Beyond go-live: solutions to optimise investments in cloud software

Mark O’Sullivan
database technology
Companies are investing in modern cloud applications to enable the delivery of business strategy, yet many of them complain of a failure to deliver the benefits that were promised at the outset. Mark O’Sullivan discusses some of the common challenges and explains what can be done to resolve them.

 The last ten years have seen increasing numbers of businesses investing in modern software as a service (SaaS) solutions across customer, finance, HR, and supply chain. Companies have invested in them with the objective of improving productivity, efficiency, quality, consistency, reporting, insights, and user experience. 

However, despite the vast sums and huge levels of effort spent in implementing new solutions, many businesses still report dissatisfaction with their new systems. There are three problems that are frequently reported by C-suite sponsors in finance, HR, supply chain, and IT. Understanding the causes and potential consequences of these issues is essential for resolving them. 

Failure to deliver anticipated cost savings

Too often projects are predicated on an unrealistic business case because of pressure to justify the benefits of the programme in the form of hard cost-savings. The best business cases take a realistic view of the quantum and timing of any cost savings alongside analysis of wider benefits, such as improved controls, better reporting and analytics to support decision making, and the impact of embedding modern ways of working.

Users continuing to work outside of systems

The mantra of modern SaaS implementations is 'adopt, not adapt'. That means leveraging the out-of the-box functionality, rather than adapting or customising the software as was the approach with on-premise implementations. Yet, projects commonly focus heavily on the technical work required to deliver the go-live but ignore the work required to land the change successfully. Failure to plan for the change to a wider operating model will inevitably result in system and business processes that are poorly aligned.

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Limited or poor quality reporting

Company executives are often convinced of the need to invest in new systems by the promise of improved reporting and analytics to strengthen strategic, management, and operational decision making. However, those same executives often find post go-live reporting is worse or at least no better than what they had before the project. Reporting is one of the most commonly under-resourced parts of the project, with implementation partners often passing the responsibility to the company who have limited or no in-house experience of their new software reporting tools.

However, companies need not panic if they experience these or any other challenges post-implementation. Going live with a modern SaaS application should be the start of the journey, not the end. Undertaking a post go-live assessment of your solution can provide a roadmap of all the enhancement options that will put you back on a path to delivering business benefit. It's likely there will be a combination of short term quick wins to re-build confidence and gain momentum, generating support for more significant changes.

In undertaking these reviews we often find that businesses take some time to adjust to life in the cloud. Falling behind with periodic functionality releases means the company often misses out on new or enhanced functionality.

As one Head of HR Operations said:

“I thought I needed to rip down the walls of the building, when actually all I needed to do was some redecorating”.

Undertaking a proper assessment of your solution can avoid making costly decisions to rip up and replace underperforming solutions.

For more insight and guidance, get in touch with Mark O'Sullivan