In my last post, In The Cloud? How is it working out? , I stated successful cloud implementations sit on top of four strategic pillars:  PEOPLE, PROCESS, INFRASTRUCTURE and APPLICATION.  In this post, I am going to focus on the PEOPLE pillar.

The PEOPLE pillar is a combination of three distinct user groups, each with their own functions, goals and skill sets.  These groups are:  Application End Users, Application Administrators and Application Executive Sponsors.  These same groups exist for on-prem applications as well as cloud based solutions.  Below is a brief description of each.

Application End Users (Process execution):  These users access the application on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc…) as part of their stated job function and represent the largest quantity of the three groups.  The application assists them in achieving their business goals\tasks, while their focus is to complete these items as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Their skill set within the application can be exceptional and often will provide insight into how the system can be improved at the functional level.  In addition, they can often help with new user training, documentation, assist with process flow changes and provide insight into the impact of those changes (good or bad) within the application.

Application Administrators (Process enforcement):  These users access the application for administrative functions and tasks.   This includes User Maintenance requests (Create\Delete users, reset or unlock passwords, adjust security rights, etc…), troubleshooting error messages, maintaining data integrations, End User training and enforce process compliance developed by the application executive sponsors.  Their goals and skills sets are more technical in nature, have detailed visibility into processes from beginning to end, including how changes to one process will impact others across the company’s entire IT ecosystem.  This visibility, process enforcement and their interaction with both application end users and executive sponsors requires their input on new processes and changes to existing ones.

Application Executive Sponsors (Process development):  These users rarely access the application and are considered the Thought Leadership of the application adopted by an organization.  They identified a need within the company and\or are put in charge of the implementation.  Either way these users are the drivers behind the initial roll out, continued use and growth of the application and evangelize it to all in the organization.   Their skill sets are to develop the processes executed by end users and enforced by administrators.  Their goals are to: improve customer service, sales growth, mitigate the company’s risk and\or reduce overall company costs (increase profits).

When transitioning from on-prem applications to cloud based applications, clearly understanding the goals of the project is essential (Improve Customer Service, Sales Growth, Mitigate Risk, Reduce Costs\Increase profits).  Understanding the impact on the end user and administrator is critical.  For example, the number of application end users may decrease due to efficiencies and increased functionality with the new application.  The number of business analysts may increase as more data becomes available for review.  Administrative functions may shift from the IT department over to the primary department responsible for the application.  This often happens when the administration is simplified and end users feel comfortable with the new processes.

This type of change presents some challenges within the PEOPLE pillar as well.  As efficiencies and new functionality are integrated, end users may push back as their work load and responsibilities change.  The IT department may feel their role in the organization getting smaller as they are tasked with less day to day administration.  Executive sponsors may not see the early adoption they had hoped for as end users and administrators figure out their new roles and responsibilities.  Some may drag their feet as “the old way” was much easier with its clearly defined roles and responsibilities.  Many of the challenges can be addressed by bringing together key personnel from each of these groups to develop new processes.  This group would then communicate back to their teams the company goals along with the new processes to be put in place.

Ideally these processes start out at a high concept level by the executive sponsors and as designated administrators and end users are looped in, the details are more clearly defined.  The end result of this collaboration should be a Cloud Solution that measurably addresses the stated goal(s) of: improve customer service, sales growth, risk mitigation, reduction of overall company costs (increase in profits).

An individual can be in one, two are all three groups depending on several factors including:  Size of the company, scope of the project, primary and secondary goals, complexity of the application, longevity of the issue being addressed, etc….

In “Theory” this sounds great and looks even better on paper.  Last I checked, the town of “Theory” doesn’t have a marching band, a newspaper or actually exist.  When trying to pull this together in the real world, it may require some outside assistance.  This is where a Cloud Advisor can be of great benefit.  By understanding the company’s IT ecosystem, stated goals and direction of the executive sponsors, technical skills of the administrators, along with the “boots on the ground” process knowledge of the End Users, the PEOPLE pillar takes shape.  In my next blog post I will discuss the PROCESS pillar.

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