Welcome back to my Azure for Business series, a series about bridging the gap between the powerful technology available within Azure, and the business processes that sustain and drive an organization toward success. In the first article of my series, I detailed the value of utilizing Azure Data & Analytics to empower data-driven decision-making across the organization. In the second piece, I wrote about the theory of cost of delay and how it relates to cloud strategy framework and assessing priorities. Today, I’m excited to write about how to work on aligning both the perspectives of the business and technology sectors of the organization to drive greater success within the cloud.
I’m about to complete my fourth year with Quisitive. In my time with the organization, I’ve worked with countless customers across multiple industries on developing cloud adoption plans specific to their business—arming them with the framework, tools, and tips & tricks needed to be successful in the endeavor. My background and education are in business, and I spent two years working in marketing with Quisitive before transitioning to my current role as a business analyst, project manager, and Scrum Master. My experience and perspectives from both the business and technology side of things have helped me excel in consulting with organizations and guiding them through the earliest stages of their digital transformation journey.
By far, the best thing organizations can do from the start in order to be successful in the cloud is to have a plan in place to combine and align the perspectives of both their business and technology stakeholders.
Designing and implementing a technical solution without fully understanding the business requirements and constraints is a recipe for failure. Scope creep, poor mapping of technical solutions to business problems, project delays, and increased and unnecessary added cost are just a few of the issues your organization may run into without properly taking the time to align these two perspectives.
When it comes to motivations and targeted outcomes for any kind of cloud adoption plan two things are almost always front and center in our customers’ priority list: cost & time savings. One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is the potential for better return on investment as well as freeing up valuable cycles for IT that no longer have to be spent on maintaining physical infrastructure in an on-premises environment.
But in order to reap these incredible benefits for the business, the organization needs to go about the effort in the correct way. At Quisitive we have a mantra, and one that’s extremely applicable to the earliest stages of cloud adoption strategy: “Start right, finish right.” Complete the due diligence, and build a robust plan that aligns the perspectives of business and technology stakeholders and has enough built-in flexibility to adapt and shift over time.
How can technology be custom-tailored and molded to solve a business problem that isn’t understood by technologists?
How can the business ask for technology to solve a business problem if the business stakeholders don’t understand how the technology will address their concerns?
Organizations can create strong competitive advantages by aligning everyone involved with the cloud adoption effort and ensuring everyone is on the same page for what they’re accountable for. I’ve experienced this at Quisitive with my projects helping customers with the earliest stages of their cloud journeys, and it’s something Microsoft has seen and documented across their customer portfolio time and time again. When an individual on a team understands exactly what they are accountable for and have ownership of and how they fit into the broader picture, they are much more likely to successfully accomplish their individual and team role.
Companies where only senior management understands the goals of the business and metrics of success will have stagnant and slow growth and will be much less likely to develop competitive advantages through the smart use of technology to solve business problems. How can employees work toward a specific outcome if they don’t fully understand it in the first place?
There’s a reason why user stories are popular for in-house development and cloud adoption efforts across different design and development manifestos. By breaking individual components of a project into smaller pieces and telling them from the perspective of the types of individual users who would utilize the feature, technologists can better implement solutions to solve specific real-world problems.
Tangible numbers and specific business outcomes should always be front and center when creating a cloud strategy plan. Individuals and teams who have ownership of the outcome of the project also need quantifiable metrics to track toward.
Any cloud adoption effort will experience more tailwind and less headwind resistance when the team responsible for its creation and execution has support from the highest levels of the organization. As with any major change introduced, there will be some level of resistance from individuals and teams across the organization.
As great as the benefits of the cloud can be for businesses, the effort comes with a lot of change that can create short-term tension and frustrations. After all, it uproots and disrupts what’s comfortable in the ‘norm’ of things. Assessing your organization’s tolerance for change over time is an essential part of the process. Plan to change too much too quickly and it could lead to short-term inefficiencies and loss of profit. Change too little, and the organization could be leaving money on the table and stretching the timeline of achieving expected return on investment within the cloud.
It’s rare that the motivations and desires of both the business and technology stakeholders will align 100% from the start. Oftentimes, business units (especially within large organizations) can be siloed and lack perspective and understanding of the other business unit’s viewpoints.
Part of the process of creating a great cloud adoption plan is remediating disagreement and differences and finding common ground. Similarities in perspective will provide the building blocks needed to resolve the differences.
While it may not be an easy or pain-free process, Microsoft and Quisitive have found that organizations set themselves up for the greatest chance of success by resolving these differences in perspectives and motivations and investing time to work through the process.
Learn more about our approach to digital transformation and how experts at Quisitive can help streamline and set your organization up for success in the cloud right here.