In two previous articles, I described several areas where the role of the technology team in ERP implementations has changed in the last ten to twenty years. Here is part 3, the final installment.
Single sign on
This capability makes life much easier for the end user. Although it is easier to implement than it used to be, it still requires set up, testing, and support by the technology team.
In a cloud environment, you won’t be managing databases and servers any more. The scenario where your entire data centre collapsed and you lost all your systems at once will change to multiple application-based or vendor-based scenarios. You need to re-think what disaster recovery planning and testing should cover. You also need to verify that participation in disaster recovery planning and testing exists in your contracts with cloud vendors.
If you’ve been outsourcing some of your IT functions already, you’re familiar with this. Although your organization is responsible to ensure IT controls are operating effectively, many of those controls will now be implemented and operated by your cloud vendors. Relevant IT controls will need to be reviewed internally and with the vendors to identify if any controls need to be re-designed, and how they will be tested. Selection of your ERP system and negotiation of the contract needs to consider IT controls and associated Service Organization Control (SOC) reporting requirements.
Application support model
With ERP in the cloud, the internal support team no longer needs to be heavily weighted toward database analysis, operating system, and hardware experience. Instead, the team’s focus will be on the business process, how the application supports the business process, and reporting and data governance. This is a significant shift in mindset and skills for many IT support managers and staff.
If the existing ERP is supported by manual processes, your business users will certainly want to automate more when the new ERP is implemented. E.g. on-line workflow to replace email approvals. As a result, the number of ERP users you support is likely to be higher than it is today.
Given the number of areas where your IT organization now relies on vendors (ERP, integration, disaster recovery, IT controls), it is evident that a key responsibility and skill set in your operational support model is vendor management. This may be an area in which your team requires bolstering if you have not been outsourcing or using cloud very much to date.
Technology is so ingrained in business processes today that there’s no such thing as a fully manual business process any more. Having the business define the new processes and handing off requirements to the technology team is not a workable process. Business analysts have to participate fully in the business process workshops, identifying requirements along the way for everything from mobile device needs to interface and data conversion requirements.
In addition, your technology team for the ERP project, whether internally available or contracted, needs to support a wide variety of requirements that didn’t often exist two decades ago: mobile technology, browsers, firewalls, single sign on. In addition, the approaches to disaster recovery, IT controls, and application support likely need to change.
As you can see from this article and the previous two, the role of the technology team in ERP implementations has changed significantly. So, if you are implementing ERP soon, and it’s been ten or twenty years since you did so, you should anticipate and plan for all or most of these differences.