6 min read

Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

By Christopher Pepe on Apr 6, 2021 2:32:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

2020 – What a change!

By now, every technology leader has torn up their plans and strategies as they began a ten-month tactical, fire-fighting effort to move their organization to virtual. In some cases, they were able to assist with changing how people performed their jobs, not just their staff but everyone, in which case they now joined the Digital Age.

CIOs further realized that moving to digital required a move to the cloud, and with it completely new ways of working that took advantage of the internet capabilities and bandwidth. Transferring your data center to a cloud service provider is no more going to cloud than moving your teams to Zoom makes you digital. Cloud requires a different mindset, skillset, and culture on how technology will enable your organization.

2021 is the year CIOs can own the Digital watercooler and change their role to being a Business Technology Officer, integrating software into every aspect of how their company performs tasks and services customers. But first, CIOs must address new ways of hiring, financing, and benefitting from technology, their people, their processes, and their IT. Accelerating the path to digital and cloud is the only way to remain sustainable, competitive, and compliant going forward.

The path has two main steps: funding and the creation of a new operating model

  1. The innovation funding model – iterative investments using VOI as the guide to obtain technology value sustainably

Before you decide on your cloud service provider (CSP) partner and how to migrate your applications, you will need to determine how you fund the migration to enable your organization to do work better, sooner, and safer. You need to separate the process of budgeting – a plan on what resources will be required – and funding, which is the action of providing those resources.

Current budgeting practices limit moving to the cloud and digital by:

  • Asking individuals to annually decide what they will need – and how would you know in this VUCA world?
  • Constricting work to be feature-focused but with no indication of what it will add to customer satisfaction or help staff perform better
  • Adding to technical and cultural debt with no strategy as to paying it off

The central dilemma of every executive board is how to plan, fund, and prioritize technology activities. The current best practice is not to use cost savings as a goal and instead let that be an outcome as you do things differently aided by software. You can prioritize by:

  • Application review
  • Moving from a Project mindset to a Product culture
  • Cost of Delay
  • Creating platforms for products
  • Decide on the WHY of moving to the cloud and digital, on HOW it will help, and WHAT tasks will accomplish your goals
    • Faster time to market
    • Reduction of manual activities
    • Making work more compliant
    • Creating workflows that provide agility and flexibility to meet customer demand, staff requirements, competitive threats, and external issues such as Brexit or COVID19
  • Get your entire workforce and significant suppliers to be part of the planning and allow them to focus and contribute to the proposed strategy

Shift-left! Think as your customer or staff and deeply analyze your applications, products, and services. Which ones are unique to you, and which ones could you source from a SaaS provider? Which ones do you no longer need? Now group the applications into product groups and allow your IT teams to create platforms (see next section) to service these groupings from the cloud.

Many organizations follow McKinsey's advice to create a FinOPS team of cross-functional product business leaders or at least a team comprised of IT, Finance, Risk, and HR. FinOPS will frequently negotiate with stakeholders to allocate resources (money, people, etc.) to continue the innovation or improve services. They will base their decisions on the value of investment towards the company. Frequently repeating and communicating this interaction creates the ability to pivot or stop work quickly, creating new behaviors, and embedding new disciplines on technology use.

FinOPS will rely on analytics, reporting dashboards with real-time data, and automated processes to make decisions visible and linked to business activities. Leaders will have to coach a new culture of moving from CAPEX funding to OPEX. This team will also introduce training to upskill the entire organization on how technology is applied and that by making use of cloud and digital, they will not lose their roles.

Where needed, a partner such as Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting can help you begin this journey of becoming a sustainable business, maximizing resources while reducing costs and making the entire process transparent.

 2. You have the funding model, and now you need the digital cloud operating attitudes, behaviors, and culture to achieve scalability, agility, and continuity

Can you answer these questions?

  • Which business workloads are most important to your company?
  • What are your goals by business line for the next quarter and year?
  • What are your obstacles to these goals?
  • What are your strengths for achieving these goals?

Taking the answers to these questions, review what activities you have planned in your IT department. If a user story or request is not helping solve a problem or achieve a goal, stop it. The FinOps should ask these questions monthly, which will influence resource allocation decisions for technology tasks. Visualizing findings to the company will illustrate the importance of product stories while embedding the capability of pivoting or stopping work, as necessary.

