Vision - AWS Prescriptive Guidance


As highlighted in the previous section, our definition of a Cloud Operating Model is one that builds, matures, and optimizes one or more cloud environments. It does this by maturing the existing (IT) operating model to adopt and be adept in utilizing cloud-first ways of working that support your targeted business outcomes.

We have observed two common challenges in helping our customers establish their Cloud Operating Models: knowing where to focus, and how to maintain momentum in the transformation. It's not uncommon for organizations to make several attempts before they establish a model that is rewarding to work in and that delivers results and value to the organization.

For this reason, the first stage of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) is Envision:

[The] Envision phase focuses on demonstrating how the cloud will help accelerate your business outcomes. It does so by identifying and prioritizing transformation opportunities across each of the four transformation domains in line with your strategic business objectives. Associating your transformation initiatives with key stakeholders (senior individuals capable of influencing and driving change) and measurable business outcomes will help you demonstrate value as you progress through your transformation journey.

Most enterprises have their own way of defining the vision. At AWS, many teams establish a vision by defining a mission statement, a set of tenets the teams that are building capabilities will use to make their prioritization decisions, and a press release document with associated frequently asked questions (PR-FAQ). We use this approach to help our customers establish their Cloud Operating Model, but we adapt the approach to develop a Vision Document or charter that helps align the team that implements the Cloud Operating Model and provides a reference for teams they interact with.

Developing a Vision Document

The Vision Document includes a Mission Statement, Tenets, Drivers, and Outcomes. Each section should be defined with the leadership team, linked to the overall business strategy, and then published on an internal site (such as a wiki) for everyone to read.

The Mission Statement for a Cloud Operating Model should be linked to the value that the cloud is expected to bring to the organization. It should reflect the business drivers, priorities, strategy, and mandate for cloud usage.

Tenets are principles or beliefs that help teams align and bring everyone into an agreement around critical decisions. Here are some example tenets from our engagements with customers:

  • We prioritize the many over the few. We prioritize the delivery of services that are useful to the entire organization over those for a single department or business unit.

  • We aim for customer delight. We will create and run simple to use, highly scalable services that accelerate application teams by abstracting complexity and reducing the operational effort by minimizing handoffs.

  • We prioritize automation and self-service. We help application teams go faster by prioritizing self-service and automation over manual processes.

  • Speed matters: start small and iterate. We prioritize incremental delivery over extensive analysis.

The implied level of priority is from the first tenet to the last one. This order can help the team focus on the most important deliverables in support of wider business outcomes.

We recommend that you review and iterate on your Mission Statement and Tenets regularly and update them to reflect the requirements of your organization, your Cloud Operating Model, and your current level of cloud maturity.

Drivers and Outcomes provide the connections to business strategy. Drivers refer to the need to develop the Cloud Operating Model—what is driving the change—and how the Cloud Operating Model is influenced by them.

Outcomes are what you can expect from the change, or the first step in the journey that the changes will enable. These are forward-looking statements that capture expectations as the changes are implemented. Outcomes are useful to document to ensure that benefits are connected to technical results as well as business values.

When you build your Cloud Operating Model, we recommend that you use this approach to help identify the key problems to solve, the benefits to be delivered, and what the user experience should look and feel like.

If you are interested in taking a similar customer-centric approach, we recommend watching Richard Halkett's Working backwards: Amazon's approach to innovation presentation (AWS re:Invent 2020), which describes Amazon's method to driving innovation and designing new products and services.

Regardless of which method you use, creating and publishing an agreed vision for the Cloud Operating Model that aligns to your targeted business outcomes is very important. The next step is to align that model to your current state of cloud adoption.