Best Practices for Moving to a Cloud ERP Solution

By - February 6, 2013

For organizations thinking about moving to a cloud ERP solution such as NetSuite, here are some best practices to consider when evaluating cloud organizations:

  • Vendor Sustainability – Stay away from providers that are new to the ‘game’ the cloud is hot and many start-ups are looking to get in on the action.  You need to stick to the leaders and companies that have a solid presence in the marketplace.  They are more likely to be around in 3-5 years.
  • Start-Ups – These organizations should embrace the cloud from the beginning.  Do not build out IT closets or rooms.  Look to leverage lower cost, higher value cloud strategies to bring together the application needs (ERP, email, data storage, back-office, etc.).
  • Applications to Migrate – For more mature organizations ensure you pick the right applications. Start with lower risk apps, get comfortable, then move to more business critical apps.  Some organizations are very tech savvy or start-up in nature.  If you are looking to replace a specific application, examine cloud options as a first alternative.
  • Build Consensus with Your Business – Have people use a trial account and play around.  Get comfortable with application response times, data access, etc.  As they get comfortable, they will embrace the new technology, access to data and efficiencies that are offered with the new applications.   It is best to build goodwill before the application is rolled-out.
  • Application Integration – Examine application integration and how data will flow from on-premise to cloud. Generally web services make this easy but ensure that all the connecting applications have the right inputs/outputs (commonly known as open API’s).
  • Leverage New Functionality – Most cloud applications upgrade functionality twice a year.  Be sure you  keep track of new functionality. Much of it needs to be turned on from a configuration perspective. You are entitled to these upgrades, make sure you leverage them.
  • Service-Level Agreements – All cloud provider offer statistics on how often their services are unavailable.  Understand service level agreements and what (if any) financial compensation you are offered.  Most cloud providers have great uptime but it is always good to know the statistics before you purchase.
  • Manage the Change to IT – Be aware of how this changes your current IT/business staffing. Resistance is common – especially in the rank and file of your IT group.  Most organizations are generally threatened by this technology.  Pull in your IT leadership early in the process and get them to own the solution and process.  If they sense ownership, they are more likely to embrace the move to the cloud.
  • Understand Your Exit Strategy – Look for  providers that provide good migration to your data.  Understand how you will access your data should your cloud strategy change. Understand all the ‘hidden’ costs with your provider.  Are there costs for data extraction, additional backup to CD, etc.  These aren’t generally very expensive but can be frustrating down the road if they come as a surprise.  In many cases you can access data yourself if you have some technology minded folks on the payroll.
  • Tout the Savings of the Cloud –Embrace the cloud as a leadership group and be transparent on the savings. Challenge IT to track savings as they transfer how they operate within the organization.  IT becomes less a keeper of data and more of a relationship builder with cloud vendors. Their overall role evolves into a more strategic keeper of services and relationships.
  • Subscription Increases – Demand lower ceilings on annual increases.  Longer term contracts help you budget more effectively and manage costs longer term.
  • Data Protection – Ensure that the provider has the right level of compliance (i.e. SOC-1).  Ensure your data is safe – get proof that they take the right precautions and enact the right level of controls.

RSM is a national partner of NetSuite as a cloud ERP solution.  We are happy to assess these areas and your needs as you evaluate a new ERP solution.  For more information, contact our professionals at erp@mcglarey.com or by phone at 855.437.7202.

By: Chris Goguen – Massachusetts NetSuite Solution Provider

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