Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cloud Workers: How Cloud Computing affects Project Managers

Project Manager

US Army 51968 Charlie Wilcox, USASMDC-ARSTRAT Simulation Center program manager, left, talks with Ben Matthews, project manager, and Cathy Hatchett, security manager, both with GaN Corporation. GaN Corporation was
By Deborah Erhart, via Wikimedia Commons     
Cloud computing is a new paradigm for IT professionals.  For project managers cloud computing brings with it new tools that bring with them new possibilities.

Pros


Cloud computing services come with loaded with a predefined set of features giving access to functionality for no additional development time.  Many cloud computing providers such as Azure and Amazon's AWS have templated or pre-defined systems reduce the time to develop projects.  While others such as Salesforce have an app store that allows the easily addition of adding for low or no cost.

Cloud computing can be empowering to less technical workers such as project managers by giving them the ability to use and administer software without always involving other IT workers.  Some cloud systems allow non technical workers the ability to add on extra components the same way they would install an app for a phone.

Cons

While cloud computing has great benefits for organizations there are some pitfalls that project managers need to know to help them plan and reduce risk in their projects.  Software as a Service (SaaS) for many cloud providers can have updates that effect the project.  Cloud services that work one day can break then next.  Someone needs to be responsible within an organization to keep track of the emails from the cloud provider about scheduled outages, updates, and bug fixes.

When using cloud software half of the system is controlled by someone else.  What may be an emergency to an internal IT organization may not be to the cloud provider.  Many cloud provides have a 72 hour turn around time for their help desk.  But fixes or essential updates may take months to happen if they happen at all.

Cloud computing is also a fixed asset.  With traditional software projects software development teams can build highly flexible software.  Cloud computing is pre-defined resources that are inflexible.  Project managers need to learn about the limits of the system they are purchasing before deciding to go with them.

Discussion

Cloud computing can help organizations succeed but it requires PMs to plan for delays due to the cloud provider.  Project managers need to also find the limitations of the cloud systems before deciding to go with the system.