The Path to SaaS: Four Steps to a Successful Cloud Migration

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The Path to SaaS:

Four Steps to a Successful Cloud Migration

Unit4 Financials by Coda, Unit4 FP&A, and Unit4 ERP are scheduled to become fully Cloud-based SaaS solutions, making the case for Cloud migration impossible to ignore. But what exactly does it take to make migration a success?

With 200+ (and counting) successful migration/integration projects to our name, Millennium Consulting is no stranger to the challenges inherent in a major Cloud switch. Millennium’s Director of Professional Services, Chris Peall, breaks down our methodology for migration, including the four essential steps to getting it right.

February 2024

SaaS vs On Premise Upgrades

We don’t want to downplay the difference between SaaS and an on-premise upgrade; at Millennium, we don’t discriminate between them because there is not much in it – now that’s not to downplay the effort involved or the differentials of them, but Millennium are a change management company, so migrating a customer from A to B is not the difficult part of any given project.

The path to SaaS isn’t significantly more complex than managing an on-premise upgrade – for a team with the expertise. But it does require change and an understanding of the impact of that change on your business.

The steps

There are four key steps in migrating to the Cloud. The first one is to understand how to get there!

Step 1: Cloud Migration Assessment

With any change management project, you must clarify and articulate your objectives from the outset. Only then can you define what you’ll need from your new solution in areas such as performance levels, capacity, and configuration.

It’s a form of gap analysis: you define the ‘as is’ model (where you are today) – alongside the ‘to be’ model (where you’re going) and map out what’s needed to bridge that gap.

For this, we use Unit4’s Cloud Migration Assessment (CMA). This Unit4-specific analysis tool interacts directly with your current version of Coda, interrogating your system and environment. This gives us detailed information on system usage, including the following:

  • The size of your database
  • The amount of transactional data you have
  • Number and types of customisations in play
  • How you use database tables, custom table usage (and more)

The assessment tool also enables us to carry out forward-focused analysis, including the following:

  • Understanding your business drivers and specific future requirements (e.g. how big an environment are you likely to require in the near future, taking into account patterns in data and transaction volume growth?).
  • Evaluating your readiness to move to the Cloud. It’s likely that some databases are not suitable for migration in their current state. That’s not to say that they cannot be accommodated (e.g. through reformatting, reorganisation, cleansing – or a combination of all three). However, more widely, this is the ideal opportunity for addressing technical debt: streamlining your data architecture overall, reducing redundancies, and boosting performance.

Step 2: Migration Proposal and Commercials

The migration assessment delivers tremendous detail, allowing us to evaluate your readiness to move to the Cloud and precisely what input will be required to get you to where you need to be.

Based on this, we can map out your entire journey to the Cloud, timeframes, responsibilities, and full and transparent costings, along with the steps necessary to keep business disruption to an absolute minimum.

Step 3: Migration

As we touched on earlier, it’s fair to say that there isn’t a technical issue linked to migration that we’re not familiar with.

But in any change management project of this nature, the technical element is only half of the story. Success depends on much more than getting the technical transition right: effective people management is also crucial.

Leadership and communication, top-up training, support mechanisms to match the characteristics of end-users, seeking input and liaising with key insiders are all important factors in effective change management. Millennium’s philosophy is that a migration project is a joint effort! We can liaise directly with Unit4’s Cloud migration team and do the full lift and shift for you. But no matter how much of that burden we take, you have ownership. From timetabling through to testing, you’ll be engaged and aligned as we migrate, validate, and deploy.

Step 4: ‘Business as Usual’ & Ongoing Support

Post-deployment, you’re not alone. We evaluate and then enact all support functions you need to ensure a smooth transition.

Unit4 offers basic support, and they do have a managed service. Millennium also offers our Millennium+ service, where we provide full level two and level three support. We can support you with your functional and non-standard technical needs, i.e. anything that falls beyond Unit4’s assistance under the SaaS model. This global support service offers efficient response times and direct access to our dedicated team, ensuring seamless operations for your business.

When Unit4’s updates arrive each quarter, if you haven’t got the time to do the testing yourself or are unsure about the testing, we can write the test scripts for you. We can also execute those scripts for you if required.

We are working on automating that testing for you, something that we can offer at a low cost, thanks to our large client base. We get the product release brief from Unit4 quite early and understand what the changes will be. This gives you a valuable heads-up on what those changes are every three months and will enable us to deliver as much or as little assistance as you feel you need for your quarterly testing.

What next? 

Millennium’s philosophy is that the journey to the Cloud should be clear, straightforward, and pain-free.

Find out more about your Cloud journey

Millennium Consulting awarded three Unit4 Partner Awards

February 2024

Millennium Consulting awarded three Unit4 Partner Awards

We are pleased to share that Unit4 has awarded Millennium Consulting three partner awards: Elite Commercial Partner, Elite Financials Services Partner, and Select FP&A Services Partner.

Millennium Consulting has maintained its commitment to being an Elite Partner for Unit4, holding the Elite Partner status for five consecutive years since the launch of the global partner program in June 2020. The Unit4 global partner program operates across three levels focused on capabilities, contributions, and customer satisfaction. Elite level partners have achieved the highest level within the Unit4 partner program. This level is awarded to partners that have consistently demonstrated the ability to meet the highest level of success with Unit4 and our joint customers.


