With the increasing adoption and confidence in Cloud Computing Services, the new customer/vendor relationship impacts are changing significantly from how things have been done in the past. Organisations will buy services not products, will rely on vendors to deliver ICT services not hardware and software to support in-house service delivery and vendors become more entrenched in the relationships with the organisation without being a part of the organisation.
With change; comes inherent risks which if not effectively managed may significantly impact to your organisation later. The importance of ICT Governance within organisations should be at the forefront of any manager’s strategic planning as you prepare to transition to cloud computing services.
Two key components that organisations need to consider are an ICT Governance Framework and a Vendor Management Plan.
A robust ICT Governance Framework will assist those charged with the governance of ICT to understand and fulfil their legal, regulatory and ethical obligations in respect of the organisations use of ICT services. The Framework will also inform strategic decision making by enabling those charged with the governance of ICT to focus on the strategic use and business value of technology, rather than on the specifics of individual technologies.
For many organisations, vendor management commences as a key function following the signing of a contract. However industry best practice suggest vendor management is a strategic function that must be applied well before a business engages the market. Organisations must ensure they categorise their vendors and apply the correct evaluation and negotiation focus from the beginning. The Vendor Management Plan should break down how differing vendor categories should be managed, provide guidance on contractual arrangements for cloud services and determine how performance will be measured and reported.
The traditional train of thought to managing application services must change for cloud based services to cater for service termination and transition provisions – once a cloud service contract expires or is terminated due to performance issues customers are challenged with ensuring the integrity of their data is maintained whilst maintaining continuity to the business functions during the transition to a new service provider. In the past a breakdown in the vendor relationship or the expiry of the contract allowed the customer to maintain the application on premise without ongoing support.
Governance for cloud based ICT services must consider the entire service lifecycle from service selection, through entry and ongoing operations to service exit provisions. At the end of the day, you remain responsible for the provision of effective services to your customers, regardless of the cost and quality of the cloud based ICT services you choose to enable your business.