Accelerating cloud transformation through good governance

Written by PA Consulting on 3 September 2019 in Sponsored Article
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Cloud providers are maturing fast, offering an ever-expanding range of products and services. PA Consulting defines an approach for making the most out of a cloud transformation

Cloud providers are maturing fast, offering an ever-expanding range of products and services. At the 2018 Amazon Web Services (AWS) New York Summit alone, AWS announced 13 new products in areas ranging from machine learning to storage. This is encouraging organisations to go through rapid cloud transformations in a bid to reduce costs, get products and services to market more quickly, and optimise their application portfolio.

However, without a well thought out approach for governing this change, these benefits are unlikely to be realised. Though some see a governance framework as a hindrance, when structured correctly and proportionately, it accelerates success. From our experience of implementing some of the world’s largest cloud transformations, there are four key principles to follow:

1.     Define your core principles

At the beginning of your cloud transformation, it’s important to agree governing principles. These will vary from one organisation to another, but some good things to focus on include:

Adaptability

As your transformation progresses, things will change. What you first thought was the best course might turn out to be the wrong route. That means you need to be able to change your approach smoothly to keep focus on your goals.

For a public sector client, we established a flat programme structure that made it easier to agree a change of course during the delivery. This also empowered delivery teams to make prompt decisions without the constraint of a hierarchical approval structure.

Accountability

Everyone in the organisation should be responsible for their part of the change, but there should also be overall shared accountability. Most complex transformations require multiple suppliers to work as one delivery team, sharing accountability so everyone subscribes to the purpose.

Applicability

Your organisation is unique, so it’s important to look at what services and frameworks (and what aspects of them) are applicable to you. You only need to move forward with things that are truly relevant and aligned to achieving your transformation objectives.

A balanced view

Cloud transformation isn’t a technology initiative. You must engage and involve a wider group of stakeholders to align your transformation to the strategic direction of your organisation. This ensures better business engagement and availability of the right resources throughout the process.

Embedding change

To gain the full benefits of your cloud transformation, you must educate and train your people to shift their mindset and demonstrate what’s possible with the new tools. Otherwise, they’re likely to quickly return to old ways of working.

Continuous improvement

Your cloud transformation can’t be a one-off initiative. You must keep an eye on the rapidly-evolving services, listen to feedback and continuously improve to gain greater benefits. Transformation is now BAU.

2.     Influence existing governance

Your cloud transformation is more than just a technology transformation. You need to consider the business design and evolution. This will fundamentally alter any existing areas of governance throughout your organisation, so ensure you align your cloud governance to these four areas:

Technology governance

Cloud transformation impacts everything from service launches to supplier management. This means you need to revisit and realign your existing processes. For example, disaster recovery processes for cloud solutions are simpler due to built-in redundancy.

The speed at which you can deliver change means you need governance that doesn’t impede agility.

Service governance

Operation and service level agreements will need continuous reviews as you migrate to the cloud. Cloud providers offer robust performance monitoring tools, letting you keep a close eye on performance and react to changes automatically. This is a fundamental shift to the way you monitor and evaluate service level agreements.

Financial governance

Cloud technologies move infrastructure acquisition from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, fundamentally changing allocation of budgets. Cloud providers offer granular reporting on exactly what you use and its associated costs. This allows for in-depth analysis of spending patterns that are impossible with traditional technology and enables you to forecast budget with higher confidence.

Security and compliance

Best practice dictates implementing security at all layers of your technology stack. This is easy in the cloud due to the number of services available, although the onus is on you to do so. Auditing tools are also readily available to give you full insight into who accesses what and when.

3.     Monitor your cloud governance

Monitoring your governance ensures it follows its definition. The regular monitoring lets you proactively manage any deviations and identify any processes you need to update. For example, as one of our public sector clients moved more applications to the cloud, they found their governance processes were no longer meeting their original purpose. So, we updated the terms of reference so the technology governance forums could review process compliance and document required updates. This made it possible to keep up with the incredible rate of innovation, where new plug and play services are launched every week.

4.     Make the benefits of cloud governance visible

People often see governance as a set of hoops to jump through rather than important activity with big benefits. You must make its benefits clear and communicate them effectively. Governance provides structure and clarity, ensuring compliance is central to the way you work and not an afterthought. The right governance provides the guard rails to keep your team aligned with the outcomes and identify any bottlenecks that are slowing down the transformation. The flexibility to operate within the agreed guiding principles provides the agility and adaptability these complex transformation programmes need to operate successfully.

By focusing on these four areas, our experience shows governance can be the bedrock on which you build your cloud transformation. The stability it provides makes it much easier to seize the opportunities of what can be a complex change.

Click here to read PA Consulting's report - The Tangled Web: Rethinking the approach to online CSEA 

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