Your Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) team members will determine the success of your CCoE and its ability to drive your company’s cloud-enabled transformation, so it’s essential to carefully consider who should be on that team. The right mixture of people, experience, motivation, and leadership will help ensure that your CCoE is efficient and effective, but the wrong mix could greatly reduce its effectiveness. So how do you then, find the right mix of people for your CCoE team?

Embracing Cloud Enabled Transformation

Before discussing CCoE team building strategies, it needs to be understood that cloud adoption is a continual, company-wide transformational process that requires a change in mindset as well as acceptance and engagement from stakeholders. It’s important that the people that you recruit to join your CCoE understand and embrace this continual process for your CCoE and your cloud-based business initiatives to be successful.

Preparing to Build Your CCoE Team

Assess Your Current Cloud Operations

As a first step to assembling your CCoE team, assess and document the current state of your company’s cloud operations. Focus of the assessment should be on financial management, security, compliance, alignment to business goals, ability to support cloud initiatives, and ability to improve outcomes.

Then use this assessment to establish:

  • a CCoE mandate
  • the scope and goals
  • an overall strategy

A cloud operations assessment can also help identify problem areas which can be the initial focus of your CCoE efforts.

Establish a CCoE Mandate

A CCoE mandate is a key resource that defines and sets the goals and objectives including how your team will define and align your cloud strategy to meet your company’s strategic and business goals. It should incorporate the information learned from your cloud operations assessment to establish where you are and where you would like to be in your cloud transformation.

The mandate ensures that your team understands their goals and objectives and that your company understands the purpose behind launching a CCoE. The mandate document serves as a resource that can be referenced when difficult decisions need to be made. The company’s executive team needs to support the mandate by sponsoring and empowering your CCoE team to make decisions based on the strategies and goals established by the mandate.

Building Your CCoE Team

Keep Your Initial CCoE Team Small

Keep your CCoE team small in the beginning — between three and five people total. Set a specific, but limited set of objectives for them. This approach will help ensure the success of the team and will also help quickly validate their purpose. Setting too many initial goals creates unnecessary complexity and may cause the CCoE team to miss their first set of goals. You can scale later, as needed, but at its inception, it’s important to keep the CCoE team agile with high levels of communication and the free exchange of ideas.

Recruit Team Members From Multiple Departments

Recruit CCoE team members from different departments if possible. Multi-departmental teams help build communication channels, break down silos, facilitate buy-in, and help promote adherence to cloud best practices throughout the company. Departments with key stakeholders include those who are using cloud services such as Engineering and DevOps teams, as well as members of Finance and FinOps teams. To keep your CCoE team aligned with business strategies, representation from the executive team is also important. This may include CTOs and CFOs and others who influence the direction of the product and financial decision-making.

Technical aptitude is important, but attitude, enthusiasm and a personal drive to learn something new are also important. You should not be reluctant to recruit a team member that has limited technical experience if they are enthusiastic and driven to succeed.

Recruit Team Members with Technical Expertise

Your CCoE team should include people with strong technical experience and a proven track record of solutions-driven wins in a public cloud environment. Organizing a governance framework and strategy for cloud operations or a full-on cloud-enabled transformation is technically challenging. You need people with the right expertise. This means recruiting developers, systems and database administrators, IT operations people, and people with security experience among others. In larger organizations, it may be helpful to involve individuals from legal and procurement teams.  Initially it is important for those who have purchased cloud resources to be involved, because they have critical insight on not only what is needed for your organization’s infrastructure but also have an understanding of how to navigate cloud service provider interfaces. Not every team member needs to have technical expertise, however. Finding the right balance between team members with technical expertise, management experience, and diversity of experience is the ideal.

Hire New Employees if Necessary

Depending on the size of your company or the scale of your cloud operations, it may be necessary to bring in new hires specifically to take on CCoE responsibilities. You should not be hesitant to hire people from outside of your organization, but it is important to ensure that they understand and embrace your company’s cloud-enabled transformation and that they are fully supported as they work to build their communication channels within the team and throughout the company.

Earlier stage CCoE teams rely on the part time involvement of employees who are also integral members of other teams. A prime example of this are DevOps and Engineering team members who are often the individuals with the deepest understanding of your cloud infrastructure. While their input in CCoEs is important, operationalizing decisions made by the CCoE team can compete with existing engineering and product priorities. Therefore, hiring an engineer or developer who can not only understand the needs of your infrastructure, but spend time optimizing it is critical.

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Optimizing Team Effectiveness

Encourage Team Members to Take a Long-Term Outlook

Your CCoE team should include team members who can see the big picture, people who understand the potential inherent in a cloud-enabled transformation and the long-term impact of the cloud governance and strategy decisions that they will be making. Ideally this means recruiting people with leadership experience, either with teams or projects.

Encourage Agile Practices, Testing, and Experimentation

As with agile software development, your CCoE will be able to demonstrate greater value and win greater support through rapid wins and meaningful results that are delivered in short cycles. Be sure that the team embraces, or encourages members  to embrace an agile approach to problem solving and cloud-enabled transformation.

A CCoE team must have the flexibility to test and evaluate new cloud technologies to determine potential benefits to the company. The cloud is a highly dynamic environment, and your CCoE team must be able to keep up with changes in product offerings and payment methods from cloud service providers, be able to understand and prepare for emerging technologies, new security threats, new compliance requirements, new business requirements and more.

Conclusion

The success of your company’s cloud-enabled transformation and your cloud-based business initiatives is dependent on your CCoE team, so it’s essential to carefully consider who should be on that team. Before building a team, the current state of your cloud operations needs to be assessed in order to establish a mandate for your team that defines goals and objectives, including how to align your cloud strategy to meet your company’s strategic and business goals.

As you build your CCoE team, follow consider:

  • keeping your initial team small
  • recruiting stakeholders
  • recruiting from multiple departments
  • recruiting people with proven cloud technical expertise
  • hiring as necessary

Once your team is in place, encourage a long-term outlook, agile practices, and promote testing and experimentation with new cloud technologies. Understanding that the right mixture of people, experience, motivation, and leadership will help ensure that your CCoE is efficient and effective is the key.


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