By implementing Oracle, one of the world’s leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, organizations can transform their business processes and significantly increase operational efficiency. Companies large and small are increasingly digitizing and managing vast troves of data. ERP systems like Oracle’s streamline business processes and reduce costs, leveraging information to help organizations make better decisions in rapidly changing landscapes.
The company serves 430,000 customers across 175 countries and offers solutions for thousands of use cases. Due to the highly configurable nature of the Oracle Cloud ERP system, almost no two implementations are alike. The platform has been used to modernize and unify the information technology (IT) ecosystem of major financial firms, simplify human capital management (HCM) across brands’ subsidiaries, and optimize reporting processes in complex healthcare settings.
The software provides an integrated and unified platform for disparate business processes such as supply chain management and human resources, providing a holistic view of an organization’s operations and breaking down data silos. Using automation, Oracle can simplify routine tasks to increase operational efficiency. And with its advanced reporting capabilities, the platform allows real-time insights into performance, allowing organizations to make informed and data-driven decisions quickly.
Before Oracle implementation
Implementing Oracle can appear to be a daunting task. And while the process, depending on its complexity, can sometimes take years, successful adoption has saved some companies tens of millions of US dollars over time. With careful planning and solid organizational strategy, businesses of any size can take advantage of Oracle’s unique cloud solutions, reducing costs and streamlining operations.
Migrating to Oracle requires thorough planning whether a business intends to adopt the platform for the management of a single process—such as finance or human resources—or migrate the entire organization’s operations into the cloud. For organizations embarking on a digital transformation, it’s crucial to visualize how an ERP system will integrate with every aspect of a business’ operations. Before beginning their Oracle adoption journey, business leaders should consider some key questions:
- What data requirements or regulatory structures apply to my organization? While Oracle implementation is somewhat simpler when an ERP solution is deployed entirely on the cloud, some organizations have regulatory or data residency requirements that require on-site data storage or dedicated clouds. Decide whether your organization requires some data to be stored on-premises as part of a hybrid cloud solution, or whether an “air-gapped” private cloud is best for your business case.
- Which Oracle modules will my organization adopt? Oracle offers a full suite of ERP solutions with specific use cases. These include Oracle SCM for supply chain management, Oracle HCM for human capital management and Oracle Procurement for procure-to-pay. The company also offers industry-specific applications through its E-Business Suite. Research pricing structures and decide which specific modules are best suited to your organization.
- Will my organization choose an implementation partner? Partnering with an experienced, Oracle-endorsed specialist can simplify the implementation process and significantly reduce the overall cost of adoption. Research implementation partner options thoroughly and consider choosing an accomplished firm with years of experience in Oracle implementation from the Oracle PartnerNetwork to help you on your journey.
Planning Oracle implementation
The planning stage of an Oracle Cloud ERP implementation is as important, if not more so, than deployment. The planning process will require significant input from a variety of stakeholders and departmental heads as well as partners from IT. Organizations should research each module thoroughly and decide which Oracle edition is best suited to their business needs, as well as determine the system requirements for the specific software.
The goal during project planning phase is to translate a deep understanding of an organization’s business requirements into an actionable blueprint for Oracle migration and implementation. Clearly define the objective of the implementation project and determine its scope, timeline and budget as well as create a risk management plan. This is also the time to determine which data will be migrated, as some older data may be best stored in a secure archive. It may be useful during this stage to consider what kinds of user training will be delivered in the lead-up and aftermath to deployment.
Since 2006, Oracle has offered an implementation methodology, the Oracle Unified Method (OUM), a full lifecycle approach to implementing the company’s ERP software. For complex projects, consider training an internal team on OUM, or partnering with an expert third-party from the Oracle PartnerNetwork.
According to Oracle, best practices for the planning process include five categories of information:
- Project definition: This is the blueprint that will include relevant information for an implementation project. It will include a clear mission statement and roadmap to Oracle adoption along with the project’s budget, staffing requirements, timeline and risk assessment. If the project involves on-premises data storage, this process will also outline requirements for software and hardware installation.
- Project team: It’s crucial to assign a project manager for the Oracle implementation, as well as to solicit the input of business partners and on-site employees with experience in the business processes that will be migrated to the platform. Assemble a cross-collaborative implementation team with well-defined roles and identify major stakeholders to consult and test the system as the project moves forward.
- Project design: The information gathered in this phase of planning includes which applications will be deployed, which third-party applications or systems need to be integrated, and how migration will change day-to-day business operations. It will also outline specific user, or user group, requirements and identify how data will be structured.
