More and more organizations are moving their ERP services into the Infor Cloud each day. Join us for a discussion about how a managed service provider can be an invaluable resource when you move to the cloud.
A good Managed Service Provider will not only understand the “back-end” of Infor products, but they will also offer strong resources who can provide “front-end” functional assistance. Infor’s Cloud Suite applications are quite robust, and as a result they can be quite complex. Having an MSP on your team can give your users the comfort of knowing that answers to their functional questions are just a phone call away. Additionally, Nogalis makes it our business to know your business. We take the time to understand all your organization processes, and we will even make process improvement recommendations. We have deep knowledge of the Infor applications in addition to knowledge of the business needs, so we are in a unique position to make these recommendations.
Front-line Support (break-fix)
Infor’s support service is quite responsive and knowledgeable about the Infor products. However, it is still good to have someone who can bridge the gap between the applications and your organization. A Managed Service Provider should make it their business to know your business. That way, if an issue arises, they can be the one to initiate and assist with support calls to Infor. They will be in the best position to explain the issues and work with Infor toward a solution.
Infor delivers basic security roles with all of their Cloud Suite products. The setup for these roles is maintained in the Landmark Configuration Console, which uses Infor’s proprietary language called “Landmark Pattern Language” (lpl). It can be cumbersome to have your in-house IT learn this new language. On top of learning the new language, they would also need to learn the ins and outs of each application in order to be able to properly create/modify security classes. The security setup can get very granular, down to the field level. An Infor Partner will already have the expertise available to create an maintain custom security. They will also be able to better interpret the delivered security rules so that they can work with you to ensure that users are only seeing what they need to see. An MSP should also offer robust security reporting, and assist you with keeping your security rules in line with your Infor licensing.
Monitoring & Proactive Maintenance
A Managed Service Provider can monitor your system, even in the cloud. There are monitoring tools provided by Infor, plus there are diagnostic tests that can be run against every system. This helps to make sure that your applications don’t undergo any unexpected downtime. Also, a Managed Service Provider can monitor patch releases and make recommendations on when to request patches for your applications. They can also monitor things like disk space and database health to hopefully catch any issues, and work with Infor to mitigate them, before they bring down your system. Nogalis offers monthly health checks that bring all of these diagnostics into one place for your review. For our customers, these health checks have resulted in a 98% reduction in downtime, and an 80% reduction in critical issues.
Infor releases patch bundles regularly, and these bundles can touch every piece of each application. It is important to be able to interpret what the bundles are changing so that users will know how to test. It is almost always necessary to perform full regression testing. An Infor MSP will be able to interpret the patch notes to assist your organization with a test plan. They will also have generic test scripts to give you a jumping off point, and they can even help you to organize the testing effort (which should take about 4-6 weeks). And once the bundle is complete, the MSP will be available to assist with any interfaces or custom work that might need to be done as a result of changes from the patch.
There are countless ways to customize the experience in Infor’s Cloud Suite. In addition to third-party interfaces using IPA or ION, and custom security rules, the applications themselves can be customized. Configuration Console can be used to do something as small as add a user field, or something as large as adding a whole new business class to facilitate a brand-new custom application. These types of customizations have a tendency to be under-documented, and often the knowledge of the changes leaves when the originator leaves the organization. It is far safer to leave this type of work in the capable hands of a Managed Service Provider. Once they create the new custom work, or review and document the existing, they can take on the responsibility for break-fix or minor tweaks going forward.
Process Automation & Reporting
Infor offers their ION engine for translating and loading data, and Infor Process Automation is available for more complex interfaces. There is always going to be a need for automating processes, or interfacing with other applications. These types of activities will inevitably run into some sort of issue, and it is important to have someone on the team who understands the tools as well as the applications they are tying together. A managed service provider should be able to jump right in to troubleshoot issues, and also to make minor tweaks as the needs arise.
In addition to automating processes, custom reporting is very important to most organizations. Configuration Console can be used to generate many custom reports, and if you need something even more complex, or if you need to bring data in from outside systems, Infor also offers Birst as an option. A Managed Service Provider will already have a good handle on some basic useful reports, and they should be able to hit the ground running on any new reporting needs that may arise. An MSP should readily know and understand Infor data and how the pieces fit together, so creating and maintaining reports will be a fast, efficient, and painless process.
There is no way around it. When you move to Cloud Suite, you will still need someone “on the ground” to assist with issues, customizations, and functional questions. The most cost-effective option is to hire a Managed Service Provider. You can see up to a 33% reduction in operational costs in the first year over trying to manage the system in-house. Your MSP should also be able to provide statistical reports demonstrating turnaround on incidents, as well as compliance with SLAs. And, having a managed service provider will allow your analysts and functional users to focus on their daily tasks and process improvement, where they can really contribute to the effectiveness of the organization. It is a true win-win scenario.