Many businesses are transforming their back office systems, leveraging cloud technology. We share four key learnings from those who have already gone through the process.
For many businesses, COVID-19 has served as a stark reminder of the fragility of their existing back office systems and infrastructure. The symptoms of this fragility may vary but common ones include difficulties in facilitating remote working and access to systems, and the lack of consistent, robust data to support management of lead performance indicators.
Speaking to CFOs over the last six weeks has revealed an acceleration in plans to upgrade or migrate back office applications to the cloud. The move to the cloud has the potential to deliver transformational benefits for your business: improving control; driving efficiency and automation; giving you access to data and insights to support strategic, management and operational decision making; and facilitating remote and agile working.
However, planning and successfully delivering a cloud transformation is a significant undertaking and there are too many that do not deliver on either the original business case or internal stakeholder expectations for the project.
So, what are they key learnings we can take from these projects and what has worked for those that have delivered success?
Through our work with businesses and organisations from all sectors and tiers of the UK economy, and through discussions from board level to workstream lead, we have found some common themes affecting the delivery cloud transformation. Here, we share with you the top four themes that we have collated from these conversations:
1 Get ahead of the timetable
For those businesses that have made the move to the cloud, many said that budget and timetable overruns, resulted from a failure to sufficiently prepare for the implementation. Business readiness activities – such as chart of account design, wider operating model reviews, internal team recruitment and role back-filling – were all areas where more could have been done earlier to get ahead of the timetable.
2 Engage, engage, engage
The move to the cloud should focus on adoption of leading practices embedded in the software, as opposed to significant adaptation or customisation. This drives with it an increased focus on understanding the resulting change to working practices, processes, and roles and responsibilities. Engaging key user groups early in the project, and then maintaining that through implementation, was a consistent theme of successful projects.
3 Under-promise, over-deliver
There is often a temptation when putting together the business case for cloud-based implementations to get drawn into levels of analysis around potential cost savings that are unrealistic. I always put a huge health warning on any business case where the savings are derived from taking out 0.5 FTEs from one area and 0.25 from another, or, are based on benchmarks that don’t sufficiently consider different business or service delivery models.
4 Choose your cloud implementation partner carefully
There is a wide variety of cloud implementation partners out there, with very different approaches to delivering the standard phases of an implementation. Successful cloud implementation projects were characterised by a strong, trusted relationship with the partner, where their team worked collaboratively with the business around a shared view of the required business outcomes.
If you are evaluating your cloud strategy, make sure you build in this pragmatic advice to support in mitigating the risk of budget and timetable overruns.
For further help and information on delivering cloud transformation, please get in touch with Mark O'Sullivan.