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Cloud ERP: The rising alternative to hosting your own

Esther Shein | Sept. 7, 2017
CIOs faced with brittle on-premises ERP systems and the desire to free up valuable IT resources are increasingly looking to the cloud as a reliable, scalable solution for their ERP needs.

The migration process took between five and six months, and Sauerbrey says there were no surprises along the way. “I didn’t know what to expect, but to be honest, it went better than I expected. I was concerned about Oracle Financials for the cloud being a pretty new product for us.”

But Sauerbrey soon found the system to be user-friendly and says it was easy to get staff transitioned. “I spent a lot of time with the users to make sure they were comfortable and listened to them and made sure all their requirements were met, so by the time we went live they were pretty familiar with the product.”

The ability to eliminate some of the licenses and outside services IT was using helped Sauerbrey reach her $200,000 in budget cuts. System upgrades are free, she says, which is something the tourism authority couldn’t do before. “It’s a big thing for us because now I have faster access to new features,’’ she says.

 

Freeing up valuable IT resources

Access to the latest and greatest technology also held appeal for Wellesley College, which is using Workday Financial Management, Workday HCM, and Workday Student.

When Ravi Ravishanker, CIO and associate provost, came to the college over six years ago, “the technology landscape was not up to snuff,’’ he recalls. “One of major recurring themes from constituents was the need for something new.” Wellesley College was using Ellucian Banner’s student information system, which “was perceived as not serving the community.” Getting access to data was “cumbersome” because of the way the system was originally configured – some 25 years ago. “It wasn’t the fault of the software,” he notes.

Consequently, various departments were going out and purchasing new systems on their own and not thinking about the data security implications, Ravishanker says.

When the time came to upgrade, “The choices you have in ERP are limited whether in the cloud or on-premises for higher ed,” he notes. The major players, he says, are PeopleSoft, Jenzabar, Banner and Workday. Ravishanker felt the first three were not able to satisfy Wellesley’s needs when he started looking, because one of his main strategic goals was to move to the cloud “as aggressively as we can.”

The reason, he says, was simple. “I believe that [IT’s] contribution to the institution is in educating my clientele on how to use the technology to improve teaching, learning and research and the administrative functions — and not run a small technology company. I don’t see value in running a data center and servers.”

Wellesley College chose Workday in January 2016. “If you take Banner or PeopleSoft, their origins are 30 years ago or slightly more recent than that, and it’s hard to take old, humongous software and radically change it to adapt to the cloud,” he explains. By contrast, Workday evolved in the cloud.

 

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