Executive Sponsor Considerations for Enterprise Cloud Adoption


By Donald R. Hammons, MBA 

California, USA


As enterprise-level companies consider cloud strategies aligned to meeting corporate growth and performance objectives, executive sponsors have myriad considerations to undertake. Such considerations may include:

  • Cloud platform selection
  • Project Portfolio strategy
  • Implementation, Change and Risk Tolerance
  • IT and Business Team Synergies

This paper will explore the above considerations as executive level project sponsorship is considered vital to successful disruption of IT-norms within the enterprise in favor of value-add and highly nimble cloud solutions whose aim is to enhance business velocity and enterprise-level pivots towards high-growth opportunities.

Understanding the Role of the Sponsor

Enterprise cloud adoption is complex. Strong executive sponsorship is ‘vital’ when organizations make the decision to go-forward with organization-wide deployments of cloud platforms or applications whose intent is to add value and drive organizational collaboration and velocity. The role of the executive sponsor within the enterprise is therefore a critical component to successful enterprise adoption of leading edge cloud technologies and the complexity of the role must not be discounted.

The role of the executive sponsor is critical not only during the implementation of such technologies but well prior to implementation as platform selection and project portfolio strategies prior to project-level implementation are vital. The role of the sponsor is broad-based and provides a ‘single executive’ level leadership position with a chief objective of ‘impediment removal’. This objective may involve playing a crucial role in providing a bridge between the technical complexities of implementation often involving deep Information Technology team alignment while in tandem playing the role as ‘primary business objective’ sponsor for internal and external stakeholders whose sole aim is to realize the value of the very technologies being implemented.   The sponsor’s role is crucial in ensuring the systems for accountability are in place within the organization as well as externally inclusive of system integrators and service providers who may play a crucial role in project portfolio execution. Thus, the executive sponsor of a cloud implementation portfolio is one of the most crucial roles in today’s enterprise eco-system.

Cloud Platform Selection 

Well prior to the executive sponsor implementation role, sponsors play a critical position when it comes to cloud platform selection. Leveraging a strong understanding of an internal organization’s information technology eco-system history, a strong executive sponsor will seek to understand not only the opportunities with cloud adoption but will seek to understand fully the potential impediments that pertain to moving an organization forward in a way that embraces cloud platform benefits while not being negatively disruptive to existing state business processes integral to a company’s revenue trajectory. This artful nuance is a skill derived by strong executive sponsors that include the ability to politically formulate a go forward cloud adoption strategy while understanding the realities of implementation complexity in parallel to those aims.

Cloud platform selection is critical to the enterprise. Involvement of executive sponsors in this pre-implementation phase is therefore vital to ensuring that downstream implementation of such technologies results in positive outcomes for the firm. Companies utilize varied approaches to cloud platform selection. Research of upper-right quadrant best of breed platforms and applications is a viable starting point for the enterprise when considering wall-to-wall cloud technologies. Once an understanding is reached in terms of viable options for the enterprise whether they are considering ERP platforms, CRM solutions such as Salesforce.com, collaboration and content management platforms such as BOX.COM, or other cloud and mobile applications, other considerations then are taken into account such as organizational scale, budgetary considerations for Software as a Service (SaaS) licenses, implementation, training and adoption mechanisms and prior investments the organization may have made in such technologies tied to an overall cloud and mobile technology roadmap.


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About the Author 

pmwj16-nov2013-ching-hammonds-IMAGE 2Donald Hammons, MBAflag-usa

California, USA

Donald R. Hammons is a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and cloud evangelist. A US Navy Veteran with a 20+ year career in Information Technology, Don earned his MBA at the University of Texas and is a periodic contributor to the PM World Journal. He can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Don Hammons, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/donald-r-hammons/