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The 5 Pillars of a Successful Cloud Project

Bob Presentation
Last week, leaders in the public and private sectors gathered in St. Paul to tackle some of Minnesota’s most pressing technology issues. It was a tall agenda, but the Minnesota Digital Government Summit was all about sharing best practices for enhancing digital services in government, as well as protecting data from cyber-threats.

As government agencies of all sizes are getting on board with cloud computing to save costs and increase flexibility, many folks are held up by the risks involved in large scale technical changes and cloud security. To address some concerns, and talk about how and when is the right time for cloud adoption, GovDelivery’s COO Bob Ainsbury spoke to the five equal pillars of a successful cloud project, which has been proven for ensuring a secure and strategic cloud enterprise:

1. Product

According to Ainsbury, most tech-minded people are often the leaders initiating smart cloud adoption, but can focus too much on product. A cloud product must be trusted, proven, and have the right functionality, but it’s only about 20 percent of the equation. Where some governments get lost is when they buy something brand new and unproven, which doesn’t have the options, longevity, or technical interfaces that are needed.

2. Goals

Before launching a cloud operation, it’s important to align the change with organizational goals, and identify measurements for success. How will you know if this project is on track? Are your goals focused on modernization, quick timelines, efficiencies, etc.? Answering these questions before you launch a cloud project will ensure you know what success looks like when you arrive there.

3. Leadership

Public sector leaders MUST be involved from the beginning, according to Ainsbury. While tech leadership is important (and crucial), program leaders need to understand and drive the ‘why.’ The most successful cloud projects will have awareness of key stakeholders, and will be supported by leadership from the get-go.

4. Communication

It’s worth doing change management fully when endeavoring such a large change in technology. Ainsbury noted that you must identify key stakeholders, and map out who will need to know what and overestimate how early to be communicating with them.

When connecting with them, go into detail that you are not just ‘cloud-ifying’ old processes, but creating a scenario where outcomes will change, must change, and can change. Know that there will be those who don’t want the project to continue, and win them over with leadership commitment, over communicating, transparency, and involving them whenever you can.

5. Administrator

Implementation, training, and customer support are all more important than the cloud salesman will lead you to believe. Like communications, having the right administrators in place can be neglected as a crucial step, and this is where well-laid plans can really fail to cross the adoption hurdle that will ultimately prove the success or failure of the project. Deciding who will have access to what is paramount for enacting proper security, enabling usability, and encouraging quick and full adoption.

Finally, Ainsbury touched on one last takeaway: When you’re bringing your agency forward, it makes sense to go from good to great. You need to climb the maturity model, not leap frog it – so start with manageable pieces as you enter the cloud, and build on successes rather than throwing everything out the window.

It can be hard to manage that change, but assuming that your organization will naturally move up the maturity model doesn’t work well – the top line for an expert keeps moving ahead faster, and more strategically.

There is a balance between moving forward and inching forward – find that within your organization while ensuring the five pillars are being addressed, and you’re set for success.

Want to hear more from Bob Ainsbury? Check out his most recent commentary on “5 Lessons Learned from the FedRamp Process” featured in GNC.