As finance leaders within your organization, you may be considering moving your technology to the cloud. What stands in the way of your success? In this overview, Alight breaks down the six mistakes companies often make when deploying cloud finance technology.
1. Treating cloud technology deployment like a legacy on-premise system
Cloud technology, especially cloud-based finance technology, has only existed for about a decade. As a result, many organizations still approach cloud deployments like a legacy on-premise implementation.
Learn from other company's cloud finance technology deployments
Starting a cloud finance technology deployment without understanding the system capabilities will lead to wasted time and rework. In this case, you have the opportunity to evaluate what other companies have built.
Use these examples as a starting point and refine your process to your unique organizational needs. You’ll accelerate the deployment and learn some best practices along the way. Deciding against this approach could cost you double the time and money needed in the cloud technology design phase.
Take a new approach for your resourcing model
You can also face additional costs if you approach the cloud resourcing model the same way as an on-premise application. You don’t need twenty consultants at your offices for months on end. Instead, a focused cloud finance project plan puts the right people in the right rooms at the right time.
Cloud technology consultants can be just as productive (and usually less costly) when they work remotely. However, that doesn’t mean in-person meetings should be eliminated. Look for opportunities to have in-person meetings at major project milestones.
2. Not starting on "day one"
Payments for cloud technology services typically start on the first day you sign your contract. This outflow of cash could be a concern for your internal finance operations. Alternatively, there are ways to defer costs, capitalize items and investigate financing options. The key advice is to generate a return on your cloud technology investment as soon as possible.
Your procurement department knows how to coordinate a variety of decision points in order to get the best deal from vendors. Why not start your cloud project planning with those parallel decision points? That may seem obvious, but it also can feel difficult with so many moving parts.
Work with a partner that specializes in deploying cloud finance technology. They will give you guidance on project timing. Our advice is to get started early. There are activities you can run in parallel – ensuring your ROI and accelerating your cloud project timeline.
3. Lack of planning for cloud integrations
The number one reason for a cloud finance project delay is integrations.
Some of the main reasons for delay are mismatched timelines and lack of vested interests between you and a third party. The third party could be a financial institution, or even your own IT team. Data touchpoints (internal and external) should be identified well ahead of time. Sometimes it can take months to find resources to support your cloud technology integrations – so be prepared.
It's the role of the technology vendor to help build out your future-state cloud technology architecture. If this isn’t an area they focus on, a certified cloud services firm can help.
Deploy your cloud finance technology with clear expectations. Know the integration plan and understand what comes next. It’s extremely important to avoid becoming another project delay statistic.
4. Not considering internal staffing resources
Another reason for a cloud technology project delay is not correctly budgeting for the resources of your current staff. When deploying a new cloud finance technology system, your employees step away from their daily job roles. That daily work has to be completed as well and can easily cause a delay in your cloud technology project.
One solution is to “backfill” the day to day work with additional staff, keeping your existing staff working on the cloud deployment project. You will be relying on their expertise gained throughout the project for knowledge transfer. These existing team members will also be valuable as you test new functionality in the cloud.
It’s important for this scenario to be addressed at the start of the project. If you are three months into your project and then realize you are running into delays, that will put your cloud deployment project at risk.
5. No clear conversion strategy for cloud financial data
As these tips reveal, time is money when it comes to deploying cloud finance technology.
The most valuable places to focus your time are on future-state design and knowledge transfer. Spending time on cleaning up data (or transferring large amounts of legacy data to the cloud) does not lead to a return on your investment.
Organizations should focus on what data is needed on “day one”. Typically, this is open balances and prior year summary level to handle year-over-year financial reporting.
You can also consider data warehousing for your legacy data. Additionally, ask Alight about leveraging tools like Adaptive Insights.
6. Hiring the wrong "experts"
If you purchased an electric car and it needed to be serviced would you hire a mechanic that specializes in gasoline powered cars? No, you would hire the mechanic that specializes in electric cars and if possible specializes with your specific brand.
So why do companies consistently hire services firms that do not specialize in cloud technology?
A finance cloud deployment is no different. Evaluate partners who focus on cloud deployments and can bring best practices as well as lessons learned to your project. Don’t fall into the trap of the status quo or you’ll end up paying for your partner to learn how to deploy the cloud at your expense.