Your operating model will require:

  • A compensation model mapped to the technical activities that are not divisive
  • A full review of your applications mapped to the business lines
  • A map of the way data flows throughout your organization
    • What it entails
    • How it is used
    • Storage, archival, and continuity requirements
    • Security and access obligations
    • Tools that maintain the applications
    • A full list of proposed enhancements
    • Server, network, storage, and operating system supporting them
    • If provided to a specific location, why and how

Using this list, technology leadership needs to help the company move from a project model to a product model. Services must be led by an owner fully accountable for the resources and associated workload, including packaging software into chunks (platforms) that can be used interchangeably throughout the company.

FinOPS and the Product Owners can collaborate on which business domains would benefit most from enhancing the applications used to provide their services. Management can utilize the model to ensure that the right CSP is chosen for each platform. As you mature, you can empower your development teams to decide the best CSP for designing and deploying platforms, be they SaaS or containers. At the beginning of your journey, the strategy should be to communicate the intent and collaborate on the outcomes.

FinOPS also needs to be cloud-savvy. The pricing and SLA options are numerous and complicated. You need to ensure that what you choose is the right decision. You also need to affirm the best path for migrating your application and data to the CSP. Should you port it as it is (provides little benefit), rewrite the application, switch the workload to a SaaS provider? Remember that the avoidance of technical debt, adding to cloud migration's complexity, must be avoided.

There is no shortcut or other option to having Product Owners. You cannot interject a translator or business analyst between what people call the business and your IT. You are all part of the same company, and technology needs to be owned by the business area that provides that service. Further, the people that support these services need to feel that they also own and contribute to these services. This change in attitude and behavior will reduce incidents, increase innovation agility, and enhance your employees' satisfaction, who will feel empowered to see their contribution to the business goals.

The cloud offers the capability of completely altering the way you use technology. Do you need a new instance or environment? Build it, use it, dismantle it, and all within a few minutes at a minimum cost. The software lifecycle of products will be a combination of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, depending on the services' platform. Data lakes can share information across the company powered by analytic and reporting tools that would not be accessible to you unless you are quite large.

Security and continuity are other strengths of the cloud as you adopt the framework used by your CSP. Using IAM and Zero-trust security concepts will ensure that you do not become front-page news. Product Owners will have to maintain the governance model required and test it as part of any software change using DevSecOps practices. Scalability, both up and down, is another cloud and digital feature, enabling you to offer new products that can sense and respond to demand.

Are you worried about regulations? Globally FinOPS and Product Owners are finding that regulatory bodies, such as the Bank of England, are moving to the cloud themselves and more than willing to help ensure that their mandates are provisioned accordingly by your CSP. Even if you use a hybrid approach of more than one CSP, which leadership needs to consider, the governance and management models exist via SIAM® to support cloud and digital operating models' best strategies.

The business product operating model is not to become vendor dependent but instead use microservices and containers so that you can migrate your applications as needed to another CSP or a different offering with little effort. This abstraction mode offers the best efficiency in technology enablement. The FinOPS and Product Owners will help to create the loose guardrails to be used by your staff and IT teams as they develop software provisioned products and workloads of your business

In summary

Done correctly, the number of technology instances and applications you currently maintain will decrease but not the requirement of technical skills. Your business flexibility behaviors should be to create agility via innovative use of software, cloud, and digital. Done correctly, the time to market and lower technology costs will be your outcomes. Let all of your organization be involved in the migration strategy as you join the Digital Age, and if you need help, Praecipio Consulting is here for you.

Topics: blog efficiency finance plan saas cloud culture digital-transformation leadership frameworks
5 min read

Your Finance Department Needs to Digitally Transform Too!

By Joseph Lane on Dec 23, 2020 2:07:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Your Finance Department Needs to Digitally Transform Too“Digital transformation? We already have lots of technology employed in Finance.” And you’re not wrong – whether it’s an enterprise resource management (ERP) system or finance-focused systems or tools.  But the corporate requirement for digital transformation isn’t simply the addition or increased exploitation of technology and data but is, instead, a mechanism for improvement and better business outcomes that just happens to be using technology to greater effect.

Your Finance Department needs digital transformation: here's what this entails.

The “why” and “what” of digital transformation

A common misconception is that technology keeps getting added to organizations simply because it’s available – and sometimes this does happen. But digital transformation is different. It’s a corporate, not an IT, strategy that’s aimed at delivering better business operations and outcomes not merely the increased use of technology. Importantly, it covers far more ground than you might expect.

