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Don’t let spiralling cloud costs disrupt your fintech project

The fintech industry as we know it wouldn’t exist without the cloud. No financial app, comparison website or any of the other numerous innovations we’ve seen emerge from the last decade would be possible without it. Given its intrinsic value to fintechs, it is perhaps surprising that very few are using the most cost effective solution. Millions in vital capital is lost each year from startups either paying too much for services or failing to modify their infrastructure in line with their current needs. 

A lot of the difficulty is down to three key problems - high barriers to effectively plan and manage resources throughout a project’s lifespan, opaque sales and billing procedures from cloud infrastructure providers, and finally a siloed approach which sees the engineering, finance and operations teams operating with different expectations and approaches. 

However, it doesn’t need to be this way. A little due diligence, some tweaks to process and a different mindset towards your cloud infrastructure will make all the difference. The result will be significant cost and time savings that could make all the difference to your fintech. 

Breaking down the challenges throughout the project lifecycle

The problem starts at the very beginning. Whoever is tasked with working out which provider to use, and there’s many different job roles which could fairly argue it should be within their remit, will be spending several hours if not days, trying to go through a myriad of costing options in order to figure out a potential cost. 

Depending on what type of company you’re working at, these potential costs will have to work their way up through different layers and financial and project management to be checked and signed off. A key challenge for those working in the traditional financial sector, is that the way your project will be billed by the cloud provider probably won’t play nicely with the quarterly or annual financial plan. Costs rise and fall with demand, rather than stacking neatly into spreadsheet columns. 

Once your project moves into the deployment stage, those initial cost projections could go completely out the window. You might need more or fewer resources than anticipated, and matching what you're using to what you're paying for in real-time can feel like a never ending battle. Developers may request more resources, while operations worry about an upcoming surge in demand, marketing are told to hold back their campaigns in case it overrides capacity. On the ground, the best laid plans can be irrelevant in minutes.

The end of the month when your cloud costs invoice lands in someone’s invoice can be a confusing time for all those involved. The number at the bottom could be broadly in line with expectations, or wildly off. It probably isn’t clear which projects or teams have used which resources, which resources were necessary and which were wasted. 

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little more planning and a better understanding of how the cloud service market operates, businesses can put in place processes and safeguards that can save them a lot of time and a lot of money. 

Don’t let cloud costs ruin your business’ development

FinTechs may be one of the hottest trends in technology, but if a company can’t control its costs then the project or business is only going to end one way. But the issue of incorrect cloud costs also runs deeper - it has an effect on a company’s ability to innovate. 

So if your development team is trying to roll out new features to compete with a startup bank, or you’re a founder caught in a frantic race to be first to market, being held back because you couldn’t resource and pay for your technology stack is both damaging and unnecessary. 

If you can’t get a clear picture of what your cloud usage actually is, and what it should be, you’re wasting budgets. Those budgets could be better spent on research, development and innovation to drive cutting edge advances in your sector. Making every penny of cloud spent accountable and efficient is essential. Not having that will, and does, affect your ability to innovate and survive.

Taking a developer-centric approach to cost management

The answer to both the innovation and cost conundrums lies in the hands of the engineering team. Operations teams often forget to tap into the expertise and insight of engineering teams who will be able to take an on-paper budget and turn it into a deployment reality. 

Empowering your engineering teams to take ownership of budgets is the only way to get costs under control. If you give them a tool which gives them visibility over the costs, they’ll be able to devise the best use of resources, identify areas where they could ramp up or tone down a cloud service, and ultimately meet your business goals. 

Our own predictions suggest that the average business will save 20%-70% in cloud infrastructure costs and around two days of time provisioning if teams are empowered from the beginning.

Understanding cloud costs doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. The technology itself may be moving quickly, but understanding where the money is going shouldn’t be a constant game of cat and mouse. 

We trust engineers to build applications, solve complex technical problems, and keep our data secure. We should trust them to look at the numbers too. 



Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 27 August, 2020, 12:11Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Nice and well-meaning advice but, IMO, somewhat misdirected at Fintechs. Many Fintechs don't make revenues, almost all of them make whopping losses, still they enjoy frothy valuations - or did before the pandemic outbreak - because they have managed to chant the disruption mantra very well. While traditional FIs and, to a large extent Fincumbents, do need to be mindful about Cloud Infra Costs, I'm afraid this is the least of Fintech's concerns. Fintech Shouldn’t Stop Chanting The Disruption Mantra .

Jonathan Shanks

Jonathan Shanks

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23 Jun 2020



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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