"I am delighted to announce that we have received confirmation of our Elite Financials Partner status for 2024 as well as Elite Commercial Partner Status and Select FP&A Partner status. This is a testament to the continued efforts of the Millennium team, working to make Millennium both Unit4’s and our customer's partner of choice.

 

This achievement highlights our ongoing dedication to investing in the Unit4 product landscape.”

— Jeremy Lucas, Chief Operating Officer at Millennium Consulting

Why choose Millennium Consulting?

We have over a decade of experience working with Unit4 products and are a leading reseller in global markets. That means we have the knowledge and expertise to design, implement and support the right Unit4 solution for your business. We also make it easy to extend your system, providing additional applications that allow you to augment and tailor your solution to meet your needs.

Find out more

Events


IFS Online Discussion Forum

IFS Online Discussion Forum

Thursday 25th April 2024 at 2.00 p.m. GMT

Register

You are invited to join the upcoming IFS Online Discussion Forum where international Thought Leaders and IFS Project Sponsors will share experiences and discuss strategies for the successful implementation of IFS Enterprise Software.

Discussion topics will include:

  • Digital transformation strategy
  • The role of the Program Sponsor
  • Program team composition: Internal/external
  • Central versus local systems architecture
  • The critical importance of change management/user adoption
  • Cloud options
  • Data migration/management
  • Testing
  • User training

Your host: Philip Keet, CEO, Millennium Consulting

Thursday 25th April 2024
2.00 p.m. GMT, 3.00 p.m. CET, 9.00 a.m. US ET and 10.00 p.m. HKT
Register

N.B. This webinar will be hosted via Microsoft Teams, and you will receive a link to the session after registering. Please feel free to share this invitation with any other interested colleagues.

IFS logo

About Millennium Consulting

Millennium Consulting is a twenty eight year old ERP and Finance Transformation Consultancy that works with the world’s leading organisations on digital transformation programs. As direct partners with IFS, we help clients decide on a solution that meets their particular needs. Our client’s interests are our priority and by working closely with key stake holders we are able to define and deliver the most appropriate technology strategy.

Did you know...

We are an Authorised IFS Channel & Services Partner

As direct partners with IFS, we help clients decide on a solution that meets their particular needs. Our client’s interests are our priority and by working closely with key stake holders we are able to define and deliver the most appropriate technology strategy.

Find out more

Millennium Consulting Awarded ISO27001 & ISO9001 Certification

January 2024

Updating and re-validation of our ISO 9001 & 27001 certification to the globally recognised UK Government UKAS standard.

View our Accreditations page

Updated and re-validation in January 2023

Updating and re-validation of our ISO 9001 & 27001 certification to the globally recognised UK Government UKAS standard.


December 2021

Millennium Consulting passed another ISO 27001 & 9001 audit with flying colours!

In December 2021 the highly successful recertification process was completed with no nonconformities identified in the audit. With special thanks to Mike Deal and Andre Peter for ensuring that we continue to conform to ISO standards internally and externally.


February 2021

Millennium is proud to announce that during December 2020 we obtained ISO27001 & ISO9001 certification.

While adhering to ISO guidelines in recent years, in 2020 the decision was made to formalise this via accreditation. After an intensive 9 month period, we are delighted to announce that this goal has been accomplished.

By gaining ISO 27001 & 9001 certification, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to providing quality service, effective cost management and timely delivery to our customers while at the same time anticipating their demands. In future we will continue to review our management systems, policies and information security management processes to achieve our ongoing objective of providing the highest quality service to our clients. Finally, to maintain our ISO status, we will continue to invest in technology, development and processes so we can best serve you, our customers.


AI and your business: What you need to know in 2024…

Key AI Concepts

Even with fairly simple applications (think video conferencing apps or office entry systems, for instance), software vendors often describe their offerings as “powered by AI”. It sounds impressive. But what exactly does it mean?

AI is not a technology in itself. It’s basically an umbrella term, described by McKinsey as, “the ability of a machine to perform cognitive functions we associate with human minds, such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, interacting with the environment, problem solving, and even exercising creativity”.

A wide range of technologies and principles underpin AI. These are some of the most important ones to be aware of:

Automation

The terms, AI and automation are sometimes used interchangeably. It’s certainly the case that a lot of AI-based applications are designed to automate manual tasks. However, not all automation relies on AI.

Take a corporate accounting package, for example. Let’s say you can programme it to follow certain predetermined instructions – e.g. to extract a narrow range of data points to make certain calculations and populate a report. This is automation – but it isn’t necessarily AI.

Contrast this with more advanced office of finance functionality. With this, the software has the ability to make predictions and decisions based on the data it is presented with. The solution isn’t just following narrow, pre-defined rules; it’s making correlations and uncovering insights that are often impossible to pick up on through human intervention alone.


Machine Learning

Machine learning is the key concept that makes the difference between automation and actual AI. With this, the machine isn’t just reliant on explicit programming instruction. Rather, it relies on algorithms to make predictions and recommendations by processing data. The more data the machine processes, the more accurate it becomes.

Particularly relevant in areas such as performance management and sales forecasting, machine learning takes you beyond descriptive analytics (describing what just happened), and opens up the possibility of predictive and prescriptive analysis: anticipating what will happen next, and providing recommendations on what to do.


Deep Learning

One step up from machine learning, deep learning gives you the potential to process a much wider range of data sources for more complex use cases. It is based on multiple, interconnected layers of calculators known as neurons, forming a neural network. Vast amounts of data can be fed into the machine, and processed through those layers. The network can then make a determination about the data, learn if this determination is correct, and then use this knowledge to inform future determinations. Use cases include image classification (e.g. visual diagnostics), facial and voice recognition.


