Migrating to the cloud can benefit your organization

Here’s how to do it right

Apr 25, 2021

For many midmarket organizations, the cloud is one of their most valuable information technology tools, enhancing data storage capabilities, security and agility while also reducing costs and making it easier to scale up or down. A recent RSM survey on middle market digital transformation strategies found that 96% of midmarket chief financial officers believe that cloud computing is extremely or very important to their digital strategies.

However, moving from an on-premises ERP to a cloud software as a service (SaaS) environment can raise concerns and questions. Forward-thinking organizations should inform these decisions by comparing application capability, performance, total cost and availability against other solutions.

The benefits for your IT organization

There is no one-size-fits-all path to the cloud because no two organizations or organizational challenges are the same. Once the decision is made, however, it’s common to gain a number of immediate advantages. Among them are:

  • Reduced maintenance requirements: Your IT team is no longer responsible for daily upkeep and maintenance of infrastructure or software. Instead, you can focus your IT resources away from “keeping the lights on” and toward more strategic initiatives.
  • High availability: On-premises infrastructure is more vulnerable to outages that disrupt operations. Leading cloud providers offer highly resilient global infrastructures with multiple built-in redundancies to help organizations minimize downtime.
  • Flexible operating expense cost structure: Instead of the capital expense of physical infrastructure (and perhaps software licensing), you’re billed only for the computing and storage capacity you use, which becomes an opex.
  • Greater computing and data storage capacity: Cloud vendors can provide world-class computing power as well as essentially unlimited storage. This is critically important as companies leverage sophisticated analytics using massive data volumes to uncover new opportunities and efficiencies.
  • Inherent scalability: Cloud computing can scale fluidly to accommodate demand peaks and valleys as well as future growth.
  • Capabilities on demand: Cloud infrastructure and software vendors continually bring on emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and Internet of Things, either as built-in software features or as tools your company can leverage to build your own solutions.

The benefits for business users

Employees across your organization can also benefit greatly from cloud computing, most noticeably with the ability to access applications remotely so they can be active and responsive from anywhere. Cloud SaaS applications are typically operating system-agnostic and browser-based, meaning there’s no software to install. Users can work when and where they want, and since data is maintained in the cloud, they need not worry about backups or data loss due to a lost or stolen device.

Business users also benefit from the greater integration typically available with cloud solutions, which means that data isn’t siloed across incompatible systems but is available across functional borders. This provides a “single source of truth” to ensure more accurate reporting, analytics and forecasts. Typically, self-service reports are also a feature of cloud applications, meaning that business users can get the information they need quickly, without IT intervention.

Forging your path to the cloud

For all its advantages, migrating your core ERP systems to the cloud isn’t a simple proposition. The best approach, then, is methodical and carefully reasoned. Here are the five basic steps that will help you migrate successfully:

  1. Determine your appetite: There’s a logical process for matching the different parts of your IT infrastructure to specific cloud solutions. Begin with an inventory of your existing IT resources, including infrastructure, applications, staffing and security measures. Next, evaluate the role technology plays in your overall business strategies and important growth initiatives. Considering your current technology and goals, could cloud options enhance your capabilities and productivity?
  2. Develop a cloud strategy: The shift to the cloud is a major driver of digital transformation. However, determining the right cloud solution can be a challenge. As you think through your overall business needs, take a hard look at the benefits you can realize from the cloud and which implementation option could be the best fit for your organization. With this knowledge, you can create and execute a cohesive plan.
  3. Manage risk and compliance: Managing risks and compliance in the cloud requires new skills and a broader perspective than traditional risk management. It’s important to consider risk from the start of the planning process, gather input from all stakeholders and work from an established risk management framework.
  4. Develop an effective security foundation: Cloud security has come a long way, and in many cases, data security in the cloud exceeds that of on-premises infrastructure. But that doesn’t leave you off the hook: Unless you’re careful, you may simply be transferring the existing system vulnerabilities into your cloud setup. Periodic security testing is crucial, as is continuous monitoring for malicious activity.
  5. Plan your ongoing maintenance resources: Although the cloud reduces your IT maintenance requirements, it doesn’t eliminate them. To run without unexpected problems, cloud systems need regular maintenance just like a car. Many midmarket organizations find the best option is a managed services partnership because it allows them to access the latest and best skills and take advantage of additional resources if needed.

The cloud offers real advantages for midmarket companies, providing access to technology and capabilities that were previously out of reach. It allows your organization to decrease its reliance on traditional on-premises resources and systems, while increasing efficiency and productivity at a more predictable and manageable monthly cost.

However, as with any technology investment, you must be careful and work with the right resources to design a cloud strategy that will align with your business, positively affect your efficiency and help ensure you get the most from your technology investments.

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