28 September 2021
Cloud Audits: Right Fit, Right Skills, Right Licences
In almost every organisation, cloud is one of the biggest IT expenses after the cost of expertise. But how do you know whether you’re getting the best return on that cloud investment, do you have the right cloud for your needs. and are you confident that the security implications are fully dealt with? Here’s why a cloud audit should be a regular calendar fixture for every organisation.
The proportion of IT spending that is shifting to cloud is growing fast, with Gartner estimating it will account for 14.2% of all global enterprise IT dollars by 2024. SaaS is the largest segment, forecast to reach $117.7 billion this year, with PaaS experiencing 12-month growth of 26.6%. In spite of these statistics, many organisations ask for a security audit or an infrastructure audit, but may overlook cloud environments. Your decisions around cloud are increasingly significant, so a cloud audit can help you to make strategic progress.
Right Fit Apps
A great starting point to your cloud audit is reviewing the apps you have in place. Cloud apps are very easy to acquire, often without consulting IT. Most of us have set up a trial of an app at some point, to meet an immediate need, but it is worth revisiting each app regularly to determine if it is still the best fit for the task. A newer, better product may have hit the market. You may even have an app already that does it better; Microsoft adds new features to its Microsoft 365 licences every month, for example, and you may no longer need to pay for that separate niche software. This consideration is especially important where organisations had to quickly establish new capabilities when supporting a rapid transition to work from home during earlier lockdowns.
When you’re reviewing apps, consider whether you have the correct licence type. You may find you are paying for add-ons, and it is costing you more than an upgrade to a premium licence that includes everything. Conversely, you may be paying for the complete range for all users, when most only use a subset of features, or they may have a new offer that beats your current choice. Don’t forget to check on licence quantity; as staff change roles, they may no longer use apps you are still paying for, and we often find that when staff leave, nobody thinks to cancel subscriptions to apps. If you don’t already have app subscriptions as part of the new hire and staff exit process, now is a good time to add it in.
Training and Adoption
A part of every cloud audit should focus on user skills and roles. Users who lack confidence in an app are unlikely to fully use its features. They are also more likely to sign up to a more familiar app they liked in a previous job, leading to doubling up on costs. It is worth identifying ‘app champions’ who are confident users, giving them additional training, and encouraging them to keep track of updates and attend relevant events. This means that when you are onboarding new staff, or identify training needs, you have a great resource. A little training saves staff from struggling to figure it out for themselves, and helps staff to work more productively with consistent processes.
When you invested in your apps, they may not have integrated well, and your workforce may have just become accustomed to performing some tasks manually. They may get data from one system to another by doubling up on data entry, and just accept that as the way it has to be. Fortunately, app designers have worked on better integration, and there are a number of third-party tools now available to fill other gaps. Exploring better integration can be a massive time and money saver, and better systems can boost worker morale.
Cloud services can offer terrific value, but it is necessary to make sure that when it has served its purpose, the service is pulled down. Even when you have cancelled a subscription, it pays to check expenses and review monthly accounts subscriptions – one time we did a demo, determined the product was not for us, cancelled the subscription – but then found we were still paying. Fortunately, our processes were designed to pick this up, but some organisations find they have been paying for years for something they didn’t even know they had.
Whether you are conducting regular IT audits in-house, or sourcing external help, a cloud audit should play a central role in this process. TechPath includes a cloud audit as part of our IT audit package because this is, quite simply, an area of your IT that is too important to overlook.