Big Data

Think about all of the data generated across your sales and customer service channels, operations, finance, and other key areas of your business. Much of this falls into the category of Big Data: i.e. large, diverse sets of data generated through the usage of devices, software, and networks.

With AI, the more data you feed into an application, the more accurate the solution becomes. As such, the success of any AI initiative is always going to be intrinsically linked to your ability to harness and process the right data, at the right time. Millennium Consulting’s Big Data White Paper explores this in more detail.


Generative AI

Generative AI – i.e. the ability of a machine to generate new output based on training data – isn’t new. However, when ChatGPT’s latest model, GPT-4 arrived last year, it was instantly recognised as a big deal. Previous generative AI models could produce serviceable – if not always very impressive – output. GPT-4 stepped things up several levels.

Like its immediate predecessors, the solution is trained through a neural network utilising massive amounts of data, combined with powerful natural language processing (NLP) capabilities. However, the latest version is much more effective at completing tasks that demand advanced reasoning or creativity, including the ability to understand and respond to nuances of conversation. It can also comprehend user intention more accurately, it allows users to adjust tone and style depending on needs, and is also a lot better at avoiding ‘hallucinations’ and nonsensical output.

In terms of practical application, generative AI is no longer confined to providing basic responses to simple requests. It can troubleshoot, advise, diagnose, solve complex problems – and even come up with new ideas: potentially disrupting a vast range of not just routine activities, but also senior and specialist job roles.

Use Cases

How can we inject extra intelligence into business processes to boost efficiency and effectiveness? What is the potential of AI for aligning our offerings more closely to customer needs and expectations?

Whether and to what extent you adopt a particular technology (including AI-based technologies) should always be dependent on what it is your business is trying to achieve. In general terms, however, possible use cases to explore include the following:

Customer experience

  • Personalised offerings. Use AI tools to analyse customer data, identify individual preferences to deliver tailored recommendations and offers. Combine this with generative AI for the rapid creation of highly personalised marketing material.
  • Proactive service. 73% percent of customers report a more positive perception of brands if they can anticipate minor issues before they become more significant. AI-based tools that can monitor software or device usage makes it much easier to identify errors/service issues and resolve them in a timely manner.
  • Quality assurance. Human QA analysts can only listen, on average, to less than one percent of all customer service interactions. AI-based systems have the potential to appraise 100% of all interactions across all channels. Alongside this, ‘virtual assistants’ offer a much quicker and cost-effective way to resolve customer queries.
  • Data collection. 68% of businesses say that the customer experience data generated within their organisations is not currently being utilised effectively. Look carefully at your data management and processing to consider how this might be optimised.

Finance

  • AI-powered solutions give you the ability to drill into report lines, spot trends, make predictions, and deliver insight to the wider business.
  • Performance monitoring. AI analytics solutions typically have a strong self-service element. This makes it possible for finance team members and business users to put financial and operational data to work, ask questions and generate scenarios without the need for specialist technical input.
  • Routine disclosures and internal reports can often take weeks of preparation. Generative AI solutions could potentially shave large amounts of time from the drafting, verification and approvals process.

Operations management

  • Predictive maintenance. These solutions can analyse performance at machine-level, anticipate failure/maintenance requirements before they arise, thereby minimising downtime and extending equipment lifespan.
  • Inventory management. Predictive analysis delivers a better understanding of purchasing patterns and future demand. Most likely, this analysis is owned by your finance and sales teams. However, if you can feed these insights through to operations, it ensures that stock levels and distribution strategies are more closely aligned to actual demand.
  • Supply chain management. Generative AI can give you the ability to process very large data sets, enabling you to identify performance weak points and risks across a complex supply chain ecosystem.

Potential pitfalls of AI

While AI certainly has the potential to create extra value, there are also risks to consider; particularly around the areas of public perception, employee anxiety, and data security.

90% of customers rate ‘instant customer service’ as important. And more than half of consumers say that slow response times would be enough to cause them to switch brands. In an ideal world, customers should be able to access precisely the support or information they require, right at the point of need. Advanced chatbots and other AI-based initiatives can go a long way in answering these needs.

However, there is a potential flipside to AI when interacting with customers. According to a recent survey from XM Institute, about half of consumers express a general concern about the ‘lack of a human being to connect to’ with automated interactions.

Dig a little further into this, and it’s clear that levels of concern vary depending on the complexity of the issue in hand. For instance, most customers are fine with AI for simple queries (e.g. making a routine travel booking, checking order status or minor support issues). If it’s advice on, for instance, a medical problem or resolving a billing issue, levels of comfort reduce considerably.

The most recent Chat-GPT release prompted reports that 300 million jobs could be affected by the latest wave of AI. And unlike previous waves of automation, generative AI places mid and even senior-level white collar under the spotlight.

More than three quarters of people say they are very or somewhat worried about human job loss linked to artificial intelligence. Significant AI initiatives are bound to raise employee concerns. As such, success depends on ‘selling’ the vision, on inviting input, and on highlighting the fact that AI-driven automation provides greater opportunity for individuals to focus on value-added work – thereby potentially enhancing rather than eliminating their role. Our finance transformation guide considers some of these themes in more detail.

