This is a personal story about how my team’s cloud computing proposal won the support of our CFO. It was 2012 and my previous team and I were struggling with our on-premise email marketing platform. My previous employer lacked the IT staff to support the department’s hardware and software while our email vendor lacked the resources to support our legacy system. In other words, I had the good fortune of working very closely with support technicians and jockey for position within the internal ticketing system. Naturally, we all wanted a solution that just worked and moving from an on-premise solution to a hosted, cloud-based solution seemed like the obvious answer.
After an exhaustive search for a new email platform, we decided that migrating our on-premise platform to a Cloud-based SaaS Email Marketing solution was worth the effort, regardless of the email marketing vendor we choose. There was something exceptionally rational about outsourcing our technical problems to another company’s department with experienced employees dedicated to preventing and quickly addressing common problems. The alternative was to continue entering IT support tickets while keeping up-to-date on an ever changing ticketing process, campaigning for IT resources, and trusting that our internal IT team could quickly resolve unfamiliar issues that routinely left us dead in the water.
As my team compiled the documentation and prepared to present our case, we knew we faced an uphill battle. Cloud-based SaaS Email Marketing solutions always appear to cost more on paper. The time spend maintaining an on-premise solution is too often thought of as “free” because IT departments are paid on salary and will just work extra hours.
To complicate matters, our on-premise solution’s pricing was based on a flat annual fee, regardless of whether we sent one email per year or one email per day. Imagine, if you’d like, requesting to transition from the equivalent of an unlimited cellular service plan with unlimited usage to a metered service plan with a probably of overage charges approaching 1.00. As we sat together and pondered our odds of success, the CFO’s support was assumed to be off the table.
It’s my personal contention that many corporate finance officers reject marketing budgets as a reflex. This reflexive response is probably related to the days of offline marketing where ROI couldn’t be so easily connected to specific activities and advertising was purchased without any expectation of tracking responses. It’s hard to fault a CFO, who lived through the offline era of marketing, for carrying their personal experiences over to the online era with defined by metrics and constant reporting.
So, much to our collective surprise, the CFO supported our cloud computing proposal on the grounds that metered monthly operating costs were preferable over a single lump sum payment and that we were losing revenue from downtime. CFO’s don’t like writing big checks and seem genuinely agitated by idle departments.
We won over the biggest skeptic. Things were looking optimistic. However, the reality of the situation was that some of the very factors which helped us gain the support of the CFO were the same factors that may have cost of the support of management.
A protracted battle against your legacy system damages your bottom line and has the side effect of labeling your department as a candidate for budget cuts. Once those discussions have taken place, you’re cloud computing proposal to migrate to a SaaS solution has to make a rational argument as well as convince management to backtrack on their plans to redistribute resources and give you a second chance. That’s no easy task…
What’s the moral of the story? If the cloud enables you to operate (more) effectively, make the move as early as possible. The advantages of outsourcing your IT headaches and the efficiency you gain are a necessity, not a luxury. Your IT team will appreciate the freedom to leave the office before sunset and you’ll make new friends at the office. It’s a win-win for everybody.
How is this related to Awesome Cloud? Well, if you’re an Awesome Cloud partner and you’re interested in picking my brain about your email marketing, drop me a line by emailing [email protected]. Looking for a great email service provider? Check out Responsys, MailChimp, and Bronto.