Finance leaders should consider the following aspects when moving for an ERP system into the cloud to ensure its deployment and adoption run smoothly.
Realise the cloud is ubiquitous
IDC says that over the next three years, 67 percent of enterprise IT infrastructure and software spending will be focused on the cloud.
"Today's 'cloud-first' strategy is already moving toward 'cloud-only'," the research firm says.
"Just as important, the cloud will morph to become more distributed, more trusted, more intelligent, more industry-focused, more channel-mediated, and more concentrated," it says. The cloud is simply becoming the new business paradigm.
Have a plan and iterate
As part of a long-term strategy, businesses need to create a plan for cloud adoption and relate it to their overall business strategy. Finance leaders should look at the overall state of the business and its needs.
Then they can establish which business functions should move to the cloud. They should think about the drivers for future cloud migration. They also need to identify the IT challenges holding the organisation back, and which applications of the cloud would help.
The deployment can be done incrementally, in several phases, to fine-tune the solution and integrate the feedback.
Change the company culture
Working with the cloud requires a different mindset and a different way of doing things. It requires vision and flexibility, breaking silos and adopting a more collaborative approach.
The C-suite needs to infuse the new culture throughout and communicate more and better with the rest of the organisation.
Understand what the value is
Cloud computing's software-as-a-service (SaaS) is effectively a pay-as-you-consume model which does not require upfront costs, like those linked to the deployment of traditional, on-premise IT systems and expensive software licenses.
No IT team is required to deploy the system. It is flexible and can be used when required and switched off if necessary so finance leaders remain in control. By limiting the resources required, it will reduce operational and capital expenditure.
Cleanse your database
The cloud makes it possible to quickly and easily connect data with other enterprise systems.
It also offers the opportunity to take a closer look at the data and consider what will be useful going forward. 'Weeding' the data by eliminating inaccurate information, duplicates and inconsistencies is the best way to start. Consolidating and streamlining the data will help make it more accessible and easier to analyse.
Securitise and manage risk
The volume of sensitive and confidential data flowing to and from the cloud is constantly increasing.
According to a recent survey of businesses by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), cloud cybersecurity is perceived to be the area with the biggest skills deficiency.
"Simply stated, demand for trained and experienced cybersecurity professionals far exceeds supply. Lacking a comprehensive cybersecurity education and training strategy, large organisations will continue to battle highly sophisticated and well-organised cyber-adversaries with their own skeleton crew," ESG says.
Given the advantages it can bring, whether in terms of security, costs management or as an agent of change to make an organisation more agile, the cloud should be perceived by businesses as a core strategic asset and an integral part of their growth plans. A successful implementation lies in adopting good habits from the start.
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