On one level, AI is good news for anyone tasked with protecting a business from cyber attacks. Not least, it offers greater potential for scanning vast amounts of traffic for hidden threats. And by utilising deep learning techniques, businesses can enhance their ability to identify deviations from the norm that may indicate a breach.

But hackers have caught onto the potential of AI, too. For instance, we’ve seen recent reports of how threat actors are using generative AI to compose highly-specific and very convincing phishing campaigns. You can ask generative AI solutions to write code for you. So if threat actors are able to train models based on high-quality exploit data, there’s a very real potential for them to generate malware capable of evading detection by current security filters.

What next?

Across the last three decades, Millennium Consulting has established a reputation for enabling companies to solve their most pressing business problems with a range of expertise that spans next-gen data analytics, data architecture, cybersecurity, automation, AI and more.

For ‘joined up’ advice on your next big AI initiative, speak to us today.

Contact us

Protecting Financial Data: Cybersecurity Considerations for 2024

Cybersecurity for CFOs

Protecting Financial Data: Cybersecurity Considerations for 2024

Far from being just a niche concern for your IT department, cybersecurity is everyone’s business. This is especially true of finance leaders; not least because the operational, financial, and reputational consequences of a major data breach will inevitably land in your lap.

Is your business doing enough to safeguard financial data? What cyber considerations need to be front of mind when you introduce new workflows and technologies to aid finance transformation? As we move into 2024, here are the areas you need to get on top of…

Risks and repercussions: cybersecurity and financial data

Recent statistics suggest that the volume of cyber-attacks is increasing. The consequences of a breach are also becoming more severe. To illustrate this, here’s a snapshot of the current data protection and cybersecurity landscape:

Cyber-attacks are becoming more prevalent. According to SonicWall, there were 6.3 trillion intrusion attempts globally in 2022 alone. CPR indicates that last year there was a 38% year-on-year increase in the global volume of attacks.

This broad trend is expected to continue, as demonstrated by the stats linked to ransomware attacks (whereby threat actors block access to data or systems to extort money from their victims). In 2021, it was estimated that someone somewhere falls victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds. By the next decade, it is predicted that every two seconds an individual, business or device will be attacked.

Financial data is particularly prone to exploitation. The vast majority (95%) of security breaches are driven by financial motivations, with around 65% of threat actors thought to be linked to organised crime. According to IBM, customer personal identifying information (including personal financial data) was the most breached data record type in 2023. This category of data compromise made up 52% of all breaches.

Data breaches are increasingly costly for your business. In 2023, the global average cost of a data breach was USD 4.45 million – 15% higher than in 2021. Of all data categories, customer personally identifiable information costs businesses the most when breached: USD 183 per record on average. 84% of businesses hit by ransomware experience lost revenue. Around 40% of companies will lay off employees as a result.

Building a culture of security in finance

More than a third of all data breaches involve phishing, whereby criminals use fake messages (usually emails) to dupe users into downloading malware, giving away information, or executing fraudulent transactions.

This fact helps explain why even the world’s largest and best-resourced enterprises still get hit with catastrophic security events. Your business may already have firewalls, intrusion detection, anti-malware software, and a host of other cybersecurity measures in place. But if an unsuspecting employee clicks on a malicious link or downloads something they shouldn’t, those basic breach-prevention measures count for little.

The finance function is not only seen as the financial gatekeeper but also the place where lots of sensitive, exploitable data resides. As such, your finance team presents a particularly attractive target to phishing scammers. This includes so-called ‘spear phishing’ and ‘whale hunting’ exploits, whereby criminals deliberately identify and target key business insiders with heavily personalised (and often, very convincing) fake messages.

Action Points for Finance Leaders

It can be easy to regard cybersecurity as “not my domain”, or “something that the IT people take care of”. It’s almost certainly the case that your team members have been provided with the company’s safe usage policies. But to what extent is there a culture of compliance – and how much oversight do you provide?

Individuals tend to be the weak point in the cybersecurity chain. You can mitigate this with effective, relevant security training – including, for instance, simulations replicating real-world attacks. You can only build a culture of security compliance if your team members are fully aware of what’s expected of them – and why it’s important.

Hardwiring security into your finance transformation strategy

One current and ongoing area of focus for Millennium Consulting is helping its Unit4 Financials by Coda customers to transition from an on-premise to Cloud-based software instance . Already, these customers are leveraging the benefits of Cloud deployment, including quicker access to new functionality, ease of maintenance, and lower cost of ownership.

For many finance departments, a shift to the Cloud is just one element of a wider transformation strategy. Initiatives such as automating core processes, and adoption of advanced analytics have obvious benefits in terms of boosting your decision-making capabilities and staying ahead of the competition.

However, it is also worth bearing in mind that your finance transformation will have inevitable consequences for both cybersecurity and data protection. For instance, if you are shifting sensitive financial data to the Cloud, can you still ensure that your compliance obligations governing data storage and transfer are being met? To what extent will new tools and changes to your data architecture (particularly around data integration) alter your vulnerability to cyber-attacks?

Action Points for Finance Leaders

Let’s say you are weighing up a range of software vendors and deployment options as part of a process optimisation initiative. You’re focused on the essentials (e.g. functionality, ease of integration – and not to mention cost). But where does cybersecurity fit in the decision-making process?

Security considerations need to be part of your deliberations right from the outset – rather than it being something your IT team thinks about after procurement decisions have been made.

