1. Define and prepare your team
For a successful cloud implementation, you will want to make sure to define and prepare your team ahead of time. Know who will be involved in all aspects of the project from design, development, testing, and administration. Ensure you have an experienced consultant to help support and train your team throughout the project. Your team will need to be prepared for a big change in focus from the day-to-day support to project work. A solid project timeline will help keep the project on task and hold people accountable. Lastly make sure an approval process for key decisions is defined ahead of time. This will help get the decision makers approvals completed in advanced. Many projects fall behind from the lack of a solid project plan and ownership from project team members and key stakeholders.
2. Simplify and standardize your processes
Customizations have been a big part of most on premise applications. With cloud, one of the many benefits comes from standardizing and simplifying current processes which will allow you to easily take advantage of the new features and capabilities in each update. Invest in the time to review your current processes and always be sure to implement a quality process into your new application. For example, if a process requires a customization in cloud you may see issues during each upgrade and the timing of those are controlled by the vendor. These customizations will also cause further testing with each upgrade.
3. Focus on immediate value to the end users
While there are many benefits of moving to the cloud, a major benefit is the simplicity of use for employees. Instead of spending time on making sure you implement every module and new feature at once focus on what you can implement to provide immediate value to the end users. For example, focus on what the next business process impacting your organization is going to be and how to improve that process vs. worrying about a “big-bang” approach. This may be timing your go-live with your Year-End Performance review process which will get your employees in and using the system. Try to keep it simple by using a phased-in approach with the modules. Get the users in the system and ensure they have a good first impression otherwise the rest of the project will be impacted.
4. Focus on UAT
Make sure to build in plenty of time for User Acceptance Testing, not only for the testing piece but for the error fixes. There will be errors and things may not work the way the users expect. Set expectations when it comes to defects and improvement. Just because something does not work the way the users expect does not mean this is a defect, it could just be by design. For example, many of HR’s daily tasks may work and act very differently in the cloud then what they are used to. This will be questioned but this is a matter of training versus a defect. Fix the errors, train on the new features/design, and keep a list of the improvements you would like to see.
5. Support and Upgrades
Unlike with on premise applications, your ERP may control the upgrades and patches for Cloud. Make sure your team is prepared to support this by knowing when these will be applied and knowing what is included in each. Plan for configuring any new features your organization would like to take advantage of, regression testing, and updating any end user training materials. For example, many organizations find it helpful to have a review of the new features and capabilities in each upgrade with the teams responsible for supporting each module. During these reviews determine how or if any of the changes may impact your current implementation and if you want to utilize any of the new features and capabilities. Having a clear environment strategy and keeping them in sync will help ensure these upgrades goes smoothly and you are prepared to support your end users.
In conclusion when planning your cloud implementation keep in mind key team members may need to delegate their day-to-day tasks to others for the duration of the project, and key stakeholders need to be involved early for decision making. Spend time on reviewing current processes and determine where you can make improvements. Remember to focus on how to deliver an immediate impact to the end users and focus on UAT to get those issues resolved beforehand. Lastly do not forget about planning for support and upgrades post go-live.