Every organisation using Oracle E-Business Suite, is currently asking the same question: Should they update to Release 12 (R12), and if so, how do they make a success of it? Oracle and its partner organisations have been at pains to evangelise about the benefits of the latest version, while warning existing E-Business Suite clients that they will be put at risk if they delay the move to Oracle R12. So what exactly are these risks, and how can they be mitigated to reveal the benefits?
The business challenges that most organisations face are varied and unrelenting. Whilst concentrating on reducing costs and optimising how they work with internal resources, organisations are also constantly reviewing how they partner with external third parties. After all, gaining improved functionality from existing systems can create significant value to an organisation, both financially and technically. When it comes to ensuring a competitive advantage, there’s no such thing as standing still; if businesses are not taking steps toward improvement then they will find themselves slipping behind the competition. This becomes a problem when budgets are slashed and margin improvement is demanded from senior management.
Weighing it up
When it comes to R12, there is no doubt that it can improve the functionality of business systems, with a substantial move from the previous version, 11i. In fact, those organisations that have successfully moved to R12 are already seeing the benefits. But where does this leave the organisations that are yet to migrate to R12?
Well, firstly Oracle has announced that E-Business Suite 11i will no longer be supported from 2013. This is a fairly concerning factor, when considering that the applications organisations use may be linked to client records, internal processes, payment systems, and human resources, to name a few. No Board should be content with not having a support service from Oracle in place. Moreover, the risks of being unsupported in this way are completely unnecessary.
As for the risks in moving to R12, unfortunately many organisations have found that true expertise that can assist with these projects is difficult to find. Like any exercise of this magnitude, there are too many examples of organisations racking up substantial costs, failing to meet project deadlines and losing internal resource to these projects. Quite rightly, all these costs, whether financial or strategic, are ones that every business wants to steer clear of.
The word ‘change’ conjures up both excitement and fear for businesses. When it comes to migrating to R12, organisations are aware of the lengthy process involved and the sensitive nature of tampering with business critical systems and applications.
When overhauling something that is essentially the lifeblood of your business, the risks will naturally be front of mind. What if the upgrade leads to downtime for customers or your own staff? Many business-critical processes, such as ensuring employees are paid on time, rely on Oracle applications, and the consequences of getting it wrong are a huge worry for organisations.
There are also concerns over the resources that need to be dedicated to tackle the migration to R12. When handled internally, businesses will need to make big sacrifices, dedicating adequate money, time and testing areas. After all, implementing R12 is not an overnight job. It’s also not a ‘catch-all’ solution that can be taken off the shelf and immediately implemented. There is a significant amount of trial and error that needs to be carried out in order to successfully meet the bespoke needs of individual businesses. Because of this, it can lead to companies having to donate their entire testing area to making sure the implementation works, before going live. This puts big limitations on what can be done in other areas, putting a hold on the likes of new service or product development and delivery.
And of course there is the financial commitment that is required. With purse strings still heavily guarded, making an almost invisible infrastructure a priority is difficult. Despite this, Boards should be taking a long-term view on the potential outcomes of not acting now. If delays in upgrading to R12 continue, then companies will run the risk of being caught out when new, more advanced applications are made available on R12. It could lead to competitors gaining the one or two per cent advantage, which means their profit and loss sheets looks a lot healthier come the end of the year.
Answers in the Cloud
For many organisations the best thing about cloud computing is that it gives them the ability to fail. The operational model of the cloud allows businesses to rent infrastructure cheaply, on-demand allowing them to try out new ideas and test new projects without having to make a big financial commitment. This model perfectly suits the need for organisations to test and support an upgrade to R12 without having to justify high levels of capital expenditure.
Adopting a cloud solution from a trusted third party, which has the proven expertise to help, enables businesses to carry out all the testing they need in the cloud. This makes the move to R12 more manageable. All the trial and error can be carried out ‘virtually’ without the heavy strain on internal resources. Effectively, it removes the worry about any downtime, data going missing, or employees missing out on their payday.
In addition to this, as everything is carried out in the cloud, the company can operate as normal. The bottom line is there is no risk, no loss of service, and it is pain free for businesses.
Making it work
The expertise suppliers can offer is a commodity companies should be looking to get the most out of. Consulting with them at an early stage will help get the project signed-off. When looking for a third party to assist with the transition the key is to identify one that has already assessed all the potential issues on the horizon for implementing R12 and their impact; one that can help manage the risks for an organisation, provide proven expertise and the knowledge to help create a compelling business case on how R12 will demonstrate real world benefits. By taking this approach it is likely that IT departments will find that Board-level purse strings begin to loosen.
Having the right solution is just the first step to succeeding with the transition to R12. The crucial part is working in close collaboration with the supplier before, during and after the switch. By doing this, they can identify the particular needs each organisation has at each stage of the move. This helps to reduce the experimentation element of the process as suppliers can quickly target problems thanks to their better understanding of each firm.
With just over a year before R11 becomes redundant, companies yet to transition to R12 are already cutting it fine. With a complex migration ahead of them a cloud-based approach offers an attractive accelerant, controlling isolation from production to minimise internal impact. Finding a company who understands R12 and how to leverage the cloud model, could allow businesses to run a leaner upgrade project which helps to support a stronger business case with minimised risk.
By: Andrew Slater | www.interoute-IAM.com