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When deploying cloud applications (SaaS) for all or part of your business application portfolio, business leaders must understand how software in the cloud impacts implementation.

The following are some of the challenges that business/application leaders would encounter. I have provided some recommendations to help you be prepared to address these challenges in the early stages of your application deployment phases.

1. Who's responsible ?

An unclear definition of who is responsible for cloud application configuration will stall implementation teams and create post implementation configuration/change management issues.

With cloud applications, responsibility for initial and ongoing configuration will differ by cloud applications vendor and service offerings. When configuration is outside the internal project team's control (e.g., it must be coordinated with the business or across application vendors and the internal solution team), the project plan and schedule will be impacted by the need to coordinate and collaborate on configuration efforts.

Establish a RAIC (Responsibility/Accountability/Informed/Consulted) chart to avert any confusion between the application vendor teams and the internal teams.

2. Standard vs custom functionality ?

Limited choices for cloud applications configuration and use will force implementation teams to create workarounds or change internal processes and functions.

With an in-house-developed application, developers can build functionality to suit business requirements. For cloud applications, the license type and options will dictate whether you have limited choice or no choice in how to configure and use the solution.

When configuration choices are limited, identify which business process requirements are critical / mandatory, versus those that can be modified. If needed, adapt to the cloud applications model.

3. Integration

Cloud Application implementation project can ultimately be more difficult when it includes a mix of on-premises and off-premises (aka cloud) applications.

Integration will be a key challenge when moving application components to the cloud. With a very simple interface, the choices may be so few and so small that expert services will be unnecessary, but as soon as there are more than a handful of decisions involved in "how are we going to piece this together?" there will need to be somebody on the implementation team with the expertise to understand the impact of making one choice over another. I will discuss the challenges of integration in a separate post

  • Ensure there is adequate planning for integration around key tools, resources, time, effort and cost.
  • Include an enterprise solution architect role on the team to ensure that the integration is compatible with legacy application components and other cloud components.

Lets discuss other similar cloud deployment challenge topics with Data Migrations, Platform skills, Vendor Customer Support another time. What has been your experience in these areas. Have you encountered such challenges with your cloud apps implementations.

Share your insights and thoughts via Twitter (@AltaFlux)

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