13 Dec A CCOE for all seasons: how to create your flexible framework for maximising cloud value
Co-authored with Andre Herbst, Account Director at Eighty20 Solutions
What a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) looks and feels like depends on where you are on your cloud journey now, where you want to go, what value you need to deliver and when, and what you have to work with. It has the potential to be a great asset and enabler if you can harmonise the principles and practices to your organisation’s culture and operating model as well as your people and processes.
As with many great ideas from the brilliant minds of big tech, a CCoE is only going to work if it’s a good fit with your organisation’s culture, maturity and operating practice. It’s not some magic spell that will conjure an agile-adapted workforce ready to embrace a whole set of traditional processes employees have trusted for decades, spitting out compliant cloud services and migrating workloads by the dozen every week. When it comes to cloud, a CCOE won’t miraculously eliminate the gaps in DevOps by merely having one in place.
On the other hand, you’d be crazy to ignore the potential of a CCOE to play a pivotal role in overhauling the tools and technology employees work with through a cloud transformation and introducing a new mindset and culture focussed on efficiency and innovation. A fit-for-purpose CCoE can act as both catalyst and supportive framework for guiding leaders, employees and your whole organisation on a journey to being more engaged with technology.
Here are four signposts Eighty20 recommend organisations are guided by as they develop their very own version of a CCoE to enable progress at a sustainable pace:
1. Look for the patterns in your organisation
Patterns really play into the purpose of a CCoE. By revealing key insights from how the cloud is being successfully harnessed – in your organisation and elsewhere – data on usage filtered by a CCoE can channel both cloud and people resources towards strategic goals and better outcomes. After all, the ultimate value of the cloud is to help you not only go faster, but in the right direction.
But this pattern play is the endgame, not the status quo. Given the siloes that exist in many organisations, along with centralised operating models, adoption of the cloud will often rely on existing lines of communication and reporting, at the outset at least. Rather than trying to stage a coup to overthrow a centralised incumbent, it can work better to introduce a federated model by stealth, or not at all. It really is a case of taking a good hard look at your organisation and identifying patterns with the potential to either block or accelerate cloud adoption opportunities.
Although delivering business value through optimised technology is the ultimate goal of transformation, making sure the technology lands well in the first place is key to winning people over and building momentum. And while a completely bespoke transformation model may not be realistic, mimicking your organisational structure and culture to an extent can help with keeping your workforce in their comfort zone while they get to grips with the possibilities – remember that Conway’s law exists for a reason.
The change in culture and mindset required for organisations to get their heads round building new applications in the Cloud can seem scary, despite the huge benefits. That’s why Cloud is often done piecemeal, at departmental level, and ends up unambitious in scope and limited in impact. Being at the digital frontier is all very well but not if you don’t have a passport to progress.
Maximum Cloud: New ways of working to exploit Cloud’s full potential, Deloitte
2. Get ready for the journey to maturity
In the past, transformations in technology would have a start and end date. But with the CCoE as a governance and enabling framework that evolves its shape to suit the needs of organisational users and customers, you can keep channelling your efforts towards optimising and operationalising your cloud forever. And what works today, won’t be effective tomorrow, so the version of a CCoE you start with can’t be static. It will need to keep evaluating its own impact as well as the relevance and success of cloud endeavours throughout the organisation. Otherwise it risks becoming just another one of the obstacles to effective cloud uptake instead of the enabler it should be.
That’s why a successful CCoE will have adaptation and adoption built-in. With a strong test, measure and learn protocol as part of your CCoE model, your organisation can gather and apply vital intelligence that drives cloud applications and adoption to prove the business case over and over again. And as the bar gets higher, what good looks like, for the CCoE and the organisation as a whole, will become more ambitious and refined. The key learning from this is not to expect to have all the answers on day one. Instead, start out with the assumption that you’ll need to keep adjusting – and perhaps overhauling – your CCoE frameworks and membership as you go.
Every organisation will have a mixed level of maturity across its development and product teams. A fundamental trap that every CCoE should avoid is to only cater for a single maturity level and force the others to fall in line. This often leads to either developers ignoring their CCoE, creating their own cloud platforms and bypassing the CCoE.
Building a Cloud Centre of Excellence in 2020: 13 Pitfalls and Practical Steps, Contino, 9 July 2020
3. Make it a two-phase approach
Although we’ve all seen a great many frameworks come and go, the very nature of a CCoE as enabler, rather than controller, makes it something rather exotic for most organisations. The resources and approach it takes to introduce a CCoE can be daunting because it can challenge assumptions, for both leaders and employees. This is where Eighty20 can come in, to support an organisation’s internal capacity and expertise to stand up a CCoE. Not only can this speed up the process, it also makes the start of the journey for all stakeholders – executive team, IT and users – far less fraught. Instead of learning on the job and losing momentum to mistakes, small wins can quickly become big wins for app development, innovation, rapid migration, and organisational efficiency.
Running a CCoE takes a different sort of expertise again. Once you’ve got your standards socialised and your people have grasped how you want to operate in the cloud, the flood gates of demand are wide open. The next level of maturity is resourcing and streamlining your CcoE to cope with this in a manner that’s safe but responsive and supports the speed and freedom to innovate. Eighty20 can assist with ‘growing up’ a CCoE by coming in and assessing how well it’s working and even becoming an extension of your CCoE for a time to deal with surges in cloud demand.
4. People matter most
A lot of the support Eighty20 can provide to nail a CcoE focuses on helping organisations understand the levers of the cloud and how these could work with their existing operating model to build a really flexible fit-for-purpose framework. While all this thinking and planning is vital, what really matters most for successful cloud adoption is people. You can envisage the cloud model, make it centralised or decentralised or go hybrid. But regardless of the path you choose there are many players and skills you’ll need to have on board to really get to grips with the cloud in your organisation.
Since the pandemic and the ‘great resignation’ we’re now seeing in Australia, hiring for key cloud roles is far more challenging. And it isn’t only specialised IT staff you need to bring your organisation up the cloud curve. Your whole workforce will need to be taken on the journey to maximise the benefits of adoption. While people can be trained to bridge the skills gaps at every level, a partner like Eighty20 can plug the gaps as these capabilities develop within your own workforce.
Like your CCoE, an engagement with a partner like Eighty20 to support a cloud transition can take many forms. It all depends on where you are on the journey. We can start small and ramp up or do the reverse. Our capability is there for you to seize the advantages of a CCoE in the manner that is most realistic and effective for your organisation. As CCoE’s gain momentum as a best-practice approach to tech adoption, both internationally and locally, it’s an opportunity for accelerating ROI that’s hard to ignore. But the right level of support and cadence are vital if organisations are to take on the CCoE challenge and succeed.