Preparing for the Transition to Third Party Support
The advantages of transitioning to third-party vendor support far outweigh the perceived risks of leaving Oracle. Benefits include more control and freedom to manage the IT infrastructure, a partner that provides improved service levels for at least 50% lower cost than they spend with the vendor today, and increased operational efficiency. And, it’s a proven option, used by thousands of global organizations, including nearly 150 of the Fortune 500.
Here are six ways to ensure a smoother transition:
- Build a business case
- Create a communication plan
- Do your license and contract homework
- Stabilize existing systems and upgrade to the latest versions
- Get your archiving process in order
- Create a transition plan with your third-party support vendor and stick to it
#1 Build a business case
The hard sell isn’t in the IT department; the battleground is the rest of the company. Use a business-case approach to describe the situation, the amount you’re paying for support, the value (or lack of value) you derive from the service you’re receiving. Explain what options are going to be considered and lay out the reasons why.
Build your case and communicate with the business stakeholders and executives. Use irrefutable facts and figures to illustrate the current situation and gaps in the support quality. Explain why you don’t believe it’s in the company’s best interest to stick with Oracle. Then, outline the options available.
Establish the current state of support. What impact does that have on the business operationally and financially? How does it align with future investments and IT strategy? Once that view of where your organization stands in terms of risk, costs and potential savings is established, you’ll be in a stronger position to formulate the next steps with the full support of the CIO.
When your organization realizes the return on its support investment falls well below expectations, get the contracts out and learn where you stand with contracts, licensing and entitlements. A thorough understanding will enable you to lead discussions with key stakeholders and the leadership team with confidence.
#2 Create a communication plan
Take preemptive action with a clear communication plan mapped out for the executive board and the senior management team. Maintaining constant communication with key individuals, senior leaders, and executives keeps them informed and helps create transparency, foster trust, and build confidence.
Giving people a heads up about what is being considered provides stakeholders with the opportunity to assemble and voice concerns. How will the change impact them, their role, the organization? This feedback and input form the basis of the more in-depth discussions needed to evaluate the options’ pros and cons.
Ideally, your communication plan will cover the critical stages of the decision process. Start by letting them know a change is being considered. Make them aware that no action has taken place yet. Communicate what you’re doing and why. As your business case for the alternative strategy evolves, provide updates.
#3 Do your homework
The fine print around contracts, licensing agreements, updates, audits, security, and data privacy must be carefully reviewed to understand the long-tail costs. You need to know your contracts, understand your license entitlement, usage, and capacity, in the near and long-term.
It’s not just the legal department that needs to understand the language of a contract. As an IT manager, if you don’t do the homework or understand the contracts, that’s a problem. Understanding the language in your contracts and interpreting it is critical to countering Oracle’s attempts to keep you from leaving.
If you are confident and understand the terms of your contract, have that conversation with your legal team to allay fears. There are plenty of well-documented examples of companies challenging Oracle successfully. Learn who they are and find out what they did.
#4 Stabilize your existing applications before setting a strategy in motion
In the first phase of the strategy, it’s prudent to stabilize the current version of the application. Consider upgrading to the latest version before switching if it makes sense for the business. Discuss the currency issue with your new third-party support partner to understand options and ramifications.
Suppose you’re planning on coming off Oracle support and moving to a new platform within five years. In that case, it’s worth investigating whether you should update your existing ERP or database system to the current version. Many organizations take this approach to mitigate risk. If you’re current when you transition away from Oracle, it will be at least three to five years before you need to go through another upgrade.
Stabilizing the existing versions of your applications gives you the leeway to make longer-term decisions about Oracle support and at what crossroads you need to be at when you make that decision to replace Oracle support with a third-party support vendor.
Layout a phased strategy, stabilize your existing versions of software and put a five-to-seven-year roadmap in place. Once the plan is agreed upon, the leadership team will feel more assured, confident and prepared to tackle the next challenge: what to do about support.
#5 Get your archiving process in order
If you’re considering a switch to third party support, archiving is something to do proactively to avoid any hiccups down the line. Make sure you have all versions of the products to which you’re entitled installed.
If you decide to upgrade in the future, you’ll be able to upgrade to the versions you were entitled to when you were paying for Oracle support. For example, at the time of transition to third-party support, you will have license rights to archive all currently available Oracle software releases and updates. You can upgrade to them when you choose, even while under third-party support.
Many organizations already have a robust and comprehensive archive process in place. However, if your organization’s DBAs haven’t been managing the archive process well, then it’s a more significant undertaking to go through, one that sometimes requires an external consultant.
#6 Create a transition plan with the new vendor
Leading third-party support providers have helped thousands of companies of every size transition away from Oracle support; they’ve seen it all and know what the hotspots are and what the gotchas look like. Let them be your guide.
Transitioning to third party support requires a strong plan. Before taking that path, your organization needs to assess its IT roadmap. Investing time up front to discuss the necessary level of support from the third-party support vendor can help your company understand the scope of service and support the company would receive after making the switch. You will want to ensure the type of support you would get meets all your needs.
Take the time to have detailed discussions with different individuals at the third-party support vendor. Ask the hard questions and raise any concerns about whether the new vendor can support your infrastructure. The objective is to ensure the appropriate people in your company feel comfortable and confident to move ahead with a different vendor.
You want to be confident the new vendor has the right calibre of people and can provide the type of support you need, both reactively and proactively. Do they have the in-depth knowledge, breadth of experience, bandwidth and capacity to handle anything that happens?
It’s also beneficial to discuss what types of support you expect. When a problem arises, and an issue is logged for reactive support, you want somebody to help resolve the issue. What about proactive support? For instance, if you’re planning an extensive upgrade running on an Oracle database, you want your support vendor to be on standby. Will they be there to check that certain things work okay? Perhaps they can prepare a readiness check that might identify potential problem areas in advance.
Posing the questions early, getting more information, and having the answers can help you avoid pitfalls with Oracle and while ensuring you are satisfied with the support and service level agreements (SLAs) you get from the new third-party support vendor.
Start building the experience you want early
The real advantage of working with a third-party support vendor is you can redefine the experience you want to have. Start building the value-add partnership you want from the beginning:
- have the conversations in advance
- listen to your third-party support vendor
- create a transition plan with them and don’t deviate from it