Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Is your data quality damaging your potential profits?

It is estimated 10-30% of a company’s revenue is spent on data quality issues according to Gov.uk and as we head into a recession can your company really afford that? The good news is that starting the process to improve your data quality is easier than you think.

So how do you get started? When considering Oracle Cloud, my advice is always to start with the best product, that was born in the cloud – Oracle Planning – straight forward to implement gradually and can integrate with any other solution. The advantage with this approach is it allows you to understand the vendor with your standard finance processes, i.e.: solve the last mile data issues, before committing your mission critical ones. As, when you sign up with a cloud vendor for an application you are ‘all-in’, they provide the infrastructure, the networking the hosts for your application as well as the usual software and licencing.

Oracle EPM Cloud Planning application is a platform for growth.  Sitting above your ERP solution, Planning takes care of the essential processes of Management Reporting, Budgeting and Forecasting pulling together your company’s data at a push of a button. In addition, it’s scenario modelling capability allows you to plan for certainty in an uncertain world.

Sharing the Oracle EPM platform gives this application the ability to integrate with anything including native integration with Oracle applications, and near real time integration with non-Oracle applications. With an enterprise licence users receive free access to the other applications within the Oracle EPM Suite including Financial Consolidation, Account Reconciliation and Narrative Reporting.

Born in the cloud, Planning needs only data pushed to it and users with an internet connection to operate. It benefits from monthly feature updates, test and production environments managed by Oracle and best in class integration with Microsoft Excel. All customers are on one code base, meaning product problems are quickly identified by the community and Oracle development teams can focus on delivering their roadmap instead of hot-fixing individual customers. This roadmap has delivered in the last two years, a product far ahead of its on-premises Oracle Hyperion precursor.

Here are some of my key considerations when assessing and cloud application: Partner capability, Feature updates, Application support, Infrastructure reliability and Cost of ownership.

Partner capability is important as with most applications you will need a certified partner to implement the software for you. A good partner is the difference between happy users and quite literally failed implementations. What you should look for in a partner is process experience and cutting-edge solutions. On the vendor side you need evidence of a large and vibrant partner community.

Features (and security) updates are important in this new world as they are pushed automatically, avoiding delays which can have an effect on security and compatibility and, ensuring users have access to the latest features. As with any updates they can literally break your application, therefore, to mitigate this in the cloud world vendors are pushing out smaller updates more frequently. In practice, done right, this means your application is always up to date avoiding expensive upgrades.

Support for your applications needs to be proven with documented escalation paths. Looking at this function end to end means your team providing first line support with your partner providing second line. Under this arrangement the aim is to resolve issues under your control the same day. Support for product defects, where you need to hand over responsibility to the vendor to fix, requires you and your partner to manage the vendors service level agreements effectively.

Infrastructure on the cloud is the responsibility of the vendor.  It is a big step to hand over the keys to your servers and therefore it is critical to be comfortable with your chosen vendor’s cloud. Therefore, I recommend only moving multiple applications to a new vendor cloud after thorough due diligence with your first application is successful. Also, a first application allows you to check connectivity and integration between clouds and to on-premises applications.

Cost needs to be compared based on the total cost of ownership and cash flow over the term of your agreements. With a true cloud application, you pay monthly for the application licenses, feature upgrades, vendor support and cloud infrastructure. With Oracle they can also finance partner implementation costs so that these can be paid monthly as well. The usual metric is number of users and the minimum term is usually 3 years. Starting with one application means experiencing the full lifecycle of an application procurement process. I recommend you negotiate an advantageous rate for additional users too, as they can be easily provisioned as required during the first term.

Ultimately the Oracle Planning solution implemented by a capable partner in weeks not months is a platform for growth. Finance processes, which every company have, can be aligned to Oracle best practice and challenges in these processes can be settled and most likely automated.  Allowing you to start solving your data quality issues whilst giving you back your teams’ precious weekends at month end!

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