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Top 5 nontechnical skills for cloud computing success

Companies that move to the cloud need a staff with a strong technical background, but soft skills are important too. Review five non-tech skills needed for a successful cloud initiative.

Nontechnical skills and roles play a bigger part in successful cloud deployments than you might think.

The strategic nature of cloud computing means that everyone in the business must get involved in order to succeed. IT skills are obviously essential, but a company's personnel must also include well-rounded employees with soft skills. The people in highest demand in the job market are those who mesh their nontechnical knowledge with the category-appropriate levels of cloud knowledge and expertise.

Review these five nontechnical skills for cloud computing that IT pros and other employees inside a business should add to their resumes.

1. Project management

A good project manager is worth their weight in gold. They should be adept at planning and tracking -- two important skills for cloud computing success. This is especially true during a migration, which involves organizing and overseeing lots of moving parts. Project management skills are also helpful when it's time to calculate how much human labor is needed and to estimate the costs of using various cloud services.

The complexity that comes with being a project manager makes the role an essential part of any IT team. There are many project management certifications available for people who want to expand their skills for cloud computing beyond technical programs, such as the Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute.

2. Business skills

While "business skills" is a broad term, in this case it refers to individuals who understand the core business processes that are being automated by cloud-based systems. These are typically subject matter experts in a given business sector, such as banking, healthcare, retail or manufacturing. They understand the best practices of their particular sectors and ensure applications meet their businesses' requirements.

These individuals are typically business analysts that have moved into IT. They might not fully understand the finer technical details, such as the specific language an inventory control system is written in. However, they understand the system's core processes and can explain it to systems designers, programmers and database analysts.

Without these skills, IT teams that start a cloud project end up missing core business requirements that should have been addressed up front, such as compliance regulations that restrict the usage of personally identifiable information in a particular industry.

3. Accounting

An individual with accounting expertise monitors cloud costs, sets limits, establishes budgets and intercedes when costs are exceeded. Typically, CPAs and bookkeepers deal with an enterprise's financials, but cloud admins and developers can benefit from understanding budgeting and other cost-related tasks too.

This was an unimportant, nontechnical skill a few years ago when cloud bills were relatively small. Today, however, enterprises regularly look at invoices that run into six figures per month. IT teams that apply proper accounting practices will give the business better control and flexibility.

Admins should also familiarize themselves with various cost management tools to track costs and predict future expenses.

4. Legal acumen

Legal implications in cloud computing aren't just about compliance and regulation like HIPAA or GDPR. Rules on how to handle data are important, but there's also value in hiring employees who can provide general legal advice around cloud computing.

Questions can arise outside the purview of compliance, such as what the tax regulations are around cloud providers. For instance, in some situations, it does not make sense to displace existing hardware with cloud services. If that hardware hasn't fully deprecated, the associated tax benefit has not been fully realized. This can lead to a net loss that's much higher than any savings that might come from switching to the cloud.

Other legal issues include how software licenses are transferable and adherences to service-level agreements. Most people who advise on cloud law are lawyers, although some are converted project managers. Still, people working in the cloud should have some knowledge of rules and regulations that pertain to their work environment.

5. Executive leadership

There is a group of people who barely touch computers, despite playing a major role in cloud computing environments. CFOs and COOs sponsor, fund and take responsibility for the success or failure of cloud projects.

Without executive approval, there will be no money, no migrations and no new development on the cloud. A lot of time and thinking goes into the cloud-enablement of the business, beyond the technical work normally associated with such project.

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