6 steps to cloud procurement readiness for government
Governments across the world are looking to procure cloud technologies to meet the needs of their citizens. Addressing the difference between traditional technology purchasing and the procurement of cloud is critical to maximizing an organization’s ability to buy and use cloud technology. To ready their departments and agencies to purchase cloud services and get support to make this move, organizations can take the following six procurement readiness steps:
1. Identify the cloud champion
Public sector organizations that use cloud technologies know that to fully harness the benefits of cloud, they require a cloud champion to help drive the move to cloud and support the changes that this will bring.
A cloud champion isn’t an official role, but should be a centralized government agency or department with the authority to establish a clear policy or mandate for other public bodies to buy and use cloud by default. A cloud champion should be able to engage with cloud service providers (CSPs) and their partners to understand the services and solutions they can provide and how these fit with existing procurement laws and regulations. A cloud champion should have the authority to review and request amendments to procurement legislation, so that legislation does not make it difficult for cloud to be purchased by public sector bodies. They should also have the ability to establish and manage a dedicated ‘built for cloud’ procurement vehicle such as a cloud framework which allows other public sector bodies to buy through it. The cloud champion is critical to driving cloud adoption across public sector because they have the ability to remove real or perceived limitations to successful cloud adoption.
2. Set the vision and benefits
Having a clear vision and understanding of the benefits in moving to the cloud for both public sector bodies and citizens encourages momentum and helps all stakeholders continue with the move to cloud if challenges arise.
There are many variations in why public sector entities move to the cloud and in their journey to get there. Agencies must consider what their specific journey will look like in migrating, managing, and optimizing the cloud, taking into account readiness factors like internal skillsets and experience, IT budgets, and risk appetite. Identifying and understanding potential fear, uncertainty, and doubt that agencies and departments may have when moving to the cloud is just as important as helping understand the vision and benefits. Clearly articulating what the cloud adoption journey will look like and setting out a vision and benefits for the agency is critical to getting the support and driving the change required to successfully adopt cloud.
3. Engage stakeholders early to prepare
Early planning, communication, and buy-in from a wide cross-section of stakeholders is essential to successful cloud adoption. For internal stakeholders, successful cloud adoption may require a shift in work practices, roles, and responsibilities. The cloud champion should understand and define successful ways of working with and adopting cloud so that they are reflected in any future cloud guidance and policies.
For external stakeholders, early market engagement helps establish the services and solutions cloud suppliers offer and define how best to procure from them. Public sector organizations that actively engage CSPs and their partners at the very start of their cloud procurement readiness journey better understand how to work with cloud suppliers and harness the full benefits of cloud. The cloud champion should engage CSPs and their partners in every step of this process to support and understand how CSPs and their partners work.
Understanding the key drivers of public sector stakeholders and engaging with cloud suppliers early and often can help all involved in the move to cloud understand and prepare for the changes to come.
4. Be aware of data residency policies
Data residency is the requirement that all customer content processed and stored in an IT system must remain within a specific country’s borders. This is one of the foremost concerns of organizations that want to use commercial cloud services.
When reviewing data residency policies and guidance, governments should identify the most likely and prevalent IT vulnerabilities and security risks, review the native security embedded in cloud services, and understand the roles and responsibilities of CSPs and cloud customers in protecting data. Governments should also consider the commercial, public sector, and economic effects of data residency policies before enforcing requirements that can unintentionally limit public sector digital transformation goals, in turn possibly leading to increased cybersecurity risk.
5. Create a ‘cloud by default’ approach through a cloud first policy
Organizations moving to cloud require time, effort, and resources, which many public sector bodies may not have readily available. Without a clear mandate from leaders in government, often the simplest and quickest way to consume IT services is to rely on the familiar and use on premise solutions. Creating a cloud first policy clearly sets out the wider intention to move to cloud. It helps organizations adapt their approach to selecting and procuring IT to accommodate this change and sets the stage to achieve the greatest benefits from cloud services and solutions.
A cloud first policy requires public sector organizations to fully evaluate potential cloud solutions first, before considering other options when procuring new services or re-procuring existing services. It also helps to establish cloud consistently across government and provide better value for taxpayers. Ideally, cloud first policies make the ‘cloud by default’ approach mandatory for some or all public bodies, and strongly encourage it to others. Full or partial mandating of cloud for new or existing procurements helps establish cloud and accelerate the benefits realization that these services can bring.
6. Design a cloud playbook to foster cloud best practices
Governments should consider creating a cloud playbook to help guide public sector bodies through the stages of their cloud adoption journey. Cloud playbooks should be designed in consultation with CSPs and their partners and set out best practices, advice, and guidance covering commercial, technical, security, operational, and personnel considerations.
By creating a cloud playbook, public bodies can feel more confident in their approach to both the culture and technical change that successful cloud adoption entails. Cloud playbooks can also accelerate the move to the cloud by showcasing case studies and practical steps and advice for public sector entities to consider, providing them with a clear path and the tools they need to make the move to cloud.
Governments across the world use cloud to launch and deliver services to hundreds of thousands of citizens every day. Learn more about how to buy cloud for the public sector here. Read more stories about cloud procurement and the cloud for government.
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