Business/IT Collaboration - How Do You Define Who Owns What After A Cloud Deployment?
Tech Sheets - The High Tech Blog
Posted by Kevin Hall on January 26, 2012
Welcome to the world of Cloud computing! You have at your finger-tips the ability to impact significant change within the organization. And better yet, you can have that ability without needing to have a double math/computer science degree or being able to develop in Java. It can be as simple as pointing, clicking, typing and dragging. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well as the saying goes, with power comes responsibility, or as I like to say – just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Deploying Cloud applications can offer organizations many opportunities to shift their mode of thinking and none may be bigger than how much control the business is going to be allowed to have.
Traditionally, due to the skill sets required for owning, managing and deploying applications, IT has been the central clearing house for those responsibilities. In many cases there are rigid change control processes and mechanisms in place to help ensure no one does something they shouldn’t. Over time this centralized view has created issues between IT and the business. The business believes that IT is slow, bureaucratic and unresponsive to ever-changing business needs. IT on the other hand feels the business is too quick to react to every little thing, that they have trouble articulating business benefits, and they lack change control discipline (such as consistent documentation).
Well, with the advent of the Cloud the ability to reassess where the boundaries lie can come to the forefront. Even in the Cloud you still need rigor and processes to ensure the changes being requested do make sense and do add business value. And while the costs associated with making changes to a Cloud application can be lower than on-premise systems, there is still a cost. However, given the simplicity and flexibility of some Cloud applications, the ability to expand the “ownership” pool can grow without adding headcount. Business users are clamoring for more control, and in my experience IT is open to the additional help (especially in these times of reduced IT budgets and headcounts) – but there needs to be a process. As I said before, just because you can doesn’t mean you should, and while it may take seconds to change a pick list value or add a field or update a workflow rule, not fully understanding the downstream impact of that change could create issues such as breaking an integration in process or introducing a field that was meant for the US to someone in Japan. A key to the process is leveraging technology and empowering the responsible communities (IT and Business) to make decisions based upon the area of accountability. Having a change control process does not have to mean a basic request will not be introduced until a semi-annual release cycle. Many companies are breaking release cycles into emergency, weekly, monthly and quarterly cycles. What drives where the change lands is often related to the level of complexity of the change and the impact to the user community in terms of process alignment or training needs.
The companies that I have seen be more effective with the above have a stronger collaboration between IT and the business. In many cases it is a large cultural shift that may take time, and in other cases the foundation is there as long as both parties are willing. The nice thing with the Cloud is that you can dip your toe in the water in terms of how much control IT wants to relinquish and/or how much the business wants to take on. Many companies will start with an approach that has some small initial shifts in principles as compared to the past, and then over time, as the company itself becomes more comfortable with the technology, you start to share the responsibilities.
Best of luck in your journey and happy Cloud computing! Let me know what you think about the business/IT partnership and what experiences you’ve had.
|Kevin Hall is a Senior Manager in the Emerging Solutions Cloud Practice focusing on the technology and financial services industries. A Cloud and CRM specialist, Kevin has over 13 years of experience helping large, global enterprises move to the cloud and helping them see the transformational benefits of such a change.|