By Kyle Overall, Senior Systems Engineer
I’ve been a hockey player pretty much since I could walk. I love the thrill of racing across the ice and the euphoria when that little black piece of rubber flies into the net.
As any athlete knows, your equipment is everything. Whenever people tried to convince me to buy the newest skates or stick, I always did thorough research first. I would never ditch my broken-in Bauers with the ripe smell of sweat and faded drops of blood from that winning game two years ago with some supposed “amazing” skates that make me “fly across the ice.” No, no. To give those bad boys up required thorough investigation, consideration and persuasion that the new skates really are all that and a bag of chips.
I think of that today when I consult with clients who are considering a case management solution in the cloud. There are a lot of benefits to leveraging a cloud environment, but it is also a big undertaking to get it up and running. So, how do you know if it is the right move for you? To continue the hockey theme, I’ve found that a cloud environment is best for organizations who experience these five hurdles.
1) Your Users Are Spread Geographically and/or Your Organization is Growing
The first thing you need to consider before deploying any sort of cloud case management solution is your users.
Don’t think too hard…
Consider their geographic location.
If you have employees that work on-premise and remotely (which means you will need to provide access to the network externally and internally), then a cloud solution might be a good fit for you.
Many organizations have employees located in multiple states and branches or that work from home. A cloud solution is accessible anytime, anywhere, making it easy for remote employees to access it.
It provides the flexibility of using the existing internal LDAP or replicating into the cloud so employees can collaborate on the exact same server no matter where they are. It also provides additional protocol procedures (security) and only one URL.
Without a cloud environment, remote employees cannot access your systems which can cause multiple versions of content to circulate among branches, the inability to offer an omnichannel experience to your clients, and limited growth.
2) Your Organization Needs Different Levels of Access into the Internal Network
If a user is outside of your network, do you want them to be able to edit or delete content in your systems of record? Or maybe you want external users to have read-only access?
This is an especially important consideration if your organization is in a regulated industry.
Don’t sweat it – they’re not that scary…
I recently showcased a solution to a client where the internal users had full access to the system, but an auditor had limited access based on a security role defined by the internal LDAP. If you undergo a lot of audits, this is a big reason for why you will want different access levels.
When dealing with proprietary content, a cloud-based enterprise content management (ECM) solution has auditing tools that create an audit trail so you can track who made changes and when making it easy for future audits.
Without a cloud solution, your organization is probably creating different access levels to content through out-of-the-box default security and LDAP access/groups. Although this does the job, it causes your IT team to perform rework for each new instance and provides a cruddy user experience.
For each new consultant, auditor or any third party that may need access to your system, they will be forced to access it through VPN. Which, whoever uses a VPN, knows that it is not the most reliable source. And gosh forbid if you ever need to pull a large file from the server, it will take days.
In addition to a poor user experience, for each new access point, your IT department has to replicate its security and retest it.
With a cloud solution, users only have to log in through a web-based application, like Dropbox for example. And the best part? Your IT department doesn’t even have to worry about replicating the security because the policies are already in place.
3) You Need a Flexible Cloud Case Management Hosting Environment
Do you want to leverage the cloud, but your organization deals with a lot of confidential client information?
Many organizations like banks and insurers cannot host sensitive information in the cloud.
Don’t worry. Not all is lost if this is the case. Instead of hosting all your content in the cloud, you could use a hybrid approach. With this approach, the content repository is on-premises and the application server is in the cloud. This means that your solution functionality is in the cloud, but all the data and content remains on-prem to stay compliant. It’s a win, win.
4) Your IT Team is Over-Worked
Next, think about your internal IT team…
If they’re already over-burdened as it is (i.e. long hours and a work queue that never ends), cloud case management is an excellent option for you.
With your current on-prem environment, as the system grows both horizontally and vertically (via servers, CPUs, etc.), your IT team and the amount of hardware and space grows too. Your IT team is also responsible for making upgrades, performing maintenance work and monitoring and troubleshooting your systems. That’s a lot on their plates!
With a cloud solution, much of this headache dissipates. To start, a cloud solution is perfect for growing companies because as systems grow, the environment automatically grows with it (but your IT team doesn’t have to). Like I mentioned in point number one, if you open more branches or change office locations, connecting to the cloud remains incredibly easy – you don’t have to worry about physically moving all that hardware.
Secondly, you’ll likely have a cloud vendor who will take care of all the responsibilities listed above as they pertain to the cloud. In addition, you don’t have to worry about training your current and future IT professionals on how to manage the cloud. This means IT can focus on what they’re meant to do.
5) Your Organization Spends More Time Managing Tools Than Actually Doing Work
Feel like your organization spends more time wrestling with its tools and processes than it does actually doing the work it’s meant to do?
If you can relate to this, a cloud solution might be your best option because it eliminates the need to monitor the nitty-gritty of your systems.
Cloud providers continually implement updates, fix packs and security measures and have procedures in place to monitor storage space so you never run out. In an on-prem solution, specific people have to manage system downs, memory, space and health checks, but cloud providers eliminate all that overhead which I’m sure your IT team and executives will be happy about.
If you could relate to anything in this list, then you might be a good contender for cloud case management. The cloud lets you focus on your business rather than your software. It frees your IT team and is a scalable solution. Continue doing research and start talking to vendors. Once you get to that stage, here is a list of questions you should ask them.
About the Author: I have been at Pyramid Solutions for 10 years. As a Senior Systems Engineer, I train clients and implement solutions. This winter I am most looking forward to the next release of IBM Case Manager and watching the Detroit Red Wings play at the new stadium!