Cloud strategy functions

A cloud strategy team defines motivations and business outcomes, and validates and maintains alignment between business priorities and cloud adoption efforts. In the absence of a defined cloud strategy team, someone must still provide the functionality that aligns technical activities to business outcomes. That same person or group should also manage change across the project.

Cloud strategy functions are commonly provided by the following types of roles. When a cloud strategy team is defined, it should include many of the following roles:

  • Finance
  • Line of business
  • Human resources
  • Operations
  • Enterprise architecture
  • IT infrastructure
  • Application groups
  • Project managers (often with agile project management experience)

This helps guide critical prioritization and discovery efforts during cloud adoption. It may also trigger changes in business processes, the execution of operations, customer interactions, or even product development. If these functions are confined to IT, the success of cloud adoption efforts will be constrained. To drive true business change, business leaders should be the primary source of this functionality. A defined cloud strategy team provides a means for involving key participants in a structured way.

Note

The organization's CEO and CIO often assign the team. Assignments are typically based on empowering this team to drive change that cuts across various different organizations within the enterprise. The cloud strategy team members should be assigned based on the motivations for cloud adoption, business outcomes, and relevant financial models.

Preparation

Minimum scope

Align business stakeholders to maximize the business value of cloud adoption investments.

Whenever possible, business outcomes and the cloud strategy should both be defined early in the process. As investments in cloud adoption grows and business values are realized, business stakeholders often become more engaged. When cloud adoption efforts are led by the business, the focus might be on an operating model and the organization.

Establish a vision

  • Adoption motivations: Document and articulate the reasons behind the technical effort.
  • Business outcomes: Clearly articulate what's expected of the technical team in terms of business changes.
  • Learning metrics: Establish short-term metrics that can show progress toward longer-term business outcomes.

Build business justification

Rationalize the digital estate

Deliverable

The cloud strategy team drives critical prioritization and discovery efforts during cloud adoption. They may also change business processes, the execution of operations, customer interactions, or even product development. The primary focus of the cloud strategy team is to validate and maintain alignment between business priorities and cloud adoption efforts. Secondarily, this team should focus on change management across the adoption efforts. The cloud strategy team should be capable of delivering on the following tasks.

Early planning tasks:

  • Review and provide feedback on business outcomes and financial models.
  • Aid in establishing clear motivations for cloud adoption that align with corporate objectives.
  • Define relevant learning metrics that clearly communicate progress toward business outcomes.
  • Understand business risks introduced by the plan, represent the business's tolerance for risk.
  • Review and approve the rationalization of the digital estate.

Ongoing monthly tasks:

  • Support the cloud governance team during risk/tolerance conversations.
  • Review release plans to understand timelines and business impact of technical change.
  • Define business change plans associated with planned releases.
  • Ensure business teams are ready to execute business testing and the business change plan.

Meeting cadence:

Cloud strategy team members must be able to allocate time to planning and developing the cloud strategy:

  • During early planning efforts, allocate an hour each week to meet with the team. After the adoption plan is solidified (usually within 4-6 weeks), the time requirements can be reduced.
  • Throughout the adoption efforts, allocate 1-2 hours each month to review progress and validate continued priorities.
  • Additional time is likely required from delegated members of the executive's team on an as-needed basis. Each member of the cloud strategy team should appoint a delegate who can allocate 5-10 hours per week to support ongoing prioritization questions and report on any urgent needs.

Next steps