Operating models for continuous improvement: Part One

23 August 2023
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Cloud Applications: the challenge of ‘adopt not adapt’

By Dawn McKenzie
Change Architect at Inoapps

One of the key reasons prospective customers give for their move to Oracle Cloud Applications is the promise of continuous improvement that lets them keep pace with their technology through regular upgrades and functionality releases. But all too often, companies aren’t aware of the effort, resources and structure that’s needed to make a continuous improvement program happen.

To see the real benefits of moving to cloud—and the pay-offs for the expense and stress of the Software as a Service (SaaS) implementation—it’s important to ensure systems are maintained and enhanced in line with your strategic and operational needs, and that you have the skills, processes and culture in place for the program.

There are two elements at play here. The one we’ll be unpacking in this series is the importance of establishing an operating model to support the continuous improvement of your Oracle Cloud Applications. The other is the matter of adoption.

Part of the reason that a move to Cloud Applications is a challenge is that it represents a new way of working and is quite a significant cultural shift for many organizations. If you come from an environment that customized and adapted its software to company processes and the way teams work, cloud represents a different world.

With Cloud Applications, servers are hosted and updated remotely, and developers aren’t able to access software code and make changes directly into the core SaaS system functionality in the way you do with on-premises solutions. That means you can’t just request new core functionality and have it built to spec.

Yes, you can extend the functionality with custom PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) extensions. And system integrators like us here at Inoapps, have pre-built, often industry-specific, accelerators to help plug gaps in core Oracle Cloud Applications functionality. But those too carry considerations when you plan your operating model.

As a rule, you need to learn to work with the software you’re given and, where possible, adopt Oracle Modern Best Practice—a set of standardized processes that allow you to fully exploit the available technology and simplify your operations.

When the decision is made to go to cloud, your organization needs to assess the available functionality, adopt the essential features, and then select the optional functionality that meets business needs. We refer to this approach as ‘adopt not adapt’ and it’s really important for companies to recognize early on that they’ll need to work with staff to encourage adoption and acceptance of the new system and the changes it brings.

Another change that’s often overlooked is the types of support needed to maintain and enhance the core SaaS application. Key to maintaining your Oracle Cloud Applications is the effective management of quarterly releases to ensure you don’t see a degradation in your system’s functionality that impacts operations. And now that the focus is on configuring functionality rather than customizing it, new skills and knowledge may be needed.

To make a continuous improvement program work, it’s therefore important to have the right people, processes and policies in place by the time the implementation goes live. After go-live, users may need additional support to continue their adoption journey, and you need enough of your staff to be familiar with the new system to be able to make decisions and share knowledge.

This is where your operating model is invaluable. Your operating model is there to support your business strategy and goals as you live in the cloud. While something like a patch or security update may go unnoticed, an update that involves a change to a work process or piece of functionality will impact your people.

An operating model gives you a framework for change and allows transitions to be carefully managed and well implemented. By fully understanding your ongoing operational support needs, you can properly manage the quarterly release cycle and ensure you have the resources needed, whether internal or from a Managed Services​ partner.

In our next blog, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of an operating model to your continuous improvement program.

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