Cary de SousaCary de Sousa

A well constructed strategy can ensure a smoother journey to the cloud

Although the many benefits of IT as a Service (ITaaS) have piqued the interest of a large number of company decision-makers, businesses remain nervous about the possible negative consequences that could result from such a transformation. However, with proper planning and a solid strategy, organisations can expect a much more seamless transition.

“Most challenges typically associated with transition can be circumvented through proper planning and gaining a thorough understanding of how the business operates and what its specific needs are,” explains , Citrix’s enterprise relationship manager. “One often overlooked, but extremely important, aspect to any transition is the people. Users need to be made aware of what to expect and when. People are naturally resistant to change and unhappy employees can drastically affect the chance of project success. Make sure that everyone understands from the beginning what benefi ts will result from the transition.”

Before any changes can even be considered, however, business should focus a lot of time and attention to devising an IT transformation strategy. According to , GM at Consulting Services, “First and foremost, a sound business strategy with clear business objectives should be well defined and agreed on by all business stakeholders. Secondly, an information architecture must be developed to underpin the business strategy and this should detail the type, source and structure of data needed to support the business, in a way that can be understood by the stakeholders. Thirdly, an effective portfolio of applications should be devised to provide the required data and automate the necessary business processes. Finally, an appropriate IT service catalogue should be defined to support the business services and application portfolio.”

He explains how the correct mapping from business to IT services will ensure that the business achieves maximum return on investment (ROI) from IT spend. Coupled with an effective sourcing strategy, an organisation is able to purchase IT services from credible IT partners in accordance with specific SLAs. This will allow organisations to focus on their core business whilst transitioning the responsibility and risk of IT service availability and effectiveness to their ICT partners.”

“There are certain considerations that need to be included in the strategy,” says De Sousa. “Technical considerations such as ease of integration and compatibility with existing systems, or how much disruption can be expected should be carefully assessed and analysed. Legal issues should also be a strong focus point as an ITaaS model may require certain data to be kept off-site. The company must make sure all legal and governance requirements are strictly adhered to at all stages of the process.”

From a financial standpoint, although the company stands to gain many benefits from switching to an ITaaS model, there are some situations where it might not make financial sense, according to De Sousa. “When considering existing legacy systems or proprietary applications and software that the company has already invested in, there could a resulting loss. This is also true for companies running very customised software and systems.”

According to Martin, there are several challenges companies should be aware of which could arise while devising the strategy, and cause unwanted delays. “First of all, businesses may struggle to align the ITaaS model to the business strategy,” he says. “A key area that organisations consider when formulating their multisourcing strategy is what its main area of focus should be.”

He adds: “IT strategy is all about aligning to the business strategy and delivering true value. It is critical that you look at the business strategy and align that to the sourcing strategy – and only then move ahead to execute that strategy in the marketplace.”

Secondly, Martin continues, “Evaluating and selecting ‘best-of-breed’ may prove challenging.

“Multisourcing provides resource options and thereby allows the organisations to ‘pick and choose’ amongst service providers. However, organisations must make careful and informed sourcing decisions in order to be confident that the service providers they select have the core competencies and proven experience to deliver the desired results.”

A third possible challenge lies in how soon results are measured and delivered. “The ability to demonstrate results quickly depends on how well the transition phase is implemented,” Martin cautions.

Finally, Martin highlights vendor management as a potential headache for the company. “In multisourcing, there is a far greater complexity due to the number of parties involved, the interdependencies of providers, and the relationships required to ensure success.”

By ensuring that a number of basics are put in place, these challenges can be mitigated according to Martin. “Organisations must develop a governance process framework which is applied to all the organisation’s sources of supply so that all parties operate in similar ways and provides rules and guidelines, for example, around reporting, auditing or benchmarking. The company should provide guidelines to ensure that all parties operate in a seamless and cohesive way and know what is expected of them,” he concludes.