How to use a follow the sun model for your IT and cloud teams
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Posted by: Lucid Content Team
IT architecture and the people who program and maintain the architecture can make or break a company’s daily operations, particularly for companies with a global presence. If a system goes down or a major bug cripples workflows, employee productivity and customer experiences can plummet quickly.
More than ever, customers expect instant action and response when they experience a technical problem with a product they’re using. In fact, a study conducted by the CMO Council found that arranging technical assistance and 24/7 accessibility were the top two ways that companies could improve product experience for users.
A follow the sun model can help your organization provide 24/7/365 support to customers across the globe, regardless of time or location. See how this model can benefit your IT department.
Is a follow the sun model right for your IT and cloud teams?
When you use a follow the sun model, round-the-clock IT support is provided by “following” the sun from time zone to time zone. With so many architecture models out there for you to base your system designs on, what makes a follow the sun model stand out?
One key benefit of a follow the sun model is high uptime. When you’ve got teams working round the clock, your troubleshooting efforts become more efficient. Any issues can be resolved in near real time since there’s always a team member ready to take action.
Ultimately, this means better customer service and improved customer experiences. Your global customers will appreciate that bugs and other issues can be resolved quickly and that they don’t have to wait for a team in a different time zone to fix the problem.
Picture this. Your team needs to deploy a brand-new, process-defining software to all the computers and devices on your company’s networks. They also need to train employees on how to use the software and then respond to any service tickets upon deployment. This process could take weeks if only one team in one time zone is working on the project.
If all the IT teams within your company use a follow the sun model, the project could be completed in days. Having multiple “subteams” on deck to keep a project moving along 24 hours a day empowers your entire IT department to set realistic short-term deadlines, avoid working overtime, and complete roadmaps more efficiently.
Think about what your IT team is really trying to accomplish on your roadmap for the next year. What could shorter department turnaround times mean for what you’re trying to achieve globally? The follow the sun methodology can be a game changer.
Teams working towards the same goals and maintaining the same cloud infrastructure can become extremely fragmented when located in different time zones. Communication through emails and Slack with 16+ hour gaps between responses can lead to deployment missteps, security breaches staying open longer, and IT engineers completing redundant work.
With a follow the sun model, on the other hand, daily handoffs of projects and tasks build better communication lines between global offices and their network engineers. Project collaboration becomes immensely easier when the status of each task (and the progress made on the task) is clearly documented. A follow the sun model keeps everyone on the same page, working towards the same project end goal.
How to implement a follow the sun model for your IT and cloud teams
Let’s walk through some best practices for setting up a follow the sun model.
1. Define your home base
While a follow the sun model means teams in multiple locations could be involved, it’s important to define what the “home base” is for each project you take on, whether that is your site or another one. Think of the home base as the product owner. Multiple teams may be working on the product over a certain amount of time, but one defined team is responsible for overseeing the process from start to finish. This will help avoid any confusion on who ultimately owns the process.
2. Create a calendar for maximum efficiency
Take stock of all the team members available to maintain your IT architecture. Then, use a calendar to map out how many employees will work each shift in each time zone and how many hours are worked each week all together. Documenting how many resources are available every month at the start of a new project will help your team determine accurate timelines and avoid team member burnout. It’s also a great record to have on hand to show various stakeholders just how much your department can accomplish in any given window of time.
3. Visualize your cloud and system infrastructure
Visualizing your cloud infrastructure in a centralized location that is accessible to all global team members will create an accurate and consistent picture of your follow the sun model from day one. However, manually building the documentation from scratch could be a days—or even weeks—long process—an unnecessary burden when you’re trying to implement a new model.
Lucidchart can help you visualize your cloud infrastructure in just a few seconds. Lucidchart Cloud Insights connects to major cloud sources like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to pull in data automatically. Organize the data by cloud, region, compute instance, and more.
Having this tool in your arsenal transforms project management and puts you in a better position to respond to security risks and downtime.
Every piece of your infrastructure is laid out right in front of you, and you can easily filter diagrams based on the task at hand, removing unnecessary details, and even @mentioned specific users to direct them to the specific part of infrastructure that needs action to be taken. A clear path will help your troubleshooting teams and engineers coordinate and get to the bottom of the issue faster.
4. Define the handoff process
Mastering the handoff process (moving project tasks from one team to the next) is probably the hardest, but most crucial, element of successfully implementing a follow the sun model. The handoff process can become the weakest point in your model due to technical, cultural, and communication style differences across each team.
This is where Lucidchart can really help you shine. With Lucidchart Cloud Insights, you have a single source of truth for every project, feature, and bug being worked on by IT engineers. When a task is handed off from one engineer to another, there is an up-to-date, accurate architecture diagram to work from.
To make collaboration and handoff even easier, engineers and process owners can @mention each other in Lucidchart to focus attention on specific shapes of the diagram. When you keep everyone on the same page, service ticket times go down, security gets stronger, workflows become more seamless, and customers receive a better technical experience. Combine all of this with an efficient follow the sun framework, and you’ll be delivering best-in-class service to all of your users.
5. Deliver your new model to stakeholders
Now that you’ve done all the groundwork of defining workload capability, visualizing infrastructure, and hammering out the handoff process, you’re ready to get your new model signed off by stakeholders. Use Lucidchart to create a higher-level overview of your architecture diagram that’s ready to present to stakeholders. Presentation Mode allows you to show off the specific parts of your design that stakeholders care about most.
There you have it. A global service model in place to keep every team member connected, consistent and making continual progress on projects, tasks, and bug fixes. Are you ready to follow the sun?
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