Cloud adoption: would a previous experience with traditional outsourcing make it easier?

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Alfredo SaadAlfredo Saad – IT Outsourcing Consultant

It may sound surprising to some people that the probability of success in a cloud adoption project can be increased if the buyer organization has had a previous experience in the traditional outsourcing area. More surprising yet: this may be true even if such previous experience was not completely successful. Which facts support such conclusions?

Under an IT services outsourcing perspective, cloud adoption is merely one of the possible (and surely promising) options for the external contracting of IT services by an organization. Many aspects are common to all existing alternatives, and the long matured and learned lessons during a previous exercise may be a relevant facilitator for the exploration of such innovative option. This will avoid the same mistakes be made and will bring more effectiveness to the decisions taken along the cloud journey.

Such matured and learned lessons are normally identified during each step of the previous experience:

  • Identification of business drivers that motivated the decision to outsource
  • Definition of the implementation strategy
  • Definition of the operational model to be deployed
  • Provider(s) selection
  • Contract terms and conditions negotiation
  • Services transition planning and deployment
  • Contract governance and relationship among all stakeholders

Many of the activities performed in each of these steps are similar, no matter if we consider the traditional outsourcing or the cloud scenario, but be sure the applicable cloud specific components be added.

It should be emphasized that, on the contrary, if lessons learned are not adequately considered, success probability of a cloud project can be significantly decreased. More surprising yet, this trend can be perceived long before cloud specificities are added to the discussion.

Naturally, a cloud adoption project can be successful even if no previous outsourcing experience existed, but there is no doubt that the task will be harder because lessons will have to be learned in-flight, frequently in a trial-and-error process that will confront many unknown and/or unexpected hurdles.

Among the decisions to be taken along the cloud adoption journey and whose hit rate can be significantly increased as a consequence of the accumulated previous experience, we can mention, for each step of the process:

  • Identification of business drivers that motivated the decision to outsource

o             Typical traditional outsourcing business drivers are cost reduction, focus on core business, access to specialized skills, business processes transformation and standardization, regulatory and compliance requirements, among others.

o             Which of the above business drivers are still relevant in the cloud scenario for your organization?

o             Which “new” business drivers, typically aimed at in a cloud project, must be added and with which priority relative to the “old” ones still considered relevant?

o             “New” business drivers, typically prioritized in the cloud scenario are market-share increase, time-to-market decrease, customer experience improvement, apps innovation and workforce mobility, among others.

  • Definition of the implementation strategy

o             How the current scenario (which can be a mix of traditional outsourcing – ITO and/or BPO – and workloads still kept on-premises) will be modified as a consequence of the cloud adoption?

o             Which workloads will be moved to the cloud environment and with which progression rate? Which workloads will be kept, temporarily or permanently, in their current environments (ITO, BPO, on-premises)?

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