Early on in the cost optimization process we at Tecflair put in place something which we call the Finance-Tech Bridge, which we strongly believe is crucial to successful use of Amazon Web Services. The Finance-Tech Bridge is all about bringing together the finance team and the tech team, in terms of their cloud drivers, and helping them understand and gain empathy for each other’s positions. That way you can create a strong foundation for a successful campaign to reduce your AWS costs.
So how do you build a Finance-Tech Bridge?
Firstly, gather the tech and finance leads who are responsible for cloud into a room and have them list their cloud drivers, i.e. the top three for each of the teams. Talk through and understand why they put those top drivers there. These are their top concerns, objectives and stresses. Where’s the pressure coming from? Where do they enjoy working? And so forth… It’s important to get that as a very focused list.
During that process, one of the main objectives is to build empathy between the teams for each other’s position, which might even be opposing positions. The operations team might feel that the finance team’s requirement to reduce AWS costs by 20%, is in direct violation of their requirement to keep the lights on, make sure performance is strong, and reliability is 100%. Talking through those points helps each other understand that they are actually on the same page. They just need to work together to achieve those same objectives – which is why building that empathy is extremely important.
During this session establish trust. Make sure that everyone is open and honest. Encourage vulnerability, encourage people to put any office politics aside and be as open as possible, because if you have trust between these key people, then the whole process will be much easier. Once you feel that you have a relationship of empathy and trust, which doesn’t happen overnight, then agree on objectives that you can all buy into.
These objectives will be a combination of financial and technical objectives or requirements, but the purpose is to bring these teams together for the purpose of cloud cost optimization. Therefore the objective should be focused on that cost optimization principle.
Discuss these objectives and solutions with them on an 80/20 basis. Go for the quick, big wins first. It’s really important to understand what they are and how that works. Finish it up by creating a FinOps steering group to create a strategy and to report back on actions. Keep that group relatively small, but make sure it’s very well-represented and senior enough that it can actually make decisions and drive action.
Once that is in place, and you have a regular cadence of sessions, you can track exactly what is going on and understand the progress, combining information such as AWS cost and usage data with your own organizational data; this will put your whole cost-optimization practice into a new gear. This is where the Finance-Tech Bridge delivers, and we feel it’s absolutely crucial to any effective AWS cost management initiative.