With the benefits of technology come a variety of challenges companies have to face to stay up to date. Cloud apps, for example, have come a long way from the days of traditional spreadsheets, and IT leaders must deploy tools that are available anytime, anywhere and on any device. These same leaders face increasing security concerns, as well.
In a webinar hosted by BetterCloud, titled: Not All Clouds Are Created Equal: Choosing the Best Cloud App for Your Business, a panel of IT leaders sat down to share their experiences, challenges and best practices when looking for the best cloud app. The panelists included:
- Jason Etter, President, Profound Cloud
- Dave Jackson, Manager, Tech Services, Warby Parker;
- Colin McCarthy, Associate IT Director, North America, Essence Digital; and
- Matthew Anderson, IT Leader, Harry’s.
Cloud Apps = More Streamlined Versions Of Traditional Spreadsheets
The experts agreed that access to information on different devices, faster deployment and scalability were the most signifcant reasons to invest in cloud apps.
“One trigger that made us look for a cloud app was when something as simple as a Google sheet didn’t work anymore,” said McCarthy. “Spreadsheets don’t send alerts or triggers when tasks are assigned. When we outgrew a traditional spreadsheet and needed additional access on different devices, that was a major driving factor for us.”
It comes down to scaling up and not having to rely on traditional platforms, but also improving collaboration among teams, Jackson added. When evaluating cloud apps, the panelists agreed that the company’s business goals need to be clear up front.
Some key challenges shared by the panelists include:
- Premature subscriptions to services that don’t work for the entire company: “With cloud IT and SaaS, departments and staff are free to experiment and play,” said McCarthy. “But, they also potentially subscribe to services that won’t work or might not pass security ordinance. Now there is a danger where you can click and add a service to your domain too quickly.”
- Not being aware of costs at scale: “Sometimes, companies don’t have the foresight of how much [the app] will cost as [the company] continues to scale,” said Anderson. “The bigger the staff, the more expensive the app gets. It’s not easy to have that foresight on a three, five or 10-year plan.”
- Understanding solutions don’t always run parallel with each other: According to Jackson, “You need to be good at piloting and demoing, and have clear ownership of who the technical owner and/or business owner of a project is to avoid more common pitfalls.”
Developing A Success Criteria
When choosing a cloud app, just beware: you won’t be able to please everyone, the experts said.
“You have to know what you want to get out of the app, but won’t please everybody,” said McCarthy. “You can’t adopt every management app, so create a list of what people want.”
You’re also bound to come across situations where you solve multiple department issues. “One department's main priority is another’s fourth priority,” said Jackson. “Sometimes, you end up solving problems people didn’t know about because it wasn’t a top priority for other teams. Servicing squeaky wheels will get you the ones that aren’t squeaking yet.”
Another important element to consider when developing success criteria is the training time and materials provided for staff.
“Employees have different levels of intuitiveness, so the training material is important,” said McCarthy. “We as IT people should push those how-to guides to the staff so we don’t have to field these questions.”
It’s important to consider these challenges and tips for success when looking for a cloud app for your business. After all, not all clouds are created equal and keeping the businesses needs in mind can help sort out the good ones from the bad.