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Integrating cloud ERP solutions for finance organizations

Navigating the cloud

Cloud technologies are a catalyst for change in digital finance. Explore our insights and considerations for navigating your journey into the cloud.

May 31, 2019

A blog post by Temano Shurland, Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory Accounting & Finance principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP and Tom Foley, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) cloud computing is disrupting the digital finance landscape, transforming companies’ IT architecture and infrastructure by using scalable, elastic technology to deliver services via the internet rather than traditional on-premise architectures. Fueled in part by its flexibility to meet a wide range of diverse needs, cloud ERP systems are seeing immense growth within finance organizations and beyond.

Aside from providing a made-to-order flexible solution, cloud ERP allows finance organizations to leverage powerful ERP technologies without substantial startup costs. At the same time, they can enable organizations to see benefits like streamlined data integration, a flexible user interface, and improved accuracy and efficiency of financial reporting. Even with a clear idea of the potential benefits, controllers may find themselves with more questions than answers as they discuss and plan for cloud ERP implementation.

Our recent Dbriefs webcast, Controller’s guide to the galaxy: Planning for ERP cloud implementation, discusses the journey into the cloud, and what life for controllers may look like after cloud ERP implementation.

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Navigating the journey into the cloud

Your journey into a cloud environment likely starts with a series of fundamental questions to validate your path forward. Should our organization migrate to the cloud? How will migrating to the cloud impact the controllership organization? How do we ensure a successful cloud implementation?

While each controller’s road to implementation will be unique in benefits and process, here are some insights and considerations for finance organizations to explore that may help develop a broad understanding of cloud technology, its features, and what it can do for controllership.

Nearly 100 percent of my clients are discussing what it means to move to the cloud. They are trying to get smarter—more educated—and they are reaching out to both technology vendors and organizations like Deloitte to get insights and information.

—Tom Foley, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

First, why are organizations considering migration to the cloud? In Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s 2018 global outsourcing survey, respondents outlined their top reasons for adopting cloud technologies, including:

  • Catalyzing IT innovation
  • Improving speed/time to market
  • Improving performance
  • Rapid elasticity/scalability
  • Access to new technology

As a core technology, the cloud offers the potential for optimized data architectures and processing engines, flexibility and an opportunity to scale, and streamlined integration with other emerging technologies.

Common features of the cloud

  • Streamlined user interface
  • Increased flexibility and scalability
  • Optimized processing engine
  • Advanced data architecture

Potential benefits of cloud ERP solutions for finance organizations

  • Serves as a single platform to access data across the organization
  • Allows for a single source of the truth and less reliant on data from multiple systems
  • Offers streamlined ways to integrate with point solutions and other disruptive technologies (e.g., robotic process automation)

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Life in the cloud

The core components of cloud technologies provide finance organizations with a standardized platform to enable more streamlined and efficient processes. In turn, finance organizations may be able to shorten close cycles and provide advanced insight into the business, while at the same time, building more confidence in the accuracy of their data.

These shifts also manifest themselves in the evolving role of the controller. As cloud environments reduce the time spent on a traditional steward and operator activities, such as managing risks and running finance operations, controllers may shift their focus to more strategist and catalyst-focused roles, such as shaping and executing business strategy and company direction. As an added benefit, organizations may find that systems can be designed to meet very specific needs at a lower overall cost than similar on-premise solutions.

Impact of cloud ERP for finance organizations:

  • Less time spent reconciling data
  • Increased confidence in data accuracy
  • Shorter close cycles
  • Availability of advanced analytics and insights

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Additional reading: The CFO (finance executive) guide to cloud

Many companies today are working on cloud pilots, some are pressing ahead with full migration, and countless others are somewhere in between. The benefits of cloud ERP for finance organizations are real, but that doesn’t mean the cloud is easy. This guide offers answers to frequently asked questions from CFOs regarding cloud investments, whether Finance or other functions in the enterprise are potential users. Read more to better understand the opportunities and challenges associated with the cloud. By making more effective cloud decisions, you may get a jump on competitors in terms of innovation, agility, and cost.

Things to consider before implementing cloud technology

When migrating to the cloud, many organizations quickly move to implement without fully defining their vision, aligning key stakeholders, and developing a framework to reduce the impact of this change on the business. Consider the following cloud ERP implementation leading practices for avoiding these common pitfalls:

Define your vision

  • Define the need for change and level of the desired transformation
  • Clearly articulate the expected benefits and impacts
  • Determine the level of customization required
  • Develop a project roadmap

Align key stakeholders

  • Ensure alignment between finance, IT, and the business on the overall vision and project roadmap
  • Promote joint ownership among key stakeholders
  • Establish continuous channels of communication

Address change management concerns

  • Outline roles and responsibilities for implementation preparation and testing
  • Develop a structured testing approach
  • Identify and resolve project issues and risks
  • Determine readiness for frequent updates

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On-demand webcast | Controller’s guide to the galaxy: Planning for ERP cloud implementation

The benefits of a new cloud-based ERP platform are often presented in technical terms. But for controllers, what does life really look like after implementation? This on-demand webcast discusses:

  • Practical questions controllers can ask as they head into unchartered territory, including should we still are implementing robotic process automation (RPA), will we centralize more activities and reorganize my group, will we be able to close faster, and does the quality of our financial reporting improve?
  • A practical view of how controllers are embracing technology changes to redesign their future organization and what to expect after the transformation.

In addition, you can access our Dbriefs Green Room discussion where the speakers tackle unanswered questions from the webcast and provide a deeper perspective on the topic.

Participants will have access to insights into the complexities of ERP implementation to help them better navigate life in the cloud.

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Visit the Controllership Insights blog for additional blog posts.

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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