7 Key Elements of a Successful ERP Cloud Migration Strategy

A cloud migration strategy is designed to provide the “wire frame” or “pillars” to which the implementation is based upon. In this blog post, I will walk you through seven key considerations for a successful ERP cloud migration strategy. 

Sandra Bontempo

Sandra Bontempo

Introduction

Your organization has decided to take the leap and invest in a cloud ERP transformation, and you have been tapped to lead the effort.  Researching ERP Cloud solutions can be quite overwhelming, and the cost of selecting the wrong solution can impact the organization for years to come, so where do you begin?  

There are certain aspects of your migration strategy that should be defined before the vendor selection process, while others can be defined during project initiation. These strategies determine characteristics and services required for the system transformation to be successful.

 This post will focus on successful cloud migration strategies and when in the implementation life cycle they are best defined.

What is a Cloud Migration Strategy and Why Does it Matter?

A cloud migration strategy is a high-level plan for shifting existing on-premise and/or co-located applications to the cloud. It is designed to provide the “wire frame” or “pillars” to which the implementation is based upon. It could be a simple “lift and shift” or as complex as a business transformation.  A well-defined migration strategy is the backbone of a successful cloud ERP implementation.

As a project manager who has lead over 15 full scale ERP implementations I have seen the key drivers that contribute to project success. I have also seen the damage caused when these factors are either not considered, or considered too late in the project life cycle. Below are 7 key elements critical to a successful cloud migration strategy and the point in the implementation they are best defined.

1. Vision & Business Drivers – “Why Are You Changing”

Both the team and your end users will need to understand the strategic decision behind the change.  Having a clear grasp of the reasons behind the decision will help the team stay aligned with the project vision. The value proposition defines the “why behind the what”, provides direction and is the foundation for setting goals during the project.

2. Identify Success Metrics

Now that you have identified the business challenges it is just as important to identify the KPI’s used to determine success. Defined KPIs should be tangible metrics and represent the improvements the solution is expected to deliver post-implementation.  Examples of success metrics include cycle time, forecast accuracy, downtime, cost savings & headcount. Each KPI identified and prioritized has a direct impact on the functionality deployed and is best defined prior to vendor selection. The Gartner article “How to Measure ERP Implementation Success by Leveraging Business KPIs” provides additional insight on the topic.

3. Identify Key Stakeholders

Identifying stakeholders for an ERP implementation is often an iterative process, especially for longer implementations. Prior to vendor selection you will want to define your key stakeholders such as project sponsor and steering committee members. The team will be responsible for authorizing budgetary changes, scope changes and PMO escalations. Selecting an executive sponsor is critical to the success of the project. Without leadership support many ERP initiatives fail.

The core implementation team is usually defined during the project readiness phase, after the project is approved and the solution provider selected.

4.Change Management

Change management and end user adoption is critical to the success of any implementation.   Change is never easy and requires thoughtful planning to be managed successfully.

PROSCI’s correlation data from over 2,000 data points and 10 years shows that initiatives with planned change management are 6 times more likely to meet their identified success metrics than those without a formal change management strategy.

The change curve is a method of measuring end user’s performance and adoption response to change. Effective change management will reduce the severity and duration of the change curve, which in turn will allow the organization to achieve the defined success metrics faster.

Prior to vendor selection you will want to determine the following at a high level:

Identifying change management requirements early in the process will increase your likelihood of success. 

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5. Training

End user training is often overlooked when defining strategies. At a high level, you need to understand your organization’s training capabilities. Ask the following questions when determining your training strategy:

The answers will help determine if additional actions are required to support knowledge transfer.

6. Data & Migration Strategy

Your data strategy will directly impact the time, cost and quality of your implementation. At a minimum you need to understand how your data is currently utilized and how it supports your future vision. Common components of a data strategy are below:

  • Current data quality: What is the quality of the data in your current system.   Is a preliminary cleansing effort required?
  • Data source: Are you converting one system or combining multiple systems in the cloud? Are there any ISV’s or integrations to take into consideration that could impact your data?
  • Future state: How will historical data be accessed?   If historical conversions are required how far back? Will customizations force historical updates to data? If so, is that impact being considered as an overarching effort?
  • Resources: Does the organization have the expertise in-house to address conversion requirements?

7. Technology & Security

Security in the cloud can be drastically different from on-prem solutions and is the responsibility of both the provider and the customer. An effective cloud migration strategy includes data access governance requirements in the RFP process.  Examples of these requirements are data loss prevention policies, disaster recovery, and environment management. Scalability and performance requirements are also key factors to consider during the selection process. 

Boundary Systems & Existing Integrations– Determine if boundary system integration will be required.  This can be a challenge as integration patterns that are successful for on-premises applications are often challenging in the cloud due to latency & potential security restrictions.   Existing integrations will require revision to ensure they work with cloud applications.

Internet Connectivity – Review the geographic locations included in the implementation. Regions with poor internet connectivity may not support a cloud integration. Microsoft offers a solution to this issue called “Cloud & Edge” where the cloud is the system of intelligence and edge is the system of record. This allows both cloud and on-prem applications to communicate via data replication.

Conclusion

Incorporating the above recommendations into your cloud migration strategy will empower your organization to address the most critical factor in your migration approach “Does the current application meet the needs of the organization & the users?”   

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