- Project rollout: This is a detailed look at how the new system will be rolled out, and on what timeline. Organizations should identify which departments will be covered by the new system, in which locations and in what order. This phase of planning also covers projected project milestones and well-defined metrics for the system once it goes live.
- Project communication: Internal communications are vital from the first moments of an implementation process; successful project management will include a detailed plan to educate employees on Oracle’s benefits and use cases. Organizations should create opportunities to engage internal teams and pay careful attention to change management.
Implementing an Oracle system
Once the project management team is assembled and the detailed planning phase is complete, implementation can begin. During this phase, the platform is configured to meet specific business requirements and core data migration begins. Oracle provides a variety of templates to facilitate item definition as data is catalogued and moved to the cloud. Typically, Oracle uses the acronym CIDER to represent the steps of Oracle implementation:
- Configure: Oracle is a highly configurable platform that can be deployed for several core business activities. During configuration, an organization constructs its data architecture and defines user roles.
- Integrate: During this phase, Oracle is merged with third-party systems and legacy IT solutions. Working closely with an organization’s IT department, the project implementation team ensures all necessary systems are merged. Organizations may choose to deploy Oracle’s cloud integration platform or utilize the Oracle Cloud Marketplace to connect applications and data sources.
- Data: This is the phase for data conversion and data migration. Some data may be moved from hardware into the cloud. All relevant information should be extracted and converted before being loaded into the system.
- Extensions: Once relevant data has been migrated, organizations can import and configure any of Oracle’s extensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and extensions.
- Reports: Oracle Cloud ERP features numerous reporting systems with specific business cases. In this phase of implementation, organizations should determine which reports are best captured on an intermittent basis, and what kind of data is better visualized through one of the platform’s real-time monitoring dashboards.
Verifying an Oracle system
When the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality company Caesars Entertainment transitioned its financial operations to Oracle Fusion Cloud, it learned the value of extensive testing: Recently, the company’s Vice President of finance transformation imparted the lessons Caesars has learned and underlined the importance of giving testing your “undivided attention” and involving partners and suppliers in the process. He also recommended testing applications under “extreme condition” to ensure there were no surprises when the system went live.
A smooth and efficient Oracle implementation requires that prior to the go-live date, systems are tested frequently and extensively. Accurate, clean data and workflows prevent disruptions and downtime once the system goes live. Specifically, to ensure the accuracy of data, organizations should test the following variables:
- Data archive: Make sure older data that might not have been imported to Oracle is archived securely and is easy to access.
- Data quality: Ensure migrated data is clean, correct and current. Check that the data conforms to the dedicated data hierarchy.
- Responsibilities and roles: Make sure all identifications and company roles are properly input, and that relationships between them are properly mapped.
- Security: Ensure all sensitive data is stored appropriately. Delete all unnecessary data.
- Workflows: Verify every workflow from end-to-end, testing primary and branch workflow paths for each case.
After this testing process, a user acceptance phase provides an opportunity for input from key stakeholders. Executives, department heads and other team members who will be using the Oracle platform—and teaching others to use it—should be engaged in this process. If an aspect of the Oracle system doesn’t meet stakeholder expectations or is misaligned with the blueprint developed in the planning stage, it’s imperative to correct the errors and then re-visit the issue to ensure the implementation process meets expectations.
Preparing and delivering an Oracle system
Following extensive testing and the user acceptance phase, it’s time for final implementation. Careful internal communication during the preparation and delivery phases will ensure the rollout goes smoothy. Organizations should make sure the systems, users, and organization at-large are ready for full implementation. During this stage, it’s useful to make a final list of outstanding issues to be addressed and fixed. Passwords and usernames can then be issued to team members. In the weeks before and after the initial go-live date, organizations should invest in training for end users and feedback sessions across business channels.
Assuming all these steps have been followed and team members across the organization have been informed about the new system’s best practices and use cases, deployment should go smoothly. During this phase, both the IT team and the project team should be monitoring the system’s performance along with the key metrics identified in the planning stage. Soliciting recurring feedback from users and key stakeholders will guarantee issues are identified before they arise, and that the system is running as intended. It’s also useful, following initial deployment, to host a celebration to congratulate the team on all their hard work, and to get direct feedback from early system users.
Oracle and IBM®
For nearly four decades, IBM has been one of the most significant Oracle partners. We have more than 10,000 dedicated Oracle cloud consultants who have helped clients successfully complete more than 6,500 Oracle projects. IBM offers Oracle services and consulting to clients that includes a roadmap for each stage of their cloud transformation investment, from consulting to cloud implementation to management.