Some initiatives – e.g. increased data integration and the shift to the cloud – may require your technical team to touch on areas of cybersecurity knowledge that they are unfamiliar with. What will be required in designing and implementing a robust security architecture for your new cloud environment? What additional skills will you need to bring onboard, and what will be the likely costs involved?

External expertise can be highly valuable, both for making ‘secure-by-design’ procurement decisions, and for implementing the changes necessary to secure your new environment.

Maintaining visibility across a complex IT ecosystem

Both in finance and across the wider business, one of the longer-term consequences of the pandemic is that many employees have much greater leeway in when and where work gets done.

Following on from this, Gartner has recently picked up on a trend of what it calls “radical flexibility.” In other words, employees in 2024 often crave much greater flexibility in deciding how work gets done – including their choice of tools for the task at hand.

So, what might this mean for keeping financial data secure?

Well let’s say one of the finance teams needs a better way to visualise and present some data, or a tool to manage a new regulatory requirement. A decade or so ago, this would probably have meant contacting their manager. A solution would be sourced; IT would then check that it’s safe before installing and configuring it.

Fast forward to the present, and an employee can bypass these steps altogether. They have an issue; they find something suitable on the app store, sign up using the company’s details – and the problem is solved.

This gives rise to the issue of shadow IT; whereby software or other assets are added to an enterprise network, without IT knowledge, approval, or proper oversight.

This can be wasteful, with multiple employees potentially signing up for the same or very similar tools (one estimate suggests that the average enterprise wastes over £105,000 annually on duplicate/unnecessary license spending). It can also give rise to multiple security and governance risks. Assets from untrusted – or even malicious – sources can easily find their way into your network, and sensitive data could end up being processed, stored, or exposed in a way that significantly increases the chance of a serious data breach.

Action Points for Finance Leaders

In part, the potential risks associated with shadow IT can be mitigated (once again) with comprehensive employee training, including clear policies to prevent the use of unauthorised apps across your network. This should be accompanied by IT asset management processes and licensing management tools so that IT can maintain a clear and complete view of the applications in play across your IT environment.

Alongside this, if you want to prevent employees using unsanctioned workarounds for business-related problems, finance leaders need to ensure that employees have the right tools for the job. For instance, are you still relying on unwieldy legacy technologies for close & consolidation and other time-consuming tasks? Are there better ways to handle new IFRS requirements? Is there a user-friendly solution out there for visualising data?

If you can address these types of problems, the need for employees resorting to shadow applications is effectively removed.

What next? Making the right choices for safeguarding your data

There is no quick fix for eliminating cybersecurity risks. The right mindset to adopt is often described as the “assumed breach” stance. In essence, this involves acknowledging that breaches will happen and putting the right range of measures in place to protect your data and your business accordingly.

So what measures are appropriate for your business? This is where Millennium Consulting can help. Combining expertise in both cybersecurity and finance transformation, our consultants can review your existing processes, identify your weak points, fill in any skills gaps you may have, and ensure the implementation of a cybersecurity framework that’s tailored to your specific needs.

Find out more

Unit4 Financials by Coda Release Schedule 2024

January 2024

Unit4 Financials by Coda is maintained via continuous release cycle of the software. An .iso is available from within Unit4’s Community 4U.

Local / Additional modules are released independently of the above release cycles and are notified via Unit4’s Community 4U. The maintenance of local products at v14 ceased at the end of December 2022.

Below you will find the currently planned release availability dates of Unit4 Financials by Coda Continuous Release during 2024. The dates below are advising of the date the software is released from Engineering and downloadable by our on-premise customers.

Unit4 Financials by Coda Continuous Release

2023Q4 Release Released 5th December 2023
2024Q1 Release Planned 12th March 2024
2024Q2 Release Planned 11th June 2024
2024Q3 Release Planned 10th September 2024
2024Q4 Release Planned 3rd December 2024

(The final release available for on-premise customers)

These dates can sometimes be subject to alteration.


Unit4 Financials by Coda, Cloud Upgrades Schedule 2024

Unit4 Cloud customers are notified by Unit4 Cloud support when their pre-production and production systems will be updated. This information can also be found within the Cloud Services – Release Schedules area.

2024 Preview Acceptance Production (Planned Maintenance Window)
Q1 Tuesday 19th March 2024 Tuesday 26th March 2024 20th /21st April 2024
Q2 Tuesday 18th June 2024 Tuesday 25th June 2024 20th /21st July 2024
Q3 Tuesday 17th September 2024 Tuesday 24th September 2024 19th /20th October 2024
Q4 Tuesday 10th December 2024 Tuesday 17th December 2024 18th /19th January 2025 (Provisional date)

These dates can sometimes be subject to alteration.


On 17th October 2023, Unit4 announced to its customers that it has taken a strategic decision to provide only Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions going forward. With Cloud being industry standard, we are transitioning on-premises Unit4 ERP, Unit4Financials by Coda, and Unit4 FP&A to being fully cloud based solutions.

With that, these solutions will no longer be supported or maintained by Unit4 with effect from 31st December 2024. Millennium and Unit4 are offering all on-premise customers a clear and attractive opportunity to migrate to the Unit4 Cloud.


Legacy software versions

v14

Release 19 – Released 28th October 2022

Critical bug fix end date has been reached for v14 – Please contact your Unit4 Account Manager to discuss upgrade options to Unit4 Financials by Coda Continuous Release.

v13

Service Pack 23 – Released 27th September 2019

Critical bug fix end date has been reached for v13 – Please contact your Unit4 Account Manager to discuss upgrade options to Unit4 Financials by Coda Continuous Release.


