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Paul Nursey is the Vice-President of Strategy & Corporate Communications at the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). He has been with CTC for over six years; in his current role his focus is on strategic planning, managing government relationships, corporate communications, and championing change initiatives across the organization. The Canadian Tourism Commission is a SAP Business ByDesign customer. (@PaulNursey)

Interview with Paul Nursey

What business issues factored into your decision to move to the cloud?

There are multiple reasons, the overarching factor being that we are committed to a strategy focused organization and deliver a lean and scalable operation across all our business lines. As a public organization, it’s easy to get pulled in different directions by stakeholders. In order for us to be effective, we need to be clear about our strategic vision and the initiatives that support that vision. In 2009 /2010, we went through a comprehensive IT review to really understand what our business needs; based on the outcome we decided that cloud solutions would be a good fit for our organization.

What are your goals for cloud solutions?

Three major drivers influenced our decision to move business process to hosted cloud solutions:

1.      Running Lean

The majority of our funding comes from public sources; as a result we don’t have direct control over our revenue cycles, which can fluctuate quite substantially. In that context, it’s important that we run lean and minimize our overhead costs. One example of how cloud solutions have made CTC more lean is by replacing onsite servers with cloud-based technology, freeing up those resources to invest in marketing to grow the  business of tourism for Canada. 

2. Scaling for Growth

Running lean is part of the equation - equally important is leveraging technologies that will grow with us. At the end of the day, our goal is to drive businesses. Solutions that are scalable ensure that our business needs are met at every stage of growth in our organization. Having the flexibility to license an as-needed number of users with different levels of access gives us the power to optimize our business processes and improve performance.

3. Keeping Technology Current

The reality of on-premise solutions is that the day you buy something, it becomes obsolete. You end up paying consultants to upgrade all the time or build customizations, which adds extra expense. We really liked the idea that by embracing the cloud we’ll get new releases and our systems will be current all the time. We know that the providers we've chosen are dedicated to staying current.

What key elements have made your transition to the cloud successful?

There’s an old saying: “It takes a whole village to raise a child” – I would amend that to “It takes a whole village to embrace the cloud”! It’s really true – moving to the cloud requires an organization shift that goes wide and deep. Through our experience, I can point to two key elements that have helped CTC make the transition successfully.

1. Know what you want

We made a conscious decision – we recognized early on that we’re not different from many organizations in that we wanted functional, good systems that worked well and supported our employees. It was important to us that we license a system that we considered to be a “Chevy” - something everyone can drive - as opposed to a Cadillac. We intentionally chose a solution that is mid-range without a lot of bells and whistles that we may never use.

2. Embrace changes in your business process

Fundamentally, embracing change is about good, clear communication within your organization throughout the change management process. It’s important to be very clear on what you want to achieve and recognize that your business processes are going to have to change. We went in with eyes wide open, knowing that we would need to adapt our business practices, communicate changes clearly to our staff, and set the expectation up front that customization wasn’t really going to be an option in our situation. Ultimately our approach was to find the best tool we could against our price point and strategy and work from there. 

What’s the one critical question every customer should ask when selecting a cloud vendor or solution?

For me, it was really about the relationship more then a specific question. Of course, it’s imperative to make sure your technical requirements are covered. Beyond that, what I really look for is solid business relationship experience that I can rely on. You’re getting into a long-term relationship where core business functions are moving onto a different platform – you have to be able to pick up the phone and know that you can have frank discussions to address critical business needs. Having excellent support throughout this process has had a huge impact on our success.

SAP Cloud People Blog Series: how the Cloud is affecting the day to day lives of people.

2013-03-11 : Cloud People: Jesus Hoyos, Social CRM consultant, speaker, and independent analyst for Latin America

2013-03-01 : Cloud People: Bodo Klečka, BOA Group

2013-02-25 : Cloud People: Luke Marson, Gavdi Group

2013-02-11 : Cloud People: Mark Ridley,

2013-01-23 : Cloud People: Sascha Rauhe, AICOMP/VCXI Group

2013-01-18 : Cloud People: Nils Stock, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies

2013-01-15 : Cloud People: Brian Kinion, SuccessFactors

2012-12-27 : Cloud People: Alan Fang, ERP Logic Cloud People: Alan Fang, ERP Logic

2012-12-10 : Cloud People: Paul Nursey, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)