A TEC briefing about Manufacturers and Cloud – Recommended
Let me try to write a post in English.
I received (days ago) my subscription to Technology Evaluation which included a briefing about Manufacturing companies and Cloud computing as strategy: Manufacturing Strategies That Win: Executive View of the Cloud. The two key words for my brain: manufacturing and cloud. The link should brings you to the complete document.
I’ve to say that I agree with almost all the document (except the sponsor, I’m sorry for that) and I would like to publish (and comment) here the checklist they included:
Checklist—Nine Considerations for Evaluating Cloud Service Providers
1. Complete Coverage. You need a solution that can manage your entire business. In many cases, you’ve come from an environment of disjointed systems and manually synchronized data. The last thing you want is a new system that requires you to—again—perform manual processes to synchronize data.
@ Comment: Absolutely yes, even that this implies much more from the vendor side. It is not only about your entire business, it is also about functionality close to your business. The objective: zero modificatons and zero interfases. Consequence: Need of an actually big number of functions and applications available. Need of specialization: can the same solution (ERP) be valid for automotive components manufacturers and a fashion manufacturer and retailer? Probably not.
2. Flexibility and Extensibility. Understand how you can configure the business solution to meet your internal business processes. Ensure you understand how workflows are created (point-and-click versus technical programming); how to customize screens, add fields, and create reports; and what kind of integration and technical services are provided.
@ Comment: Same than before. In my understanding this is also about completeness. But this is not about cutomize through modifications, this is about customize through parameters, sometimes managed by the end user! Create reports? The software (ERP) will contain Business Intelligence tools ‘in context’.
3. Security. Determine the layers of security that exist within the application and the server. How will your cloud service provider protect your data from viruses, hackers, and theft?
@ Comment: As usual. Being important is not the most strategic point.
4. Backups and Recovery When evaluating a cloud provider, learn about its contingency, backup, and recovery plans and liabilities.
@ Comment: Probably the easiest to get.
5. Upgrades Cloud service providers typically provide quicker access to new features, since deployment cycles are shorter than for on-premise applications. However, ensure that these upgrades are indeed applied regularly and free of charge. Assess the provider’s road map of product upgrades, and determine how often they are expected.
@ Comment: Again, absolutely yes. But this is very close to the first and second points: as less modifications you develop in your solution, and closest to standard remains, it will be easiest to achieve this goal.
6. Service-level Agreements Clear service level expectations must be documented within your SLA, including penalty clauses for undelivered services or unmet expectations. Ensure that the cloud vendor provides services beyond application delivery (e.g., business issues resolution, training, implementation support, customer service).
@ Comment: Easy again. Companies delivering outsurcing services knows (or should know) perfectly how to manage a SLA.
7. Training and Support For the cloud model to be used to its fullest potential, training is required. Make sure the cloud service provider has well-developed training programs. Determine what kind of training is provided for new users, as well as for upgrades. Also, determine how your service provider will handle support inquiries if your organization runs into problems or has specific questions.
@ Comment: Well… How to say it? Yes, I agree, but also it is needed a set of users clever enough to learn (and remember and use) what is teached. Yes, usually is more important the after-go-live support, the fluency in the communication between consultants and customers: how to solve doubts in an agile way (and cheap).
8. Scalability Evaluate the cloud service provider’s scalability through such infrastructure points as bandwidth, load balancers, servers, data warehouses. Analyze its long- and short-term growth strategy and level of service. Will the provider be able to maintain and improve service levels with the growth of its business and clients?
@ Comment: It seems obvious but it is important. You has to be sure that, in case your provider disappears, you can continuate without dramas.
9. Reference Checks with Existing Customers To evaluate a cloud provider’s ability to handle your organizational requirements, conduct reference visits to established clients that have been with the provider for longer than their original contract term. This will help demonstrate how the provider maintains its customer base. On-site visits will also let you see the technology in action, and get personal feedback about the system and its provider.
@ Comment: As you do today. Even that you can ask: who was first? the customer or the reference?