Autodesk Forge is our collection of Application Program Interfaces, documentation, sample code, and a community of customers and partners who develop customized solutions suited to their workflows. Although customers and partners are free to choose their own service providers, our cloud-based developer tools are made available via Amazon Web Services (AWS). Forge allows our customers and partners to derive more value from their design and engineering data.
Running in the cloud is a new business dynamic. It means a shift in perspective and skills not just for the engineering and product teams, but also finance, HR, legal, and other business roles. I'm fortunate to see this transition first-hand as a Finance Business Partner for Autodesk Forge where I manage our relationship with Amazon Web Services.
While the adoption of public cloud services has been skyrocketing in recent years, we don't yet have a clear understanding of what this shift means for business roles like mine. The (Financial Operations) FinOps Foundation is changing that by helping define best practices for financial cloud management. As a founding member, I've joined a group of product, engineering, and finance professionals to help break down silos and establish the processes and culture to run successfully in such a fast-changing environment.
At the FinOps Foundation launch, I shared my experience on the new set of skills needed for cloud management. The speed and flexibility of the cloud require fundamental changes to how both engineering and business team members think about their roles. Ultimately, this breaks down into four categories of skills:
How is success defined? Both engineering and business team members must have clarity and alignment on product roadmap and goals. What does success look like and what activities drive toward key results? What are the goals for the product aside from developing new features? Margins? Market penetration? Clarity into and achievement of these success metrics is everyone’s responsibility.
The only way to understand success metrics is through structured and centralized data. This includes product performance, financial reporting, efficiency, etc. It's critical that teams see and measure success to support long-term run and not just shipping product.
Complete Business Perspective
General and Administrative (G&A) staff must have greater technical knowledge, and engineers must understand how their actions impact the business. Even small engineering changes can rapidly increase costs. How do you ensure everyone understands the highly variable nature of this new environment? Product teams need to think more like finance, and finance needs to think more like product teams. Using defined success metrics and data-driven approaches, large "whoopsies" can be avoided.
Shift Thinking to Achieve Success
Be comfortable with pivoting quickly. All cost functions can be tied directly to time-constrained decisions. Remember that supporting a product or service that is no longer central to your business still requires resources, and therefore budget, to run. By shifting thinking away from a focus on sunk costs and instead using science-based, data-driven decisions to navigate direction, the ability to execute meaningfully rises exponentially.
The change to a more variable cost-based business needs a new way of thinking across teams in forecasting and budgeting, finance and business partnerships, and depth of technical knowledge for corporate functions. At Autodesk, our cross-functional teams are doing just that.
Autodesk has always been an automation company. Today, more than ever, that means helping our customers automate their design and make processes. We help them embrace the future of making, where they can do more (e.g., efficiency, performance, quality), with less (e.g., energy, raw materials, timeframes, waste of human potential), and realize the opportunity for better (e.g., innovation, user experience, return on investment). Working with partners like AWS is one of the ways we can help provide the opportunity for better.
Service management is alive in the lab.