The cloud can no longer be ignored. Several Performance Management solutions are already fully cloud-based; other solutions offer a choice between on-premise and cloud-based. But what should you pay attention to when using a SAAS solution? 7 persistent misconceptions about cloud-based solutions.
1. The cloud is the same for every software solution
The cloud is an integral part of the product for some suppliers. In that case, we’re talking about a real Software as a Service solution (SAAS). Take, for example, SAP Analytics Cloud and Oracle FCC and PBC. Other suppliers, such as Tagetik, OneStream, and Board, let you choose between on-premise and the cloud. This also applies to SAP Group Reporting. With these solutions, the cloud is primarily a place where your application is located. It is important to know which variant you have so that you can organize your IT support processes accordingly.
2. I don’t need support anymore
Technical support is no longer necessary, that’s right. That is, as long as we’re talking about the support of the server and the operating system. As soon as it comes to technical application support, things get more nuanced. With a real cloud solution, you can no longer tinker at the back of the application, but scripting is still necessary. For example, to enable integration with other packages or to set up a smart workflow. And functional support will continue to exist. Even in the cloud, you have to deal with incidents, issues, and user questions.
3. I’ll decide when to upgrade
Different software suppliers use different release methods. For example, Oracle updates the test environment for EPM every first Friday of the month, after which the update goes into production on the third Friday of the month. Make sure you are not faced with surprises: plan a regression test for each release. Such a regression test covers all crucial components. If it turns out that there are obstacles to your environment, sometimes it’s possible to postpone the update. However, there is a time limit; Oracle, for example, has a maximum of 3 months. On the other hand, with SAP, you receive an update every quarter without the option to request a postponement.
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4. I don’t have to do anything when new releases occur
In practice, we see that many organizations do not pay enough attention to the opportunities that new releases offer. For example, new functionalities may have been added, a bug been solved, or a workaround no longer necessary. You have to discover these interesting options yourself. It is important to embed this in your support process to ensure that the new possibilities are regularly checked. After all, something is happening on an application your financial processes are running on.
5. I can no longer deviate from the standard
Even in the cloud, customization is possible. However, you must have a clear business case for it; is customization really necessary? Assess whether you can also solve it in another way. In practice, we see customization in cloud solutions mainly around the smarter design of workflows and integration. But you can also adapt a lot to your own needs in, for example, the consolidation rules, forms, and process flows.
6. The cloud application is not a part of my IT-landscape
Ultimately, all parts of your IT landscape need to keep talking to each other, inside and outside the cloud. That is never plug-and-play but must be created for your specific situation. Consider, for example, the integration between your ERP and EPM tools. And the export of EPM data to a BI application.
7. I don’t have to worry about backup and recovery
You would indeed expect that the backup and recovery are well organized. In practice, however, it appears that you have to keep looking critically at the backup options. Different suppliers deal with this differently, and sometimes this even varies per application. For example, with Oracle, the cloud backup of ERP is a lot better than that of EPM.
Moving to a different rhythm
Every application is constantly changing, whether in the cloud or on-premise. The big difference lies in the rhythm in which you pay attention to your application. Previously, you could make a number of major adjustments periodically. However, with a SAAS solution, you are continuously working on your system. Moreover, it is now the software supplier who determines the rhythm. By creating smart processes, you can still choose your own movements within this rhythm.
Text: Bert Dotinga