Over the last few years I have been immersed in the Oracle Cloud community as our team at More4apps develop our new Oracle Cloud integrations, and I’ve noticed an interesting shift in the internal cultures of those in the Oracle community who have taken the brave leap into Oracle Cloud. That shift, in my opinion, is positive in the long run, but for those experiencing it, has possibly felt something like pulling teeth. While Cloud, technologically, is a big shift for any organization, the cultural shift it also requires should not be taken lightly.
On premise Oracle ERP systems have been around for years, and most organizations, more or less , used the same principles of database architecture, management and application design, function and upgrades. All the kinks and idiosyncrasies have been either ironed out over time or business processes evolved to accommodate what the ERP system required. Updates were always controlled by the companies themselves, and ‘custom built solutions’ were seen as a positive whenever the features that Oracle provided didn’t seem to fit. Oracle Cloud has taken us back to a greener ERP system without much of those established solutions - not quite all the way back to the beginning, but Oracle Cloud is definitely not yet mature. This has meant frequent updates and constant changes, with the largest of these changes being Oracle’s quarterly updates.
The single biggest shift in company culture I’ve seen is the need to keep up with Oracle’s quarterly updates. Instead of an upgrade every 3-5 years, SaaS upgrades are happening every 3-5 months! The concept of new features materializing 4 times a year and functionality constantly changing as Oracle Cloud continues to improve its existing features has ruffled more than a few feathers. Quarterly updates mean quarterly testing, training, and service interruptions. All this may seem tedious, but I see it leading us toward big-picture, positive changes in organizational efficiency and for the lifelong quality of our ERP systems.
Oracle Cloud instances can feel like they are always in flux with updates being required at minimum every 3 months. While, at first, this may feel like a scary prospect for those who are used to upgrading every few years, the benefits the community have seen so far, do seem to be worthwhile. New features can be taken advantage of and implemented faster than before and the benefits to users achieved sooner. However, frequent updates also mean that standardization has become essential. The more standardized your setup and integrations, the easier the upgrades for the whole system. In response, Oracle seem to be offering solutions for what previously would have required custom developments. Moreover, custom now seems to be a dirty word. Custom built solutions run the risk of not working with the next upgrade if they do not strictly follow Oracle’s integration guidelines causing unnecessary headaches.
The more often you do anything, the faster and easier it gets - it becomes a habit. Quarterly updates allow us to form robust, streamlined upgrade habits. Changes become less daunting, analysis falls into a rhythm, testing falls into a rhythm, and everyone gets to know the rhythm. Upgrades just aren’t as scary, nor as onerous as they used to be. More frequent small changes lead to less serious bugs and as a result, fixes are faster and easier. Long gone are the 2 year long upgrade projects with 60-page risk management plans - I don’t think anyone misses those.
With more power comes greater responsibility. While security has always been important to ERP systems, being able to maintain security has never been a faster moving target. The threats keep changing, and Oracle needs to match their pace. For this reason, it must be said, frequent updates put the mind at ease! Security patches are welcomed, and more routine and frequent testing is definitely a positive!
Are you working with the right third parties?
We’ve found that a number of people in the community start with third party providers inexperienced in dealing with Oracle, only to find that they have trouble working with Oracle and have difficulty embracing the changes that Oracle Cloud brings. I challenge you to think through the experience of your third-party providers to avoid these issues. Are your third-party tools and service providers helpful in your efforts to streamline and maximize your Oracle ERP Cloud experience? Do they work to complement your quarterly update process? Are they agile enough to adapt to and welcome the ever-changing nature of a Cloud based ERP? Do they work with Oracle support and development or outside of it? And most importantly, are they embracing this new way of working and harnessing Oracle Cloud’s potential for your organization? If not, perhaps you need to have a frank conversation with your third-party providers to make sure they are right for you.
The new Cloud way
It’s definitely been an interesting journey watching the development of Oracle Cloud over the years since early Fusion days. As Oracle users we face a brave new Cloud world. We’re all adapting to what’s required and we are, by and large, seeing positive results in Oracle’s move to the Cloud. It’s great to see organizations embracing change and transforming their internal processes to maximize the potential of Cloud, even with its quarterly updates. As experienced providers of Oracle solutions, we’re very proud to be a part of this Cloud journey with you, and we commit to continuing to bring value to the OATUG Community and to the wider Oracle community, too - because bringing value to the Oracle users in a practical and tangible way is, after all, is why More4apps exists.
Sally Lai, Innovation Programme Manager at More4apps
Sally Lai has worked with the More4apps team for 5 years and is currently the Innovation Programme Manager charged with developing a culture of innovation and excellence. The role brings together her strengths in people management, and organizational development. She has practical experience in the Oracle environment and is currently part of the team that has developed More4apps latest product, Oracle ERP Cloud.