The cloud has transformed the way companies purchase and deploy software. Department managers buy best-of-breed solutions for marketing automation, budgeting and forecasting, financials, procurement, expense management and more. This open marketplace can create “cloud silos,” which offer a single department the opportunity to increase productivity, but can actually hamper visibility into business drivers when data in these critical systems have to be accessed across or between systems.
By combining these cloud islands into an integrated, responsive and agile technology nerve center for the business, you can avoid having multiple cloud applications that don’t interact with one another. Cloud solutions have an advantage over on-premises software because they are architected with open APIs to support integration. But, look beyond data integration – cloud integrations need to support your critical business processes. Having rich, configurable, pre-built integrations between systems allow for much quicker, durable and robust business environments that provide strategic advantage.
When it comes to integrating an ERP and budgeting/forecasting software, kCura understands the benefits. A rapidly growing software company, kCura, integrated its Intacct and Adaptive Insights systems in an effort to save time and decrease risk.
“With the cloud integration, I can load all data in 10-15 minutes and quickly get to analyzing it,” Doug Kabler, says kCura’s Senior Financial Analyst said. “Because it is so easy to load, delete and re-load actuals, I load actuals multiple times prior to the month’s close to get a sense of where the month will end up. Lastly, there is less risk for errors. Manually creating lookup tables and then creating import workbooks allows for the chance of a bad formula being used.”
Five Key Considerations for Cloud Integrations
Cloud integrations can be straightforward or complex, depending on your specific business requirements. Here are five key considerations when establishing your cloud integration roadmap:
Primary Business Processes
Every organization has business processes specific to its industry and the company itself. It is essential to create a cloud integration framework that can easily configure to meet the business processes without being compromised by the ongoing updates that software companies will push out for each. Integrations that coordinate the business logic, technology infrastructure, features, functions and security of each solution will provide lasting benefit. (See Figure A)
Addressing Changes to Your Business
Growing, successful businesses are not stagnant; therefore, their cloud integrations should not be static. Mergers, acquisitions, expansion and new product introductions can all impact a company’s technology infrastructure. Integrations that are built on a framework that allow for configuration changes to meet the ongoing demands for the business will provide maximum value to the organization.
Segregation of Duties
Cloud integrations built upon a roadmap or master record for users, roles, department IDs and organizational hierarchies operate seamlessly across the integrated systems. As employees leave the company and new staff are added, a company needs a coherent and unified strategy of managing users and their roles, rights and permissions across multiple systems. For instance, the accounts payable clerk that only has access to invoices and purchase orders in one system will have the same access rights in the integrated solution. By keeping SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) compliance in mind during cloud solution implementation and integration, companies save tremendous time and money by creating an auditable trail of the separation of duties right from the start.
Single sign-on increases user adoption of cloud integrations by enabling staff to get their jobs done without multiple log-ins. Ease of use allows for democratization within the organization for use of critical applications. The user experience is only as good as the underlying infrastructure.
Unified Mobile Experience
Taking cloud integrations to the next level, business solutions should be as easy to use as everyday consumer products and smart phone apps. Mobile access is the next level of cloud integrations to support universal data access – users can get information they need when and where they want it.
The promise of the cloud is that companies can select best of breed functionality from individual software vendors and enjoy the benefit of continuous product updates. When an organization’s critical business processes cut across multiple cloud solutions, cloud integration can provide a single source of truth and visibility into key performance indicators from multiple data sources.
Dave Burlington is the partner responsible for the Financial Solutions Cloud Practice at Armanino. He has extensive software industry experience, with particular expertise in building and scaling high growth technology companies. Before joining Armanino in 2014, he was COO and led product strategy and development at Epocrates. He also spent several years at Taleo, Comergent Technologies and PeopleSoft. Dave has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science from Santa Clara University.
Edited by Maurice Nagle