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Is Your Cloud System a Mess? Take Our Test

David Taber | Feb. 25, 2013
Your cloud-based system may have been in use for seven years or more. It probably needs a tune-up. Let's see what kind of shape it's in and what you need to do to make it run like new.

As I discussed in last week's article, cloud computing systems and the data they contain are now valuable corporate assets. You can't take them for granted, either: They need to be managed and cultivated like any other corporate asset.

Although it's difficult to provide an assessment tool for every kind of cloud platform or application, you can tailor the following framework to the specific cloud services in your organization. Each question below gives you points. Like in golf, low scores win-the higher your total, the more you need to develop a get-well plan.

Cloud Security

Give yourself 5 points for each "No" answer.

  • Do you back up all data weekly?
  • Are system audit trails turned on?
  • Do you back up all metadata and administrative logs monthly?
  • Are password-strength policies in place? This includes forcing password change on a quarterly basis.
  • Is a document retention/destruction policy in place, and is there some sort of enforcement?
  • Do you have data entry guidelines, particularly for personal confidential information. Again, is there some form of enforcement?
  • Do you have active user accounts in the system for people who no longer work for your organization? (Here, give yourself 5 points if you say "Yes.")

Cloud Data Bogosity

Give yourself 1 point for each percentage point below.

  • What percent of your address data is blank, trash or does not use ISO-standard codes for state and country?
  • What percent of your addresses have state and country values that are not ISO-standard codes?
  • What percent of your records or documents seem to be duplicates?
  • What percent of your nonarchived records or documents haven't been updated in the last year?
  • What percent of your records or files are owned by zombies, or people who are no longer system users?
  • What percent of the fields in your records are empty or garbage more than 98 percent of the time?
  • How many times a week does the system create an unhandled exception? If there is no code in your cloud system, how many times a week is a bogus record created by users or external data feeds?

Alignment With Business Processes

Give yourself 1 point for each "unit" that's implied in the question.

  • For the organizations that regularly use the system, how many times have they had reorganizations or major staff changes since the system was first installed?
  • For the system overall, divide the number of years the system has been in place by the number of times its user guides/cheat sheets have had major revisions.
  • For the average system user, divide the number of years the system has been in use by the number of times there have been significant training cycles.
  • For the most important user organization, how many quarters has it been since it published a "rules of engagement" or other significant business process document?
  • How many business processes, internal or external, do not have a clear SLA or process quality standard?
  • How many methods do "something mysterious" that nobody really understands?
  • How many times a week does an average user have to take a business process outside the system for an exception, approval, merger, reconciliation and so on?


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