Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Urban Myths of Oracle Cloud Implementations – Part II

Here we go for the second and concluding part of the article. Part I dealt with the myths of an Oracle Cloud product that is allegedly not ready; cost of the implementation against on premise; the myth we can get you live in 6 weeks; implementation partners quoting ridiculously low implementation prices and also that anybody can do a Cloud implementation! So lets add to the list of myths and lets try and dispel them.

#006 – Oracle Cloud Cannot be Customised
TrueIt’s not designed to be customised. You configure the cloud "service" to meet your organisation’s needs, but you cannot access the back end database and you cannot customise the code line. But why would you? Best practice processes and management information are embedded – so why would you want to change it? Why as an organisation in transacting basic back office business processes are you any different to the company next door – HR is HR, Finance is Finance. I would argue differentiation for competitive advantage is a front office activity and not a “commoditised” back office transactional task. “Efficiency and Effectiveness” are the watchwords of the back office, and Cloud gives you both!

Oracle Cloud can be extended through configuration, but again I would challenge as to how much configuration you really need. Also if you truly have something that is “unique” and required to make your business operation function, then Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a consideration.

PaaS is not however the “universal panacea”; it is a powerful tool set that if used correctly allows a client’s bespoke business processes to be configured, integrated and provide a consistent User Experience with the Oracle SaaS products.

CHALLENGE: In the first instant ensure your implementation partner knows the Cloud product suite and can demonstrate how it can be applied to your business. This should be through the use of best practice and standard configuration where possible, but they also need to be able to demonstrate and back it up with client reference-ability. Where have they done it before? What was the approach? How did they address solution gaps? – just some of the valid questions that should be asked.

#007: You Need Light Touch Project Management and Governance – It just Costs too Much!
Really? Good Project Managers and good governance models ensure projects get delivered on time. Great Project Managers do all of this and ensure the project is not only operational successful with the business but the customer (the users) are happy with a positive experience. They also will save you a fortune along the way. Equally a bad Project Manager will cost you a fortune!

CHALLENGE: Try putting Cloud in without good project management and governance then be prepared to get your cheque book out! Cloud is positive disruption and it’s going to change your business therefore it needs to be carefully managed and management needs a governance model that allows fast effective decision making.  

#008: We Can Move You From E-Business Suite R11 to Cloud in 12 Weeks
Get Real please. Yes - technically we could lift your current years worth of transactional data out of EBS and load it directly into the Cloud inside 12 weeks against a default configuration but the levels of compromise would be significant – Would you be happy at the end? I doubt it; Will you start changing things? – Definitely; Will it cost more in the long run? – Absolutely.

Everyone wants to be delivering value as quickly as possible, but be sensible and spend a little time in determining what is the right journey into the Cloud for your organisation.

For those of you that have spent the last 10 years customising the hell out of your on-premise system trust me you don’t have a lot of credibility if you look at a customer and tell them your going to migrate their payroll in 12 weeks? Do we just not test anything properly these days and just lob it into the Cloud and hope it just works? – if you do all I can say is I am glad I am not on your payroll.

Everyone has a different journey into the Cloud. Good implementation partners LISTEN and SEEK to UNDERSTAND a customer’s business and then work collaboratively with them. Throwing something in and not understanding the operation itself, is paramount to disaster.

CHALLENGE: Viable? – Well try and answer these questions - What’s your data quality like? What are you doing about data cleansing? What’s your appetite for risk around payroll and other key financial business processes? What’s going on around your organisation that will impact an implementation in this time frame? How mature as an organisation are you in regard to business change? Will you have to change your operating policies and procedures if you adopt Cloud? Are you willing to “compromise”? Remember you still have to address all of these questions and now you have to do it in less than 12 weeks!

#009: Vanilla – It’s all Out of the Box
It’s not! - All Cloud systems require configuration and at the very least you have to load your data. So effort is required. The smarter implementation partners will provide a degree of pre-configuration through methodologies and accelerators to speed up the implementation. And please remember there is no such thing EVER as an Out of the Box Payroll!

CHALLENGE: Get the Implementation Partner and Oracle to show you what you are getting and make sure it’s the current release and not something that may or may not be delivered in the future. Ensure your expectations are set correctly, but also keep in view what your being sold won’t be what you will go live with as new innovation will have been delivered through the upgrade cycle.

#010: Doesn’t Need Support, Oracle Cloud Upgrades Automatically Over a Weekend
The Technical Upgrade is a weekend activity however the upgrade cycle, so long as no major problems are identified, is 3 weeks from start to finish - You have to regression test the upgrade against your Cloud configuration before implementing the upgrade against the Production instance.. You will also get a choice of when to upgrade within a 3 month window – but remember you will be upgraded!

Cloud needs support, and not just technical support. The Service Management function is more important than ever with dealing with Cloud applications. Oracle does not, and to be honest isn’t geared up to provide that constant “customer attention” for the smaller to medium size customers. It’s ok scaling your sales organisation, but if you don’t scale your customer service and support organisation – then you are just asking for operational problems.

CHALLENGE: How are you as an organisation going to support the system moving? This is where partners can play a pro-active role. Who better to help the customer continue their journey into the cloud than the partner who worked alongside you to implement. A good partner gets to know your business and your people, these relationships underpin any good support arrangement, which should also be pro-active and not only manage the upgrade cycle for you, but also to advise and constantly guide you on the product. So ask if your implementation partner provides an ongoing support service to manage upgrades and the Oracle relationship for you. For example Certus provides engage® Business Support Services, not only to our existing customers but also to customers that we didn’t undertake the original Cloud implementation for.

In Summary…
Controversial - absolutely! but if you haven’t got something to say that provokes thought and debate, then really you have nothing to say. As Thomas Watson, Founder of IBM said “Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity”. So let’s see who agrees and disagrees….anyone care to debate, or comment, I love a good argument!

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