3 Criteria to Guide Your Shift to the Cloud
Like any other technology, cloud-based applications and cloud computing are not panaceas that will solve all of your business problems. However, they do have the ability to dramatically increase the visibility of critical data across your enterprise, bringing departments closer together and creating better coordinated efforts. Business journalist and author, David Amerland provides an interesting take when considering a shift to the Cloud. He suggests to center the conversation around three strategic criteria: instrumentation, interconnection, and intelligence.
Let’s take a look at each criterion and how they should be used to form your cloud strategy.
1. Instrumenting Your Business Processes
The dictionary definition of instrument is “a tool or device used for a particular purpose, designed to do careful and exact work”. When it comes to adopting cloud-based applications, the first step is to understand that the main objective is that your business processes become instruments. Business processes should become tools to perform a particular purpose with care and precision.
Therefore, your first question when considering a shift to the Cloud should be: “Is this Software-as-a-Service going to make my X business process more precise?” Evaluating this question entails many factors, but is a great starting point to guide the conversation. The objective of SaaS applications is to make data capture more accurate. When making the shift to the cloud, human error is decreased due to higher visibility of data and who is responsible for creating, accessing, using, and updating that data.
2. Interconnecting Your Business Processes
After making sure that the data is captured correctly, the next step is to make sure that data is communicated across all pertinent departments. Amberland points out that interconnection of business processes involves evaluating the need for real-time updates versus updates in batches. In other words, if there is a 2-minute lag in receiving the latest information, would your business be ok with that?
Depending on the business process that you want to virtualize, this decision will affect the cost from your cloud provider. In general, real-time updates demand higher computing power from your vendor’s IT servers so the price will be higher. However, there are certain SaaS applications that can provide you real time updates consistently without making a difference. Make sure to check this with the provider that you are planning to work with on whether or not there are any limitations on their platform, and what those limitations entail.
3. Intelligence in Your Business Processes
“This is the most critical component of your cloud: It determines whether or not you save money and make more money”, indicates Amberland. And he is 100% right. While SaaS increases the accuracy in your data capture and the visibility of that data across business units, it is also important that SaaS increases the intelligence of your business processes. The implementation of a SaaS application needs to empower staff by automating time-consuming tasks, allowing anytime and anywhere access, and making critical resources available.
For example, no matter what industry you are in, you will have to manage contracts. Contract management is an area that is prime for leveraging cloud-based contract management system tools because the right contract data needs to be entered on the right template using the right clauses and all of these data needs to be available across an entire, mobile workforce. There is no denying that these two features would make the sales, accounting and finance departments of any company much more integrated and intelligent. Taking your contract management processes would a good way for your company to start small in its shift towards the Cloud and build up confidence and experience in running such a setup.
More than just a buzzword, shifting to the Cloud is a process that allows to streamline your business processes and improve them. Your cloud strategy needs to be one that instrumentalizes, interconnects and provides intelligence to your business processes.