How to reduce confusion and misalignment in cloud practices
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Posted by: Lucid Content Team
The cloud can be a great investment in your company’s digital future. But how well do you and your team understand it? And how well are you communicating with other departments and stakeholders?
Confusion surrounding the complex processes and technical details of the cloud can create misunderstanding and hinder progress at every level of your business. Companies that want to stay ahead of the curve and take full advantage of their cloud environment need to bridge the gap between IT and stakeholders across the organization.
Why all the confusion?
Cloud computing has many benefits—lowering operating costs, increasing innovation and speed to market, and supporting a growing distributed workforce, to name a few.
Yet, even among IT professionals, understanding and communicating the complexities of a cloud environment can be difficult and often confusing. Add in conversations with other team members, stakeholders, and organizational leaders, and it’s not surprising that many companies struggle to get everyone on the same page.
The truth is cloud environments are complex.
Managing cloud architecture involves a variety of roles, tasks, accounts, and documentation. Plus, you are often dealing with both large environments and applications spread across different environments. Keeping track of all these moving parts and keeping the lines of communication and responsibilities clear is no small task.
Working in such complexity can lead to misalignments and confusion about:
- How things currently work vs. how they should work
- What limitations exist
- What changes or updates have been made
- When changes were made
- Who owns the changes or is responsible for them
- How ideas, processes, and initiatives should be implemented
- What the purpose behind these decisions is
- How the cloud impacts the business as a whole
Confusion and miscommunication make it easy for misalignment to occur across teams and individuals in your organization—which can harm your cloud operations and your business.
How confusion and misalignment hurt your business
Business leaders and stakeholders at every level make decisions daily that impact operations and the bottom line. If the organization isn’t aligned in their priorities or understanding of current operations, you are missing opportunities for growth.
Inefficient operations and development
Your cloud operations impact every level of the organization. If your IT team isn’t communicating clearly and effectively (within the team or with other stakeholders), you have a recipe for trouble. Your team must understand their roles and how their work affects your cloud processes, or you won’t have a smooth operation.
For example, if your goal is to optimize your cloud infrastructure, you have to understand its current state. Teams that don’t have a clear picture of the current systems and processes won’t agree on the problems or on the path forward.
In other words, each person will probably have a different understanding of the current state (and its current issues), leading to misalignment on what the problems and the best solutions are. Clarity in communication and alignment on expectations and responsibilities means your business will run more efficiently and securely.
Beyond day-to-day operations, misalignment and confusion can also impact your company’s ability to efficiently manage incident response. The effects of server downtime will only multiply if your team lacks a clear understanding of the current state of your cloud architecture. Without the ability to immediately identify both the problem and the steps necessary to fix the issue, your company risks becoming even more vulnerable to server incidents.
Lack of support and adoption among stakeholders
It can be tempting to think that understanding the ins and outs of your cloud management processes and decisions rests solely within the purview of your IT department.
But that isn’t the case.
Company leadership and cross-functional teams also need to understand your basic cloud operations, at least insofar as they impact and integrate with the organization as a whole. A lack of clarity and context across the business can isolate the IT and cloud management team and hinder company-wide buy-in and support.
Without buy-in from leadership and adoption across the company, your cloud operations won’t be successful, and you won’t be able to take full advantage of all those benefits mentioned earlier. That means you’ll have wasted resources, untapped potential, and a hit to your competitive advantage with other players in the industry—which isn’t great for business.
Cloud adoption can help companies innovate and deploy faster—a crucial advantage in a digitally transforming market—but if your people don’t understand how the cloud works for them and what potential it has for your business, you’re leaving money on the table and falling behind cloud-optimized enterprises.
How to reduce confusion and realign your team
When it comes to cloud management, complexity is the nature of the beast. However, complexity doesn’t have to result in confusion, misunderstanding, or misalignment in your business operations.
Kick confusion to the curb by applying these simple principles to your cloud management practices.
Clarify with visuals
A cloud environment involves many moving parts interacting and integrating across various levels. Visualizing that data within clear diagrams and roadmaps can contextualize your cloud architecture for both technical and non-technical employees.
Build cloud architecture diagrams
Bring your cloud operations into focus with a cloud architecture diagram. Mapping your cloud architecture helps you put all those moving parts in context so you can see how everything fits together, what your current environment looks like, and what areas need attention.
Diagrams minimize the visual clutter from text-heavy documentation and bring the most important data to the front so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
Lucidscale helps you automatically visualize your cloud architecture by connecting to your cloud environment through third-party access. Within seconds, you will have your full cloud infrastructure organized by cloud, region, compute instance, or other resources.
