When it comes to using technology for the purpose of organizational productivity, performing Gap Analysis is the best strategy for rectifying productivity and profits for said technology.
But what is a gap analysis, and why do organizations need to perform one for cloud technologies?
What is Gap Analysis?
A gap analysis is a step-by-step process for examining current use of technology, and researching whether the technology is being utilized to its fullest profit and productivity potential.
Organizations need to conduct gap analyses because, unfortunately, adoption of cloud-based technologies has dramatically outpaced organizations’ understanding of how they are best used to optimize profit and productivity levels. This discrepancy is especially true for organizations using enterprise content management (ECM) software, and document management software (DMS).
Although each organization will differ in its gap analysis for a number of reasons such as industry, organization size, and preexisting IT infrastructure, there are 4 core principles every organization using cloud based document management software (or any cloud-based software for that matter) should rely on when performing a gap analysis that can (and should) result in a bridging of the gap between current tech use and optimal tech use for the purpose of increasing productivity and, therefore, profits.
1. Objective Analysis of the Technology’s Current State
This is the first and, non-coincidentally, the most difficult step in performing an effective gap analysis for cloud-based technologies. It can be hard to find fault in our own workings, especially if this fault has cost our organizations money. This is why the term “objective” is especially important in this step. However, the right re-correction can make up for and surpass these losses. A few important points for analysis in this step entail:
Examining most recent balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and other financial documentation, then comparing the numbers to those surmised in the months prior to cloud implementation. After accounting for any other changes that may be impacting revenue, such as onboarding or seasonal customer decline, an organization’s use of cloud technology for the purposes of productivity and profitability can be assessed.
Surveying employees to identify whether they’re incentivized to use the cloud to complete their work, or whether they rely on it to complete their projects – as well as examining whether all departments understand how to use the cloud – will also be beneficial.
2. Identify and Describe An Optimal Future State for Cloud Use
An optimal future state for cloud use (or correct state for cloud use) usually involves the following components:
The cloud is saving money on storage space
This will continue to be the case as data compression technology keeps pace with the adoption of cloud-based solutions in mass.
The cloud is saving money on electrical costs
Unlike on-premise(s) software, the cloud requires less bandwidth and energy to operate, reducing operational costs. So long as employees are buying in to the solution and using it, this step will be achieved.
And, ultimately, the most effective cloud usage requires that nearly all or all of organizations’ information is moved to the cloud: Splitting time and functions between the cloud and other methods of conducting business can prove costly to productivity, organization, collaboration, and interoperability.
3. Identify and Describe the Gap (If One Exists)
One of the easiest places to identify, describe, and ultimately close the performance gap with the cloud involves looking outside the walls of your own organization. You should extend your scope of interest to encompass what other companies are doing in similar industries to utilize the cloud effectively.
If they’re competitors, this information will be difficult to summon directly, but there are plenty of impartial resources to help leverage this information. What’s more, oftentimes the gap exists as a failure of interoperability between existing technologies/servers and the cloud itself.
For instance, it’s worth tracking whether all employees are buying-in to the cloud service you’ve implemented. One of the most frequent gaps is caused by many employees relying on antiquated methods of working despite their organization’s cloud adoption. Not only does this make it difficult to find and share files as a team, it adds confusion to storage methods, making duplicated information and the chaos it brings run rampant throughout all departments affected.
Do Employees "Get" the Technology You’ve Implemented?
Although the assumptive, post-implementation “go figure it out on your own” technique is IT departments’ most widely used “training” program, it often results in employees failing to understand both the significance of the technology, and the functionality it provides. Once this is identified, it’s possible to analyze deeper causes for the gap and how this gap can be analyzed and bridged through quarterly training/ensuring all new employees are trained on how to properly use the cloud service.
What’s more, a cloud “security phobia” may be preventing buy-in from the top down. Forbes recently reported that nearly 90% of the global workforce lacks understanding of how security applies to the cloud. It then follows as a sequitur that all the ethos of fear we see arising about cloud security is likely misplaced, unwarranted, and inapplicable to the contemporary business context.
Given that the security questions of the cloud have been refuted by experts in the industry, employees can be educated on this matter to feel safer using the technology as a means of not just collaborating, but entrusting their work to the cloud’s security, too.
However, it’s important to note that identifying and describing the gap in this stage of gap analysis requires the most care, as it’s the trickiest step. The difficulty arises in this stage due to the multitude of confounding variables that may arise. For instance, what may look like an operational failure may in fact be a failure to generate organizational buy in. Of all the stages, this stage requires the most effort and attention-to-detail, so tread carefully.
4. Canvass Remediation and Gap-Bridging Opportunities
Planning is the most crucial aspect of this step. It can be overwhelming trying to implement an organizational-wide plan to eliminate any productivity and profit gaps in cloud-based software.
However, the last step in this process is the easiest as it merely involves creating a plan to eliminate the gap, which involves:
- Finding a solution to the gap.
- Identifying an actionable roadmap to accomplish its closing.
Most organizations feel most comfortable visualizing the plan and incentivizing (through one means or another) employees to follow the guidelines.
The results of following this four plan can help organizations actualize the very reasons the cloud is such an effective technology: reduced operating costs, scalability across the organization, greater mobility and access to files/documentation, low cost data and information storage, and better collaboration – all of which lead to greater productivity and profits.