5 Ways to Avoid a Failed Cloud Technology Solution

Today, “Cloud Technology” has opened the door for non IT experts to build and maintain their own business technology solutions. Whether your implementing a CRM process or marketing automation campaign, there are various approaches and methodologies that affect how scalable, maintainable and flexible a solution is. Employing the wrong approach can be catastrophic, like creating your own personal Frankenstein. Choosing the correct path could lead you to the promise land, and your next promotion. However, knowing which path to take can be daunting. The stakes are high.

Over the past nine years, I have helped to implement Oracle Eloqua more than 300 times. There have been many successes. A few failures. And much learning along the way. My advice: Don’t let your project turn into a boondoggle. Yes, a boondoggle. I also had to look it up after a colleague once used the term in passing. Wikipedia defines it as:

A project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy or political motivations.

I want to help you avoid your own Cloud Technology boondoggle. Just because you can build something, doesn’t mean that you should. It is critical that you weigh the pros and cons of your solution even existing. Oftentimes, I’ve seen clients who want to build a solution notwithstanding the fact that they don’t have the data, content, or other key ingredients necessary for the solution to be viable. If assessed honestly, perhaps the “solution” you initially wanted to build should instead be a simpler project with achievable goals.

Here are five ways to help you avoid building a failed Cloud Technology solution.

1. Draw it.

Okay, so you have an idea? Perhaps a marketing automation workflow to move your audience through the Buyers’ Journey? Great. It’s time to bring it to life!  Drawing a picture on paper, Visio, or my personal favorite, LucidChart is a quick and easy way to bring the solution to life without risking your blood, sweat and tears. A drawing will help you see the solution from a new perspective, inspire you to think outside of the box or identify limitations. It also gives you the opportunity to consult a colleague and walk them through your solution to obtain valuable feedback before moving to the next stage.

2. Assess it.

Okay, so you’re convinced that the solution should exist and you have a picture of it? You’re ready for the next step! It’s time to document your solution and assess it. Avoiding this step can lead to a dead end solution. First, create a one-page document that describes the solution at a high level: What are the benefits? Are there risks? Is the solution scalable? Is it flexible? Is it maintainable? You may not know the answer to all of these questions. However, the fact that you are asking these questions is an important part of the process, as it will help you make improvements to your solution design.

Once you have created the document, you should meet with a colleague and discuss the solution, review with a subject matter expert, or post your solution on a community message board related to the technology. Eloquans should consider Topliners. Garnering feedback from your peers is a great way to see if others have attempted to build your solution in the past and maximize the likelihood of a success.

3. Build it. Sort of.

Now that you’ve completed your assessment. It’s time to decide if you want to begin the build. It’s likely that there will be a number of reasons ‘for’ and ‘against’ building your solution. This is a challenging decision as there is often no ‘right’ answer. In some cases, it’s prudent to reduce the complexity of your project to mitigate risk and remove obstacles that could lead to failure. Other times, the assessment stage has validated your solution and you are confident that the solution can be built in its entirety. Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. However, I emphasize how important it is to consider slowing down and potentially revising your requirements, reducing complexity, and risk.

4. Record it.

All of my clients dream of perfect documentation for all of their projects. The truth is, it never happens. Either the documentation is too expensive, and time consuming to produce, or the solution changes so frequently that the documentation ends up becoming stale, and outdated. Instead, I suggest recording a video walkthrough of your solution. Create a 30 minute video that walks your audience through an overview of your project, describes its benefits, how it was built, how it is scalable, flexible and maintainable.

5. Nurture it.

So, you’ve built it. Recorded it. And, now you’re ready to wrap up your successful Cloud project. Wait just one second. What you’ve built is living and breathing every day. You need to nurture it. Develop a plan to monitor the health of your solution on a regular basis. Typically, I recommend weekly monitoring using custom reports and other tools. Once you have experienced a period of sustained health, switch to bi-weekly or monthly monitoring. Nurturing your solution using health checks, audits and reporting is a critical step to help you proactively identify problems and ensure long term success.

Building a Cloud Solution requires appropriate planning, experience, and skill. If you consider the aforementioned strategy, you will reduce the risk of becoming yet another Cloud Technology boondoggle.