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Helping you get the most out of the Cloud. Chapter Four: Skills and Delivery Structures

Written by Airwalk Reply Senior Business Development Consultant Verity Fletcher

This is the final instalment in a four-part series that highlights what you can avoid, and what to implement so that you can build solid foundations to expand, and work toward extracting the full benefits of the cloud. Last week, we turned the spotlight on Finance, Governance, and Controls. Our fourth chapter is all about Skills and Delivery Structures, which are the most crucial elements in helping you make considerable progress on your journey to cloud maturity. 

There is little point in moving to an entirely new platform and set of services, whilst expecting your people and teams, and how you structure them, to achieve success by having the same skills and working in the same way they did for on-premises services. 

If you want to be scalable, fast-moving, innovative, secure, and customer and product-oriented but continue to deliver with siloed teams, in a waterfall, traditional big-bang manner, then you have already killed your business case. The same is true for the operating model, and approach to software delivery. 

Organisations that get it right take a close look at their TechOps teams, and how they are organised. Intelligent organisations also focus on their teams’ current skills, and how development and operational teams interact, if at all.

The last piece of the jigsaw, and the most important, is skills and training. It is madness to merely send someone on a two-day AWS or Microsoft course, and then expect them to be fully-fledged cloud engineers. All you will have achieved is add a ton of risk to your organisation because your engineers will know enough to be dangerous, in that they can now log into the console, spin up services, and break things. But they will not have the experience or knowledge to fix them or build them properly in the first place. 

Organisations that get it right actively invest in culture change. It is not only about tech. If it were, it would be easy. Cloud is simply the technology element of a broader transformation that is happening across all sectors, government included. Those who are enlightened recognise this and embrace the need to move their organisations along the journey in tandem with implementing modern technology. A big part of this is skills; and recognising that they cannot recruit their way out of the problem. Public sector organisations are simply not able to offer candidates the same pay rate as the private sector. So, if you manage to attract the right candidates, you will struggle to keep them. The answer is to combine recruitment with the enablement of your existing employees. Whilst this takes investment, and help from third parties, if you get this right, it is a game changer because you will have created a genuine, enduring, and modern technology-delivery capability. 

To ensure that you are getting it right, it is worth asking yourself the following: 

  • How effective is your operating model?
  • Do you have the right mix of skills? And if not, are you moving in the right direction?
  • Are you investing in cultural and organisational transformation, as well as modern technology?

Having read all four instalments in this series, you may be thinking that it is all a bit too big and difficult to tackle.
Whilst there are no silver bullets, there are some fundamental actions that you can take that will move the needle, and those actions do not need to cost the earth:
  • Have a long hard look at how you are architecting for the cloud, and make sure it is going to get you to where you want to be so that you can realise all the benefits. If it won’t, then do something about it, and possibly, rethink your rationale for moving to the cloud
  • Take very seriously security on the cloud, and don’t accept that the traditional approach will keep your organisation safe
  • Ensure that your governance, approach to risk, and cost management is fit for purpose
  • Focus on people, people, people. This is critical so do not short-change this area. If you invest here, the ROI will be huge

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