So, it’s not simply the use of technology and data to create new products and services, plus the associated new revenue streams. Nor is it only the use of technology to improve customer engagement mechanisms too – something that you might have experienced in your personal life.

There’s also a third part to digital transformation – and this is what’s relevant to your Finance Department and its operations: the use of technology and data to improve back-office operations across your organization, within its many business functions. From the introduction of digital workflows, through the use of self-service and self-help capabilities, to the many benefits of gaining greater insight into business function workloads, operations, service performance, outcomes, and improvements. Importantly, this back-office digital transformation is a vital enabler of the more prominent front-office improvements.

Think of it as making your operations and outcomes all three of “better, faster, cheaper.” It's using technology to make your Finance personnel the best possible versions of themselves, especially in light of the current and ongoing need for remote and distanced working, including effective communication and collaboration. With no organization or business function immune to the need to change traditional, often manually intensive, ways of working to better reflect the physically disconnected nature of modern work.

It’s a need that's likely to continue, because organizations have realized that the required operational resilience can’t be met by their traditional, manually intensive processes that rely too heavily on face-to-face interactions, email exchanges, and spreadsheets.

The “how” of digital transformation

In enabling the required new ways of working, there’s a need for greater technology exploitation that provides not only the ability for work to flow better between individuals and teams but also:

  • Speeds up that work and the decision points needed within it. For example, some work tasks can be automated, and alerts and notifications employed to ensure that the work keeps moving swiftly through to the desired endpoint and outcome.
  • Facilitates interactions with those requesting service and support from your Finance team(s) – with self-service, via a self-service portal, a better way of managing incoming requests on the supplier side. And, on the demand side, a more effective route to access finance-related assistance for your department’s internal customers.
  • Self-help capabilities that deflect both emails and telephone calls from your busy Finance personnel. With the inquiring employee instead self-accessing what they need to know, and likely getting a quicker solution in doing so. For example, something as simple as checking whether an expenses claim has been approved and when it will be paid.
  • Knowledge management capabilities that, on the one hand, help Finance staff to collectively know more than they individually know – which is especially helpful for new starters. And, on the other, the captured knowledge can be employed to help defect emails and telephone requests through self-help.
  • Greater insight into past, present, and future operations. From how well work has been handled and whether service promises met (perhaps versus agreed service level targets), through managing the current workloads across teams and individuals and the likelihood of delays, to future projections of how things will continue based on trends or simulations modeled on proposed changes to the status quo. This greater insight also provides the platform for improvement identification and actions across all of operations, service quality, employee experience, and business outcomes.

In addition to the above, the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI), in the form of machine learning, adds even greater opportunity to leverage the new digital capabilities to speed up operations, provide a better service experience, and to allow Finance staff to focus on what they do best (and prevent them from wasting time and costs on high-volume, low-value tasks).

These digital-transformation-enabling capabilities might already be available in your organization

While digital transformation can feel like a relatively new concept, it has been on corporate radars for at least a decade. And for those organizations that have already taken steps to digitally transform part or all of their back-office operations, including Finance operations, many have taken an “enterprise service management” approach. This is where the proven corporate IT service management (ITSM) capabilities – processes and the associated technology-enablement – are applied to other business functions to improve their operations, service and support, and outcomes.

In many ways, enterprise service management and the use of the corporate ITSM tool are seen as a platform for delivering the technology and data elements of back-office digital transformation needs, from digital workflow enablement, through self-service capabilities, to the introduction of new machine-learning-based capabilities.

From an employee perspective, an additional benefit from Finance’s digital transformation is that they’ll be using similar service and support methods to those employed in other business functions such as human resources (HR) and IT. This not only offers a guaranteed level of service experience, but it also provides a level of enterprise-wide consistency that makes interacting with the Finance Department (and other business functions) so much easier.

Examples of how your corporate ITSM tool can help your Finance Department

There are many Finance-related opportunities to leverage digital workflows and the other capabilities outlined above. For example, for:

  • Receiving new finance-related requests, and allowing employees to check request status, via self-service
  • Using automation rules or machine learning to route new requests to the right work groups, with some requests responded to automatically using intelligent automation
  • Handling queries and requests for information, help, and change more efficiently
  • Budget, invoice, and employee expense management
  • The automation of high-volume, low-risk requests for Finance approval
  • Escalation handling
  • Business case reviews.

