Treading toward efficient change management through the cloud

February 15, 2017

andy-knauf-mead-hunt-258x258pxThe rise of Configuration Management Solution

Configuration Management Solutions (CMS) are more automated today than five years ago, when much of the process was manual. Tools to gather information for you with a simple command have replaced writing scripts. Today’s systems are much easier to use and there isn’t a compelling reason not to have some kind of CMS in your organization.

Finding the right solution

Finding a system that everyone can agree on is key. We struggled for years to find the right CMS for Mead & Hunt. Our solution was to configure several different products to help effectively manage entire infrastructure and assets in our systems.

Once everyone agreed that a CMS would best meet the needs of our large multi-state, fast growing design firm, it was easy to implement. Today we couldn’t function as seamlessly and efficiently without the process we put in place to manage the information technology necessary for a diverse firm like Mead & Hunt.

“We moved all our data to the cloud more than three years ago, and couldn’t be happier with that decision. Now we’ve begun moving applications and servers out too.” Andy Knauf

The game plan

The time it took to analyze alternatives to accepting the CMS model allowed us to get better organized corporately. We reviewed previous experiences with our system to identify where change was needed to prepare for the future.

After several discussions with the leadership and information technology team a model was agreed upon. Then a game plan for implementation was defined and rules established to ensure a successful rollout. Verifying there is buy-in from leaders, users, and the implementation team is the most important part of introducing a CMS model. It helps everyone see the long-term value.

Success with CMS

As CMS deployment begins establishing the roles within your team. Make sure there is a clear owner to the system. Select someone to be responsible for the strategy and direction of the solution. Having a technical professional managing the system who is responsible for the day-to-day activities will ensure that the system runs smoothly. You will also have users of the system data that is driven from the CMS.

Going cloud all the way

The cloud is the future. Mead & Hunt is forward thinking and works hard to stay on the razor’s edge of innovation. We will be completely in the cloud in the next 3 to 5 years. Three years ago my team moved all our data to the cloud. Feedback indicates we were perfectly on track with that decision.

Currently we are moving applications and servers to the cloud. I see Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS being the two heavies now and in the future with regards to cloud. However, it is the direction many companies are going and my goal is to keep Mead & Hunt competitive, which means we need to have our systems compatible with partnering firms. Other companies that we work with like Autodesk, Bentley and Adobe are making the shift to the cloud as well.

A connected digital world

The cloud is the soul of who we are today. Just look at the number of smartphones that are in everyone’s hands. You can’t go anywhere anymore without a smartphone. Kids today will never know what the world was like without that technology.

Everything that we touch is going to be a smart product; from our light bulbs to our refrigerators. As I walk into my house today, I can turn on the music, heat the oven, and turn on the ceiling fan with just simple voice commands. A sensor that monitors the air quality in my home. Another a device monitors the electrical current in the house so I can see what is using the energy. Although with two teenage daughters in the house, I don’t need technology to tell me that the hot water heater, washer and dryer consume a vast amount of our energy.

I’ve always embraced technology. When I was 12 years old, I enjoyed writing programs on my 4K Commodore PET computer. It is truly amazing to see the changes in technology and the speed at which products continue to improve and evolve.

There is plus to all the technology when it comes to business. Today’s employee has a greater desire to understand and use the latest in the latest technology has to offer. It shows in the amount of training that has to be done and the number of help desk requests that come in to my department now compared to five years ago.

My goal is to keep Mead & Hunt and our teams prepared to communicate well and deliver efficiently, effectively to our clients. This means as a firm, we must continue to be at the forefront of technology.

By Andy Knauf, Vice President of Information Technology, Mead & Hunt

READ this article in CIO Review