Every journey is easier with a roadmap

5 June 2023
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It's never too soon to start thinking about the future

By Debra Lilley
VP Customer Success at Inoapps

Whether you call them Oracle Cloud Applications, Fusion, or SaaS, they were released for General Availability in 2011. But roll on 12 years, and many Applications Unlimited (on-premises applications) customers are still hesitant to move.

In the early days, organizations needed to know that the cloud applications covered all the functionality they had in their existing applications. Then they wanted them to be mature enough with a big enough client base to make them viable and less of a risk. I am not saying Oracle Cloud Applications aren’t popular. They are. Many on-premises customers and even more new customers have successfully adopted them with great success.

But if you’re still an Apps Unlimited customer running E-Business Suite (EBS), PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Hyperion, or Siebel, you may be asking yourself when should you consider your next move?

First, it doesn’t matter which system you’re using. What’s important is that you have a short- to mid-term plan that fits with your organization’s IT and business strategy. My mantra is: no option is wrong—if you can articulate the why, it is right for your organization. What is wrong is if you have no plan and are simply keeping the lights on. Then it’s time for you to think about a plan.

You have a few options. You can stay where you are, perhaps taking advantage of hosting on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure or a private cloud (if this is of interest, have a look at our Questions we’re often asked about Public, Private and Hybrid Clouds blog). You could move to Cloud Applications. Or you might even consider a new solution. But how do you decide? What should you be considering? This is where creating a roadmap is incredibly valuable.

Back in 2017, I wrote an article for a user group magazine on ‘Which Cloud?’ and I continue to be surprised at how successful that article and the presentation that followed have been. Probably because when organizations start exploring that question with vendors, they end up having separate conversations with separate technology and application account managers, and it’s difficult to get the full picture. It is still my most requested presentation and I’ve delivered it at user groups around the world many times over the years. Most recently, I've been giving that presentation to our own customers here at Inoapps and you can watch it here.

When I speak to customers who are planning to move towards cloud applications in the next five to ten years, they often ask if it’s too soon to be planning. I’ll tell you what I tell them: This is a really good time to start looking at what you can do in the short- to mid-term to make that move easier when it happens.

Let me explain. One of the biggest barriers to moving off existing on-premises applications is the amount of customization that’s possible with these applications. I often speak to organizations who say, “oh we can't move because we have got hundreds of customizations”. These are known as CEMLIs (Configuration, Extension, Modification, Localization, and Integration Framework) and it’s really important to know what CEMLIs you have.

With on-premises applications, you decide when you upgrade and do so at your own pace. That means the complications of CEMLIs are under your control. With cloud applications, while you cannot customize, you can extend (have a look at my colleague’s excellent blog - The rise of the custom extension).

When an organization says to me, 'I want to move to cloud applications', our first step is a readiness assessment. This involves looking at their CEMLIs, which may already be documented, and if not, we use tools to help us document them. Then we assess each one to see whether it would still be necessary with the move to cloud.

First when you move to Oracle Cloud Applications, you should start by taking a look at where you can standardize on Oracle Modern Best Practices and challenge yourself where they won’t work for you.

Then there will be many housekeeping scripts that are run as triggers to alert a DBA to table size or index size issues, which aren’t necessary in cloud, as the database is managed automatically by Oracle.

Next, we determine how that CEMLI would be addressed in cloud. One of the very first customers that I took to cloud had this project motto: cloud will do everything EBS does today, but not necessarily in the same way—meaning that we may address CEMLIs differently in cloud. For example, many of the CEMLIs will be reports. Traditionally we have built and run reports to look for anomalies. In cloud, you should have a policy to push data rather than having lots of reports (aside from statutory reporting) and can highlight the anomalies you're looking for in a dashboard rather than in a report.

The final step in this review is to size the effort of moving these CEMLIs to cloud, which can be a simple t-shirt size—small, medium, or large. This helps organizations understand and visualize the effort involved in moving them to a cloud application. It’s important to review this assessment annually as many of the considerations will change: your wider IT estate, your changes in your existing system, and the continuous innovation in cloud applications.

With this done, when you look at the backlog of functionality that you wish to introduce or change in your current system, or the challenges that you want to address, you can do so in the knowledge of what is to come. This means that you aren't going to make the challenge any bigger and you can take steps now towards your eventual goal.

This is a scenario I'm seeing more and more. Organizations want to be having this conversation with their partner early. Not just because they want to speak to someone who can give a holistic view of their options, but also because they need impartial advice rather than a sales conversation driven by annual targets.

If this resonates with you then watch the replay of our roadmapping webcast and let me know if we can help further. It's never too soon to start thinking about the future!

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