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Virtual Cloud ERP Deployments: How They Can Be Successful

Traditionally, medium and large enterprises wouldn’t consider a completely virtual cloud ERP deployment as a possibility. They are used to working face-to-face with vendors and deployment partners on large projects and, as a result, would regard a 100% virtual deployment of a cloud-based ERP as either impossible or, at the least, very difficult. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations that are considering or in the early stages of a cloud ERP deployment wonder whether a completely virtual deployment is a viable option.

This article will explore why virtual deployments are necessary, cover some of our learnings from virtual deployments and show how they can be successful.

A New, Virtual World

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused practically every organization to reassess their current strategies and scramble to adjust. Moreover, the coronavirus crisis has challenged many long-standing beliefs within organizations. Take, for example, working from home, which many larger organizations have been resistant to adopt. Having now been forced to keep employees at home has shown many of these organizations that employees can work from home effectively.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown just how important digital transformation is, especially with regard to organizational agility. As Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said on Twitter, “an all-at-once transition to remote work creates a lot of demand for organizational agility.” While many organizations may be considering pausing their transformation efforts during this crisis, they should instead push forward with these initiatives. According the Steve Bates, the head of the CIO center for excellence, “You have to avoid the tendency to slash and burn your transformation and revert back to your traditional working model, which is human nature.”

Those organizations that have most, if not all, of their systems in the cloud have had a significantly easier time pivoting to a remote model than those whose infrastructure is still primarily on-site. While most organizations can’t be 100% remote (or even close to that), they can still transition as much of their workforce as possible with minimal friction from a technology standpoint.

While the need for adopting a cloud-based ERP like Workday has never been greater, organizations also now realize that they need to be able to adapt to different deployment scenarios. What if an organization begins its transition to a cloud ERP after the pandemic has seemingly run its course only to have a resurgence lead to another series of shelter in place restrictions? What if it is necessary for an entire deployment to be done virtually?  Organizations need to have confidence that if another crisis hits, that their deployment plans won’t be derailed. As such, they need to be able to work with their software vendor and deployment partner to ensure that their new cloud ERP can be deployed virtually if needed.

Virtual Deployments: A Different Path to the Same Destination

While not always the first choice, a virtual deployment of a cloud ERP system can be done effectively, especially if you have a partner that can guide your organization through the process.

While Collaborative Solutions will send our consultants to periodically work on-site with our clients, there have been scenarios in which this approach was either not possible or unnecessary. For example, our client INNIO needed to deploy Workday to various business units spread across 35 different countries. Sending consultants to every single location was simply not feasible. In other cases, our clients already operated with a remote workforce, as was the case with The New Teacher Project (TNTP).

Collaborative Solutions has had clients over the years that have gone live either completely or partially virtually.  We have learned that even if a project switches gears from an on-site to a virtual engagement, that it can be done without impacting the project timeline. This was the case with Activision Blizzard; while we initially worked with the client on-site, that changed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we transitioned to a virtual deployment. Similarly, many of our clients were facing the same challenge, and we were able to switch from an on-site to a virtual approach without missing a beat to help our clients adjust to their new realities. This is possible because Collaborative Solutions’ CYNERGY™ methodology accommodates both on-site and virtual deployments.

Final Thoughts and Additional Resources

Critical to the success of a virtual transition to Workday is the selection of a deployment partner that not only has a proven track record of virtual deployment but also has processes in place to make the virtual deployment run smoothly. The deployment partner shouldn’t only provide deployment support; it should be able to teach your organization how to better operate virtually.

Transitioning to a cloud-based ERP just makes sense in today’s world: its cloud-based architecture is better suited to a remote workforce than a traditional on-premise solution; its opportunities for self-service HR makes it easier for employees to get the help they need when they can’t meet face-to-face, and its virtual training capabilities make it possible for employees to learn on their own schedule. In other words, a cloud ERP can provide organizations with the flexibility they sorely need to adapt to today’s drastically changing landscape. With the right partner, one that is experienced with different deployment scenarios and that can easily switch between on-site and remote work, it’s possible to make this transition no matter what challenges come your way.

To get a better understanding of what a virtual Workday deployment looks like, watch our Deploying Virtually with Collaborative Solutions video series, which shows what a virtual deployment looks like at every stage.

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