Post by Michael Sebastian Nanfeldt

The IT organization from a cloud perspective

2018 December 16th

Now that you have decided to venture “into the cloud,” new questions are lining up: Are we as an organization ready? Can our organization accommodate having to work with the new technologies and services that Cloud Computing provides? Do our employees have the right competencies? What opportunities do we have to optimize the department, and how will it change the way we work in the future?

You must answer the questions before you start your cloud project. Because no matter how you are organized (Digital Native Organizations excepted), switching to the cloud will challenge your way of working, and you are forced to optimize to get the maximum return on your investment.

How to optimize the organization

Let’s for a moment ignore the possibility of simply buying external consultants to solve the problem. Hopefully you have an existing IT organization that can be adapted so that employees can continue to provide high quality and service day after day, year after year. However, they can only do this if you accept that it IS a big leap also for experienced IT employees to have to work with new technology, new tools, and a completely new platform.

Because that’s what you get with the cloud. It requires getting used to and readiness for change (which might sound corny, but it’s true).

You must therefore focus on the entire IT organization. A good place to start is to identify gaps and inconveniences in processes and workflows. If you do not have a clear picture of your current workflows, it is time to get it! Without insight, it is impossible to optimize and convince the organization that the way they work today is not appropriate in relation to working in the cloud.

In fact, something of a task awaits the head of the IT organization.

As a manager, you must generally look at the broad lines, but you must also keep in mind that most employees in the organization have a narrow focus on their own tasks. They are operational with practical tasks that make the systems work and keep the business running. So, while the transition into the cloud may seem like small changes, it has far-reaching implications for individual employees.

At this point, the awake reader will have drawn a parallel to Change Management. In reality, the introduction of Cloud Computing is a project consisting of equal parts new technological competencies and organizational change. Don’t forget that!

From classic IT organization to cloud organization

What exactly is it that characterizes an IT organization that is optimized and works with a “cloud” mindset? Because that is, in fact, what is needed. That’s where you’re headed.

A cloud organization is best described as an organization that does not get stuck in old habits and maintenance. It is geared to focus on development and design.

It is, of course, based on the management. The management has focused on competence development, and not assumed that the employees who sat with maintenance tasks in the classic IT organization had competencies that could apply in a cloud perspective. This is an assumption you simply must not make!

The employee in a cloud organization is not necessarily a different type. But it demands a willingness to take the leap, because in that leap lay new tasks and a new focus.

You take a step away from maintenance and operation. Solutions optimized for the cloud—or even better built on standard cloud applications, do not require maintenance as you know it from your on-premises solution. It frees up huge resources that can be spent on developing new business applications that can move the entire business.

This is where you need to get your employees. That’s what they’re passionate about.

With those goggles on, the IT organization is no longer to be considered a service or operational function that does not contribute to the bottom line. On the contrary!

How do you get the most out of the cloud & how do you reach your goals?

A cloud organization. This all sounds very good. But it is a journey, and it requires determined action to get there.

Let’s share a few pieces of advice that we always give our customers:

First, you need to move from a mindset that focuses on how you can integrate the cloud into your IT organization. Turn it upside down and consider how to get the IT organization integrated into Cloud Computing. You simply have to think new!

But let’s just take a step back. Because it is in fact unlikely that you will migrate all your solutions to the cloud at once (if it is going to happen at all). This means that you will have to divide your IT organization into two: One that takes care of the old on-premises solutions with the processes and methods that are appropriate here, and one that is geared and responsible for your cloud -solutions. The principle is known as Bimodal IT.

This means that you do not have to embrace Cloud Computing through your existing IT organization.

Instead, you need to add a competence or expert center that can lead the new processes and work areas in the cloud organization. It does not have to (or should not) be an independent department, but it is important with the organization, because it emphasizes that this is a new way of working with new processes and not a rewriting of the old way of working.

With the introduction of the new organization, it is of course important to measure your success. Our recommendation is always that you prepare very clear definitions for Cloud KPIs.

  • Where do you get benefits in the business by moving to the cloud?
  • What is the goal?

You must also remember:

  • That benefits are made measurable so that you can follow success
  • That Cloud KPIs are supported by the business’s overall KPIs
  • That Cloud KPIs are continuously used to substantiate that the organization is on the right track

The Bimodal IT model only becomes redundant on the day your legacy solutions are phased out. Only that day, Cloud Computing goes from being “the new exploratory” to being a predictive standard on which your entire business is built. But you have built up gradually and make sure you are completely ready to be a purely cloud-based organization.

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