Given all the Oracle EPM Cloud providers you might partner with, developing a short list could seem like a daunting task. These 10 questions will speed things up considerably.
For almost any type provider, the selection process usually starts by asking the right questions to filter out less qualified candidates and save the time of qualifying them further. That’s certainly true when selecting the company that will implement and support an Oracle EPM Cloud. So here are 10 questions we would offer:
- Are you an Oracle Platinum Partner (Cloud Standard)? This one is a no-brainer, and easy to answer too since Oracle Platinum Partners display that designation on their websites. Oracle will often give you a list of recommended partners but you can also search their solutions catalog for certified partners.
- Can I still have everything I have now? Sure, most companies migrate to the cloud to get features and benefits not available on-premises. But no company wants to get less. So the migration of both your application’s full functionality and all your data — whether to the cloud or back again — should be complete, seamless, and guaranteed.
- Are backups “EPM style”? You would expect a cloud hosting partner to routinely back up data. But backups should also serve EPM requirements — such as the ability to restore from any specific time period, and data validation with multiple levels of granularity including EPM exports, file copies, and instance backups.
- Is system monitoring “EPM style”? Just as with backups, vanilla 24/7 monitoring isn’t enough for EPM solutions. There are literally hundreds of key EPM metrics that should be individually monitored on almost a minute-by-minute basis — issues like a developing disk space issue or a business rule overtaxing the server.
- Is application support available? You don’t have to just migrate the application to the cloud. You can also migrate the tasks of managing it. That can include expert help on things like changing a complex business rule, calculation, or report (like when integrating multiple data sources). Even if you don’t need help desk and support, just knowing it is there is reassuring and says a lot about the provider’s qualifications.
- Do you offer business consulting? Just moving an on-premises system to the cloud (a “lift and shift”) could be a lost opportunity to take advantage of functionality not currently leveraged in your existing setup. You can always say “no” to new initiatives but you should at least know their potential upside in terms of gaining greater visibility to your business, saving money, and making more strategic investment decisions.
BONUS QUESTION! Is the team that will be supporting (or implementing) your Oracle EPM Cloud or Hyperion environment made up of people who know finance? Many consultants will have the technical and functional skills you'll need but finding a team with seasoned CPAs, finance managers and business analysts will really be key to success.
- Are development applications included? If they are, it means you have a free extra system (application, disk space, network usage, etc.) where you can innovate new functionality for your stakeholders before moving that functionality into production.
- How complete is compliance support? Here is what complete compliance support looks like: an annual SOC 2 Type II report plus annual application reviews and quarterly health checks — also change management, ticketing, system change auditing, and security controls all tightly integrated into the partner’s platform and process.
- Will private data stay isolated? Your data should never co-exist with other customers’ data on any hardware or software (including within the EPM application itself). Data isolation also includes safeguards to ensure that unauthorized individuals or systems cannot access sensitive data during the data transfer process, whether from external systems to the EPM or the on-premises application to the cloud.
- Are you agile or waterfall? Most EPM partners follow the waterfall method of carrying out an implementation as discrete tasks (requirements gathering, design, build, test, rollout, etc.) performed by highly siloed teams that don’t communicate much with each other or with business stakeholders. Agile teams, on the other hand, are highly interdisciplinary, interact a lot with each other and with stakeholders, and perform tasks that often overlap. As a result, agile implementations usually happen faster, require smaller teams, are less disruptive, and achieve outcomes that align better with stakeholders’ needs — all of which exposes the organization to less risk.
There are, of course, other questions you can ask when searching for prospective Oracle EPM Cloud partners, but if a company has the right answers to all these 10 questions then it is probably “short list worthy.” Then you’re on to the next step, which is to ask for references and — if those check out — to request a proposal. Adopting an EPM cloud solution, and an EPM cloud partner, are obviously big milestones in the life of any company. So you want to do it right, and this is how you start.