I recently had the pleasure of conversing with one of our clients whom had recently gone through a huge cloud transformation effort implementing both Intacct, a cloud ERP stalwart and Host Analytics, and EPM Gartner Quadrant superstar. While the implementations were different, different teams, different outcome goals, and different timelines, one thing they did have in common was that both applications brought a large scale move to the cloud for the client organization. Let’s take a look at what they had to say having completed both cloud-based implementations:
ME: Were there any other applications that you all sought during your transformation?
S: We needed to make sure that it worked in sync with any of our other cloud applications that we currently utilize. That was another driver towards our cloud apps.
ME: Excellent, so which process has been most positively affected by your transformation. And what has the impact of that transformation been?
S: Well, we definitely feel like we own the platform without having the costs associated with owning the platform. The impact I would say, “Independence from our VAR.” With our previous platform we constantly had to go to our solution specialists to be able to make any changes. We can do that here but it’s just seems a little bit easier with our cloud applications.
ME: With regard to both Host and Intacct, you’ve implemented both of those. What about the cloud made both of those implementations easier?
S: Well, you are engaged from the beginning of the process. It’s going to be very hands on. And you are going to be involved every step of the way. One of the things we appreciated was understanding how the system with changing regularly. You could visualize those changes and understand how it relates to your business operations.
ME: From a rough time frame how long did each project take and was more or less time than you expected?
S: Both implementation were completely different. The first (Intacct) was because we were inflexible and we did not make decisions. So to the extent that you do make those decisions, timelier, and we were also making a lot of changes in terms of our processes; we were streamlining chart of accounts. So to the extent that you can get those processes completed in advance, the implementation should go pretty smoothly. You just want to make sure you make any decisions as quickly as possible because it will hold up the time frame. With regard to be Host Analytics that actually went faster than we expected because of our experience from the first go-round. With Host we made decisions rather quickly, again you had Brittenford for leading the charge though they’ll be able to walk you through these processes so again you need to be flexible. You need to make those decisions because that is going to determine how fast or how slow your implementation goes.
ME: Have any of these [quarterly cloud release] updates broken things? Quite often people are concerned with cloud applications. Has there been any impact to you since you’ve been using these cloud applications?
S: No, no. I think there was only one time and we’ve been using this system for well over a year. There was only one time where we experienced downtime and that was only for one hour. So you’ll work on a platform one day within a module and then you’ll come in the next day and you’ll go “Oh, this is something I really wanted it to be.” For example one of the things we wanted to do was make changes to a department. Rather than do a re-class entry we would never be able to make them after a bank reconciliation was done. Now we can change departments at any time. And that was a huge key for us to be able to make changes on the fly like that. We were happy when we saw that enhancement come through. But no down time.
ME: So what was the greatest challenge, you and your team experienced, trying to implement the cloud?
S: One of the things I would definitely say would be our thought process. We had to disassociate the way we previously thought about implementing a software. With the new cloud-based system you definitely had to change your mindset. By this, I mean you have to remind yourself that the system is adaptable and to not be afraid to build even if there are going to be changes down the line. I think one of the things we were afraid of was the cost of making changes given the old model. And we had to disassociate ourselves from that thought process and to just move forward.
ME: That’s great. So is there any other piece of advice you would want to give other organization so that they can either embrace the challenges you laid out or avoid the challenge completely?
S: To not be afraid of the process to understand that you are going to make mistakes along the way and that you have Brittenford leading the charge.
ME: Was there any unexpected benefit or benefits you all received by using cloud applications?
S: Definitely. We love having insight and visibility into our operations at any place and any time. We do travel twice a year and our office relocates so it’s very good to know that we have our systems on hand. So, if any of our executive directors have questions we are able to get some information and insight via reports right away, as opposed to saying we’ll have to wait until we’re back in the office and then we’ll get an answer to you. Another plus has been the periodic software upgrades. They’ve been a major plus that helps enhance our processes.
ME: What single piece of advice would you give to any organization considering a move to the cloud?
S: To just be flexible. To make decisions and to take action. What we experienced with our internal implementation and key business decision makers would sometimes would hold off making changes, again because we were afraid of the old model. Don’t be. Make the change. Change is inevitable and you should embrace it. Even if you don’t know what the end result will be, move forward. Push through. Brittenford is there to help you and assist you through the process. Change is inevitable so embrace it.
ME: And finally, from an executive buy-in prospective were their challenges as you tried to get executives, the executive director, or the CFO to embrace cloud and transformation just from a business case standpoint? Are there any pointers there?
S: Yes, I would let them know that the current climate is leaning toward more real-time financials and that the cloud is definitely going to enhance and move your organization towards real-time reporting. A lot of the times key stakeholders are concerned because they’re receiving information and it takes a long time. So, you definitely want to stress the point that it going to enhance and be able to give them visibility and potentially real-time visibility into the operation. They definitely want to consider cloud applications. Once they begin to see it they will understand and appreciate it but you definitely have to continue to work with them for buy-in on it.
ME: Thank you so much for sharing your story, your insight and your path toward transformation.
I am sure those of you reading were thinking about what you might have to go through to experience the same level you transformation as their organization. There will always be challenges to your business and of course those challenges will bring change…positive change. As said in one of the previous responses, change is inevitable, embrace it. And when you do we’ll be glad to help simplify those business challenges.