Our previous article covered how SharePoint 2013 can be used to plan for, manage, and implement strategic initiatives in your organization. This piece will discuss the keys to building a web-based services strategy for your organization, and specifically how –as-a-Service offerings can help deal with strategic initiatives.
Strategic initiatives ultimately span your organization and cause large-scale change in operations, products, or other major business categories. A web-based services strategy can positively impact your method for tackling initiatives as an IT team.
For IT, a strategic initiative means you’re going to be surprised, given little or no notice, hurried, and maybe bypassed. Executives are frequently in a hurry to accomplish their goals and will go around IT if you delay the process even if you have legitimate reasons to do so. Budget constraints can be another obstacle.
The role of the IT department is changing. The industry and analyst firms like Gartner agree on this. Infrastructure and services are being commoditized as IaaS or SaaS. This will be a key factor in how IT teams are structured, what they think about, and how they operate. This article will cover how this change will be influenced by web-based software and services and how IT teams can prepare for these changes.
Leading the Service-Based Charge
The way that IT measures success has to change. We can’t baseline success in IT solely around metrics such as server up-time, support tickets, or other platform level metrics as they are commoditized. They’re available in quick, scalable ways, so measuring success has to be around the time it takes for us to add value to a particular business goal or initiative.
One way to add value to a strategic initiative is to be the first to embrace new and effective technology. IT has to lead the way into Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service and not let the reverse happen. The business should not be the driving force for these newly packaged tools, lest IT be caught unprepared.
A simple statement: in the future, IT departments will focus on the coordination and integration of Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service, and they will do that in order to react with the speed required by large-scale initiatives.
How Consumerization is Usurping IT
Consumerization refers to the proliferation of high-tech devices among the general population. Everyone with an iPhone or mobile device and using apps like Google Docs is very comfortable with technology—comfortable enough to start using these services at work. This is often called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Meanwhile the proliferation of Software as a Service, when infrastructure and software are bundled into a single scalable offering, allows departments outside IT to deploy unsanctioned computing services.
With those inroads, business units are taking control over their own technology use. We’ve seen this in Fortune 500 companies where departments have a technology goal and they’re willing to go out and find a provider in the open market that will help them accomplish it rather than coming to IT, or they come to IT with a provider already in mind.
The main takeaway from this trend is that IT can’t stick with the traditional govern and build approach to new technology. In the past, IT has handled the build-out and administration of new platforms, which can create a situation where IT is simply moving too slowly to meet business goals, creating a tension between IT and other departments.
Regaining Control in a Self Service World
A new set of skills is required for IT infrastructure and development resources. Organizations will start looking for a new breed of systems analysts and internal developers that have the knowledge and desire to extend from onsite to offsite in a seamless and efficient manner. This boils down to three main points:
Budget and Contract Concerns
A major piece of planning for service-based infrastructure and software is the negotiation of service terms. I’ve found that large companies are often budgeting on a yearly basis, and they pay on a contract or invoice basis. Sometimes the idea of signing up for a monthly service, where the expense may or may not scale, throws a big wrench into how purchases are made today.
Organizations must learn how to buy Software as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service to support the business in the future, as these offerings are usually based on monthly billing and often scale up and down depending on usage. The budgeting process may or may not be prepared to handle this change in the billing. The best way to convince financiers it is to show the ROI and prove that by budgeting monthly and scaling up and down based on what you need, you’re saving money.
Evaluating Potential Service Providers
Depending on the initiative, there are several really important questions to ask service providers:
Each of these categories should receive a weighted score depending on what is most important for the initiative. Think about the business value, ability to integrate, total cost of ownership, return on investment, speed to implement, and market stability. With a weighted score in-hand, your department can choose the best service for a given initiative.
Although service-based offerings like cloud hosting and Software as a Service are causing change within IT departments, your employees can take advantage of these new tools to tackle new business objectives before other departments take matters into their own hands. By preparing for the evaluation, integration, budgeting, and other concerns now, IT teams will stand ready to start up new infrastructure of software services as they’re needed.
Posted By:Rob Colwill
Rob is the CEO of Coldwater Software, a leading product and consulting company headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Using a proven approach to the software development lifecycle for all products and custom solutions, the company has delivered successful Microsoft® products for Bing®, Office®, Dynamics®,SQL Server®, and more for over a decade.