  

For example, asset intensive companies (like airlines, high tech manufacturing and Engineering, Procurement, and Construction, or EPC) require services procurement to run their day-to-day operations – a functionality that’s been missing in Procurement Cloud. These same companies may see a lot of value in additional capabilities like sourcing and supplier registration that are superior to what traditional On-Prem EBS modules offer. So, what are the options?  

The simple answer is that there are ways (and technology) to develop customizations, including using PaaS (Platform as a Service) which help achieve a seamless user experience while building on Cloud efficiencies. Generally, PaaS based customizations don’t get impacted by Oracle SaaS quarterly patching and hence, are scalable and low maintenance.  

However, keep in mind that customizations in Oracle Cloud could be very different from how they are developed in Oracle EBS. They require deep technical understanding of how they are developed, and it needs to be determined if they can deliver the end results a business is trying to achieve.   

How do I know if I need a customization or if I should tweak my business process to enable standardization? 

First and foremost, Cloud enables standardizing business processes. Businesses should consider a workaround or alternate process as an option instead of rushing to the conclusion that customizations are required.  

Best practices for determining customizations: 

  • Statutory Impact: Is this a statutory/legal requirement that cannot be met with another alternative? 
  • Cost Impact: Is there a major (measurable) cost impact if this customization is not developed? This could be due to additional FTEs or using another application that may be required. 
  • Revenue Impact: Is there a major (measurable) loss of revenue if this customization is not in place? Could be due to a specific requirement from a customer or losing a competitive edge in the marketplace. 

 If you answered yes to any of these questions, then consider developing a customization. However, there will be situations where small user group(s) may have to either make major changes to their processes or may require additional FTEs to support the business operations while the overall organization benefits from Cloud’s capabilities. In those cases, work with the related stakeholders to provide them with all the help and guidance they may need while going through the change management process. 

Business transformation is achievable with Oracle Cloud, given the right plan and the right team to deliver it. Make sure you plan upfront to understand what it takes to go live on Oracle Cloud and attain the goals that your organization defined for itself at the beginning. If you are not ready to “go it alone,” work with an experienced Oracle Partner that brings business process, Oracle Cloud, and technology capabilities to help make the Cloud implementations predictable and outcome driven.