5 Point Plan To Create A Great Cloud Strategy
In insight / By Mark Flynn / 05 December 2018
With the uncertainty surrounding the impact BREXIT will have on the UK economy, businesses need to look closely at how they can take cost out of their business. More importantly however, they need to ready themselves to quickly take advantage of growth opportunities such as opening a new branch or international offices.
So what should the savvy business leader do right now? The answer has to lie in the cloud. Transforming a business by moving into the cloud places the savvy business leader in a position of strength to deliver on growth plans and also weather any tough times.
Read on for a five step plan for transforming your business.
1. Costs, Costs, Costs – build a true picture of your current IT cost base
IT can often account for a large proportion of costs in a business, especially if systems are delivered in-house. The costs of maintaining a data centre, support renewals, hardware maintenance and the staff to look after your IT environment can all quickly add up.
Why pay for data centre space, data centre facilities, staff time to manage a data centre and IT systems, hardware and software licensing management when it’s easier and more cost-effective to move your Microsoft Office applications and collaboration tools to Office 365, and use cloud-based SaaS solutions for your finance and CRM systems.
So, take stock of what you've got and start by splitting out all of your IT costs into four detailed lists:
- Software – This includes all products bought outright or licensed periodically; detail the cost, dates and tier
- Hardware – Again this includes leased, bought and not in use items
- Storage costs – Whether its internal, external or hybrid, list out the costs and capacity
- Current contracts – Any IT contracts separate to the lists already created, this could be management, maintenance, or implementation costs.
Once you’ve got a clear understanding of your current IT costs, start cross-checking and looking at items that can be consolidated, downgraded or scrapped completely! If you are armed with a true picture of your IT costs, you can then start comparing the costs for how you currently deliver IT with other cloud based alternatives.
2. Check out new technology to enable better productivity
If you are expanding nationally or globally, your remote colleagues can start feeling like the poor relations because of badly performing business systems which start to severely impact their productivity and morale.
Badly performing systems cost you time. Staff can’t log in, tasks can take twice as long to complete or employees don’t have access to the most up to date versions of the applications and files they need to do their jobs quicker.
This is just one way in which poor IT can impact on productivity, but also think about the impact on productivity when your business needs to scale.
We recently worked with a client who wanted to grow their business and open a new location in the United States, however, their UK IT partner couldn’t facilitate the move. Originally, when they started the business, they had contracted a local IT support company who offered standard UK support hours and provided them with a UK telephony system which was all well and good. However, now that they want to launch an office in the US, the telephony system won't scale and their support hours don't match the US working day. Staff could be without access to their PC for hours due to something as simple as forgetting a password whilst they waited for the UK support company to come online and respond to support tickets.
This costs money, resources and time. Think about how you can use cloud services to increase productivity and look for technology partners who can support your business growth.
Look to cloud based collaboration solutions such as Microsoft Teams which combines workplace chat, meetings, notes and attachments. Teams integrates with an organisation's Office 365 productivity suite including Microsoft Office making it a one-stop shop for collaboration and communication.
Slack is an equally rich collaboration tool and has continued to be the favourite communication tool amongst companies with large workforces or multiple locations. The continued updates throughout 2017 and 2018 have ensured it remains a widely used tool for instant messaging, file sharing and group communication.
3. Reduce costs through mobility
Cloud services and 'as-a-service' applications and tools mean that you can avoid many of the traditional costs of setting up a new office. With Office 365, your staff can work from anywhere if they have an internet connection; sharing files, making calls and accessing their Office applications on the go.
You don’t need to pay for expensive city based office space if your staff can instead hot-desk or work remotely via their laptops and cloud applications. We often speak to clients who want to reduce their IT costs however, if they reduced the number of desks within their city centre offices which tend to have huge real estate price tags in favour of more agile hot-desking, then the reduction in space and rental costs could be massive - just by reducing the amount of real estate.
4. Don’t ignore the cost of not being secure
Whilst we encourage all organisations to be fluid and mobile in their practices, they also need to be mindful of protecting their business.
You might have already have been hacked, you just don't know it yet. Now that's a frightening thought!
Also, on average it take 6 months for companies to even detect they have a cyber breach!
Aside from the fines and penalties associated with GDPR infringements, do you want to risk having cybercriminals effectively wandering around the digital corridors of your business, stealing information and data, diverting funds and damaging your businesses reputation?
Another common challenge is protecting data from rogue employees who may try to extract critical business information from systems prior to, or after, leaving your business. Properly securing your cloud solutions and applications can protect against employees extracting sensitive data, whilst retaining the flexibility and mobility advantages provided by the cloud.
Cybercriminals also target high net worth business owners who may be likely to be involved in property sales or high-value transactions, gaining access to their personal data through business systems in order to defraud them personally.
Proper security controls reduce the chances of a breach happening, or at least, notify you quickly if a breach has occurred rather than finding out months later, after the crime, that your critical business data has been regularly transferred to a cybercriminal or rogue employee.
Don’t risk the cost of a security breach.
5. Good times, bad times – aligning IT costs with business activity
You can’t guarantee how your business is going to perform. You need an IT system that can scale or flex down to suit your business needs.
For expansion plans, you need to be able to spin up services which can scale in line with employee headcount increases, perhaps on a per user per month basis. This means your IT spend is in line with your employee costs rather than having to build an office, a data centre and IT environment that can accommodate an entire office of staff when you initially only have two employees in that location.
On the flip side, for times when the business is struggling, you may need to have the option to wind down your IT costs. Many businesses that need to close operations in a location often can’t reduce their cost base because they still have high IT costs if they own their IT and therefore feel the double impact of reduced revenue with the same high operational costs. If you use SaaS solutions then you can quickly reduce your IT costs in line with a workforce reduction or office closure.
If you're looking to transform your business and adopt a modern, flexible, cloud based approach to the workplace, make sure you take note of the five points above to make the journey to the cloud as smooth as possible.