Why choose Millennium for Unit4 Financials by Coda?

We are an Elite Unit4 Partner with more than three decades of experience working with Unit4 Financials by Coda. That means we have the knowledge and experience to design, implement and support the right Unit4 Financials solution for your business.

Talk to our experts

Unit4 Cloud: Busting the Myths and Realising the Benefits

December 2023

Unit4 Cloud: Busting the Myths and Realising the Benefits 

The last year has seen many of our customers make the move to Unit4 Cloud and the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Those companies are already reaping the benefits in terms of convenience, new functionality, and ease of management.

However, for some customers who are yet to switch, doubts about the Cloud still linger. Will migration be more trouble than it’s worth? Will it jeopardise business continuity? Does it mean exposing our data to new cyber risks?

With this in mind, we wanted to help dispel the myths and explain the reality surrounding Cloud Migration and deployment. Here’s what the transition to Unit4 Cloud means for you and your business…

Unit4’s strategy shift: what it means…

In October 2023, Unit4 announced the strategic decision to only offer SaaS solutions going forward. It means that Unit4 Financials by Coda – along with Unit4 ERP, and Unit4 FP&A – are to become fully SaaS-based solutions.

On-premise solutions will remain fully supported for the time being. However, as of 31 December 2024, those solutions will no longer be supported and maintained.

Why is it happening?


Put simply, Unit4 has concluded (correctly in our view) that the SaaS cloud model is the best way to ensure that users get what they need, when they need it.
Over the last few years, Unit4 Financials by Coda has undergone a steady stream of enhancements in areas such as customisable reporting, advanced budgeting and forecasting, consolidation, and intercompany transactions. This is on top of all those under-the-bonnet tweaks and fixes you would expect from a mature, enterprise-grade financial management package.

New challenges – whether they be regulatory, security or market-based – can arise quickly. The functionality offered by Unit4 Financials evolves in response to this, as well as to the suggestions made by members of the user community. The Cloud-based model ensures that these new features are placed in the hands of customers in the most timely possible way, helping them remain “compliant, competitive, and efficient, with one of the most secure cloud-based platforms on the market”.

Cloud anxiety - and how it can hold you back


Many customers will be of the view, “If it ain’t broke – why fix it?”. If your on-premise Unit4 Financials has served you perfectly adequately up until now, this way of looking at things is perfectly understandable.

However, Cloud anxiety can easily give rise to lost opportunity costs. If you regard the shift to the Cloud as nothing more than a “necessary evil” – i.e., just another overhaul for your IT and finance teams to take care of – you’re in danger of overlooking its benefits. Here’s a look at some of the myths surrounding SaaS in the Cloud and the realities for each one.

Myth 1: The Cloud and SaaS is just another money grab

Reality: SaaS can help free your IT department from whole swathes of expenses, resulting in lower cost of ownership

“With SaaS, I’m swapping my perfectly good on-premise servers for higher license costs”.

A quick glance at a classic SaaS model might trigger this reaction. But dig a little deeper and things look very different.

Don’t forget that with Unit4 Cloud, you’re not just getting access to the software; you’re getting full IT maintenance and support. For as long as you’re subscribed, Unit4 picks up the slack.

With on-premise deployment, the full burden of maintaining, securing, and updating the software rests solely with your IT staff. The shift to SaaS means that much of this burden – and its associated costs – are removed. Instead, you can expect simplified integrations, fewer instances of downtime, much quicker restorations if your system does go down, and a stronger security stance.

Make sure that you factor all of this in when making on-premise / SaaS cost comparisons.

Myth 2: SaaS just means the ‘same old’ product delivered in a different way

Reality: Unit4 Cloud means getting more useful features - quicker

One of the reasons why Unit4 has shifted to a Cloud-only strategy is to make it easier to concentrate on what really matters. With fewer resources tied up in supporting a bulky catalogue of physical Coda versions, R&D teams can focus their efforts squarely on actual product development.

Since the shift to Unit4’s Continuous Release model, we’ve already seen a steady stream of enhancements; just a few recent examples being easier task scheduling and the management of attachments, through to under-the-bonnet ‘data chunking’ to speed up performance. We fully expect that once the bulk of the SaaS move has happened, further improvements in functionality will come thick and fast.

SaaS means a greater emphasis on product development. What’s more, this model also tends to be better at getting that new functionality into your hands quickly. Every three months, sees a new release from Unit4, meaning that you get exactly the updates and new features that you need, without disruption.

Myth 3: Our financial management solution will be less secure in the cloud compared to on-premise

Reality: Unit4 Cloud can actually help to strengthen your security stance

When it comes to security, it is rarely a simple case of “Cloud, good; on-site deployment, bad” (or vice versa).

It all depends on who’s actually providing the service. If you switch from on-premise to an untrusted SaaS provider where there’s a slapdash approach to governance and a poor track record in addressing vulnerabilities (and high levels of downtime), you weaken your data security stance.

