September 24, 2021
It's not just about technology, it's all about responsibility
The technical aspect of different delivery methods described in the previous blog post in this blog series of, is of course an essential part of the factors to consider when choosing the right ERP solution for your company. However, what is perhaps even more important to understand is the division of responsibilities between supplier and customer when it comes to the different options. There are major differences between the delivery methods, but there may also be differences within the specific method.
ERP Delivery methods from a responsibility perspective
Below I, Håkan Strömbeck (Senior Industry & Solution Strategy Director at Infor), will describe the different ERP delivery methods from a responsibility perspective. The description is made from a general perspective for all option, except for the "multi-tenant" option which is described based on how we work at Infor.
In practice, hosting doesn’t have any significant differences compared with On-Premise. The relationship between customer and supplier is unchanged, with the difference that the customer choose to outsource less or more of the operations to a third party supplier. In an On-Premise setting the customer is responsible for the operating environment in the form of servers databases, security, performance, availability, back-ups, integrations, tests, modifications, patches, upgrades among other factors. From a responsibility perspective when it comes to Hosting, other dimensions needs to be considered compared to On-Premise. All parts of operations that will be outsourced to the hosting supplier needs to be considered and defined, will it just be the operation of the hardware, availability, upgrades and similar responsibilities or more? Once defined, you need to determine how it will be regulated in a contract between the parties. This causes another level of complexity.
Additional level of complexity hosting generates, is related to existing modifications and potential operational disruptions. The complexity around concluding what caused the disruption. Was it the original software, the modification or the outsourcing partner’s way of managing the modification and their specific their responsibilities? In the event that hosting is provided by the ERP provider, there will be one less thing to manage. However, as mentioned in the previous blog “Why you should care about the different cloud solutions?”, Hosting is not really a question of a true cloud delivery, as the customer purchases the license and subsequently the associated services from a third party that happens to be the ERP provider.
Single-Tenant (Private Cloud)
The vendor offers a service and general practice is that they assume responsibility for the operating environment, in the form of server databases, security, performance, availability, back-up, bugs and patches. From here onwards it can become somewhat unclear which party is responsible for what, and questions around the suppliers responsibility for integrations arise. Questions such as:
- Does the vendor take responsibility for integrations to other products that the customer uses?
- Who is responsible for the tests and how and when are they carried out?
- If the solution has been modified, who is responsible for these modifications?
- Does the responsibility depend on whether changes has been made to the code, or whether it has been made outside the solution?
- How and with what frequency are upgrades managed, and what happens to them if modifications to the code have been made?
- Who will verify in advance that modifications will work once upgraded, and take responsibility for troubleshooting post upgrades?
The list of questions go on, as there is several areas where the boundaries around responsibility can be unclear with a single-tenant solution. One could even argue that a single tenant is identical to On-Premise, the difference being it comes with a subscription contract.
Multi-Tenant (True Cloud)
In this case, we will take a closer look at how Infor views the division of responsibilities of our Multi-Tentant Cloud ERP solutions:
- We provide a service and are responsible for the operating environment in the form of server databases, security, performance, availability, back-up, bugs and patches.
- We are responsible for testing the software for all upgrades based on a large number of tests carried out once a day.
- We are responsible for integrations with other Infor Cloud products, for example solutions as Factory Track, WFM and WHM.
- We are responsible for ensuring that the solution works with configurations made after an upgrade, since we allow configuration but not modification of our CloudSuites.
- We are responsible for upgrades, which are normally carried out once a month.
- If the customer has developed so-called extensions, customers are normally responsible for the tests of these in connection with an upgrade. However, we also provide this service if the customer prefer, to facilitate for our customers. In that case, an extension communicates with their CloudSuite via API’s and as a basic rule we at Infor communicate changes in APIs with at least 6 months' notice, to enable the customer to prepare well in advance. You can read more about Infor's commitments to our customers in the "Infor Multi-tenant Cloud Customer Bill of Rights".
The Bill of Rights articulates our vision for providing modern cloud solutions and building long-term relationships based on trust and shared success. It formalizes our commitment to flexibility, transparency, reliability, and providing customers with peace of mind.” / Nancy Mattenberger, Global Chief Customer Office
Be concious of your level of responsibility
To summarize, it is important to investigate all the pros and cons with the technical aspects of any delivery method; hosting, single-tenant and multi-tenant. However, it is perhaps more important to fully understand what the consequences of the different delivery methods from a responsibility perspective . This is important for you to be concious of what kind of service you actually are buying with the respective method, and what kind of impact that will have on my organization and my governance. So, in the end it's not just about technology, it's all about responsibility when you choose the right ERP delivery method.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, where I will explore why one size fits all ERP difference between a move-in ERP versus a modified ERP.
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