How to evolve your public sector cloud strategy after migration

July 6, 2022 BDO CANADA

Cloud migration is an ongoing journey that doesn’t stop after planning and implementation. Government organizations must therefore have a plan for continuous transformation and optimization.

Having completed the planning and execution phases for migration of the existing application portfolio to cloud, organizations can consider themselves in the final phase of the journey – the evolve phase. The evolve phase involves setting and implementing the organization’s operating model after successfully completing a cloud migration and changing the organization’s culture towards a full embrace of the cloud. At this stage, the cloud management moves from the strategy and migration team to the operations and support teams. Again, a focus on sustainment and continuous improvement are critical to maximizing the organization’s investment in cloud technology.

Realizing the ROI of cloud technology

The cloud is a fundamental tool for building and strengthening a government organization’s digital functionality—how the tool is used is what gives it power.

If the cloud is not fully adopted and embraced by the organization, government organizations face several significant risks, including:

  • Fractures in the culture between employees who are on board with the new technology and those who are resistant to change.
  • Damage to employee morale and productivity due to lack of skills and knowledge on using the new technology or what questions to ask.
  • Continuity disruption due to underuse, overuse, or misuse of the cloud, potentially leading to poor service, unhappy users, and cost overruns.

When applied correctly, the cloud allows government organizations to improve service delivery, boost employee productivity, operate more effectively, and innovate with agility. But none of that can happen without dedicated and consistent effort to optimize the cloud. Public sector and government organizations can optimize the cloud by:

  • Maintaining usability
  • Keeping costs in line with budgets
  • Investing wisely in new technology to improve capabilities
  • Showing others how to leverage the cloud to better perform their roles

This is what an operating model will achieve.

The key components of a cloud-specific operating model

Cloud adoption won’t change an organization’s operational priorities (client and employee satisfaction, innovation, effective practices, etc.), but it will require a shift in how the organization functions. As Brent Claxton, Industry Leader for BDO Lixar’s Public Sector practice, puts it, “the operating model of the past is not going to be one that fits the future.”

The cloud gives government organizations limitless space to build and integrate infrastructure and tools, improve functionality, and try new ideas in line with modern-day technology. Because of this, a key goal of the evolve phase (and resulting operating model) should be to shift attitudes away from the “what can we do with what we have?” approach that defined on-prem setups, towards a “how can we iterate to get us where we need to be?” approach that defines cloud platforms.

Moving an entire workforce in this direction to achieve goals require changes to a government organization’s current operating model in three key areas:

1. Training

The cloud’s features and capabilities will be new to many—employees from all lines of business must be trained and learn new ways of working. Start at the top by reframing technology as an ongoing expense versus a one-time expense. Cloud technology can and should be monitored and optimized regularly, adjusted and refined when required, and constantly increasing capability.

The new operating model should include education about as-a-service economics and how to find value in a vast anything-as-a-service (XaaS) marketplace. A robust change management plan and supportive organizational structure are also important to help identify and improve skill sets and build an innovative culture.

2. Technology

Operations teams need to stay current with the ever-changing software and solutions that can integrate with the cloud and understand how these technologies can create a better experience for both users and employees. They must also adapt to the rapidity the cloud creates. If the department or ministry can’t move quickly to implement solutions, it could miss out on critical opportunities.

Embracing new technology isn’t limited to the IT team. Familiarity with emerging technologies and the possibilities that the cloud offers will benefit everyone who works in the organization because an idea for innovation and improvement can come from anyone.

For example, someone on the front lines could develop an automation to improve service delivery. In a culture that empowers its people with cloud knowledge and encourages them to leverage the cloud, that idea could be shared, built, trialled, and ultimately rolled out across working groups. But that will only be successful if everyone understands the technology and its business value.

Encouraging people (especially decision-makers) to fully understand the features and capabilities of the cloud, what the emerging technologies are, and how it all works together to impact user experience should be part of any new operating model.

3. Security

Understanding emerging trends in cybersecurity are critical. For example, the statistics on cybercrime showed a 1,885% YoY increase in government ransomware attacks in 2021. This is the lion’s den that all governments must be prepared for when operating in a cloud environment.

The operations team should understand the differences between on-prem and cloud security, such as where the weak spots are and how today’s bad actors are breaching them. They need to know how ransomware works, how to spot it, and how to teach others to spot it. And they need to understand how cybercriminals monetize the data they steal. Knowing which areas of your cloud hold the most value to attackers is one of the best ways to know where to direct security efforts.

Any operating model the organization creates should have a straightforward approach to security that includes clear lines of responsibility and definitive strategies for prevention, detection, and response. In a highly visible environment like the public sector, organizations must regularly evaluate and optimize their security strategy to validate governance processes, improve risk identification and management, and implement platform-specific best practices.

How to create a cloud-specific operating model

The operating model defines how a public sector organization translates its cloud strategy into actionable operations. Rather than waiting until after a migration is complete, the model should be part of your cloud migration from the beginning, when the organization is envisioning its strategy.

Developing and implementing a cloud operating model for the public sector consists of the following steps.

While there are many types of operating models, public sector organizations commonly use one of these three:

  • Centralized

    A team of dedicated cloud specialists operates as a business unit to manage the organization’s entire cloud operation. Other business unit leaders or procurement leaders come to them with requests.

  • Centre of Excellence (CoE)

    Business units are equipped with dedicated cloud specialists whose activities are coordinated by a centralized group that takes on training, adoption of analytical tools, innovation, knowledge sharing, and communication between all cloud specialists to ensure organization-wide adoption of cloud-enabled transformation best practices.

  • Hub and Spoke (H&S)

    A distribution method whereby a central location(hub) is connected to multiple other devices and passes products, workloads, and information to smaller business units (spokes) for processing so that maximum level of efficiency can be maintained.

No one approach is right or wrong, and government organizations will sometimes evolve from one approach to another as their needs change, or their mandate grows. Ultimately, whichever style an organization chooses to implement, its operational model should satisfy these five requirements:

  • A stable cloud platform that works the way it should
  • An easy path to evolving the cloud platform over time
  • An environment that creates leanness and agility for employees
  • Clear communication and processes for addressing organizational needs
  • A leadership team committed to continuous improvement

Finding help when and where you need it

The evolution phase of cloud migration is a continuous life cycle. It requires multiple perspectives and capabilities to succeed and a different approach to how government provides operational support.

BDO has a long history of helping public sector clients evolve and can support your organization through the entire cloud migration journey. Our team can:

  • Review the current state of your operating model today
  • Determine the support you’ll need in the future after your cloud migration is complete
  • Evaluate if the migration was successful
  • Identify where the gaps are and how to fill them

Our capabilities include:

  • Reviewing cloud roadmaps
  • Evaluating skill sets in business teams
  • Improving readiness levels
  • Helping public sector clients to scale capabilities to meet expectations

Book a consultation so we can help you maximize your return on investment on your large-scale cloud migration and technology modernization efforts.

Rishan Lye, Partner, Advisory Services, Technology

Laura Spriggs, Vice President Management Consulting, Strategy and Operations

Brent Claxton, Manager, Public Sector Technology Services

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