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Cloud is now high on the agenda… but is on time and on budget a real measure of success?

By Claire Milner, Head of Client Services

Cloud technology, and for us, specifically Oracle Cloud, is great.  It has capability and benefits that are far reaching.  But, people are not realising all of those benefits.  And you have to ask why….

An IT project, focused on “on time” and “on budget” may be successful to some, but for us, the delivery against a business case, and the cost savings associated is what success looks like.  That, and another really important piece, employee experience.

Let’s look at them one by one:

1. Delivering a business case

We often see fast implementations as the marker of a great project.  I talk to many organisations who have had a fast implementation, and after the project team has rolled off, what happens?  This is where the challenges begin.

Fast means vanilla - The system does not drive automation, in fact it often increases people effort and subsequent headcount.  You have to challenge this; why would you buy a best of breed powerful product, to take a step back in your operational effectiveness?  Well, no one chooses to.  They don’t understand that is what they are doing.  There is a budget set within the project, before understanding the business processes, so anything that’s too complex (and by that I mean costly) is lost, and “manual workaround” is the word of the day. 

It’s short sighted.  If there is an ongoing operational saving of hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, and during the project you need to spend an extra £50k to achieve it, do it!  You will have Return on investment in less than a year, and huge savings ongoing. 

The trick is really knowing what good looks like, and to do that you need to have a project team made up of not only technically skilled people, but of subject matter experts, best practice knowledge and of process improvement specialists.  You need to challenge what you do and why you do it, and look at how technology can improve and streamline the process.  The goal should be zero manual workarounds, or as close to that as possible. 

This message goes against the current market message of “out of the box” and “rapid deployment” but I stand by it.  You may save money upfront through these approaches, but you won’t see value, or cost savings, and surely that was what you set out to achieve?

2. Employee experience

Employee experience, a bit of a buzz phrase, but one that I love.  As an employee myself, I want to always have good experiences.  I don’t want to have to figure out a complex system to complete what should be a simple task.  I don’t want to have errors or issues relating to my absence or my pay.  That causes me distress.  I want to feel good about everything.  Simple.  The technology can make that happen, but so often it gets overlooked. 

Why do people go to work?  Lots of arguments here, but fundamentally, to get paid.  So why is payroll the poor relation when it comes to HCM implementations?  It makes no sense.  Focus on your customer. - your employees. 

The beauty of cloud, is that it evolves.  Every quarter you get lots of shiny new pieces of functionality.  Are you adopting any of it?  Seemingly not, because you are still in knots, unpicking a rapid deployment.  With bots and AI making huge leaps forward at a rapid pace, the employee experience can take centre stage, but people can’t keep up with the pace of change.

If you have the right structure, the right support, the right processes, your system will be stabilised, your test cycles bedded firmly in, you can then adopt new functionality, and focus on further improvements and cost savings.

It all sounds so simple.  That’s because it is.  If your foundations are right, and as the common saying goes, “Fast, Cheap, and Good…pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good it won’t be cheap.”

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