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Is your company ready for the cloud: a 12-point checklist

 

As cloud computing crosses the chasm from “pi in the sky” to mass adoption, companies are beginning to approach technology purchases with a cloud first or why not cloud strategy. But is your company ready for the cloud? Here are some practical considerations:

 

  1. Do you have enough internet capacity to all the locations where you want to use a cloud solution?
  2. Do you have an integration strategy for getting cloud solutions talking to each other, and to on-premise solutions?
  3. Is the business ready to own an application? Do they have the right resources in place to configure and manage the solution?
  4. Does IT have the right mix of people and skills to evaluate and manage the unique requirements of cloud solutions, such as understanding capacity, uptime and security and handling frequent updates?
  5. Do you have strategic thinkers in IT who can see across the whole software and data landscape and help the business leverage the solutions in place, identify gaps and fill them appropriately?
  6. Does IT have a strong collaborative relationship with the business?   For maximum success, cloud solutions should be co-owned by IT and business units. Each plays an important role.
  7. Are you locked in to current processes or open to different ways of solving business problems? Cloud software is built around best practices in the area of the application, with some opportunities for custom configuration. If you want to institutionalize your processes through customization, you may not be ready for the cloud.
  8. Are you ready for a more transparent, partnership approach to vendor relationships? I’m VP of Customer Success at Coupa, and it seems like every decent-sized cloud company has that same title. What that office typically does is build relationships in which both parties understand each other’s business and work together to achieve an agreed upon outcome. “I am the customer, you are the vendor and you must do everything I say” doesn’t work so well in the cloud.
  9. Do you suffer from being terminally unique?   This goes back to being open to different ways of solving business problems. If you’re thinking along the lines of,  “we need this widget to be blue and do exactly this one thing and it must turn yellow at midnight,” you may not be ready for the cloud.
  10. How up to date is your technology stack?   Every once in a while we run across companies that are running on Internet Explorer 6 or similarly outdated technologies. Even with cloud solutions, there’s a limit to backwards integrations.
  11. Can your legal team evaluate cloud contracts?   I’ve seen many an MSA that’s geared more to on-premise or custom development, sometimes causing negotiations to come to a screeching halt. The considerations are different.
  12. Does the core strength of the cloud solution match the core business requirement? I see a lot of customers who identify one or two specific business needs.. They then start an evaluation process where other stakeholders start piling on requirements and then all of a sudden they’re trying to shoehorn it all into one solution that does everything, but none of it well. You need to be able to run a decision making process that is focused on no more than three well-defined success criteria, and have the internal discipline to tamp down feature pile-ons.

 

The cloud can offer tremendous opportunities for strategic efficiencies, cost savings and enhanced decision-making capabilities for companies who are poised to take advantage of it. If you’re not ready now, use these 12 points as a framework for getting there.

 

Ravi Thakur is Vice President, Customer Success for Coupa.