9 questions to ask before you move to the cloud

1. Why do I need cloud?

Think about which areas of your business will benefit the most from cloud computing. Justifying the decision to your board will be much easier if you can show exactly which areas of your business will see an improvement and how this will be measured. 

2. Do I have a clear strategy?

How are you going to make the transition? What skills to you and your vendor need? Understand the impact of the change. For example, if you’re going to introduce a cloud-based end-to-end ERP system, what impact will this have on the information flow in your business; who needs to access that information, how, when and how quickly? 

3. “Point” or “integrated”?

“Point” solutions mean you don’t need to move all of your systems into the cloud in one go. But make sure you can “switch on” additional features and functionality as and when you require them. 

4. How much am I spending?

Make sure you have a clear view of your annual IT costs so that you’re not caught out by significant, unplanned IT expenditure or integration costs. Predictable costs are essential. Moving to OPEX versus CAPEX can be a real benefit. 

5. What kind of service level agreement am I getting?

The SLA is the guarantee of the service that you will get from your vendor; make sure you understand it and its contractual obligations. Remember that your systems are now sitting in the cloud so your SLA needs to have commitments about uptime. For example, what happens if your vendor’s data centre burns down? Where is the backup system and what type of infrastructure do they have around this? 

6. How many suppliers will I be working with?

In the event of an IT problem, how many suppliers are you going to need to contact before you can diagnose the problem and get it fixed? 

7. Where will my data sit?

Make sure you understand where your data is going to sit – which data centre, in which country? How is the data backed up and how can it be accessed if you decide to change vendors? 

8. What are the ongoing costs?

Make sure any additional costs are factored into your plans. Find out what these may be before you sign an agreement with any providers to avoid any nasty surprises. Most good vendors will wrap things such as upgrades and training into the price. 

9. Are my staff on board?

Make sure you keep your workforce in the loop; get their buy in and allow them to have an input. Implementing a new cloud solution may save you money, but if your employees can’t adapt to the new system, you’ll face unnecessary hurdles.

John Antunes is director of SME and Channel at SAP UK and Ireland

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