By Paul Williams, CIO for Hire, Raffa Technology
You’ve decided it’s time. Your organization is going to stop maintaining all of your own IT systems and will transition to the cloud. What do you do next? We suggest a series of steps to make the move as strategic and smooth as possible:
- Define your business needs. Will the solution meet your business needs? Do you handle protected or sensitive data? Do you process payments and credit cards? Does your data need to ‘be encrypted at rest’? (Do you know?) Find the opportunities within your business that are the best candidates first.
- Choose the right partner. This consists of two components: choosing the right vendor and having the right contracts. Not all players are equal and there is a lot of high powered marketing and selling – it is a ‘hot’ market that many players are chasing. The cost of entry is quite low for a solution that ‘works’ but has not been engineered well; there are many tier 2 and 3 solutions and the market is still maturing.
- Choose the right products. If the solution you choose still requires you to have an in-house IT expert, does this solution really make sense? Management of the ‘technical’ aspects should be the responsibility of the provider. Your resources should focus on value adding activities (building and growing capabilities you need such as reports and process improvements) rather than supporting lower value maintenance. You should be able to manage your day-to-day system operations without specialist engineers.
- Have the right support models. Do you need 24/7 support? Or do you just need to know it will always be operational and have monitoring and reporting? Do you need hands on your location or will most of the support work be performed remotely for your enterprise? Do you have a lot of local peripherals that need to be managed with staff on site?
- Make the transition. This can be painful and challenging – breaking cycles that have been in place for years and may seem to have (mostly) worked. You will no longer be the physical data custodian and all that implies, but you will be buying custodian services. For the most part, the in-house service is an illusion of control and security. Modern hosting is simply better than the solutions you can implement and it can enable your staff to do more value adding work. Instead of ‘routine maintenance’ of your website, you could be developing content management or improving processes. Instead of managing backups, you could be working on subscriber growth campaigns. You could support a stronger digital presence instead of just keeping the lights on.
Change is challenging, but it also presents opportunities. Some of these solutions will make your business run better – maybe much better – and with a lot less risk.