We are at the beginning of our Cloud journey for a globally recognized research hospital. This institution has thousands of beds and conducts 2,500 ongoing research projects. When Premier was brought onto the project, our goal was to help establish a high-level process flow for the Oracle Project Portfolio Management and Grants. The insights we gained over the last several months will fuel this institution’s ERP transformation as it continues to grow and acquire additional institutions.

If you plan on implementing Oracle Cloud PPM and Grants you will have to face the questions I pose in the 4 critical areas listed below:

1. What is the financial design of Projects and Grants?

The Projects Portfolio Management (PPM) module organizes activities as projects and provides a framework to organize finances. Depending on the financial requirements, there are various ways to set up projects. For example, billable projects require a project contract, which identifies billing methods and procedures. For any institution receiving external grant funding, they will likely have to implement the Grants module. This module can be seen as an extension of Projects, where Awards are created to organize and control Grant-related finances in a unified platform. Note that a contract is automatically created when an award is created, but updates may need to be made manually or through a web-service.

Each design decision has implications to downstream conversions, business users, and even other modules. However, these decisions are rarely finalized in the early days of a project. For this hospital, we sketched out multiple approaches, loaded data for a few options as a proof-of-concept, and iteratively zeroed in on the right solution. This iterative approached enabled the Client to see their data structured in different ways early in the project and saved the implementation team time by figuring out the right design outside an official integration test.

2. How are personnel configured?

A project must be assigned a project manager, and an award must be assigned a principal investigator (PI). Before employees can be assigned to these roles, they must fulfill certain configuration requirements, which might require several rounds of testing. This setup is especially difficult if you are not using Oracle Cloud as your HCM solution since the interface itself may need to be updated. Project Managers must be assigned a job and department and have an active assignment, whereas PI’s must be loaded as a PI in Awards Personnel and be configured as resources.

These are all separate configurations and the complex interplay between them needs to be thought through and vetted. Even after the vetting, the maintenance of these configurations can be difficult to maintain. One technique we’ve developed that has been critical in the success of the project is an automated process that checks for the missing and mismatched configurations for the personnel within Oracle Cloud prior to every conversion cycle.

3. How should budgets and costs be designed?

Depending on business requirements, there are several ways that budgets and costs can be organized. If the projects are budgetary controlled, the total cost for a project must be less than the total budget for the project – if the legacy system did not enforce these controls, then you should expect load errors and data cleanup. Another consideration that is critical to auditors and compliance officers is how historical cost data will be handled. If business requires historical data, you may want to summarize/aggregate costs by month or year to address the high volume and streamline the loading and review process.

This summarization is exactly what we did to ensure that our Client meets audit requirements. Our conversion approach is to aggregate historical costs by expenditure type, month, and year so that this data can be easily reviewed in Oracle Cloud for auditing purposes. Then as part of this process, we validate that total costs on the project does not exceed the total budget. This approach prevents data discrepancies and avoids data fallout during the load process.

4. Can the data be loaded and processed within the cutover window?

The cutover window is a necessary part of go-live where the legacy system is completely shut down, data is migrated to the target system, and the new system is turned on. During cutover, business cannot be conducted as usual and, for healthcare, there is clinical impact. All data migration activities must fit into this window so that business functions are not impeded. Note that loading and processing times can be different depending on the configuration of your Oracle Cloud pod, so it is critical to monitor performance in preparation for cutover.

For this project, we found that after even after aggregating cost data by month and expenditure type, over 1.5 million Project Cost records would still need to be converted to Oracle Cloud. We learned from test cycles that it will take 24 hours to load this volume of data. This posed a serious risk to go-live and left little time for running conversions, loading upstream objects, post-load processing, and validating data during the cutover window. To reduce risk, we worked with the hospital on a plan that migrates the vast majority of the data weeks prior to go-live and shortens the cut-over window.

Whether you represent a research hospital, a university, a non-profit, or any other enterprise that relies on Project and Grants management, these same questions will be relevant to you as you begin your Cloud journey.

For a hospital like this, projects range from grant funded research in everything from cancer to coronavirus, internally funded initiatives, and even construction. By upgrading from their aging Lawson solution to Oracle Cloud, the institution will be able to track projects from inception to close and have access to comprehensive reporting. This will make meeting budgetary, statutory, and regulatory requirements easier, and the institution will become a better steward of donor and sponsor money.

This implementation also positions the hospital for continued growth. The questions detailed above are an important part of the discovery and requirements gathering process for implementing Oracle Cloud PPM and Grants for each acquisition and are part of our best practices approach.

I wish you luck on your implementation and if you have any questions about data conversions for Oracle Cloud Project and Grants modules, please contact me at dennis_gray@premierintl.com.