Preferably no cloud competence center (of excellence)?!

By Pim Schouten

The opportunities that the cloud offers to organizations have a tremendous appeal. However, implementing this new technology is not straightforward and requires clear governance. To fulfill this governance, various frameworks have been devised by AWS, Google, and OACA. Highberg has also developed a cloud governance framework. Often, these frameworks are implemented in a cloud competence center or under the fancier name of cloud center of excellence. But is that an effective solution for cloud adoption?

Cloud adoption is challenging. Uncertainty about and thus resistance to the cloud exists at every level. Is it safe and compliant with laws and regulations? Will my job be taken away? Are we underestimating the complexity of our landscape? Will we be able to control costs when everyone can create virtual servers? And then there's the knowledge issue. Because which of our administrators has sufficient knowledge?

De kansen die de cloud biedt voor organisaties hebben een enorme aantrekkingskracht.

Cloud, Cloud Competence Center, Cloud Competence, Adoption, Governance

Taming resistant cloud adoption

Various frameworks have been established outlining the required competencies for successful cloud adoption. These frameworks differ, but at their core, they resemble each other: they are 'classic' governance competencies (demand management, setting boundaries, and delivery control) supplemented with implementation aspects (projects, leadership, adoption), organizational control (competencies, culture), and technical control (solution architecture, technical security, integration). In essence, this involves a (temporary) expansion of the existing governance organization, which is necessary to implement and manage the new technology (cloud) and prepare governance for changes due to the cloud.

So, all these different models state that new competencies are needed to manage the cloud. Often, the choice is made to physically bring together the required competencies. Advocates of the cloud can collaborate energetically to develop different facets, conduct experiments, set standards, and experiment. Ideally, this is done in project spaces far from the "yes, but," creating a collaborative flow and demonstrating its (safe) feasibility. The initial successes are celebrated in a short period. "Great things are happening in room 2.04!" However, these small-scale implementations often occur separately from the existing organization.

This is why I argue against centralizing the employees involved in the initial cloud initiatives. This centralization hinders organization-wide adoption. You can only harness the benefits of the cloud if the technology is genuinely adopted. Cloud should become a technology that is common throughout the entire organization, with cloud technology being part of the standard package for addressing business questions, and all administrators knowing how to manage the cloud optimally. We too often see a cloud competence center growing with management tasks because cloud initiatives have no proper place. Cloud management thus becomes a separate silo from 'regular' management, and integration between the two worlds does not take off.

Therefore, I advocate for a decentralized cloud governance function. The existing governance functions are supplemented with cloud knowledge. The technical cloud specialists and solution architects work as hands-on team leaders within the regular management teams and guide the administrators. And we train the team leaders and managers on the organizational aspects of cloud adoption.

Don't keep cloud adoption at arm's length

So, away with the cloud competence center! Well, that's a bit too simplistic. Bringing enthusiasts together is very effective as a starting point. And a close collaboration between the technical, boundary-setting, and business-oriented cloud experts is highly desired. However, a more decentralized cloud governance function can still act as a team virtually. Or think about working together physically for 1 or 2 days/sessions. But focus on the goal: organization-wide cloud adoption. That's a broader goal than 2 successful cloud migrations. It involves broad knowledge and embracing cloud possibilities in various parts of the business: primary processes, governance, and technical functions. And that can never be achieved solely from room 2.04!

Want to know more?

Do you want to know how Highberg can assist you with the cloud? Take a quick look at our sourcing and vendor selection services. Or get in touch with Pim Schouten.

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