Cloud Operating Models

Building a cloud operating model for successful cloud implementation

Building a Cloud Operating Model

The foundation of a successful cloud implementation project is to establish a Cloud Operating Model.

Cloud technology is not new and today, many organisations realise the potential of maximising benefits of the adopting cloud technologies, such as:

  • Business agility
  • Reducing risk
  • Increasing efficiency
  • Reducing costs

Recognising the potential of cloud technology is simply the beginning. The most successful cloud implementation projects rely on buy-in throughout the organisation and support from leadership.

In this guide, we explore how to establish a Cloud Operating Model.

Cloud Operating Model

Successful cloud adoption is dependant on establishing a robust cloud operating model appropriate to your business goals. In doing so, the benefits of the cloud will have a significant impact on all areas of your organisation.

An approach taken by a number of organisations is to look at cloud implementation as a traditional project. In this instance, some benefits are seen such as value and savings from reduced infrastructure expenditure. However, all that has happened here is to introduce a new technology into existing operating models and this can bring challenges.

In this instance it becomes difficult to adopt new initiatives at the pace required by the business. After a number of issues have occurred, recognition of change required leads to the establishment of a dedicated cloud team / Cloud Centre of Excellence. This team focuses on a Cloud Adoption Journey and should include both technical and business resource who will map cloud adoption to the critical needs of the business.

Building an appropriate Cloud Operating Model from the outset avoids issues arising and kicks the cloud adoption project off in the right way and has a higher chance of success.

Why a dedicated cloud team is essential

A cloud adoption focused team ensures alignment of cloud technology implementation with the business, ensuring the success of cloud adoption is measured in terms of business benefits. Not only does this lay the foundation for the cloud operating model but also for the prioritisation of tasks to drive requirements gathering, scope of the project at each phase and the measurement of success.

Critical to the success of the Cloud Implementation Team or Cloud Centre of Excellence is the support of senior leadership. Without this, the whole project will stall and the organisation won’t realise the benefits they could have.

Obviously, the size and scale of the Cloud Implementation team will depend of the size of the organisation and number of business units impacted by the project.

Establish specific and measurable outcomes

A Cloud Operating Model must include a measurement of success and these should be specific and measurable. For example, if the aim is to reduce spend on infrastructure costs then set a target such as – reduce infrastructure costs by 50%. Other examples could include:

  • 70% reduction in downtime
  • 40% reduction in response times to customers
  • Improve time to market by 30%
    (NOTE: these percentages are for illustrative purposes only and are not representative of a real cloud project)

The true success of a cloud operating model is to enable a organisation to operate their business securely in the cloud with a faster pace of innovation or value to the business.

Product based cloud implementation

Some of the most successful cloud implementation programmes follow a product based approach. In this context, organisations would define and operate the systems utilised to run their business as products. To do this effectively:

  • Define products – what systems and services does the organisation require to operate?
  • Assign product ownership – a single point of contact or small team will be responsible for the product from requirements specification to product support
  • Develop minimum specification – build minimal requirements for a business unit to operate in the cloud. The product owner of team will build the journey of each step to achieve these requirements and assign ownership for each step
  • Define KPI’s – prepare the measurements of success for each cloud product owner / team

Start at the end

A successful Cloud Operating Model will work back from the end point, with the end point being what does the customer want? For customer in this instance, think internal business unit. For example, what the HR department require in a cloud adoption strategy will be very different to the requirements of the finance department.

Therefore, an organisation wide cloud adoption strategy should be broken down into smaller projects and each of these formed around product owners / teams.

Cloud technology based on business goals

The right cloud technology should be selected based on business goal. However, a common mistake is to start the other way around and select a cloud solution and try to make it fit. When this happens the cloud implementation project is unfortunately, destined to fail.

The most successful cloud implementation projects work on outcomes and choose the technology / solution most appropriate to achieve those outcomes. Cloud technology is the enabler of business aims.

This back to front, end back to the beginning approach not only ensures the cloud solution will meet business needs but also helps to set priorities to build the cloud implementation project plan.

Reduce risk with a phased approach

Implementing a cloud operating model isn’t a one-off project, it should be a phased, iterative approach based on business objectives.

By phasing in cloud technology in this way, you have the opportunity to test smaller scale changes rather than implementing the full project and then realising something has broken as a result.

Any risk associated with the cloud adoption project is greatly reduced as a result. In addition, seeing small, iterative improvements and benefits increases the buy-in and adoption of cloud throughout the business.

Ready to start your cloud adoption journey?

This introduction to implementing a cloud operating model outlines some key considerations for success:

  • Start at the end and work backwards from desired outcomes
  • Build momentum and support for organisation wide cloud adoption through an iterative phased project approach
  • Establish a dedicated Cloud Implementation team to take overall responsibility for the full cloud implementation project
  • Split requirements into business unit outcomes and treat each as products with an owner / product team to drive each individual product implementation

By following these guidelines you will build a solid foundation for a successful cloud implementation project based on a strong cloud operating modeal for your business.

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