Our experience is that strategies often face either one of two challenges, being too much high-level to ever become widely adopted and implemented or being too detailed to last over a longer period of time. 

With that said it is far from impossible to create actionable and long-term strategies that work as the foundation for a desired transformation. Establishing a strategy is all about involving people and making sure to collect input from stakeholders that don´t necessarily work together on a day-to-day basis. This might be even more true to the cloud topic as any successful cloud adoption journey cover so much more than just IT or technology matters. 

We at Ionic Consulting have selected an approach to help our clients establish a cloud strategy covering four specific phases – WHY – WHAT – HOW – WHEN. 

WHY… understand your business drivers 

To successfully get business support and buy-in on a cloud strategy it is crucial in our opinion to start with the business and IT strategy. Understanding these and how they are linked will be a good foundation for a cloud strategy. 

In a collaborative approach we often work with both IT and business stakeholders to understand which parts of a cloud journey that can and will support the business objectives, ultimately that should be the foundation for any action in an enterprise. 

WHAT… setting a target and how to steer to it 

Having a clear target for a cloud strategy is paramount. Not only will it enable follow-up and measuring success once embarking on the journey, it will also help making the purpose and intention more tangible for the organization. 
For natural reasons the target might be somewhat technical, but it will anyways indicate the level of effort, impact to the organization and horizon of when tangible results can be expected. 

Combining the target with a set of well anchored and agreed guiding principles will help steering decisions that needs to be made during the journey toward the target. These principles should help when identifying candidates for cloud adoption, guide how investments are made and use the business objectives as leverage. 

HOW… what needs to be in place before getting started 

Embarking on a journey to the cloud will not only impact the technical landscape, it will also impact how services are procured, how governance structure is implemented, IT operating model etc. A crucial part of a cloud strategy should therefore cover areas that will be impacted by the implementation of the strategy and suggest how these should be adopted or changed. 

Some common areas we covered with clients are vendor management, operating model, governance processes and many others. Doing this early on will help the entire organization to prepare and line up for what is to come during a cloud adoption effort. 

WHEN… create the overarching roadmap 

We strongly believe that a strategy without a high-level plan or roadmap will not inspire to the action and drive toward the strategic object that is needed. Breaking down the target into manageable pieces and setting clear definitions of success needs to be done. This part of the strategy should also cover sequence and expected effort to complete the “HOW” areas even if the actual execution might be done outside a cloud adoption project or program. 

At Ionic Consulting we do these kind of assignments in a highly collaborative approach with our clients since our view is that the primary value we provide is experience form establishing cloud strategies in a range of businesses and industries but our clients remain the experts on their own business. 

What are your thoughts and experience on this topic?