Cloud Transformation Advice for PMs and PMOs on the Cloud

This is about Cloud Transformation in large sense. Not just cloud service or deployment models, but application refactoring in the cloud, new application development in the cloud, DevOps and kitchen sinks.

First, let’s take look into current cloud maturity based on RightScale’s 2016 State of the Cloud Report.

cloud readiness

According to the report, when comparing cloud transformation in large and small companies, while smaller organizations such as startups are likely to be cloud focused, a larger portion of enterprises are in two mature stages – Cloud Explorers and Cloud Focused.

Many IT organizations are still in Cloud Beginners and Cloud Watchers stages. Many have cloud adaptation, but not as many IT organizations could be considered a mature cloud adopter.

Cloud Transformation projects are highly complex. Very strong PMOs will be able to reduce the risk of projects going off track to deliver Cloud Transformation projects on time and on budget.

There seems to be no shortage of best approaches on cloud migration, development, and DevOps integration from a number of large companies (such as Netflix and Amazon), but not much information on best approaches for PMOs.

So here is a concise list of things PMs and PMOs should think about in order to succeed with Cloud Transformation.


PMs must understand their cloud platform’s cost structure. For instance, engineers should not worry about cost for new container instance for their new microservice. They should be focusing on developing best applications and infrastructure solutions. Focus should be given to forecasting budget based on previous cloud resource usage data through cloud management software or the cloud provider’s portal. Remember, cloud computing is a utility computing, pay only for what you use.


PMs need to manage a number of stakeholders. And multiple stakeholders will have different expectation from PMs. Some will be interested in different reports— for example, deployment frequency, how fast customer-request changes can be implemented, how much time it takes to fix production problems, the average OpEx per month to support service 1 in a microservice environment with container.


PMs needs to communicate the post capability of a product which will be delivered on the cloud, especially for business stakeholders who are less familiar with cloud computing.

For example, let’s say your project team decided to purchase SaaS application instead of writing your own application on the cloud. A SaaS application can meet your stakeholder’s feature requirements, but they usually lack the flexibility for custom feature support. So, say, your business stakeholder had a specific feature they want or needed, and it can’t be supported by your SaaS application. By working as a team in advance, you can build reasonable post-launch expectations.


Cloud transformation can be unpredictable even with solid planning. From my experience, unforeseen issues and roadblocks can present themselves especially when organizations are adapting a new concept technology like the cloud. PMs should proactively identify risks in cloud transformation before they happen and put plans in place to address them should they occur. There is risk in cloud transformation. Be proactive to ensure issues and risks get the right level of escalation and visibility.


PMs know their company’s strategies and vision and can become change agents for cloud transformation. PMs should be active, never passive. Cloud transformation is not just technology transformation but also organizational and cultural transformation.


If your organization is in Cloud Beginners or Cloud Watchers stages, PMs should advocate Proof of Concept (POC). Start small and learn and then go evangelize your team’s success, and help other teams to achieve successful cloud transformation projects. Every win, no matter the scale, is very important for a team’s moral.


PMs need to understand the metrics that are applicable to cloud transformation projects. For example, if your team is adapting DevOps for the project, PMs should understand and be able to produce metrics on development frequency, change lead time, mean time to recover, and change falls rate that learn different project metrics. It is very important that projects are tracked with correct metrics.


To be successful in cloud transformation projects, the PM should be something of a technologist with PM skills. This skillset lends authority and allows the PM to drive the discussion around planning with engineers and business leaders alike.

It is all about technology. In order to support and manage technology transformation effectively, the PMO needs to become a technical organization.


Top cloud challenges include “Lack of resource/expertise” according to RightScale 2016 State of the Cloud Report.

cloud challenges

Instead of living on the sidelines of a project as facilitator, schedule and budget owner, PMs must become the central brain for ensuring the cloud transformation is executed— in a way that meets the needs and expectations of the entire organization. PMs must know what is happening on each level of the projects, e.g., daily scrum, CI/CD, tools integration. And above all, be technically minded.