How to Conduct a Cloud Needs Assessment

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David SebestyenBy Dave Sebestyen

To become a trusted cloud partner, you need to provide independent third-party needs assessments for your clients. A strategic cloud assessment presents an opportunity for you to:

 

  • Develop mindshare with the client and achieve correct positioning
  • Demonstrate and prove considerable value in a short time  frame
  • Establish a beachhead or get further traction in an account

When expertly conducted and to the extent the business reality allows, every cloud assessment should strive to achieve the following three goals:

  1. Objectively evaluate the client's IT environment and identify corresponding cloud solutions
  2. Identify which cloud solutions are saleable now vs. later and develop a sales strategy
  3. Use the assessment process to climb up the value chain and position yourself in the client’s mind as a sophisticated technical and business adviser as opposed to yet another vendor selling products and services.

GOAL 1: OBJECTIVELY EVALUATE THE CLIENT'S IT ENVIRONMENT AND IDENTIFY CORRESPONDING CLOUD SOLUTIONS

Gathering the technical and business data to assess the entire IT environment should begin with an extended non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with limited liability and terms and conditions statements in order to protect your company and to show your prospective buyers that you respect their confidentiality and intellectual property. Use best-practice standards for the must-include components and must-have legal language for these documents. IT environments riddled with problems are common, and it is important to establish rules of the engagement prior to helping the client.

The information gathering process can be broken down into multiple components outlined below. Keep in mind that we have provided a simplified summary of each category along with  sample questions that you may want to ask. In practice, the depth of the technical inquiries in each category are extensive enough to warrant a series of white papers.

General & Strategic Information

  • Demographics — How many locations? What are the addresses? How many employees? What are the lines of business and SIC codes? Who are its customers? Who are its competitors? What is the corporate structure? How is it funded? What is its financial position?
  • Growth Plans — What are your client's strategic plans? What are its three- to five-year goals? What  are its top three goals and top three pain points?
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