Moving to the cloud can pose risk, yet it canbringgreatrewards. I’ve recently shared insights on theme clouds and public clouds and here will look at how companies can plan their overall journey to the cloud.
Transitioning parts of the business to the cloud requires not only new technology, but new processes, capabilities, and standards for success all requiring training and change management.Obviously, given the magnitude of this transition, it has to happen by breaking the path into smaller steps. I hope you find the steps below valuable and encourage you to learn more about our successful cloud engagements with leading companies, including Cell C and Qantas.
Five steps to consider when building a roadmap to the cloud
- Prepare a portfolio analysis to develop the business case. As a first step, dig deep to prepare the complete inventory of running systems and their dependencies. A detailed study of the entire landscape will identify current gaps and systems to be fully or partially moved to the cloud. The analysis must be carried out at all major enterprise IT layers: applications, middleware platforms, database and infrastructure. Once the systems that are making the jump to the cloud have been identified, evaluate their respective models of adoption (SaaS, PaaS or IaaS). Understanding the business drivers, linking them to benefit measures at the "point-of-arrival," and calculating a clear ROI based on benchmarks are essential for creating the right business case for transitioning to the cloud. However, in case of vital process transformations, the cloud journey starts with a business process reengineering exercise (which is product-led at times), and precedes the system assessment and analysis, focusing more on 'simplification' and/or 'standardization' of business processes to drive functional efficiency.
- Evaluate potential cloud products and platforms from multiple angles. There are a number of questions to ask about available cloud products and platforms.What are the functional capabilities of the business application (read SaaS) including process coverage, out-of-the-box transactional features and available localizations? How robust and flexible is the underlying technology platform (read PaaS) in terms of further development and integration capabilities needed to commission, extend and smoothly run the system? How robust is the cloud platform in terms of digital offerings, especially mobility and analytics? Does the product have good alignment with the existing system landscape to make interoperability easier to manage? Is the product credentialed in the market with deployed instances, particularly in your own industry segment? Is there a strong and credible product roadmap? What is the quality of the user experience (UX)? Is it available in private cloud mode as well as in public cloud?
- Design your own adoption path around the organization’s appetite for change and ability to manage core enterprise transformation. The sequencing of what gets moved to the cloud and when is important to get right to reduce stress on existing operations. For example, one option is to move the procurement function to the cloud first depending on current pain points or business priorities within the department, followed by the finance function. A company with a recent acquisition might choose to move the new organization first because of lower capital investment needed. An evolving approach is to move a particular business function, say fleet management or quotation management, first to test the waters, adding capabilities gradually over ensuing months. Implementation cost, duration, and scope are all important parameters for plotting the rollout sequence. There is no "one size fits all" strategy here. One should also look for low-hanging-fruit down the cloud-lane to reap few 'quick wins' as intermediate returns which helps retain enthusiasm within the business user community.
- Use cloud migrations to seek out other process transformations or simplification opportunities. Planning an enterprise cloud transition naturally remains focused on products and technology. It's easy to lose sight of possibilities for standardization and simplification of processes and practices across the business. Reimagining UX across stakeholders, both external (customers, suppliers, and partners) and internal (employees) can be a critical improvement planned during a cloud transition. This can also be the golden moment for deciding on strategic structural rearrangement in terms of yield or cost reduction, such as setting up shared services across the enterprise for invoice/payment processing and project management. Another possibility is to redirect the database administration team towards increasingly tactical tasks such as security architecture, automation tools or performance analytics.
- Assess internal skill inventory and decide on partnerships with the right systems integrator (SI) that has proven capabilities. Things to check include project credentials and execution track record; commitment to the chosen cloud product and thought leadership, industry-leading solution investments; transformation and organization change management experience; relationship with the OEM; depth of the offering including service bundling and level of automation; customer references; quality of resource; scale of operation and geographical presence; and cost. A demo-based "show and tell" method of evaluation will help you differentiate and compare the proposed value-additions by SI candidates. The RACI matrix across stakeholders should also be properly understood and clearly established. The overall outcome of the cloud transition should be driven through objective business value/KPI measurement instead of only IT SLAs.
Journeys to the cloud can't be taken in one big stride. The best path to follow is along manageable steps that bring the component parts of technology, processes and administration along at a deliberate pace that is neither too fast to manage nor too slow to sustain momentum. I look forward to your comments or questions on moving to the cloud as part of your strategic business plan to stay competitive.