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