These opportunities will, of course, be dependent on your organization’s current ITSM tool being deemed suitable for the many possible enterprise service management and back-office digital transformation use cases.

The need for digital transformation within your Finance Department is clear, and here at Praecipio Consulting, we can help you with the process.

Topics: automation finance itsm digital-transformation
2 min read

How Jira and Quickbooks Work Together To Streamline Financial Processes

By Ashley Halleck on Jul 15, 2020 12:49:41 PM

2020 Blogposts_Pros & Cons of WFH copy

Before I joined Praecipio Consulting, my background was in financial services, so I had never heard of the Atlassian suite of software before. My work-life consisted of strictly Excel, email, and a Bloomberg terminal. Needless to say, I was a bit confused during my first week as to how Atlassian’s software (in particular, Jira) would work with my new role in accounting. The more I learned about Atlassian’s software, the more I asked myself, “How does process management software geared towards developers apply to a financial controller?”

It’s safe to say that my early assumptions about Jira couldn’t have been more incorrect. I can seamlessly link every transaction to ongoing projects, open accounting issues, and everything under the sun that exists in Quickbooks (our system of record). I can’t tell you how much easier it is to simply reference a Jira ticket in a Quickbooks transaction instead of having to go through the arduous process of saving everything to Quickbooks. As a result, I am now as dependent on Jira as I am on Quickbooks!

How it works

Here at Praecipio Consulting, we created an Accounting project in Jira Service Desk, which is where we prioritize all invoicing and client correspondence. Once we create the ticket, it is assigned to the appropriate resource, and then all correspondence with the client or internal employees is attached to that issue, either through comments or cc'ing the ticket when sending an email. We use issue types like Accounting Submission, Generate Invoice, Billing Question, or Task. Each of these issues has unique fields and unique workflows that ensure it ties directly to an entry in Quickbooks and follows the necessary steps for entry.

In addition to using Jira Service Desk for invoicing and client correspondence, we integrated Salesforce and Jira to automatically create leads for licensing and projects alike. The workflows are specific to the opportunity type and auto-create the appropriate subtasks for accounting and sales. These issues are automatically assigned to the appropriate resource as you move each lead through its workflow. We reference each issue in Jira to the appropriate bill or invoice in Quickbooks, creating traceability for each opportunity. This integration ensures that we don't overlook any step in the process, from the closing of a sale to sending the final invoice.

Lastly, we use Tempo Budgets to perform billing closures on all of our projects. Budgets provides a perfect snapshot of the management of our planned vs. actual profit margin, revenue, and costs. This allows us to see which projects were over or under budget and ensures everything was billed accurately per each statement of work. 

 

To say the least, I do not know how I would do my job without Jira, Jira Service Desk, the Tempo suite of products. These tools aren't just solutions for developers; team members within any business unit can use them to improve their processes.

As we start the second half of the year, there is no better time than now to evaluate how you can automate tasks and streamline your accounting processes. Connecting Quickbooks to Jira could just be the solution that you never knew you needed!

Topics: jira accounting finance tips quickbooks
1 min read

10 Hotspots for Process-Generated Waste: (01) Not Confronting Problems

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 17, 2011 11:00:00 AM

This is the first installment of a 10-week series. Each Thursday we’ll (a) pinpoint a hotspot, (b) offer context and possible solutions, and (c) ask for answers from the crowd. So, enjoy – and contribute!

This one’s easy. Problems that aren’t confronted aren’t fixed. But you’d be surprised how often problems actually go unfixed.

Why? In general, it takes time to fix things. In many instances where this is the case, people recognize there’s a problem but are too busy to devote time to fixing it and prioritize other tasks.

The problem festers. Problems that are noticed have impacted productivity and well-being negatively to some extent, or else they wouldn’t be problems – i.e. employee time (and therefore money) is being wasted. On a small scale – say, in a group of five people – this could cost the company a hundred bucks a month. On a large scale, the loss could fly off the chart. In the larger scenario, we’re talking about a problem that could just be a minor inconvenience for a handful of folks becoming a budget boon for Finance, which will presumably have no knowledge of a problem.

It’s cheaper to fix problems when they come up – even if they take hours to get right.

YOUR STORIES: When have you seen this in your organization? How (and when) did you end up fixing it? Comment below or tweet @praecipio.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog bpm business finance management problem process tips tricks waste

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