The rise of the Cloud has revolutionised the way in which individuals and businesses use and consume technology. The speed at which consumer led cloud technology has accelerated has empowered individuals with a thorough understanding of the capabilities of modern applications.
As a result, businesses and their IT departments are coming under increasing internal pressure to provide seamless technology processes that mirror the expectations of the consumer tech world.
Cloud solutions – one size fits all
This is perhaps the biggest difference between on-premise solutions and the Cloud. In contrast to a project starting with a blank sheet of paper: consultants armed with post it notes locking themselves away and mapping out entire processes from scratch; with Cloud solutions you start with a complete solution and then figure out how it can be best utilised to meet your business requirements.
If you come up against elements of a solution that do not align with current business processes, the question that needs to be asked is “This is what the system does, why can’t we do it like this?”.
This challenge needs to be at the forefront of the project’s mind all the way through. If it can be maintained, this mentality pays significant dividends in the time it takes to deploy the system and the ongoing cost, maintenance and upgrade of features and could help revolutionise existing – often outdated – processes.
Compromises to be made
As Cloud solutions don’t offer the option for big bespoke changes to the system, the likelihood of some level of compromise is extremely high. A great solution, built to best practice, might meet 90% of your requirements, the tough call will be, “do you really need that last 10%?”
You might be able to configure it, but if you can’t then you will either need to convince the software vendor that the change is valid for other customers and therefore build it into their product roadmap (not an immediate process), build a bespoke add-on, or accept that tweaking processes and policies to meet that final 10% is the best way to avoid longer term issues.
Generally, organisations opt for the latter and after the initial intake of breath, the decision is often forgotten in weeks.
Downsizing project teams
Project teams for Cloud solution implementations are very different from those needed for on premise. The latter involved a mass of people coming in from a consultancy and spending a year or two building the system for you.
Now, even on a large project, team sizes are less than half of what they used to be. Xoomworks’ average Cloud procurement project has a team of 3-4 people and the project itself takes half the length it did before. As a result, Cloud represents a quarter in terms of typical man-hour costs.
These smaller teams are more nimble with better differentiated roles, with a single point of contact for specific areas of the project. However, they do need to work closer with the business.
Covert change management
The best projects are those where the client provides a similar number of personnel, to create a fully integrated project delivery team with the consultancy.
Client personnel can now influence the build of the solution, as well as its design. Often the client will help build the system themselves, providing the best covert change management available. Before you know it, the business knows how to use the system and is building changes in it themselves. This provides a real sense of internal ownership in the project
Adapt with agility
The relative speed of the deployment and subsequent configuration changes allows the system to be far more agile (not to be confused with AGILE development).
Once some key decisions are made up front, configuration is more iterative and results can be seen by the business in phases. This allows you to go straight back to the project’s leadership team, identify what’s working and develop the solution for other areas of the business.
Ultimately when it comes to Cloud solutions, more due diligence is needed up front in order to understand where there is a reasonable fit and where there isn’t, along with reaching an acceptance that a single cloud solution may not do everything the previous system did (requiring either another Cloud bolt-on, or a bespoke development).
However Xoomworks’ customers all agree that the cost and time savings realised far out way any compromises made.
For further discussion about on moving away from on-premise solutions to the Cloud, download our latest whitepaper “Moving to a Procurement Cloud”