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What IT jobs would be reduced or eliminated in an organization moving to mostly cloud if any? (Webinar Attendee Question)

This question was asked by an attendee during the Proformative webinar "What's Stopping CFOs from Moving Accounting To The Cloud" held on February 20, 2013.  Please join the discussion and add your insights below.

A video of the webinar can be viewed here


Topic Expert
Donald Koscheka
Title: Principal
Company: Bluecloud Communications
(Principal, Bluecloud Communications) |

In my experience, most IT departments are so overworked that they should welcome the cloud.

The types of roles that would be cut include system administrators and system operators (like the people who do backup and restore), database administrators and programmers/analysts who currently provide services that are redundant to the cloud services you are anticipating. In many cases, you may have redundant staff - working in different data centers (for business continuity purposes) - you would be able to reduce this staff as well since your cloud vendor should provide the redundancy you need.

In most cases, you will need to retain other IT services after moving to the cloud such as system architects, IT help desk, support personnel and IT management - someone still has to manage the vendors that are providing your cloud services.

Kelvin Arcelay
Title: SVP Security and Risk Management
Company: Private Company
(SVP Security and Risk Management, Private Company) |

I would say it depends on what services you purchased from the cloud provider versus what they are really capable of delivering as a service and the expected service level agreements.

A company considering the "cloud" without making the necessary due diligence before hand, is just asking for trouble. For example, if your business has a need for reliable, disaster recovery grade backup and restore functions probably that will be an additional cost. If your business deals with regulated information, you are still liable for the information hence whatever practices you have today will have to be extended to the cloud provider. If your business need a computer operator to click "ENTER" daily at 15:00 that has to be in the contract and probably will be an additional cost.

Additionally if you require your provider to have a SSAE16 (SOC1 or SOC2), ISO27001, PCI ROC first of is not free, you'll be charged and second these reports are are just point in time snapshots. At the time of the audit, they provided enough artifacts to satisfy the intent of a specific requirement. What additional processes and controls will need to be implemented in case the service provider stops doing the report assertions.

Do we know and understand the root cause of what is it we are trying to accomplish? Cut cost? Bad IT services? Old in-house technology? Obsolete systems? depends....

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Consider redistribution of IT personnel and assests to core business functions rather than pure elimination or reduction as a result of moving to cloud solutions. This can be an added value for additional headcount deployed to support end-user needs or critical infrastructure requirements.

Additionally, the need for IT resources won't simpy vanish after adopting a cloud-based solution. While the transition to a cloud can often be quick and implemented without a significant amount of pain, your organization will still require certain domain expertise for implementation and ongoing support.

Topic Expert
Bob Scarborough
Title: CEO
Company: Tensoft, Inc.
(CEO, Tensoft, Inc.) |

Assuming this is for moving your Accounting or ERP system to the cloud there are definitely some ways you can analyze the impact on your IT team requirements. Others have pointed out, rightly I believe, that most IT departments are stretched thin so this may not decrease the size of your team. I would add that most IT departments really are not staffed to the level required to fully support in house financial systems (once you move beyond Quickbooks).

System Administration and Server Administration are the specific roles that are transitioned to the Cloud team. They will own your server / operating system / network access / database / application patches and upgrades. They will own your backup systems and recovery efforts. In many cases they will make sure the updates occur that would not occur when your system is on premise. From personal experience I can confirm customers levering a cloud model have around 15% of the basic issues that on premise deployment customers have. Think about the impact of fewer operational issues – and think about a team of experts available to fully support all of the system technologies required for your applications.

This does leave some important roles for internal IT departments:
1) Helpdesk. Someone needs to know the basics – how to get to the application, how to setup new users (including any financial sign-off process), how to help people print, and so on. This is desktop support extended to logging into the cloud applications.
2) Network Management. This becomes more important when you have cloud applications. Ideally you will have a firewall and internal expertise to support configuration quality of service in your router and firewall.
3) Business Analyst. If you are an emerging or smaller company you are probably leveraging the power user model. Each department has a power user (possibly the Controller in finance) who knows the system fully and supports internal training requirements and new functionality analysis. At some point in every company’s history this model breaks down (often around $50M revenue). At that point you need to move from the power user model to a business analyst / support model. These resources are huge value adds to your organization – they specialize in best use of systems and supporting the training / rollout needs for your company.

You can extend the business analyst role further (data analysts, reporting, business process review), but I think the general categories of IT support remain in the cloud model. Helpdesk and Network Management are needed either way; while a Business Analyst is really a function of your size. Business Analyst’s tend to be high value add – so at the right time it usually isn’t an organizational challenge.

Bob Scarborough

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