Posted: 15 Jul. 2021 5 min. read

People and process in cloud

A blog post by Robert Straub, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Greg Ruebusch, senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

You made a move to the cloud because it brings the power to transform the way you do business. However, the cloud also forces you to solve your organization’s requirements through the lens of your cloud vendor’s capabilities and consume innovation at a faster pace. Therefore, with the cloud, it is essential to develop a world-class sustainment model to manage the needs of your organization vis-à-vis the capabilities you bought. In other words, to have success in the cloud, it will be important to rethink your talent needs, inclusive of roles and responsibilities, as well as how you govern your sustainment processes.

Rethinking traditional roles

With the cloud, you will use your human resources, as a business function, differently than with traditional, on-premise solutions. There is a real need to change work roles to meet new opportunities that the cloud offers. For example, with traditional on-prem systems, there was always someone whose job it was to apply patches, updates, and enhancements. That was filled by system owner(s) and database administrators.

Given the pace of innovation, cloud applications demand a full-time cloud release manager (or product owner). A release manager must balance the needs of the business with the product strategy from the vendor. It is no longer about customization as much as it is about figuring out how to incorporate product changes into your unique environment—how to uptake the changes that are optional and how to manage service requests, break-fix, and enhancement requests, among others. So, while the cloud release manager role is like traditional on-prem role(s), there is a faster pace of change and new variables to consider.

Release managers also need to know the vendor’s product road map so that you can build your organization’s road map. Since you will be dependent on the vendor’s capabilities, you will need a clear line of sight into what is available, what is coming in the near term, and what is the future road map and associated timelines. You should take advantage of the partnership with your vendor to share your needs and shape future product enhancements.

To maximize the agility of your sustainment model for the cloud now, and to plan for your future, there are critical questions you must ask. Those questions include:

  • How and where do I most effectively allocate talent?
  • What types of people do I need now, and what will I need in the future?
  • What are their roles now, and how might those roles shift in the future?
  • Where do contractors fit in, and how does that change my talent mix going forward?

Further, you absolutely need new skills, both in technology and in the business process. Given the institutional knowledge that many of your people have, you will need to invest in upskilling to complement that knowledge with these new skills. This, coupled with the acquisition of new talent and/or partnering with a sustainment vendor that brings the experience needed, will give you a well-rounded sustainment organization.

Rethinking processes and governance

Aside from talent considerations, how you manage in the cloud is key to building a sustainment model that enables cloud success. Managing in the cloud requires organizations to move and react faster than ever before and adopt different delivery methodologies to keep pace. One effective way to manage cloud processes is via agile ways of working. The degree to which you are “agile” will depend on your specific circumstances, of course. However, using agile concepts and processes will streamline information flow, improve innovation, and accelerate the realization of your prioritized objectives.

Agile methods and techniques are lightweight and built for speed. They are founded on iteration and continuous feedback. They also incorporate continuous planning and development as your needs change. A good agile methodology will be adaptable to just about any circumstance your organization finds itself in, but they all have one key trait: They enable collaboration between IT and the business, focusing on delivering quickly and building on success, so that the value and quality is built-in from the start.

It is also important, as you implement an agile methodology, that it is guided by your sustainment organization’s governance model and the key governance components: reporting, security governance, master data management, adoption of new features, management, and governance of the technology ecosystem as a whole (e.g., integrations). Effective governance, coupled with agile ways of working, enables your organization to move confidently and at speed.

Looking forward

With cloud applications, almost everything changes. The first step to success amid the changes that the cloud brings is to have a world-class sustainment model that is built for speed and agility, provides technical and functional support services, has the ability to optimize business processes, drives adoption of innovation to solve complex business requirements or issues that arise, and can leverage your ecosystem partners to assist in solving those issues.

In the end, it is all about using your cloud applications to drive value for your business. Good sustainment means you have the right people and processes in place and that you have the pulse of what is needed to meet business demands, as well as the knowledge, skills, processes, and governance structure to create impact. Anything less means you are falling short of realizing the value of your cloud investment.


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Robert Straub

Robert Straub

Robert is a managing director in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital practice. Since joining Deloitte more than 11 years ago, he has helped large, global clients across various industries implement technology-enabled programs that have transformed their Human Resources organizations. Robert has also led Deloitte’s HR Technology strategic planning practice that is focused on connecting the latest HR technology capabilities with strategic business objectives. Robert is also leading our efforts to deliver Workforce Analytics solutions to our clients.