What does Cloud Computing Mean for Project Managers?

Whether software development or infrastructure, the manner in which cloud computing projects are delivered is altered enough to require a slightly different approach to project management.

While the same elements exist on cloud computing projects as any other, the sequence in which they need to be done is a bit jumbled; the focus is higher on some areas than usual, and additional risks present themselves.

The instant availability of computing resources solves some problems, such as the dependencies on procurement and provisioning of resources, but is replaced with far more legal and contractual issues that need to be managed earlier on, as some sticking points may get in the way.

What does Cloud Computing Really Mean for Project Management?

  • New Web-based Testing Processes
  • Web-based Project Management Software
  • Greener Project Management
  • Lower Costs
  • Incredible Scalability
  • Ease of Information-sharing between Team Members, Customer Team Members and Executive Management
  • Rapid Dashboard Info on Portfolio of Projects
  • More Remote Management
  • Meetings using Web-based Tools

While vendors will go to great lengths to tell us how familiar cloud computing is to their existing offerings, things are different and, in many cases, significantly different. Most project managers are equipped with the general skills to manage a cloud computing project. However, many project managers would not have thought about cloud computing in sufficient detail to foresee what needs to be done on the project and will manage it as he or she would manage any other project until it falls apart.Now, there is a great need and an opportunity in cloud computing for project managers who at least have a conceptual understanding of these issues.

Moving Activities Upstream

The on-demand availability of resources presents interesting opportunities to move activities, which have traditionally been downstream activities, to be moved forward. Testing on a “production platform,” security, billing and operational handover, which should be moved forward, reflect the areas of focus on cloud computing projects that are either glossed over or taken for granted on traditional projects.

The project manager will need to spend a lot of time allaying fears, proving the solution and generally providing assurance and answers where few exist.

Dealing with New Risks

With any new set of technologies and concepts, new risks emerge. The biggest risks to cloud computing projects may be non-technical and may result from a senior stakeholder reading a sensationalized story about data loss in the cloud and, fearing litigation or brand negativity, wants to move the new cloud computing initiative on premise.

Other risks include problems that result from vendor platform and tool immaturity, availability of skills, increased engineering costs, inability to satisfy certain requirements (such as latency), compliance issues and a whole host of other problems waiting to ambush the unsuspecting project manager.

Apr 2016

By: Jesse Amos