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cloud center of excellence

Build a cloud center of excellence

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Posted by: Lucid Content Team

If you’re leveraging the cloud to transform your business, then having a cloud center of excellence (CCOE) allows your organization to strategically guide your cloud planning, implementation, optimization, and operations. 

As a function of your enterprise architecture, your CCOE plays a variety of valuable roles. With the right planning and practices, you can create an effective CCOE and see the benefits throughout your business. 

Definition and purpose of CCOE

Before undertaking cloud adoption, your organization needs a functional team with the governance, consultative, and implementation responsibilities necessary for a successful digital transformation. 

Typically, CCOEs have the following functions: 

  • Setting internal policy: The purpose of a CCOE is, in part, to determine how the cloud will be used and what guidelines dictate cloud usage in the organization. 
  • Choosing providers: Whenever new cloud providers are researched and chosen, the CCOE leads the process and makes decisions with stakeholder input. 
  • Providing consultations: Your organization’s departments can go to the CCOE with questions about the cloud or for help with cloud challenges. 
  • Overseeing the cloud: Your CCOE team checks in on how cloud resources are used inside the organization. This ensures that the cloud is used in line with your organization’s goals. 

CCOEs are not, however, responsible for project management or for managing operations—these functions are performed by other roles in the organization. 

Building a CCOE 

Transformation through an organization takes a consistent, focused approach. Before you can start building your CCOE, you need to determine how you’ll plan for and empower your new team. 

Successful CCOEs are not built by accident. As such, you’ll need to carefully and thoughtfully develop your plan for assembling this team and defining their role. 

Preparing for transformation 

For your CCOE to be effective, your team needs to take the right approach to tackling organizational and technical challenges. If done correctly, you can use this strategy to facilitate change in other areas of your organization. 

Here’s a framework for laying the foundation for your CCOE and similar initiatives in your company. 

  1. Focus on formation: Your CCOE team composition and formation should be strategically aligned with your organizational goals for cloud transformation. 
  2. Start small: Your team should start out with a small, manageable problem so your organization can quickly see value from the CCOE’s efforts. 
  3. Get sponsorship: Early on, having executive sponsors ensures that your CCOE has the resources and support necessary to succeed. Transformation, especially on an organizational level, is challenging without the right backing. 
  4. Build a repeatable process: With some wins established, your CCOE is then ready to start developing processes, policies, and standards that can be replicated in other departments. Ideally, the CCOE will be making decisions that are readily usable across departments and across silos. 
  5. Sell the value: From there, communicate your CCOE’s value to the rest of the organization. Gaining buy-in from other departments and from all stakeholders allows your CCOE to provide transformational value. 
  6. Optimize and scale: Once your organization sees the value and your CCOE is making an impact, it’s time for your CCOE to continue leveraging cloud transformation within your organization. 

With these steps, your organization’s CCOE can initiate valuable change that leads to meaningful transformation. 

Forming your team and collaboration 

A highly successful CCOE is able to collaborate across your organization, make effective decisions, and offer relevant input that reflects what stakeholders need. 

  1. Plan for your team

  • Keep it small: Ideally, you’ll want to have fewer than a dozen members on your CCOE. This facilitates communication and allows this team to readily establish a true center of excellence. They can then take these best practices to others in your organization. 

  • Represent the stakeholders: CCOEs should be multidisciplinary and reflect the needs and input of various stakeholders in the project. Your team’s diversity enables the CCOE to approach problems with a variety of perspectives. 

  • Span departments: Bringing together teammates from different departments inside your organization allows you to break down silos, win buy-in, and establish cloud best practices throughout your company’s cloud organization. 

  1. Gather the right people

  • Technical experience: Having experienced people on your team matters. They should have a solution-driven track record within your organization. With projects as challenging to navigate as cloud transformation, the right experience can make or break your CCOE. Typically this includes software engineers, cloud architectus, security leads, network engineers, and more.  

  • Long-term thinkers: Instead of a myopic focus on single projects or limited functionality for single departments, your CCOE members should be able to see the value and potential of cloud transformation for your entire organization. You want a team that thinks about the future impact of today’s cloud decisions and actions. Here it is important to bring in team leads, project managers, and executives. 

  1. Empower your team 

  • The power to work: Your CCOE members should be empowered to make decisions. They should have defined areas of responsibility that they can act on without having to check first for upper management approval. 

  • Encourage Agile thinking: By providing quick wins and meaningful results in short cycles, your CCOE gains support and demonstrates value. 

Building Reusable Patterns and Reference Architectures

After a few successful projects, your CCOE will identify processes and methodology that they can repeat and build into effective systems for future projects. In essence, they can start blueprinting the rest of your organization’s digital transformation. 

To do so, they will need the right tools: 

  • Reference architectures: Architectures leveraged for one particular use case may make sense for another similar project. Having reference architectures available allows your CCOE to repeat architecture development for other projects. 
  • Cloud automation: The right automation toolkit allows your CCOE to create effective systems and manage cloud usage through provisioning and optimization. 
  • Infrastructure visibility: Having greater visibility into your cloud resource usage allows your CCOE to make more effective decisions and provide more value to the organization. Lucidchart Cloud Insights offers a way to import data from your cloud services that your CCOE can put to use.  

Scaling up and reorganizing

As your organization grows, or as your CCOE successfully transforms your organization, you may need to scale or reorganize the CCOE over time. If your cloud needs change,  then your CCOE should change too. 

  • Scaling up: Since your CCOE is one small team within a larger organization, some of the CCOE’s work should scale. Finding ways to expand the team’s expertise to other departments, for instance, can enable the CCOE to serve more internal customers successfully. 
  • Reorganizing: Your team’s composition may change over time as stakeholders, needs, and priorities change. Different stages of digital transformation may also mean you need different team members to achieve your goals. When a new challenge arises, you may bring in new members who have valuable past experiences. 

Measures for success 

Before you embark on building your cloud center of excellence, take the time to define how you will measure the success of your CCOE. Consider how these success measures might matter for your CCOE: 

  • Alignment with organizational goals: If the team isn’t in sync with your organization’s objectives for cloud transformation, then the CCOE will be much less effective. A successful CCOE will drive your cloud goals forward. 
  • Effective collaboration with other teams: Communication and close cooperation with other teams is essential. One benefit of having CCOE members come from different departments is the opportunity to connect your CCOE team with other teams. 
  • Governing policies across organization: Another core goal is developing effective governing policies for cloud usage. 
  • Brokering cloud providers and solutions: Your CCOE should be capable of helping your organization find the right solutions and cloud vendors. 
  • Creating community through practices: By promoting the right cloud best practices, your CCOE should encourage cloud excellence throughout your organization. 

Building an effective CCOE

Once you know how to build a cloud COE, you can begin undertaking exciting cloud transformations in your organization. 

With an effective CCOE at work, your organization should be able to centralize the cloud functions and get better results from the cloud. This is a process. A little patience and the right strategic thinking will drive your business objectives for the cloud forward.

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