Key 3 lessons from dealing with cloud projects

Cloud Project Management

Why do cloud projects fail and what mistakes to avoid?

The sun doesn’t always shine. There is nothing like the autumn weather to remind us of that.

Putting it in the context of our conversation – following the last few articles, I had an interesting discussion with readers about cloud projects.

Key points:

  1. What are the 3 main reasons why cloud projects fail?
  2. How to make sure your projects are successful?

Projects don’t always work out

Everyone starts out with good intentions. There is always a plan, there are tools, there are people who did it before. Well – that last bit is not always the case when we’re talking about projects delivered in the cloud.

When everything is planned and prepared, and it comes to execution, the outcome is not always what was intended, in terms of time, money spent, or – worst-case scenario – what was delivered.

Let’s talk about it!

I’m not a great project manager. It is likely I’m not even a good project manager 🙂 I leave this task to others, who are much better at it.

Interesting fact: At Predica, we don’t have project managers. We have Project Owners, and after 10+ years I think that wording, in this case, IS IMPORTANT. It expresses the intent and attitude towards project delivery.

And let’s be honest. It is not that every project we do is a great success. The “owner” approach is really important when something goes wrong. You can turn around and say: “Well, this happened”.

I will not delve into project management itself. It was already covered by myriads of resources. But having 10+ years at Predica in cloud delivery engagements, I think I can share some thoughts about them from a practical perspective.

Over the next few articles, I will cover exactly this: a practical take on why projects, especially cloud implementation projects, fail, and our lessons on how you can prevent it. 

Here are a few quick thoughts as to why a cloud project might go awry.

Approaching an unknown thinking you’ve got all the answers

If your organization hasn’t moved far in its cloud journey yet (and I’m thinking of a deliberate execution of the cloud as a strategy), you may approach a cloud implementation project like any other. And in some aspects, it is similar. In some – it will be different.

Here is where a lot of projects fail right out of the gate – the assumption that the cloud is another server room. It might hurt you badly. The cloud is a new model of delivering computing power, and you need to adjust to it by:

  • Not having siloed groups working on separate tasks, but putting together interdisciplinary teams
  • Applying new patterns to thinking, architecture, and delivery
  • Learning new skills and understanding of a model at every level – business and technical.

And it will not come in a blink of an eye just because you need it.

Takeaway 1. The cloud is a new model of delivering computing power, and you need to adjust to it

The cloud is still relatively new. Take your time and do the research

Biting off more than you can chew

“Everyone goes cloud! We will go cloud too! The next strategic business initiative looks like a good target.”

I don’t know what your next big initiative is, but all too often, organizations pick one as a target for implementing a new cloud model.

“It is the flagship project of digital transformation.”
“It will move us into a new, modern era.”

Until it doesn’t!

Don’t try to achieve too much at once.

Takeaway 2. Aiming for too much too soon is often a recipe for disaster

Don’t take on too ambitious goals. Start small instead

Not knowing why you do it

This one is the mother of all failures. A team needs to understand why they do it. It has to be said, written, and understood.

The goal is not a fancy new technology. It is not for the IT department to just learn something new and cool (and if it is, let’s say it honestly).

Two simple questions that often lack an answer are:

  • Who is our user? (even if it is an internal one)
  • What problem are we solving for this user?

Once you have answered these two questions, you can move on to: “How can I solve them with the cloud?” 

Takeaway 3. Find out who your user is and what problems you are trying to solve. THEN, figure out how the cloud can help

Make sure the cloud solution fits your business problem, and not the other way around

There are stories behind these lessons. And they were learned the hard way. Luckily, there are tools and patterns that can help you deliver reliable projects in the cloud.

More to come!

In the next few articles, I will talk about:

  • Why you should approach your cloud projects differently, especially the first few
  • The common pitfalls of organizing and delivering cloud projects
  • Making sure that work stays on track and things don’t get lost in translation
  • Avoiding hype-driven development. How not to become a “cloud guinea pig”, and when does it make sense to use “latest”, “greatest” and “preview”?
  • Case studies: stories from the trenches, from our consultants, about the pivotal moments in the delivery of cloud projects.

Everything I will cover will be based on true stories. I will not lie, some consultants were harmed in the delivery of those projects, and not everything was perfect.

There is no need to sugarcoat reality. Projects can be successful, they can fail, or land somewhere in the middle. Sharing lessons from them will help us all to deliver more reliable projects based on the (Microsoft) cloud

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What else would you like to know?

  1. What are your stories about project successes and failures in the cloud?
  2. Any particular topics you want to see addressed in the above areas – or any other?
  3. Are you interested in answers to specific questions about cloud delivery?

Here is your chance to get those answered! There is one important condition though – we need to know what your question is! 

Ask it below or click here to send your question. Simple as that.

Key takeaways:

  1. Don’t assume you know everything. The cloud requires a new approach and skills – take that into account.
  2. Take small steps at first. You don’t have to accomplish everything at once.
  3. Tailor solutions to the problems you have, and not the other way around. Keep in mind who you’re doing this for and why.