With Unit4 Cloud however, you have the reassurance of knowing that your data is secured at every level, applying industry best practice. Security highlights include the following:

  • Unit4 relies exclusively on trusted data centers (e.g., Microsoft Azure, and Nordics-based Conapto) to ensure regulatory compliance, physical security, and availability.
  • The highest levels of enterprise-grade encryption are applied to prevent unauthorised access – for data both in transit and at rest.
  • The ability for you to apply fine-grained identity and access management (IAM) controls to determine who can see and work with what resources in the Cloud.
  • Strict and effective data segregation, ensuring that every Unit4 customer has their own private and secure database.
  • Comprehensive and continuous threat monitoring to detect and prevent malicious events, threats, and intrusion attempts. This is accompanied by a proven record in addressing vulnerabilities.

Unit4 Cloud allows you to maintain a security stance that is at least as strong – and in many cases, even stronger – than your current on-premise environment.

A switch to the cloud can certainly help free up some of your resources currently expended on infrastructure security. That said, it does not, of course, render your IT estate immune from cyber threats! Nor does it absolve you from responsibility for areas such as configuring your own environment, securing endpoints, and company networks.

Securing a Cloud environment is no easy task. And in fact, according to Fortinet’s latest Cybersecurity Skills Gap report, Cloud security tops the list of the most needed cyber security skills, as well as being the hardest to fill roles for organizations.

Fortunately, Millennium Consulting is committed to helping our customers overcome any cyber skills gaps through dedicated in-house cybersecurity expertise. To learn more about this expertise, and to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your data in the cloud, explore our cybersecurity services here.

Other potential benefits


Unit4 Cloud offers the potential to reduce the total cost of software ownership and management. It promises to make the financial management solution you love even better. And with access to the right support, it can offer a more secure means of software deployment.

On top of all of this, the cloud-only future for Unit4 Financials could offer your business several additional benefits:

Boosting business continuity


An on-premise server crash is doubtless one of your IT manager’s biggest nightmares. Worst case scenario, you’re talking hours, days – or even weeks of interruption.

By contrast, Unit4 Cloud’s impeccable uptime record is impossible to ignore. This is a company that takes its SLAs extremely seriously. So even if there is a server outage, a robust continuity process (including the ability to switch deftly to a secondary data center) helps keep customers up and running with the minimum of disruption.

Supporting your sustainability goals


Just a few years ago, sustainability was a peripheral concern for most businesses. In the latest PwC Pulse Surveys however, 41% of finance leaders regard ‘not meeting sustainability commitments’ as a moderate or serious risk for their companies.

Customers and investors alike want to see companies putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to sustainability. If you can point to a switch from legacy on-premise servers to highly efficient data centers (along with a corresponding reduction in energy consumption), it can tie neatly into your emissions-reduction strategy.

Enabling new ways of working


Is remote or hybrid working right for your business? Your answer to this will of course be shaped by a number of factors, including business objectives, office culture, and customer needs.

The beauty of Unit4 Cloud (particularly for finance staff) is that it gives you greater options in this area. So long as they have an internet connection, employees get ‘anywhere, anytime accessibility’ to your financial management suite. At the same time, however, granular access management means you still get to control who accesses what and when – regardless of employee location.

Joining the community


It’s easy to overlook just how responsive Unit4 is to user needs and suggestions. Community4U is the company’s customer and partner community, made up of dedicated forums devoted to specific Unit4 solutions (including Unit4 Financials).

Through it, you can engage with other customers and partners, get in touch and ask questions, share tips and best practices and find solutions that will make your life easier. The community also includes a process through which customers can suggest product enhancements, some of the most notable recent ones being as follows:

  • Remove trailing spaces automatically
  • Set the name of the attachment sent by email
  • ‘Remove the line’ checkbox as movable item on input template
  • Custom portal per company
  • Sorting payment proposals by date instead of payment code
  • Mandatory fields on element template
  • Cr/Dr differentiation on Distribution Master / Revaluation
  • CODA Procurement: Irrecoverable Tax on Reversing VAT
  • ScheduleChange Periods (000223)

The switch to Unit4 Cloud enables you to gain the earliest possible access to these enhancements as they are rolled out

What next?

As an Elite Unit4 Partner, Millennium Consulting offers everything you need to facilitate a swift, pain-free migration to Unit4 Cloud.

Learn more

Financials Focus: Flexi Fields

Millennium Consulting Webinar Series

Financials Focus: Flexi Fields


Thursday 21st March 2024 at 14.00 p.m. UK

Duration: 45 minutes

Register

Join Millennium Consulting’s Webinar Series, Financials Focus event on Flexi Fields.

Thursday 21st March 2024 at 14.00 p.m. UK for 45 minutes

The session will cover the following:

  • What are flexi fields?
  • What are the different types?
  • How can they be used?
  • How to use them in Interfaces?
  • How can you use them in reports?
  • How can they be output?

Learn how to expand Unit4 Financials by Coda from a financial ledger system to a management reporting information system using flexi fields.

Register here

N.B. you will receive a link to the session after registering. 

Presented by

Phil Leaf

Principal Unit4 Functional Consultant at Millennium Consulting

Phil is one of the world’s leading experts in the use of Unit4 Financials by Coda, with over 25 years of experience providing strategic advice, project management, implementation, and migration services for clients across the globe.

Did you know...

We are an Elite Unit4 Partner

We are an Elite Unit4 partner and a leading reseller around the world. That means we have the knowledge and experience to design, implement and support the right Unit4 Financials solution for your business. We also make it easy to extend your system, providing additional applications that allow you to augment and tailor your solution to more closely meet your needs.

