With Microsoft’s marketing budget now pointed clearly towards cloud computing and online services, there can be little doubt remaining where software provision is heading. Yet, as businesses embrace the model, revelling in the faster up time and lower cost of ownership, they must be careful not to throw out everything they know about successful project delivery.

There is something about the instant gratification of buying enterprise software online that seems to make otherwise vigilant IT decision-makers lose their heads. The promise of free trials or petty cash-sized monthly subscriptions and the chance to gain immediate access to the hottest new functionality appears to trigger irrational behaviour.

Seduced by the assumed ‘low risk’ of a pay-monthly, own-nothing plan, companies see a shortcut – a chance to gain access to fabulous new features which can surely only benefit the business, without a drawn-out procurement process. At the click of a link, they’re online – by the afternoon, their business could be transformed – couldn’t it?

Yet, in their haste to get started, these companies risk casting aside key steps that guarantee a successful project – including the importance of scoping and planning an optimised implementation, as well as data migration and role based user training.

None of this is to undermine the business case for cloud solutions. A pay-monthly subscription and the chance to make upgrades and support someone else’s problem carry potentially significant cost-of-ownership benefits, while appealing to accountants by avoiding capital spending.

The disclaimer, rather, is to ensure that such calculations are made only once consultancy, project planning, customised implementation and training have been provided for. The chances are, the investment needed can be controlled by using packaged rapid implementation methodologies.

There’s no denying the cloud speeds up implementation time when compared with traditional on-premise software; use that wisely to plan your implementation, the results will be rewarding as will the ROI.