Most companies are considering the shift to a cloud-centric model for their information systems, most cloud-based solutions come with a wealth of positive impact for your business, however, it is important that you consider some additional issues that will emerge as part of your decision making process. You may be considering a new sales solution, a new ERP, or a core human resources system such as an applicant tracking system or learning management system. Here are five organizational strategies that you should consider when implementing any cloud-based solution: flexibility, speed, data integration, functional ownership, and service vs tool models.
Most cloud-based systems will give you a lot more flexibility than traditional software solutions. Vendors have built in a lot of options for you to map or configure the system to your existing business processes. This will be helpful in ensuring you empower your team with the functionality they need to do their job. However, it is important to consider the impact on your team when presented with vast configuration options. This can often lead to uncertainty. The key is to determine best practices in each area and determine how to quickly map to the new system.
In most situations, cloud-based solutions can be implemented dramatically quicker than traditional software solutions. This often means that you can start using the system in the real world and quickly get feedback from your team on what works and what doesn’t. However, it is important that your organization is ready to leverage the new technologies and are comfortable in providing the right kind of feedback. It is important that feedback is focused on the solution, process improvement, or elimination of non-value added tasks. You will want to avoid “this is how we’ve always done things” commits and cultures.
As we continue to build more technology standards that allow for the exchange of data, organizations are able to pull more and more data through the enterprise. This can reduce data errors, increase efficiency by automating integrations, and enhance the ability to for a company to implement support across functions. However, even with improved standards, there is still some complexity with data integration and it is still an area where your IT department will typically lead strategically at the platform level. It is important that everyone engage in the strategy discussions and understand the big picture.
For non-IT functional areas such as marketing, human resources, and operations, cloud-based solutions provide an opportunity to dramatically reduce the need for resources from the traditional IT department. However, it is critical that these functions continue to negotiate the terms and responsibilities of these new relationships. They must also stay engaged in the platform vision and strategy for IT and recognize that this new relationship as the potential to negatively impact the perception from the IT team as to the priority of the project.
Service vs Tool
Finally, another interesting area is that many cloud solutions are packaged as a service vs a simple software tool. These services can allow for external support, data, and even industry benchmarking. However, these services can start to create recurring costs and impact your total cost of ownership.
It is important to recognize that these five areas are not comprehensive, but they are areas that you will want to consider whether you already have a cloud-based service in place in your organization or whether you are just getting started in the cloud.