7 Steps to Winning Executive Support for Cloud Initiatives
Cloud isn’t just another technology initiative — it is a critical component of business infrastructure. It provides cost-effective access to enterprise-grade IT architectures, computing power, storage, analytics and programming tools that would otherwise be out of reach for all but the world’s largest businesses.
Nevertheless, many C-suite executives who control the business purse strings remain uncertain about how to move forward. Recent studies find that although the vast majority view cloud as critical to business needs, only about 30 percent are confident their current initiatives will deliver their expected value.
As a result, getting C-suite support for cloud projects can be tricky. Non-technical executives require a clear justification before committing precious dollars and resources. Here are some of the ways to discuss cloud initiatives with executives:
1. Build the business case. Skip the technical jargon and describe how the technology will support business strategy and align with business priorities. Describe how the cloud will allow you to add processing power and storage as needed to support specific business processes, or how it will improve the company’s business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities.
2. Be specific. Clearly define the resources needed to produce a desired business outcome. If any incremental purchases, projects, hiring or outsourcing are required, provide a complete list of these details.
3. Set expectations. Describe what’s possible — and what isn’t. In one recent study, 82 percent of IT leaders said their companies’ execs don’t fully understand how the cloud works, and 76 percent said execs underestimate the time and cost of cloud management. When business leaders have unrealistic expectations about a project, it can result in misaligned objectives, disappointment and friction.
4. Provide options. Not every application or workload is suitable for the cloud. Identify which apps can be easily migrated, which may need to be redesigned or replaced, and which are better off remaining in house. Be prepared to explain why a public, private, hybrid or multi-cloud approach may work best for specific workloads.
5. Establish the cost benefits. Describe the benefits of shifting from a CapEx to an OpEx spending model. Show specifically where the business can reduce the time, money and manpower required to purchase, deploy, maintain, manage and upgrade on-premises solutions. Don’t overstate the benefits, however. It’s important to be frank about the fact that cloud cost overruns are fairly common, often due to secondary costs for things like readiness assessments, connectivity upgrades, security and skills development.
6. Demonstrate success. Tests, feasibility studies and pilot programs help demonstrate how the technology will work in practice. A proof of concept can help build confidence among decision-makers by demonstrating how the cloud application or service will work in real-world conditions.
7. Address security concerns. Security remains a legitimate concern with the cloud. Nearly 80 percent of companies in a recent IDC survey reported they had experienced at least one cloud data breach in the past 18 months. Describe specific security measures that will address these risks, including access controls, encryption, multifactor authentication and end-user training.
While most executives understand the business-critical nature of IT, few are technology experts. To make a convincing business case for cloud investments, IT leaders must be able to demonstrate how the cloud touches every aspect of the business, and they must link cloud spending to specific business processes that support the organization’s overall mission.
If you are unsure how to make your case, we can help. SSD’s consultants are skilled in presenting technical information to non-technical audiences, and can help you build a solid business case for cloud adoption.