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Top 5 considerations for your ERP cloud migration

Even though ERP migration to the cloud can lead to greater visibility, control, and performance, some organizations wobble on the brink. But there are ways you can mitigate risk and step forward with confidence. Here are the top areas to consider.

When it comes to large-scale projects like migrating ERP systems to the cloud, the process can be fraught with difficulty.

When it comes to ERP migration, most organizations are worried about:

  • The drain on time and resources.
  • The potential disruption of technical issues.
  • Teams feeling uncomfortable with new processes or employees resisting change.

On top of that, there's the ongoing challenge of navigating your ERP migration while keeping business-as-usual services running smoothly.

Potential ERP implementation issues and problems with ERP systems are enough to overwhelm some companies — and convince them to keep putting off their ERP migration. But this position isn't sustainable.

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How to manage a successful ERP migration project

As business changes rapidly, organizations need to transform how they manage finances, projects, procurement, reporting, forecasting, and payroll.

With the right ERP tools, your teams can respond effectively to industry disruption and boost resilience, sharpen efficiency by relying on a single source of truth, and embed agility that lets you grow and thrive.

The best way through the fog of potential ERP problems and solutions is to focus on your journey’s fundamental principles and goals. Take a look at these five areas which are key issues in ERP implementation:

1. Know why you’re migrating to the cloud in the first place

The cloud still seems to attract a certain degree of mysticism from its most vigorous promoters. But you need to identify the benefits that ERP migration will bring to your business.

Cloud is the foundation of the SaaS (software as a service) model of IT. But whether it’s right for your business may depend on the answer to one key question: how much agility does your operation require?

One of the great advantages of the cloud is its ability to scale up or down quickly in response to demand rapidly – without any of the hidden costs or service disruption that often accompany on-premises infrastructure (especially tech that needs frequent reconfiguration).

ERP migration to the cloud could be perfect for your organization if it requires flexibility with extra resources on demand – but you don’t want the huge CAPEX expenses associated with managing all your IT resources yourself.

As more companies harness artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in their ERP platforms, the cloud will increasingly become necessary to deal with the vast amounts of power required to use them effectively. ERP migration is a business imperative in this area.

2. Consider security and best practice

Security was once a primary fear for companies migrating their ERP systems to the cloud. However, as technology matures, we’ve seen a considerable transformation in the ability of cloud providers to manage the security of their platforms.

A good analogy is that of public utilities. Back in the day, companies had to generate their own energy, but now outsource the task to utility companies who are much more reliable and affordable. Similarly, companies are increasingly outsourcing their IT infrastructure to companies that can deliver and secure their estate.

The number one security threat to cloud platforms is the same for any platform – poor policies and human errors. With ERP migration, make sure you set aside the time to implement best practice security policies and make sure everyone in your team understands them.

3. Be aware of your vendor’s “data gravity”

The biggest mistake with ERP migration projects used to be making the move too late. Organizations would stay with their legacy systems just a little too long and then move to the cloud reactively when confronted with the fact that their competitors who made the jump earlier were now far ahead of them.

But increasingly, it's evident that one of the biggest blunders is making the jump without careful consideration for vendor partnerships and their “data gravity.” This can lead to ERP implementation issues and problems with ERP systems.

What is “data gravity?” Put simply, it’s a measure of the difficulty of moving away from a cloud provider in the future, should the need arise. One of the biggest draws of the cloud is that migrating data to the new platforms is often quick and easy. But switching later to another cloud platform might be extremely costly.

It's essential to plan your ERP migration carefully, pick the right vendor the first time, and be aware of their “data gravity.” Don’t be overawed by the simplicity of the move. Ask them how difficult it would be to move away in the future if your business decided on that course of action.

4. Migrate critical systems first – but be prepared to go “all in” soon

Best practice for migration to the cloud dictates that you don’t want to end up constantly playing the “system integrator” role of a complex hybrid cloud estate. In the long run, this puts the breaks on enterprise agility and can leave your ERP cloud migration team bogged down in maintenance and admin – precisely what a cloud solution is supposed to put an end to.

Begin by taking the time to identify your critical systems, shape your cloud space around these, and then start migrating your larger “automation islands” at the same time. These are the ecosystems that work best when integrated and complement each others’ functionalities, and they also usually tend to be the most resource-intensive.

After this, it’s best to identify coherent “chunks” of the estate to migrate. Move all planning applications over at once, for example, rather than independently handling each system or tool.

For companies with greater data maturity that are already leveraging AI and machine learning, it can be wise to take a “data first” approach – migrating data first. You can then take advantage of the abundant integration tools available to continue using your legacy systems to process it as you complete your ERP migration journey.

5. Say goodbye to your legacy system in the right way

Successful ERP migration will feel like you've turned a massive corner. But sunsetting a legacy system isn’t an easy prospect – especially if it leaves you with a capability gap in a key area. However, many businesses will prolong the process unnecessarily out of a combination of fear and complacency. It’s easy to hang on to a system you’ve been relying on for 20 years, after all.

Getting the end-of-life process right depends on correctly defining what’s critical, what isn’t, and how you will perform the essential requirements in the new system after ERP migration. Fortunately, cloud solutions are a world ahead of legacy on-premises tech in terms of the user experience, so employees should be up and running faster.

Making a case to the business could depend on your ability to map processes – critical and non-critical – and show how they will be replicated or replaced by the new system.

Discover more about ERP migration

It’s vital to research ERP problems and solutions and understand the important ERP implementation issues. Explore how Unit4 can help your organization’s journey to cloud ERP by watching this webinar on-demand. You’ll find out how to make your move sooner and easier, thanks to a successful ERP migration.


How long does it take to migrate ERP to the cloud?

Unfortunately, there’s no set answer for this. It could take days or months. That’s because any true cloud solution is built around your specific needs. Cloud solutions like Unit4’s are purpose-built for service providers, so the implementation process tends to move a little quicker.  Industry experience and expert knowledge often mean we can create accelerated schedules to make your cloud journey as short as it can be.

What are the limitations of cloud-based ERP systems?

Cloud-based ERPs present a lot of opportunities for freedom, productivity, and value. But they come with some challenges too. Yes, they are more scalable and supported, but they are also less customizable. They’re built, as much as possible, to be a one-size-fits-all system. So customization can be a little more tricky at times. They’re also reliant on connection, there has to be some expectation that this could cause issues from time to time. The good news is that your provider is responsible for resolving problems like these. That’s part of the benefit of paying for services like these.

What is cloud first strategy?

Cloud first strategies are an approach to software and solutions that removes the emphasis and responsibility of ownership, maintenance, and innovation by moving them to a third-party. This move frees your internal resources, like IT teams and running costs up, to be used in more valuable ways. These strategies also future-proof your organization by making mission-critical services and systems more widely available. Letting you create more flexible cultures and supercharge how you access and use data across your organization.

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