7-Reasons-Why-Cloud-Projects-Fail-And-How-to-Avoid-ThemYou can’t declare success if you don’t define what it will look like ahead of time.

The best cloud solution for your company has to work for many groups, and for different reasons. Users want better, faster, and mobile applications. IT wants quick access to test development platforms. Executives in the C-Suite want cost savings.

How do you keep them all happy and productive? It seems as if they all have a different way to measure success. Cloud projects fail when one of these groups isn’t represented. Here are 7 things that contribute to a flawed strategy.

Outcomes that focus on technology

The Pitfall. Technology powers the cloud. It makes sense that the IT department lead the initiative. Problems arise when they’re the sole participants in the project. There’s not enough input from users. The cloud initiative ends up based only on technical objectives.

What happens. This unbalanced strategy results in a technology solution that doesn’t work for users.

The solution. Both sides must have representation at the table. Include users on the project team. Everybody wins if everybody uses it. The winning technology solution must also be the best business solution.

Failure to understand what users need

The Pitfall. Behold the super cloud. It must have elasticity, self-service, and provisioning. Those are great needed features, but did anybody ask if they’re the same features users need for productivity? You can’t create a solution for them if you don’t understand what they need.

What happens. The outcome isn’t good if it doesn’t increase user productivity and satisfaction. There’ll be low adoption. It will cause a bigger disconnect between users and IT, and a large financial loss.

The solution. Deep understanding of the users. Know their numbers and roles. Map their locations. Understand what they need the cloud to do and why.

Selecting the wrong criteria to gauge success

The Pitfall. Features are not benefits. You can’t measure features, but you can measure benefits. The performance of technology features are often selected as a way to measure success. This provides no meaningful way to determine a benefit to the company.

What happens. When there’s no way to measure benefits, it’s impossible determine success. There’s no way to determine if users have received a benefit. You aren’t measuring the criteria that will tell you this.

The solution. Move past the features. It is important to measure feature performance. But, focus instead on tracking what matters. What do users need to accomplish? What does success look like for them if they can do these things? You’ll know if it’s working when you measure benefits.

Vague milestones

The Pitfall. Cloud migration is a huge project made of many mini-projects. Yet, it’s often measured at the macro level. Did we hit our deployment deadline? Check. Is it operational? Check. How do you know if you’re on track in between those two giant milestones? If milestones are not defined and within grasp, people lose interest.

What happens. Milestones validate results. Without a clear and measurable path, few people remain dedicated. Who’s still on board?

The solution. The more milestones you have, the more successes you can score. Commitment remains high because everyone can see and measure progress. Create larger monthly milestones, with smaller contributing ones.

Inaccurate demand projections

The Pitfall. Cloud strategy demand is often determined by current total usage. It seems logical; the solution must work for the entire enterprise after all. But this approach can lead to unfavorable consequences. The company is made up of segments and each has dynamic needs.

What happens. Cloud solutions get over-built. Resources are misspent. Or seasonal demand wasn’t considered. The cloud solution isn’t enough for those times. Not enough resources were allocated.

The solution. Approach demand measurement at a detailed level that accounts for segments. Look at that usage over a span of at least a year. More, if possible. Find the trends and model your strategy so it compensates for fluctuations.

No way to track success

The Pitfall. You’ve determined user objectives to map out cloud strategy. It includes capacity to implement better computing solutions. You even know the criteria that’ll show you it’s working. What you didn’t include was a way to measure that criteria.

What happens. The criteria are nice to look at, but they doesn’t mean a thing. Progress can’t be tracked. The better solutions are tried but not implemented. There’s no way measure success or failure.

The solution. Select what can be measured both before and after cloud deployment. The criteria must validate business objectives. This means you can measure the cost benefits, as well as technical performance.

Failure to define or measure the financial impact

The Pitfall. Your cloud solution has to work. Technical metrics are put in place to measure this. Problems arise when those metrics aren’t extended to include financial impact. Do you have or will you get the internal resources necessary if you plan to maintain a cloud environment on-premises?

What happens. The IT body count increases and it’s not in the budget. Technical performance values get measured and validated but nobody is sure if it’s saving any money. Nobody’s tracking that, and there’s no way to know if it is the most cost-effective choice.

The solution. Define the metrics to measure financial success early in the project. That must include a frank valuation of the gap between resources you have, and those you’ll need. Create a model that clearly demonstrates costs before cloud deployment. The model should also accommodate metrics to show what costs should be afterwards. This is easier to do if you can segment the cost of usage by individuals or departments. Include that measurement tool in the cloud solution you deploy.

The right path

You can’t declare success if you don’t define what it will look like ahead of time. That’s the common theme running through these 7 scenarios. Knowing what to measure to show business performance – and why – maps a path to a positive financial impact you can prove.