Modernization and the journey to cloud is one of those big multi-faceted initiatives that can go dramatically well, or it can be very painful. A range of clients have come to us because their previous efforts have not delivered the expected business value. We’ve heard it all; IT blames the end user for not adopting new tools, end users blame IT for forcing technology on them without enough training, and management is frustrated. This finger pointing rarely provides answers on what happened and when and how things went sideways.
On the other hand, we’ve seen numerous organizations experience significant success with their cloud transformations. The whole organization picks up on new, more efficient processes and leaps ahead of their competitors.
So, what is the difference between success and failure? Naturally, there are many factors, but there’s one that rises above them all. Talent.
That’s hardly surprising, but it’s critical to determine whether your team can rise to the occasion. The first question you should be asking is – do we have the skills in-house to get this migration and modernization work done the right way? Naturally, that then leads to follow-on questions – should we be hiring additional full-time resources? Do we need consultants or specialists? If you’re unsure, here are some essential, often overlooked skills to consider when you’re assessing the talent gap for your projects:
Skill #1 – Taking the time to understand business outcomes
The best solution architect doesn’t just quickly build what you ask for. Just ask Henry Ford – “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’”. It’s important throughout the cloud transformation planning process to keep asking what you are trying to accomplish and WHY.
Understanding the business outcome is critical to making choices that will push your organization forward and maximize business value. The last thing you want to do is recreate your legacy systems on a new platform, when its likely your business has reorganized, grown, and changed dramatically over time. We often find ourselves jumping through hoops to work around old processes and systems. Just because you can build it exactly as it functioned before, doesn’t mean you should.
Tip: Assess the technologists in your organization for their willingness to talk to the business early and often to ensure they have the business outcome in mind when designing new cloud-native solutions. If you’re looking for a partner, you’ll need the technologists, but will also likely need a complementary mix of talent that incorporates experiences, advisory and industry expertise. That way, you can be confident you’re getting not only the best technical solutions, but also the best experiences whilst keeping long-term goals front of mind.
Skill #2 – Know what you don’t know
The first thing that comes to mind here is Build vs Buy. This may sound like a debate rather than a skill; however, I would argue there’s a certain art to knowing when you’re about to reinvent the wheel. It’s hard to fault a solution architect for missing what others might find to be an obvious out-of-the-box solution. With so many on-premise, hybrid, and multi-cloud options on the table, there are a plethora of services to take advantage of and it’s extremely challenging to keep up and be an expert on all of them.
While building may seem like the right solution because you can “do whatever you want” the reality in the cloud is that there are patterns and practices you must follow to minimize maintenance and down-time. First looking to utilize the out-of-the-box tools from your cloud provider, before you decide to build, will help you minimize the risks of failure of your custom-built software and business-critical systems. Second, understand when it’s overwhelming for your internal team to keep up to date on all of the tools, services, and best practices. By partnering with the right provider, you’ll get help in deciding which components to build Vs buy, as well as help building robust software and solutions to the highest possible standards.
Tip: Assess your technologists for their ability to recognize when they need to do additional research, connect with other experts, and pull in additional specialized support. This will help you maximize the tools you have that are already built-in, and conversely, know when the only option is still to build it yourself. Avanade’s technology strategists provide the technical framework for your multi-year journey to the cloud. They work hand in hand with our experts on our technical leadership career path and our Microsoft MVPs, who hold a deep technical focus in Azure, Dynamics, Modern Workplace, the PowerPlatform, and more.
Skill #3 – Industry expertise
One of the most difficult parts of the great resignation has been the shuffle of resources and the loss of specialist technical and industry specific knowledge. One way that we’re able to overcome this limitation is through Microsoft’s Industry Cloud offerings for industries like Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Financial Services. These Industry-based cloud offerings provide your organization with the power of Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform, stocked with common templates and solutions specific to your industry. While industry clouds will help to negate some of the impact of skills lost from your organization over time, unlocking real business value requires deep technology, business and industry expertise.
Tip: Determine if you have anyone on your team with deep industry knowledge, not just from your own business, but potentially from partners and other organizations within your industry. Get connected with others that have experience with these specialized Industry Cloud platforms. They’ll be able to give you some shortcuts and best practices that will save you time. Avanade has proven, industry-focused solutions to simplify your journey to the cloud while leveraging our technical experts, who have deep industry expertise. Have a look at some of our cloud services client stories
It goes without saying that the technologists you are relying on within your organization should have great technical skills. While we could go on for some time about other skills, our hope is that this article has helped you understand the most essential skills that will raise your cloud deployment to the next level of success.