Cloud Conversion Doesn’t Have To Be Daunting

Ronda Cilsick, CIO of Deltek, on how information chiefs can help their organizations can make the move.

The future is in the cloud, and IT professionals can help shepherd their organizations through the sometimes challenging migration with proper planning and a hard look at the numbers.

So says Ronda Cilsick, CIO of Deltek, a Herndon, Virginia-based provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses. Cilsick shares best practices in migrating to the cloud, as well as insight into how CIOs can be successful “change leaders” in their organizations’ technology initiatives.

Why do many organizations struggle to utilize the cloud’s full capabilities?

Although cloud conversion can seem daunting to an organization, the overall process is not as challenging to overcome as initially believed. Some organizations may find it challenging to justify the expense of converting to the cloud from an on-premise solution, but the benefits of a cloud migration strategy will far outweigh any challenges with a very quick return on investment.

What is your advice to combat these struggles, and why is it so important to make cloud computing the focal point of tech strategies?

It starts with realizing that the future is in the cloud, and planning for it. For example, organizations could use their budgeting and planning processes to account for any shifts in capex to opex. They should also evaluate their entire portfolio and identify which apps are the highest priority to move to the cloud, and why. They should then develop roadmaps to get those applications migrated. 

Where there are concerns around loss of flexibility, once again, planning can help organizations overcome their objections. Another example would be to refactor their integrations to leverage APIs instead of direct database calls, and plan and staff efforts to ensure that they can support application upgrades on the vendor’s timetable.

How should CIOs prepare for a boom in their organizations’ technology investments?

Start by increasing capacity within IT to meet business demand by either increasing staff or looking for ways to be more efficient within IT with automation. Secondly, we conduct regular environment and organization assessments to identify business needs, challenges and opportunities. We also take the necessary actions to correctly position the organization to meet the specific needs and respond to challenges and opportunities. This could involve hiring to address skill or capacity bottlenecks or restructuring where needed.

It’s important to identify what processes need to be improved, streamlined or eliminated, and prioritize accordingly so that the team can focus on higher value initiatives. Many newer technologies were built with “citizen developers” in mind and can be configured or administered by less technical resources using “clicks not code.” Where possible, look for opportunities for non-traditional staffing arrangements and explore individuals outside of IT who can successfully support new lines of business applications. 

What does a successful tech adoption strategy for this rapid increase in investments look like, and how should CIOs approach it? 

An important piece of the puzzle is to get the business value out of the investments as quickly as possible. This is why it’s critical for IT organizations to focus on change management as part of their implementations to ensure adoption and that the organization attains the business benefits of the investment. Because of this crucial component, CIOs and IT organizations also have become change leaders in the business driving process improvement and leading the organization through change.

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