Find out more

Unit4 Financials 2023 Q4 Release

Unit4 Financials by Coda 2023 Q4 was made available on 5th December 2023.

The new release contains all the previous Unit4 Financials functionality and new features. Plus, many additional customer requested fixes, highlighting the importance of logging enhancements via Unit4’s Community 4U.

Highlights of the 2023 Q4 release include:

Administration:

  • Session Cleaner
    • The periodic Session Cleaner now deletes session data attributed to sessions that no longer exist, this prevents the accumulation of data which impacts performance problems at logoff.
  • Print Formatter
    • Print Formatter now requires .NET Framework 4.8.
    • Print Formatter now makes use of TLS 1.3.
  • Workflow Designer
    • Workflow Designer now requires .NET Framework 4.8.
    • Workflow Designer now makes use of TLS 1.3

Billing:

  • Billing Invoices
    • When posting invoices from Billing to Financials, it is now possible to exclude zero value lines. This is an optional setting on the document master in Billing.

Finance:

  • Company Master
    • You are now able to map the Finance Summary line and Analysis line accounts for use in Electronic Invoicing. These parameters will be used in the future by the new Electronic Invoicing functionality.
  • Element Master
    • You are now able to map the AccountingSupplierParty for use in Electronic Invoicing. If the ‘Matchable element’ option is set to ‘Customer/Supplier’, the Electronic Invoicing tab becomes available. These parameters will be used in the future by the new Electronic Invoicing functionality.
  • Print Invoices
    • If you select or deselect Add PDF as primary attachment in the Printing options screen, your choice will now be saved as a User Preference for the logged-on company.

Structured Output:

  • UBL 2.1 Credit Note Transformation
    • A new UBL 2.1 Transformation Type is available for Credit Notes on the Manipulation master. The UBL 2.1 Transformation XML is validated against the UBL 2.1 credit note schema.
  • UBL 2.1 Transformation Invoice
    • The UBL 2.1 Transformation (for invoice generation) now has an extended vocabulary list and the Business terms reference (E.g. BT-22) has been added to the target vocabulary as an identifier to allow easy correlation to the Peppol documentation.

XL:

  • XL Designer now requires .NET Framework 4.8.
  • XL Designer now makes use of TLS 1.3
  • Deprecated features:
    • The .NET router has been deprecated. The final release has not been determined.
    • 32-bit XL is deprecated. We recommend the use of 64-bit XL.

The Message Board feature in Administration is deprecated. It will be removed in a future release.

General Fixes/Updates:

  • It is now possible to enter and save strings with the ‘+’ character, eg +44 12345678 when using Text fields in Print Formats
  • The sample workflow definition for the approval of tax lines on finance documents ‘APPROVETAXL’ has been updated to correct an error on its definition.
  • An empty ElementResponsiblilityCurCode in UserMaster Get response no longer triggers a schema validation error.
  • Modifying a scheduled task no longer incorrectly changes the next tun time of that task.
  • The Scheduled Task Parameters are now properly validated when the Financials Group Company has been changed or when the task is enabled or disabled.
  • Flexi-field vocabulary specified in a selector master is no longer ignored when running Print Invoices as a scheduled task.
  • Any vocabulary that has been removed will now be deleted from the standard metadata when imported as part of the upgrade process. Previously this could cause the metadata import to fail.
  • The username is correctly recorded when an asset is changed, by running depreciation for example. This change will also be reflected in the Audit Trail process.
  • Asset Depreciation has been corrected to run for the companies specified in the selector master, it will only run for the companies the user has access to. i.e. companies specified on their user master.
  • Attachments using a ‘Base URL’ can now be posted to the finance document using Journal Loader in the XL for Finance add-in. The filename path has now been corrected.
  • Mandatory flexi-field transaction line data no longer causes an error when generating tax and balancing lines in input.
  • When posting documents via web services, document master books checking for intray documents is now respected, some poor error messages have been corrected and the CheckPostWithoutTemplate service has been brought into line with Post service behavior.
  • Workflow can now be postponed for recurring documents, when the “Request confirmation before starting workflow” option is checked on the Document Master.
  • The modification date is now consistently updated on oas_payline.moddate.
  • Within Matching, when a partial payment is made, any previously selected lines are still selected upon successful completion of the operation.
  • Adding or updating element banks via the Set function of ElementMasterService no longer populates blank fields with random symbols and characters.
  • Assisted Element – Element long name is no longer truncated when copied from Element name.
  • In Invoice matching the account code is no longer being overwritten when regenerating tax for an invoice that has had its authorisation status reset.
  • It is now possible to match a negative order that has been received, to a Credit Note in Purchase Invoice Matching.
  • In Structured Output, amending a process master to Output type SFTP no longer causes a connection failure error.
  • Additional vocabulary has been made available for selectors and presenter in XL, this includes reconciliation date and reconciliation user.

Further details on the new features, security updates and reported issues can be found in the release documentation.

Release dates for Cloud users

Unit4 Cloud customers are notified by Unit4 Cloud support when their pre-production and production systems will be updated. This information can also be found within the Cloud Services – Release Schedules area. View the 2023 Cloud Schedule here.

The Release Notes detailing the fixes and features within this release can be found in the Documentation area on Unit4’s Community 4U.

Transform your Unit4 Financials by Coda system and take it to the next level by migrating to Unit4 Cloud.

With effect from December 31 2024, on-premises Unit4 Financials by Coda will no longer be supported or maintained.

Find out more