Paralysis by Analysis: How to manage the overwhelming amount of information on cloud technology?
Based on our interviews with CTOs, CFOs and business developers in Norwegian companies which range in size from 350 to 1000 employees, 80% are using cloud technologies. These executives, charged with defining strategies and making major Information Technology (IT) decisions, are faced with a towering wall of information, both supporting and conflicting, about cloud services.
In fact, 90% of CTOs said they believe there is already enough information about cloud technology today. For 30% of these efforts, price is one of the top priorities -- "Money is always an object", but cybersecurity rises to a high priority in 50%, often trumping other considerations. Managing this information challenge can be daunting. There are resources and decision-making stept which can help organize and expedite the process.
What are your goals?
Before they dive into research and proposals, Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) must scope the business needs, in collaboration with business and financial management to clarify the objectives. The list of requirements should be built with an eye to strategic business goals, to evolving technology direction, financial constraints and risk analysis. The resulting set can then be realistically narrowed to the top requirements, each prioritized and assigned values.
These objectives should first be clearly documented, then stakeholders can be identified. This decision support group is often divided into decision-makers, editors and readers, who are obligated to review and provide feedback. This ensures that the proposed project or program does not have major blind spots.
Strategy vs. tactics
Next, they determine whether the desired action is strategic (longer ramp-up and results) or tactical (more immediate)? Can they consider a phased implementation to reduce immediate costs and risks? With these assumptions, they’re ready to find the information needed. It is time to assign an owner and firm dates for each stage of the process.
6 steps to make the right decision
Remember, the goal is to get to the best, or at least a good, decision as quickly as possible with the lowest cost. Consider following these steps in order:
1. Ask yourself: do you need help? This is not too early to involve a respected vendor or consultant to provide direction and avoid pursuing unsuitable options. Many choose to seek the advice of an independent Value Added Reseller (VAR) or a respected global leader like Microsoft Azure to reduce the research and analysis. Many times they can save time and provide customized direction.
2.Don’t forget to look internally to IT staff, who can often provide valuable input, combining their knowledge of technology and the business.
3. Identify possibilities and validate recommendations. A deep dive Google search session is as good a place as any to start. Casting a wide net can bring in some good possibilities and identify current technology directions. Give yourself a tight timeline (in hours), and take notes on what you find. Go high-level – you don’t need to know about details just yet, or even costs. The best research comes from respected universities, magazines and research groups.
4. Drive a stake in the ground. Document the most promising options and score them against your prioritized requirements. Three to six alternatives is a good number for your stakeholders to evaluate. Too many choices muddy thinking and drive delays or “paralysis”. Only allow new options if there is a very strong case, or all the options on the table are undesirable.
5. Set firm deadlines for the proposal process, narrowing down your choices, making your final decision, and implementing the new cloud solution.
6. Make a decision. You now have the top contenders (optimal is less than three) to evaluate. This is a reasonable number to move forward with, and solicit detailed information and proposals. Present your decision, with estimated cost, benefits and rationale to management and get their sponsorship.
Award the work, or create the project plan internally, and start moving.
Using these guidelines, or a similar structure, can make the seemingly endless amount of information and choices manageable, while balancing your business priorities. Determine what you need, identify your options and set deadlines so you create a sense of urgency. Lastly, do not hesitate to call on trusted, knowledgeable experts to speed up the analysis and accomplish your objectives faster.
Download our Cloud Journey Framework to make sure you check off all important aspects of implementing cloud services in your organization: