Businesses all over the world have embraced cloud computing and it has completely changed the way that applications and data are accessed and hosted. There are some significant ways in which cloud computing has altered the landscape of business computing and it is important for project managers to understand what this means for the role that they play. So, what are the benefits of cloud computing in project management and how can you utilise them to their full potential?
Until the Cloud arrived, the average project manager would find themselves faced with an environment where servers belonged to the company itself and were usually sited on the premises. Laptops or desktops were distributed amongst the team members and supported by a dedicated IT department who work internally. Everything necessary to keep the computing systems functioning would have been carried out on-site by a team of software and hardware engineers, and support staff.
The average project manager in this pre-cloud era would have been responsible for working with those computing staff and be involved in the planning, overseeing, managing and tracking of their work. This would have been a huge extra workload in addition to all of the other aspects of manging a project.
What are the benefits of the cloud?
Because many companies are now using external vendors to help them develop and host applications on a cloud site, the role of the project manager has changed significantly, even in just the last few years.
There are no longer any members of a team internally who are involved in the design and architecture aspect of a project. They are usually based externally and employed by a different company. Often the only interaction is carried out remotely – unless of course they need to be onsite for meetings.
When this support comes from a specialist external company then, of course, you need to be certain that the support you are getting is the very best and that you have someone dedicated to resolving any issues as quickly as possible. You should also ensure that the technology the outsourced company are using is as up-to-date as possible.
But, assuming that is the case, the role of project management is simplified in some ways because using the cloud from an external vendor means the risk of downtime is minimal because the provider has the capacity to simply switch to a different server if there is a problem with one of their servers. When storage was in-house few companies except the very largest had the luxury of “spare” servers. It also means the cloud provider is responsible for backups of data and ensuring software and operating system versions are kept up to date.
These are not the only benefits, for the busy project manager the introduction of cloud computing alters the make-up of the project team, making it easier to plan who is doing what and easier to communicate with everyone working on the project because there are fewer roles and responsibilities. The offsite company dealing with the applications, data, backups etc. behind the work you are doing play their part by managing that aspect independently.
In the long run this can mean a simplification of many projects and also that the part of your project budget concerned with computing costs is more likely to be a fixed cost, so less likely to go over budget. It is also likely to be more cost effective to use the cloud, potentially freeing up some budget to spend on other parts of the project.