Moving to cloud computing is harder and costlier than what many organizations envisioned. This is according to CIO Magazine, and a recent study conducted by consultancy KPMG International, a U.S. audit, tax and advisory services firm. Furthermore, the study goes on to report that one-half of the 650 respondents said their organizations already make use of the cloud for business processes. Two of the main reasons given for moving to cloud-based services were to make it easier to enter new markets and drives process transformation. But one-third said the cost of moving to the cloud were higher than expected, mainly because they belatedly discovered that it involved more changes in their existing business and IT architectures than they’d originally recognized.

The report goes on to call out issues with business-process redesign, IT management capabilities, systems integration, IT infrastructure and configuration management being more complex than anticipated.

Well, yeah. Hasn’t thirty or forty years of failed complex system migrations and things like ERP implementations taught us anything? It’s never as simple as the vendor trying to sell the solution and then expect it to be completely effective. Have we not learned that an implementation team that fails to take the time to analyze the business’s needs and current state of their technology will run into unforeseen problems? And those unforeseen problems are often going to end up in cost and time overruns?

That’s why we’re insistent that every engagement does not start with a short “kick-off” session, but an extensive gap analysis process. This allows us to identify as many of the influencing factors and required outcomes from the start. A pretty Gantt chart is not going to help a business, especially if it isn’t based on a clear look at the current realities and desired outcomes when trying to execute cloud migration. Implementation is then almost guaranteed to end up harder and costlier than originally intended. The value of spending the time upfront to understand the factors mentioned in this study and how they’ll be impacted by a cloud migration is always better than the cost of taking the time quickly implement it. It’s this time cost that is almost always less than the cost of getting it wrong. Businesses should not be easily persuaded by a vendor on how easy a cloud migration will be. Significant time should be spent studying everything that surrounds that migration and then developing a plan unique to that business’s situation. Any business who takes the opposite approach is focused only on the technology and not on their business’s outcomes.