Highlights from Clouds & Cocktails DC - 9/16/2015

Below are the highlights from the Clouds & Cocktails event we held in Tyson's Corner on 9/16/15:

  • John Hoebler, CrossCountry explainedthe Cloud Revolution – quoting Gartner who estimates 47% of companies will be in the cloud by 2015. Of the 10 software selections he has been involved in over the past year 9/10 have purchased a cloud system. The cloud movement is real and it’s happening fast!
  • Where does the impetus for change and movement to cloud services comes from? It can be driven by three ways, all of which were represented on our panel:
    • CFO/C-Suite – We need to make these changes. Our systems won’t work for us any further and there’s a business need.
    • CIO – Technology driven change. We have an army of people to support these on-premise applications. It’s expensive and outdated.
    • Operations – “There needs to be a better way.” What we’re doing is expensive and doesn’t give us the information we need.
  • One of our panelists discussed 100 different applications that were used within his organization. This required a customized skillset, large employee headcount, and the cloud helped their organization benefit by standardizing process within and consolidating applications to create consistency and avoid “customizing themselves into a corner.”
  • Another panelist discussed the losing proposition of “throwing bodies” at our inefficient systems (at the time being QuickBooks). This company deployed Workday for Financials and HCM, integrating data and creating a self-service repository of financial information. The results and impact have been “immeasurable.”
  • Another panelist explained the process to aggregate spend management from 27 different cost centers and 6 ERP systems. Coupa allowed them to standardize their procurement platform and gain visibility and insight, as well as savings!
  • All three panelists agreed to three main ideas regarding the implementation of a new financial system:
    • Use a third party during the system selection process. There are more vendors than you know and while it seems like an easy process, rely on an expert to help you define your needs and requirements and choose the right system. You’ll thank yourself later on.
    • Implementing a new system is a chance to review and standardize process. Talk with your users, use this as an opportunity to create efficiencies and break the failed process required by your legacy systems.
    • Don’t build a “spider web” of applications – by choosing a cloud based financial system you remove the need for spreadsheets, customized/inefficient process, and fragmented data. This means less developers, less need for excel wizards, less packaged customizations.
  • When evaluating at a cloud software product, ensure that you are using a true cloud provider. Don’t be fooled by managed service arrangements where you own and manage the infrastructure but it’s housed elsewhere – this is fake cloud! “In a multi-tenant environment, the vendor maintains the infrastructure, disaster recovery, business continuity planning, and security.” All of the partners on our panel are true cloud providers and all customers are on the same version of software.
  • As a consumer, one version of software is a huge benefit. The vendor is putting all R&D dollars towards this version of the software and you can evaluate new functionality for free without the need for an upgrade project. “It’s a wonderful transition from the on-premise model” Hoebler noted

A special thanks again to our partners (Workday, Coupa and Host Analytics) and our three panelists for sharing their experiences and success stories from using cloud based finance and accounting, budgeting and planning, and spend management systems. 

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