Cloud Computing Considerations for a New Economy
It may be interesting to consider cloud computing as a great economic factor affecting the success of small, medium, and large businesses alike. There is money to be saved no matter what size business one has, but there are as many pitfalls as with any other major business change. Change in business has to be managed well, and taking some potential pitfalls into account in advance can help ensure success and avoid disaster.
The first issue is understanding your organization, taking into account both business processes and employees. When is the last time the business processes of your organization were mapped out in a formalized manner to make sure that they do not resemble a plate of half-eaten spaghetti? If your answer is never, then it is time for business process analysis and re-engineering. Everything that happens in the supply chain, the reporting process, manufacturing, service, and finance will be put into diagrams, including all transactions between employees and departments. Once this is properly documented in a visual manner, it is remarkably easy to untangle the spaghetti. Redundancy will become glaringly obvious, as well as convoluted and unnecessary approval chains. It is important to understand that most of this is not willful poor performance on behalf of your employees, but rather fear of job loss, attempts at quality control, and procedures that were created spontaneously rather than the result of careful planning. During this process one can expect employees to become defensive. It is extremely important to reassure them that this process is not about downsizing or recrimination, but it is a process of efficiency and empowerment. This empowerment can be stressed. Tell these employees that your team is there to help them get more visibility and control of their processes: people want to be empowered. This is the consensus-building part of organizational change in a technology improvement project.
Another point is to look at cloud computing from an objective standpoint when making a decision. Middle managers and lower executives will often do anything to save a dollar on the front end, as they may be worried about appearing fiscally irresponsible. Sometimes this can result by improper analysis of the total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI). There are cheaper cloud services than Office 365 and related such as the suite offered by Google. However if you try to send someone a Google doc the default way from the Google Cloud Suite to another business or individual, they will be prompted with requirements for their own Google accounts, and they will have trouble with visual compatibility with everyone else who is using Microsoft Office. As far as that is concerned, please believe us when we say anyone who does matter in the business world is using Microsoft Office, and when you stray from that business standard you are alienating other businesses, customers, and your own employees (who will need re-training because they already arrive in the workforce pre-trained in Microsoft Office). Because of this, it is important to go with the business standard, and that is Microsoft. While there are uses for other cloud services, they are limited to specialty server uses on products like Amazon and IBM for middleware and back-office use.
Reliance on the Service Level Agreement or SLA for your business continuity needs including disaster management and recovery plans are a mistake. The answer to permanent uptime is and always has been redundancy from an organizational standpoint. Make sure you have your IT provider or internal staff backing up data and documents, and make sure that there are proper continuity and recovery plans in place in the event of an emergency.
Business processes and office procedures will certainly change with your technology project. It is vital that roles and responsibilities in a project and afterwards are clearly defined. This helps empower people and also create an atmosphere where employees know there will be accountability: they will not be allowed to let the ball drop. Sometimes assigning the ultimate root access for a system to an outside vendor such as the Web and I helps avoid slip-ups and even assist in compliance with the Sarbanes Oxley Act for smaller businesses. A technology project implemented correctly is always a great way to reduce your liability footprint, possibly even resulting in reduced business liability insurance rates.
Risk is always a prime consideration. Look at the risks, security and otherwise that your provider offers. Our company, the Web and I, has not experienced a single outage lasting more than a few hours for any client since we were founded a half-dozen years ago. We are especially proud that none of our clients has ever experienced a security breach.
Making a decision is best started after speaking to someone with experience. Call on us at the Web and I and speak to one of our seasoned senior engineers. Find out what has worked and not worked for us and our clients. If there is interest, you will be put in touch with some of our clients to discuss their experiences over the years. We find they are our best sales people! Call us now at 646-853-0573 and learn more now!