What is the biggest challenge implementing Cloud Software?

Any new software adoption project has challenges. But an Enterprise level SaaS application presents challenges every customer needs to be aware of. Examples include change management, configuring the software without the ability to customize it and redirecting staff to support it. But the biggest challenge can be summed up in one word – Sustainability.

Sustainability is defined as a customer’s ability to continuously manage the solution and use it to take advantage of the inherent benefits the Cloud offers.

I have seen numerous projects that successfully went live with the help of an implementation partner. But many customers had difficulty successfully managing their new Cloud solution once the partner scaled back support. This has led to an inability to manage the application and achieve anticipated business value.

Many analysts and vendors have written about best practices that must be adopted to get maximum value from the software. For example, Jacqueline Flickinger, Oracle’s Public Sector Director of ERP/EPM Strategy recently wrote an article about five essential best practices: strong project governance, appropriate project staffing, unwinding customizations in your current application, tarting data cleanup efforts early and change management.
All are vital for a successful implementation.

But Sustainability focuses on what all customers must do to effectively run the applications and, once live, continually improve processes. There are several keys to sustainability:

  • Re-organizing your support staff to manage a Cloud application – This one item has many facets, and all are key to sustainability.

  • Examining your IT and Business support team and assigning the right people to the new roles demanded by the Cloud. This includes a greater emphasis on business analysis with knowledge of the software and your own organizations process

    • Training your staff to understand not only how the applications work, but how it can be used to improve existing processes

    • Managing end user training and expectations

  • Managing the Cloud Implementation Environment - Key points include:

    • Planning and analyzing releases – Vendors like Oracle issue new releases 4 times a year. Updates are mandatory. There is no option for not taking the update. You need to assign a team of dedicated staff to analyze the release contents and work with end users on feature adoption. This requires a dedicated and well-trained team of IT and Business Analyst staff with strong business analysis skills. This does not imply adding new staff but re-focusing existing Team members.

    • Business lead and end user education – Change management does not go away once you are live. You need resources committed on an on-going basis to develop/enhance training material and work with end users. Customers should consider a tool like Oracle Guided Learning to support ongoing education efforts. A strong internal help desk is essential to manage end user issues as they arise.

    • Testing, testing, testing – This may be the most difficult area. Releases come 4 times a year and each one requires testing beyond what the vendor does prior to the update. You need to test interfaces and new features to ensure that the upgrade is adopted with minimal disruption.

    • Continuous Innovation – Cloud applications are nimble and will most likely offer many ways to take advantage of new feature and new modules. You need to assign this task to your best staff resources and make it a priority to continue to realize your ROI potential.


All customers need to address these issues to successfully sustain operations and innovate. Many customers can configure support processes and personnel to do this. If you need help with this, I suggest you work with a managed services partner to provide some level of resources to support this effort during a transition period or longer.

So, creating an environment with support staff dedicated to Sustainability is the one thing every customer must do to ensure an enduring and effective change in your processes.

Bob Sabo has over 40 years of experience working for government or for private sector companies providing technology services to the public sector.