Moving finance to the cloud


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Moving finance to the cloud

  1. 1. Moving Finance to the Cloud – Isle of Wight College Background During the summer of 2012, the college started the process to move its current finance system into the cloud. The key drivers for this move were:      Reduced hardware costs compared to the in-house system Software updates would be installed as soon as they were available as opposed to having to wait until a consultant was free. Reduced consultancy costs which, due to our geographical location, are usually high A web-based solution would support the increasing trend of people using their own devices Increased availability for home workers The initial test server was installed by the IT Team and a period of stress testing of the new system took place to identify any key issues that needed to be addressed. Unfortunately the Finance Team found that a number of key issues relating to the Purchase Order authorization system prevented the system from working correctly. This required a significant amount of reprogramming by the consultants. After a period of communications with the supplier and numerous tests, the college was finally ready to ‘go live’ however, due to the proximity of year end the decision was made to delay final deployment until the start of the new college year; 12 months later than planned. The new system was deployed overnight to prevent any data loss. Negatives    If you have a large number of records the system can be very slow to update Some customer support issues can take a long time to resolve whereas we were used to being able to do these in-house when needed. We should have completed the training sessions much earlier. This would have made the transition for some staff much easier but it would also have identified a number of issues before the system was made live.
  2. 2.  The project has been completed at the busiest time for our finance staff and this has made it difficult for them to answer queries etc. Positives       The system has been deployed across the campus with minimal disruption. Most staff are now using the web version, albeit probably not to its full potential. System downtime has been reduced. We no longer require a consultant to visit when major changes are needed. The new system provides much more information to budget holders than the previous system did The ordering system is much easier to use and is available at anytime and anywhere Post Deployment The ‘cloud based’ system provided two interfaces, one for finance staff and one for finance users. It was found that the ‘classic’ mode was very similar to the original and virtually no training was required for the finance staff. However, as the classic mode is easily available, college staff will use this version unless they are given specific training. Those who have completed the training have found the web version much easier to use. “We have already had a full system upgrade and I am sure that most staff did not notice.” Lessons Learnt Once the project was completed, the team met to take a reflective look at the planning stage of the project to see which processes needed improvement. It was concluded that more detail at the planning stage would have helped with the following issues: 1. An allowance of more time to test the product thoroughly before implementation would have ensured a smoother roll out. 2. A wider range of staff needed to be engaged in project planning from the outset. 3. A programme of comprehensive training sessions using the test environment as part of the project plan would have removed some of the smaller issues that arose.
  3. 3. Estimated Cost Savings Software upgrades Annual consultancy Server maintenance Deployment of dashboards Total £ 2,000 £ 2,000 £ 3,000 £11,000 £18,000 Summary Many staff have found the system simpler to use, but find it frustrating that some functions are not yet available. The ability to export directly to Excel has made the production of reports a far easier process than it was and a purchase order can now be completed in less than 2 minutes. We are still experiencing the issues with Java versions but these are being dealt with by the support desk. Symmetry have arranged weekly telephone calls to ensure that things are progressing. We now have 120 users on the system and additional training sessions are being planned to help bring all users up to speed. Overall, the project has largely been a success but further development is still required.