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In the pre-COVID era, many organisations looking to undertake digital transformation initiatives began with the development of a detailed business case. And while these exercises often led to important insights, their comprehensive nature also risked bogging down momentum for cloud transformation initiatives.

Now, as the pandemic dust has begun to settle, we’re seeing a shift towards a more agile model for decision-making. Rather than having to have this monolithic business case for spending money on business cloud computing, many of the organisations we work with are operating with more flexibility and adaptability.

Concurrently, we’re also seeing that digital transformation initiatives are becoming more organisation-driven, with less direct ownership from IT. Rather than centralising IT decision-making to a few key stakeholders, companies are shifting towards a more customer-centric model that embeds operational capabilities within product teams, where decisions are made on a more granular level.

That isn’t to say that organisations should abandon IT-led business case planning entirely. It is important, however, to be aware that the way these conversations are happening has changed as companies navigate the post-pandemic era. Failing to keep pace with these changes could lead your organisation to fall behind more agile competitors.

Building alignment between IT and business priorities

Just because digital transformation decisions are happening more quickly doesn’t mean that they don’t require the same level of care and due diligence. IT still needs to be involved in developing a holistic cloud strategy and understand how it aligns to business priorities.

For example, without overarching insight, you won’t know whether your organisation’s digital transformation priorities would be better served with a hybrid approach that balances on and off-premises workloads or by going with cloud all the way. Use the following questions in support of aligning your IT with your budget:

Do you know what new capabilities you need in order to enable the business strategy?

Are you aware of the strategies of each function in the organisation?
(e.g. sales, accounts, marketing)

Are you aware of the relationships between the projects, capabilities, and goals in the organisation?
(e.g. project a, enables capability b, which supports goal c)

Who are the customers of the organization?

Do you have an understanding of the risk appetite of the organisation?

Are you aware of past breaches or potential vulnerabilities in your systems?

Driving faster decision-making

In this era, once alignment between IT and business priorities has been achieved, decision-making can happen far more quickly than it used to.

For many organisations, COVID proved that acting quickly is possible. Rapidly transitioning entire companies to remote work arrangements, for example, was often seen as impossible pre-COVID. Yet the forcing function of the pandemic proved that IT decision-making doesn’t always need to follow rigorous review and approval processes—that it’s possible to move quickly to produce rapid change with clear practical and financial benefits.

That doesn’t mean that early-pandemic decision-making wasn’t without errors. But there’s still merit in applying a more agile approach in some situations. While the initial disruption of COVID-19 may be behind us, staying agile enables organisations to respond more quickly to everything from changing market conditions to competitors’ shifts.

That said, to support ongoing agility, the way your organisation makes decisions may need to change. That might mean:

• Learning to approve incremental improvements, versus approving the entire IT roadmap all at once. Even better, in some instances, smaller changes—such as running legacy applications in a cloud-based platform—can reduce operating costs, freeing up resources that can be used to address additional digital transformation priorities within the organisation.

• Moving towards approving changes on an ad-hoc, as-needed basis, versus waiting for more formal annual review sessions. In practical terms, that might mean ‘lifting and shifting’ some applications now to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, rather than waiting to carry out a full migration.

• Developing cloud business cases for particular focus areas, rather than on an IT-wide or organisation-wide basis. For instance, this might mean carrying out separate planning, decision-making, and execution exercises for your infrastructure, applications, and staffing.

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Budgeting for agile cloud decision-making

In a similar vein, it may also be necessary to evolve the way your organisation budgets for business cloud computing initiatives in order to fully capitalise on this newfound flexibility. For example, if you had initially budgeted the cost of a hybrid cloud computing model, what happens if changing priorities lead you away from a full migration to hybrid cloud?

Fortunately, this type of quick thinking isn’t without precedent. During COVID, many organisations found a way to free up funds for what they saw as necessary changes—even if doing so wasn’t within their normal budgets or funding procedures.

That doesn’t mean organisations should approach financial decisions haphazardly. But if you’re going to become more agile in your cloud decision-making, you’ll need to make changes to the way your budgets are allocated and spent.

For instance, you may need to identify and remove blockers that keep cloud initiatives from being funded as they’re approved. If your organisation follows an annual budgeting cycle, how will you accommodate decisions that are made outside of these parameters? Are you able to flexibly reallocate previously budget funds if priorities shift mid-quarter?

Acting quickly doesn’t mean approving every project your staff comes up with. But it does require a mechanism for funding those that successfully come through your new, more agile decision-making process.

Entering into agile business cloud computing partnerships

As you consider taking a step back from the single, monolithic business cases for cloud, it’s also worth understanding how partners can help achieve your organisation’s cloud goals faster (and with less overhead).

Partners such as Canon Business Services ANZ (CBS) bring deep implementation knowledge to the table, as well as proven cloud adoption frameworks and other best practice approaches to assist you in confidently adopting the cloud and achieving your business outcomes. Companies like CBS can also leverage our experience to identify efficiencies you may have missed, changing the business case for your cloud initiative entirely.

Rather than ‘lifting-and-shifting’ a legacy application, for example, a strategic partner may be able to help modernise your applications by refactoring them in the cloud, optimising them with cloud-first features that reduce your overall costs and management requirements. Without a second set of eyes on your digital transformation plans, you may miss these and other cloud computing opportunities.

To learn more about how Canon Business Services ANZ can support the development and execution of your cloud transformation—whether it encompasses incremental updates or a full migration—reach out to speak to one of our cloud services experts today.

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