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Cloud adoption is not just an IT project - adjusting the ways of working prevents failure

Published in Agile, Business, Technology

Written by

Maarit Laanti
Director, Training, SAFe Fellow

Maarit Laanti is the Head Coach of Nitor. She has done her dissertation on large scale agile transformation. Maarit, a SAFe Fellow, is one of the contributors of SAFe methodology and is the first certified SAFe program consultant trainer in Finland.

Mika Majakorpi
Chief Technologist

Mika Majakorpi works as Chief Technologist at Nitor. Mika has been there and done that in various architecture and development roles for years in the Finnish IT scene. Lately he's into Event Driven Architecture and data driven solutions.

Article

April 27, 2022 · 4 min read time

Successful implementation of cloud-based services enables companies to offer scaled agile services. It is easier to reap the full benefits of cloud services if the entire organisation is prepared to adopt agile ways of working: quick decision-making, agile cost structure and business models, and self-service operating models of the technical infrastructure. This requires adopting work practices and developing competence, often accompanied by a change in the organisational structure.

A successful cloud migration enables an agile cost structure and quicker decision making

At heart, cloud migration enables two core features for any organisation: an agile cost structure and a self-service model of the technical infrastructure. What has previously been made to order and done manually becomes fully automated in the cloud. Automation helps technical infrastructure, like servers, to be delivered significantly faster than before. Adopting a new way of working is essential, as keeping the old operating model can easily block reaping the benefits of cloud migration. 

The costs structure also changes from capital costs to running costs, which is a significant enabler of an agile operating model. With the old structure, investments were made several years in advance, whereas adopting a cloud-based model allows instant changes without additional costs.

The self-service model of the technical infrastructure enables making quick changes to software applications, as decisions are made close to the team doing the work. But if the project is only seen as an initiative for IT to reduce costs without changing the way of working, it will be difficult to reap the benefits. Work culture needs to support the cloud-based model so all bottlenecks can be avoided.

A sustainable change comes from IT and business units working together

The transition to a cloud-based service brings new products and new ways of working that require the development of competence both inside and outside the IT department. If the impact of cloud migration on the entire company is not taken into account, it may be difficult for the rest of the organisation to keep up with the agility coming from the team level.

Understanding the level of holistic changes affecting the entire organisation is key for successful cloud migration. When preparing for the transition, it is essential to bring together representatives from both IT and business units to identify what needs to be done for the project to have sustainable, long-term benefits. This way, existing solutions are not just transferred to a new platform as-is, which will hamper the benefits that the cloud service and its technologies offer. The cloud platform also enables a culture of continuous improvement, allowing making changes as soon as needed, at no additional cost. 

To reap the full benefits of cloud migration, business units and the IT department should work together to find answers to the essential questions of the project. For example, is it better to have everything transferred to the cloud or leave parts of the old system in place? What competencies are needed in the future in IT and the whole organisation? It is also essential to consider how to purchase the cloud service. Is one service provider enough, or are multiple providers needed? What are the costs resulting from these investments? Consider also looking at one’s organisation – how to bring the agility and quick decision-making enabled by the cloud closer to the teams?

An agile organisation ensures an effortless transition

The transition from a service room environment to a cloud platform should occur in an agile way: in stages and in a controlled manner. This way, every increment can already produce value, and at the same time, it is possible to test the new environment with actual activities. 

Lean portfolio management directs investments in a way that eliminates overlapping work and useless investments. Savings can be achieved by maintaining old environments, and these savings can be directed to the new cloud environment. Agile budgeting allows balancing between maintaining existing services and developing new solutions continuously. 

It is crucial to be able to optimise the used cloud services within the environment in which they are provided. Typically, a large organisation uses multiple providers so finding the best possible solution both financially and feature-wise becomes easier. This also means that the service capacity can be flexibly transferred to the most suitable provider to tackle the current need at any given time. 

New technical environments require new, fast-paced decision-making and self-directing teams. This can be challenging for leadership. Agile brings transparency, leading to a shared understanding and a complete picture of the current situation. 

Adopting an agile operating model in a nutshell:
  • Optimise costs and investments with agile budgeting

  • Ensure constant renewal and value creation through lean portfolio management

  • Build self-directed and motivated teams and lead them in a transparent way with objectives and real-time feedback

  • Base everything on servant leadership to create optimal circumstances for success

  • Test First mindset and working in increments form the foundation of a successful cloud migration project

Cloud migration is a strategic transition that supports an agile operating model. This transition will affect the whole organisation, whether a company is already agile and seeking support for agility through the cloud or a company that primarily makes the transition for the cost savings it offers. In both cases, the benefits will be sustainable if this transition is dealt with as a holistic change. 

Nitor has a long experience both in agile transformations and cloud migrations. Please be in touch, and let's discuss more. 

Written by

Maarit Laanti
Director, Training, SAFe Fellow

Maarit Laanti is the Head Coach of Nitor. She has done her dissertation on large scale agile transformation. Maarit, a SAFe Fellow, is one of the contributors of SAFe methodology and is the first certified SAFe program consultant trainer in Finland.

Mika Majakorpi
Chief Technologist

Mika Majakorpi works as Chief Technologist at Nitor. Mika has been there and done that in various architecture and development roles for years in the Finnish IT scene. Lately he's into Event Driven Architecture and data driven solutions.

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