Technology has been a saving grace over the last 12 months; allowing businesses up and down the country to continue operating – by facilitating remote working and in the shift from high street to online stores. It’s fair to say we would have been lost without it. And while many wouldn’t have been able to cope without their IT departments, who essentially transformed business operations and processes overnight, we have seen a shift in recent years in IT responsibility as other stakeholders take an interest in technology to boost their performance.
Long gone are the days when it was the IT department’s responsibility – and theirs alone – to make the decisions about what hardware, software and infrastructure were deployed within a business. As technology has become more easily consumed, IT purchasing is now as likely to be made by marketing or financial functions as it is the IT department.
Given this shift, when it comes to purchasing decisions around areas such as the cloud, do the waters get a little murkier when it comes to responsibility – from embedding the technology to the daily management of it?
The simple answer is no, but some areas do need to be clarified to ensure any purchasing outside of the IT department’s remit doesn’t break policies or revert into their list of responsibilities by default. These include:
Identifying the right cloud strategy
Whether you are part of the IT team or not, knowing which cloud will suit the project you are working on is particularly important. While I won’t digress into what type of cloud suits a particular project, ultimately, what IS important is being aware of the options available and how they integrate with the wider organization. Just because your core responsibility might not be for IT, doesn’t mean that you can ignore the broader impact on your project to the business.
As you investigate options, you must work WITH your IT team. Although they may not hold the responsibility at the end of the day, they do need to be aware of what you are doing and long term plans to ensure the business will not become vulnerable – especially if it could result in a situation they would need to resolve (i.e. a data breach). Use the team on a consultative basis, particularly when seeking to extend your use of the cloud, as any changes will need to continue to complement the wider infrastructure.
Who pays for it?
This is another important conversation to have in your initial investigation into deploying the cloud. As the responsibility of technology has diverged, so too have the associated budget responsibilities. Don’t assume that because you are deploying technology, it must come from the IT department’s budget. While naturally there will be some nuances here, if the project will be managed and run by yourself, it will typically fall within your team’s P&L – this is also true if you are utilizing a third party to manage the process for you (particularly as we have seen a correlation in the rise of organizations purchasing offerings “as a service”).
Again, all of this should be agreed upfront with the IT team. Ongoing communication and, where it’s needed, clarification will only enhance the success of the project. Additionally, as we’ve already discussed, should the cloud deployment increase, this is also something that the IT team may want to be aware of to manage broader deployments.
That’s not my job, or is it?
While the agreement in the first two areas may have been easy enough to address, typically, if the project owner is confident in running the day to day management of the cloud, then this should continue. However, what happens in a crisis or where an individual does not have the skill set to do something? In this case, the IT team should be consulted and potentially have been pre-briefed on the process to support should something go awry. However, if there is simply no capacity within the IT team to support, the project owner should look to work with an external partner who does have the right skill set and capability.
A service partner may even be able to suggest recommendations on new processes that could be used to enhance the project for the future.
Ringfencing the team
After addressing the issue of ultimate responsibility, it’s important to define the users who will be accountable for the project on an ongoing basis and will have access to it. Defining responsibility upfront is valuable. It requires someone who is confident with the technology and is better to be restricted to the few and not the many to avoid the spinning up of too many clouds. This will also mean that only what is needed will be deployed. Clarity on this will also mean that elements such as day-to-day management and security monitoring can be defined from the outset which can only be changed by a select group of people.
The beauty of the cloud has allowed more teams within an organization to not only take an interest in technology to enhance what they do but also give them more flexibility to look outside of what the IT team is doing to create solutions bespoke to suit their own needs. As part of this, it is important the IT team is either consulted on or included in the decision process – but is not necessarily the ultimate budget holder of the project – to ensure that any decision fits within the wider business objectives. Any siloed IT projects must continue to fit within the wider business and complement rather than contradict what else is happening – otherwise, organizations will be left with entirely disjointed systems and infrastructures that will be far more extensive and timely to resolve.
Linda King is CMO of Brightsolid