Blog - just a flesh wound

I’m all for competition. And when it’s two juggernauts competing for slices of the US economy, I’m ready to grab some popcorn and settle in. But recent comments by the CEO of Oracle made me wonder if he understood the industry he was in or if he had heard of an ERP migration project plan.   

In a recent article, Larry Ellison from Oracle said he was going to take over all of SAP’s Cloud customers. But in a follow-up article, Oracle and Larry Ellison were silent on the topic. I started to wonder if this has something to do with the current COVID situation, or if there is something else going on.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound (Monty Python)

Rip and replace isn’t really a “thing” for ERP. It’s more of a tear-destroy-obliterate-disrupt and completely unhinge the current business environment when you’re trying to take over an enterprise ERP implementation and installation such as SAP or Oracle. 

I mean this in a good way – when a customer has an enterprise implementation of SAP it isn’t just in a box.  SAP implementations have interfaces and integrations into every aspect of business whether it’s materials management’s supply chain, financial consolidations and the other many myriads of SAP modules; the extensions and connections with other software, databases, and solutions of SAP are endless.

In addition, the business culture training education and framework around your functional business and technical staff are all intertwined within these integrations.  This makes replacing  SAP cloud with Oracle Cloud almost impossible. The herculean effort it takes to coordinate all of the changes that must take place for the business to operate effectively and efficiently would cost an organization millions and millions of dollars a quarter and end up depleting budgets.  

I think that is one reason why that bold statement from Larry Ellison seemed to go nowhere and have nothing to do with anything else. The official response from SAP confirms this exact thought process – “SAP calls BS on Larry Ellison’s claim of snatching huge SAP customers”. Larry Ellison states “We’ve got to demonstrate that we can safely take these enormous companies to the cloud in the way that they’re not putting their business in any risk”.

Point of fact, moving any ERP in this connected cloud world is going to organically create tremendous risk for any established ERP company, whether that’s Oracle SAP or other third parties.

There IS a way to migrate your ERP

Most solution engineers and architects talk about taking a step by step approach or big bang approach when moving to the cloud or adding new implementation changes to their ERP system. These are good process change options however, what’s missing from the progression are the handrails and hand-holding work. I think that there is a third option – I call it (‘Banistered Evolution’).

It’s a step-by-step agile approach to change management, with embedded cultural change in the organization. Think of it as a cohesive methodology that uniformly connects all of the on-premise or cloud interfaces and integrations together while doing any kind of change. It does not come in the form of just code or best practices but is a collection of these five things all answering and focused on the Why before action.

  1. Adaptable and agile intermediary connecting code for all the on-premise and cloud interfaces with embedded change and growth.
    WHY? –  So you don’t have throwaway, locked in processes as you evolve.
  2. Cultural change management program.
    WHY? –  Resistance to change will fail your project.
  3. A systemic approach to business functional and technical change managed with a safe agile methodology.
    WHY? –  Change has to be quick but cannot cause process disruption.  Most businesses rely on a steady reliable EOM, Quarter over Quarter reconciliation that must be unhindered.
  4. Buy-in at all levels.
    WHY?  Each business area is interdependent of the other.  Un-feathered change with a lack of awareness will delay workflow at best. At worst, will cause massive internal conflict leading to attrition and unrecoverable delays.
  5. A clear definition of the future end state open and transparent to all employees.
    WHY? – Supports number 4, but more importantly, gives your employees skin in the game.  This will accelerate success across your ecosystem

The myriad of considerations are what make this type of change something that you have to consider carefully. Because life is so much easier and so connected it has created a silent or shadowy network that enables you to do everything that you want and make your actions all interconnected e.g. log onto one point and it auto logs you into many others. At the same time, that silent network in itself in the cloud has become a rigid framework that identifies and labels you with the types of product solutions and choices that are going to stay with you for the rest of your career. Moving and breaking that cycle is a massive disruption that has to be carefully considered whenever you’re making any major software changes in this new cloud world. 

Whether you choose a stepped approach or migrate with a big bang, make sure to augment your decision with these five steps to ensure a successful migration, vendor change program, or survivable flesh wound. 

Darrin Joncas is a strategic business leader with 25 years of experience in enterprise information management and business intelligence. As a Senior Director of a global practice, Darrin has led teams in successful implementations of SAP in multiple verticals. Over the past two years, Darrin has built a boutique company, focusing on data, cloud, and migrations, with a specific lens on the oil & gas industry. His customer-first focused team delivery and devotion to executing plans on time and on budget has made his team 100% referenceable.

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