This is a great solution for IT and development teams to communicate from one source of truth so that everyone is on the same page. When everyone agrees on what the current state of operations is, they can more easily align on solutions that move the business forward.
A comprehensive cloud architecture diagram is also a key component of an effective incident response plan. Not only can your infrastructure diagram help you locate and diagnose problems when they arise, but it can also highlight areas of potential vulnerability so that you can work to strengthen your architecture in advance. After all, the best incident response plan often emphasizes preventative measures, rather than focusing solely on reactive processes.
With an accurate and up-to-date cloud architecture diagram, you can troubleshoot, evaluate your network, and provide reliable recommendations for improvements. Rather than scrambling to figure out why you’re experiencing an outage and what systems are affected, you can pull up your diagram and quickly uncover the answers you need.
Visualize key governance data
Simplify and optimize your cloud governance processes by visualizing your metadata in Lucidchart.
Within your cloud architecture diagram, you can visualize your governance data (like security groups or IP addresses) so you don’t have to navigate across multiple platforms and dashboards. Then, use conditional formatting to visualize best practices and alert you to instances or issues that need attention.
Interactive and responsive diagrams can help you manage the complex architecture from one place so nothing falls through the cracks (and you can rest easy knowing your cloud security and governance processes are accurate and compliant).
Focus on the info that matters most
Amidst all the complexities of your cloud environment, it can be easy to get lost in the details. Keep the most important details top of mind by focusing on the entities, data, and insights that matter most.
Prioritizing your cloud architecture data and communicating those priorities clearly is crucial for aligning stakeholders across the organization (and preventing information overload and glazed expressions at your meetings).
This is another place that visuals can help.
Visualizing your cloud architecture isn’t just a smart solution for your technically-minded employees. Cloud diagrams are also a great way for organizations to educate stakeholders outside of IT on current operations and their impact on each department. Visuals help remove the barrier of tech-speak and put complex relationships and interactions into context so everyone can communicate on the same level.
Lucidscale helps bridge the gap between technical and non-technical stakeholders. For instance, executives probably don’t need to understand all the technical details of your full cloud architecture—but they do need the big picture.
Use Lucidscale to generate your entire cloud architecture diagram and then filter and present only the most relevant information. You can create and save multiple versions of your diagram to address the questions and needs of different audiences.
Standardize your onboarding process
Even if your IT team is solidly aligned on how your cloud environment works, what happens when you bring new members to the team?
Creating a standard onboarding process can help you quickly bring new employees up to speed and reduce frustration, confusion, and mistakes as they learn your unique environment.
Besides the usual onboarding best practices (such as training, shadowing, paperwork, etc.), consider using visuals to clarify roles, processes, and operations. These might include:
- Org charts
- Cloud architecture diagrams
- Process flowcharts
- UML diagrams
Breaking down your processes and individual roles and responsibilities will help newcomers orient themselves to the new environment and understand how they fit into the big picture, hitting the ground running in no time.
Improve communication across all stakeholders
At the end of the day, the quickest way to remove confusion and realign your stakeholders is to improve communication across the board.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
When communicating about a big and complex topic such as the cloud, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter and reach every individual. This is particularly tricky when you consider the diverse background in experience, knowledge, and skills (and varying degrees of technical know-how) you will have to bridge among your organization.
So how do you get everyone on the same page? Here are a few tips:
Clarify the jargon and simplify your language
Not everyone is a technical expert. Relying too heavily on jargon to communicate complex ideas can muddle your message further.
Focus on the big picture
A lot of the confusion surrounding cloud operations is because we get lost in the details. Even if you need to drill into more specific and technical cloud processes, you can still communicate with clarity by focusing on your goal for the conversation.
Start from the top
If you want business-wide alignment, then you have to get clarity and buy-in from top leadership. If your leaders aren’t on board or aligned in their understanding of cloud operations and priorities, it will be next to impossible to get the rest of your organization on the same page.
Visualize complex data and operational relationships
Visuals are an excellent tool for communicating complex ideas and clarifying processes. Visualizing your architecture (and other cloud processes) helps leaders synthesize information more quickly and easily (especially when they are less familiar with technical operations).
See additional tips for communicating technical information to non-technical audiences.
Bringing it all together
A cloud architecture diagram bridges the gap between complex business problems and the cloud solution that addresses those issues.
Being able to quickly recognize and articulate those connections is crucial for leaders who need to align on business solutions and communicate those priorities to the rest of the organization.
When the leadership understands how their cloud operations connect to and impact their business, they can more effectively plan for the future and inspire buy-in and adoption across the company.
Ready to visualize, understand, and optimize your cloud architecture?
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