Our working group set out to discover how gamification could be used to accelerate the adoption of FinOps, supporting initiatives such as digital transformation, cloud adoption and acceleration, and more.
Digital transformation programs and the new operating models that go with them require changes in employee behavior if they are to be successful. Where employees resist these changes, programs can be delayed or, in the worst case, abandoned entirely.
Gamification offers solutions and strategies that adds structure to the working environment so it motivates employees to engage with new ways of working and, in the process, enables the organization to achieve its FinOps goals.
Gamification is the process of making a business activity more like a game, or incorporating game-like elements into it, with the aim of motivating employees to engage in behavior, complete tasks, or achieve outcomes that benefit the organization. It also has the potential to make work activities more fun and engaging. Gamification may use points, badges, and leaderboards to publicize and recognize achievement, as well as incorporating more sophisticated game mechanics to ensure tasks are interesting and engaging for employees.
To see examples of gamification initiatives used in FinOps, please consult the Gamification Library. The Working Group will continue to collect and add new stories as they collect and review them!
At its core, FinOps is a cultural practice. It’s the way for teams to manage their cloud costs, where everyone takes ownership of their cloud usage, supported by a central best-practices group. Cross-functional teams in Engineering, Finance, Product, etc. work together to enable faster product delivery, while gaining more financial control and predictability (see What is FinOps).
Successful FinOps adoption requires cross-functional engagement and collaboration. These adoption efforts will generally require organizational changes that may be encouraged, supported and accelerated by gamification initiatives.
Gamification may be useful in promoting business value through:
It is helpful to think of Gamification as a way of making a given scope of work more interesting and engaging for employees (such as encouraging experimentation, prompting collaboration, or overcoming inertia) rather than as a way of only steering employees towards pre-determined corporate goals (such as through KPIs, targets or incentives). The best way to approach gamification is from a focus on the employee’s motivations.
Gamification focuses on user engagement to motivate behavior. Gamification initiatives may be either competitive or co-operative. Both can drive behavior change or reinforce already strong employee engagement, knowledge and behaviors. It’s important to align the gamification initiative with a goal or purpose that employees find inspiring to achieve the desired outcome.
Importantly, there is a need to create an environment where people feel safe to engage in the challenge, since a key element of gamification must always be the potential for ‘failure’. It is this potential for failure that makes gamification challenging (and different to routine work) and from which a sense of achievement may be derived. If you can’t fail, there’s no achievement in success and no fun in engaging with the game.
In the context of FinOps, some of the behaviors and outcomes we may target with gamification include:
The aim of gamification is to create motivational experiences for employees that drive behaviors which benefit the organization. When we speak of motivating factors we are discussing what motivates the participant to engage in the program.
What is Motivation?
An effective FinOps gamification and incentive plan should consider the following factors:
FinOps gamification initiatives should be aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the organization. They should also support the achievement of specific outcomes related to cloud financial management and reflect the current priorities of the enterprise
The gamification plan should clearly define the types of activities and behaviors that will be incentivized and how they will be measured and tracked. The plan should outline the types of rewards and recognition that will be offered and how they will be distributed.
By carefully considering these factors, organizations can design and implement an effective FinOps gamification and incentive plan that helps to engage and motivate individuals and teams to optimize and manage their cloud financial resources.
Some examples of incentive plans that can be used to gamify FinOps practices:
There are five key areas for consideration when determining how best to deploy gamification for your FinOps teams.
Your organization’s FinOps maturity will impact what type of result you are driving through deploying gamification. For instance, if your team is in the Crawl phase, gamification to increase automation would likely not work well as this is often a more advanced, Run-stage competency. You can access the FinOps maturity model to get more details on various stages of FinOps and what these teams likely face.
Be clear about which FinOps personas your gamification will impact. Games may just focus on one group, but they can also be a good chance to increase cross-persona collaboration. The most common personas are included below:
Learn more about the roles and personas involved with FinOps on the FinOps Framework.
Gain alignment on monetary constraints prior to finalizing your design. Successful games may not require budgets to implement. Think through how much budget (if any) you would like, how you can get those funds, what incentives you would offer. Below are some examples of Monetary and Non-Monetary incentives:
Consider when the best time for your organization would be to launch your gamification initiative. Are there key windows that are best to avoid when the teams are already near capacity with planning, key seasons, or lots of vacations? Choosing the right time for your initiative can increase the likelihood of achieving your objective.
Do you have internal tools that are easily accessible to run your event? If not, think through how you can leverage open source resources to support your initiative. There’s no need for anything complicated or expensive, but you will want a way to track and make results visible.
While we should think of effective ways to motivate and incentivize the behaviors that help build successful FinOps teams, we should also pay attention to potential pitfalls and obstacles. Give thoughts to some of the below possible obstacles when designing your gamification initiative:
If you are looking for potential gamification focus areas to help improve your overall FinOps practice, consider the below table for ideas by Framework domain and the FinOps Challenges chart from the State of FinOps Report for ideas.
|FinOps Framework Domain
|Potential gamification focus
|Understanding cloud usage and cost
|Improving the visibility of cloud usage and cost for each persona/stakeholder
|Performance tracking and benchmarking
|Improving one or more ‘business meaningful’ metrics
|Decreasing ‘time to fix’ anomalies in cloud usage and spend
|Cloud usage optimization
|Reducing wasted cloud resource and the money, effort and energy they consume
|Cloud rate optimization
|Reducing the price paid for cloud resources through discounting
|Improving cross-functional collaboration on cloud value
We might also consider which of the most significant ‘pain points’ gamification might have a positive impact on. Below is a chart from the State of FinOps Report, where FinOps practitioners rank their top FinOps Challenges.
Based on this data a few focus areas to consider might include:
Gamification is a valuable tool FinOps teams can deploy to enable practitioners to build the habits and initiatives to maximize the value of the cloud. When done properly, it offers employee engagement benefits as well as increasing the likelihood of achieving desired business results. The options for deploying gamification to advance your FinOps practice are nearly endless.
As you all know, building these community resources are endeavors that continue to grow and improve. The work is never over and we rely on our fellow practitioners and overall FinOps community to help us build in new additions and improvements to the content.
If you’d like to get involved, please check out the Gamification channel on our community Slack.
We now have a collection of practitioner stories about the gamification initiatives that they’ve used in their FinOps practices. Check out the Gamification Library for stories and examples of gamification, and their real-world outcomes involving FinOps teams.
We’re excited to implement feedback to this guide from our community.
The FinOps Foundation extends a huge thank you to the members of this Working Group that broke ground on this documentation:
Also, we’d like to thank our Technical Advisory Council (TAC) Liaison, Noel Crowley of Fidelity.
Lastly, a big thank you to the FinOps Foundation support team for helping us bring our work to life: Stacy Case (Staff Sponsor), Samantha White (Program Management), Tom Sharpe (Design), and Andrew Nhem (Content).