Considerations before moving to a Cloud ERP System

Since the dreaded C word (Covid!!), most of the companies I work with are either considering or already started the process to move to aCloud ERP system. Coronavirus brought the office doors to a close for an unprecedented amount of time with very little warning. Particularly in my network, this was a nightmare for companies as their on-premises ERP system were suddenly very difficult to access from home. It has ultimately forced companies to consider their digital transformation and within that comes the questions, do we move to the cloud? We would like to think that something similar to theCovid pandemic would not happen again, yet we have to be prepared in case it does. Within this article, I aim to consolidate my 5 top tips to consider when moving to a Cloud ERP system.


Firstly, what is a cloud ERP system? A cloud ERP system, or enterprise resource planning system, is a software system that helps businesses manage their financials, supply chains and operations. It's designed to handle all aspects of running a business in one place, rather than having to rely on multiple software systems. Cloud ERP systems run on a server, or multiple servers, that is accessible to your employees and other users over the internet. This means you can use it from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.


1.    Coordinate with stakeholders and project leaders: To make the transition to the cloud, it's important to have alignment between leadership and those who will be implementing the new process. The team undertaking the transformation needs the approval of senior executives and support from all key participants in IT and related business groups. While the specific work of moving to the cloud will only involve the business process owners and project stakeholders, having everyone aligned on the project goals will help mitigate risks, provide transparency, and increase accountability at all levels.


2.    Create a strong implementation strategy. This should include matters such as objectives, schedule and an organisation structure that identifies key stake holders etc.  Once the project has started, have a plan for project communication for the entire organization and entry and exit criteria for each phase or testing cycle of the project. After you have a clear understanding of the project's objectives, you need to determine how you will manage project risks, requirements and quality. The pre-defined strategy will help you and the software provider to ensure that all the necessary controls, safeguards, and privacy requirements are met upfront. It will also help you to set up the right controls and governance during the implementation process. You should document how you are going to handle data security, privacy, controls and governance upfront with all implementation partners and software vendors.This way, they can understand your expectations and take them into account when designing their solution.


3.    Plan for project governance. A common mistake we see organizations make is not creating a structured and well-thought-out plan for project governance that will be heeded throughout the lifecycle of the implementation. Projects can be long and phased out over multiple years, so you want to make sure your team can make quick decisions that are in line with the organization's overall objectives. Guard rail your transformation by setting up your governance early on!


4.    Prepare your resources. In order to avoid project delays and failures, resources need to be assigned as early as possible. Whether you hire permanent or freelance staff for your project, you need an experienced project manager to lead and deliver the plan. Your internal staff will need to understand their role as they will test the system and communicate what they need for this to be an effective system.


5.    Think through a testing and release management strategy. Speak to any ERP implementation expert and they will tell you how testing is important at every stage. Results from testing will determine if your team is ready to go ahead with the business processes driven by the new cloud ERP. Cloud software providers roll out new functionality often through release or upgrade cycles. This process is new as it was non-existent if you had an on-premises ERP system. Therefore, constant testing is vital to ensure your Go-live is successful, but also it remains an efficient system moving forward.


In conclusion, implementing a newERP system, especially an on premise to cloud implementation, will bring challenges and unexpected problems. However, having a well thought out plan and a communication line will definitely help to resolve these as quickly as possible and with minimal interruption to daily business life.

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