Organizational alignment - AWS Cloud Adoption Framework: People Perspective

Organizational alignment

Establish ongoing partnerships between organizational structures, business operations, processes, talent, and culture to enable enterprise rapid adaptation to market conditions, and the ability to capitalize on new opportunities.

To augment cloud value realization, organizational alignment serves as a bridge between technology and business strategy, so that technology changes are led or embraced by the business units that produce business outcomes.


Embarking on a cloud journey introduces the need for significant change into the organization. To begin the change and start aligning organizational entities and performance levers, it is imperative to clearly articulate your cloud strategy, desired business outcomes, and specific goals. With a clear picture of what needs to be accomplished with cloud, begin communicating the case for change and establish ongoing partnerships among all organizational entities that will influence success, including business units, IT, operations, talent, culture, and learning.

As you prepare to scale up your cloud journey, ensure that your organization design supports your cloud migration and modernization plans. For example, if you are planning to fully embrace DevSecOps practices within your business units, then develop a plan for transitioning centralized operations and security teams to support decentralized application development teams.

Develop mechanisms to align organizational design with evolving cloud plans. Creating organizational alignment is an evolving and iterative process. Establish both short term (12-18 months) and long-term (3-5 years) goals, and focus on aligning organizational entities and performance levers to achieve your short-term goals. These short-term goals become your priorities that provide the impetus for alignment. Ensure that that cloud goals and priorities are harmonized with other ongoing priorities, and that they are effectively communicated. Communicate cloud goals in a way that shows how cloud augments or supports any other ongoing initiatives or priorities, and does not conflict or detract.


Advancing organizational alignment requires articulation and alignment of cloud goals. Cloud goals should represent a broad spectrum of value levers, including business agility, staff productivity, operational resilience, and cost savings. This represents what you want to accomplish. The value levers of cloud must be fully integrated into your business goals. To maximize business outcomes and value through cloud adoption, consider how existing business goals need to change in a way that harmonizes cloud adoption and reduces potential conflict.

For example, if the business has committed a 2-year plan for delivering a number of on-premises features and, at the same time, cloud is being introduced with IT wanting an aggressive migration plan, then ultimately, the existing business commitments will likely win out. This harmonization of business and cloud goals needs to occur at the beginning of your cloud journey; otherwise, conflicting goals between business and IT may greatly slow cloud adoption.

Your messaging should not only address the what but also how you want the organization to accomplish its goals; for example, work cross-functionally, collaborate, empowered decision making, experimentation, working backward from the customer, and so on. Often the how represents new ways of working, or at least a renewed emphasis. Establish methods to assess the how, and provide feedback to leaders on how to demonstrate and motivate new ways of working.

Large organizations can be full of hidden drivers for misalignment. As a part of your change acceleration framework, use the stakeholder analysis and leadership alignment tools to uncover hidden drivers of misalignment or conflict.

Some of the categories of misalignment might include:

  • Conflicting business and IT priorities.

  • Areas of individual resistance to cloud.

  • Functional or siloed goals compared to business outcome goals.

  • Incentives that motivate the old way of doing things.

  • Areas where the workforce is stretched too thin.

  • How cloud budget is approved and spent.

  • Speed to market of key innovations and business ideas.

  • Middle management that is overworked with on-premises jobs, and cannot allocate time to upskilling their teams on cloud.

  • KPIs that measure outdated processes.

  • Performance management systems that measure and motivate the old ways of doing things.


To align organizational entities and performance levers to drive cloud outcomes, develop and implement systemic and substantially automated methods to develop, harmonize and cascade cloud goals. The goals should extend through to business units, functions, departments, teams, and individuals.

Prior to cascading cloud goals, plan and align incentive systems using key criteria, including:

  • Bonuses, such as spot, project, performance, and retention.

  • Merit-based raises.

  • Promotions.

  • Recognition (formal and informal).

  • Friendly competitions and prizes for individuals who complete cloud certifications.

This represents more of a top-down alignment. Early in your cloud journey, implement quarterly checkpoints to formally assess potential areas of misalignment.

To increase and continue alignment, develop and implement bottom-up mechanisms for teams and individuals to identify and rectify any alignment-related friction points related to design or structure, business processes, talent, and culture. This can be done in conjunction with the cascaded goals. Where goals are missed, or even substantially exceeded, the change acceleration team can conduct deep dive feedback sessions to assess misalignment issues as potential causal factors.

As market conditions change or as new opportunities arise, ensure that your cascading goals systems are capable of responding in a timely manner and that your feedback systems are sensitive enough to detect potential areas of misalignment.