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Getting cloud right: How to prepare for a successful transformation

Doing cloud is easy. With as little as a credit card and device, in minutes your organisation can access more than 500 different cloud services, capable of anything from hosting a web server, to building a base station for your next satellite launch.

But doing cloud right is more complicated.  

Whether you’re a digital start-up, or our largest government agency, ensuring your cloud deployment is secure, operationally supportable, cost optimised, optimally configured and commercially flexible is the challenge.

Successful cloud implementations must strike a careful balance between ‘just getting it done’ and ‘getting it right’. Spend too long trying to perfect a plan and you’ll never start; but go too fast without covering off critical elements and you’re not setting yourself up for success. 

To avoid common cloud transformation pitfalls, think about these seven key points before you start.

1. Create a strategy with a clear vision – know where you’re going and why

Have an agreed objective. Know what’s driving the change, the value generated and which business and IT strategic outcomes will be achieved. The strategy and vision need to be relatable and inspiring – making it real for employees so they understand why it’s important to the business, to them and to their role. The transformation to cloud must be a people driven change, from senior sponsors to the engineers doing the work.

2. A quantifiable and measurable business case

Cloud transformation enables both top and bottom-line benefits, not just within IT but also for the business. In addition to standard total cost of ownership analysis, ensure the business case considers the benefits to risk, organisation strategy and innovation across the whole ecosystem. The value needs to be measurable, including the frequency, process and format, to measure progress against business case metrics. Many programs stall when seeking round two funding as they cannot prove they achieved what was promised in the original business case.

3. Use the program team as a pilot for the future operating model

A cloud optimised IT operating model is critical. Foster an agile culture at the onset with a test and learn approach using the program team(s) as a scaled down model of the desired end state. Learnings captured and modifications needed can be done within the program prior to rolling out to the rest of the organisation.

4. Recruit cloud champions

Recruit people from business-as-usual (BAU) teams for a secondment into the program to experience the new technology, operating model and opportunity. They can provide valuable insights into required transformation activities and be information conduits and champions back into BAU teams.

5. Application aligned transformation

Migrating individual servers and virtual machines can create dependency, latency and security issues. When building the transformation roadmap, start with applications that have impending upgrade requirements or proven cloud alternatives before looking at bespoke or custom applications.

6. Build to run

When establishing a cloud presence, day one activities, such as request and provisioning, are given a lot of focus. But day two activities are often… well, left to day two, if addressed at all.  Build processes to optimally run both the cloud platform, as well as the applications on it, into the design from the start. Move from ‘transition to BAU’ to ‘build to operate’.

7. Put people at the heart of change

No matter how much we try and change the operating model or organisational alignment, staff must be involved in the process, or it won’t stick. Engage organisational change champions early, listen to their feedback and concerns and use those to create the glue that holds together the future operating model.

Cloud has reached a scale and maturity that allows organisations to use higher quality, more agile, secure and cost-effective services than they could create themselves. This inflection point has generated a dramatic increase in the focus on cloud transformation to improve business outcomes.

But cloud transformation can’t be approached like other technology projects. The overwhelmingly positive but potentially disruptive nature of cloud means it impacts the whole business and should be approached through a business transformation driven lens that is enabled by cloud.

If you would like to learn more about digital transformation in government, visit our AFR Government Services Summit 2022 page.