Use the power of ‘Why’ to unravel misconceptions in cloud cost management and FinOps

post thumb
by Femke Kunst/ on 8 Mar 2024

Use the power of ‘Why’ to unravel misconceptions in cloud cost management and FinOps

‘’Engineers aren’t interested in cloud cost’’ is an assumption you may have encountered, whether through hearsay from colleagues, articles circulating on LinkedIn, or it’s your assumption. Maybe within your company, this assumption remains unchallenged, and also assumptions about other roles and in general. Some people accept the explanation that your colleagues simply lack the time to delve into cloud cost management. Why do such assumptions persist? By delving deeper, we uncover a crucial need for change: the necessity to challenge assumptions and understand the intrinsic motivations of stakeholders. By asking our colleagues ‘why’ we can validate our assumptions, grasp the true needs of our colleagues, and effectively engage them in the process of change.

Cloud Spend

A quick recap on; Why Cloud? Cloud is not about reducing IT costs, but about enabling the use of the advantages such as flexibility, scalability, security, efficiency, high-availability, and more. You only pay for what you use, and if correctly applied; you only pay for what you need. However, companies can face the problem of paying more than for what they need, since they use more than they need.

The transition to the cloud introduces complexities, such as altering the dynamics of IT procurement and shifting responsibilities. Engineers, once removed from procurement processes, now find themselves wielding purchasing power with a mere click, and the company’s cloud bill can rise. Maybe you have addressed the rising cloud bill to your engineering colleagues, since they are the persons working in the cloud, right? Maybe they say they don’t have the time to optimize their cloud and your assumption is made; ‘engineers don’t care about the cost’, without validating your assumption.

In reality, achieving cost optimization in the cloud demands collaboration across diverse functions within an organization. Blaming engineers for perceived disinterest oversimplifies the issue and disregards the collective effort required to drive meaningful change. The FinOps Foundation emphasizes the importance of collaboration, stressing that effective cost optimization involves multiple stakeholders. Blaming each other and/or engineers for their disinterest in cloud optimization and/or cost oversimplifies the issue and undermines the collective effort required to reduce your cloud costs per business unit. By starting the conversation, you open up the opportunity to discover your real bottlenecks instead of assuming and believing that your organisation works like it should. Since, within every organisation another function role could be the bottleneck although they maybe are motivated and/or shouldn’t be the bottleneck. So, by reframing the conversation and understanding each stakeholder’s intrinsic motivations, you can foster a culture of collective responsibility and drive sustainable cost management practices.

Some interesting questions to ask yourself, to know who is your target audience, are: Is an engineer responsible for what is a priority on the backlog, what role do product owners have in cost optimizations and the workload of the engineer, who is accountable for the cloud cost, and what metrics are used and/or standardized to challenge costs?

Assumptions & FinOps

Assumptions entail interpreting another person’s thoughts or motivations without seeking clarification or understanding their true perspective. Relying on assumptions is detrimental to your company’s FinOps operations because they undermine the fundamental principles of effective cost optimization, breed miscommunication, and hinder collaborative efforts within organizations. When organizations rely on assumptions instead of having conversations with the stakeholders, they can overlook the root causes of inefficiencies and fail to address underlying issues effectively. To combat this, organizations must embrace the power of “Why” – a question that lies at the heart of understanding motivations and driving meaningful change. By initiating open dialogues and genuinely listening to stakeholders' perspectives, organizations can uncover the root causes of resistance and pave the way for collaborative cost optimization endeavours.

So, start with the question ‘Why?’. According to the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek, the WHY is the most important question to have answered. Translated to FinOps, it is not about what or how all your cloud stakeholders adopt FinOps or not, but ‘why’ they do or don’t adopt FinOps. Don’t make your Why, their Why. Embrace the idea of that everybody and every role function within a company has a different motivation to change.

Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize that the “why” behind actions isn’t universally applicable to everyone or every role within your company as mentioned before. While you might presume that everyone is motivated by what benefits the company, for some, reducing cloud costs might not be the top priority. Others might place greater importance on meeting deadlines and delivering new features, even if it means sacrificing quality or cost. Since your performance review may be based on what you deliver instead of which cost savings are realised. My suggestion is to refrain from being trapped in your assumptions about others' motivations. Instead, initiate conversations to understand their perspectives, listen to and acknowledge their reasons, even if they differ from yours, and then collaborate on finding ways to align motivations.

In summary, assumptions and a fixed mindset of how it should be instead of understanding the needs, are detrimental to FinOps operations as they can undermine decision-making and impede collaborative efforts. To avoid assumptions and a fixed mindset, organizations should prioritize open communication, data-driven analysis, and continuous improvement. By embracing the power of “Why” and just talking – really talking - with your stakeholders, you can unveil the root causes of the resistance towards the FinOps way of working.


My challenge to you is to engage in open conversations with all your stakeholders (e.g., engineers, product owner, executives, etc.,) to understand their intrinsic motivations regarding the FinOps process. By asking open-ended questions without judgment and suggestions, and embracing diverse perspectives, you can uncover the root causes driving behaviour and foster a culture of genuine collaboration and understanding. Try not to think of or tell others how it should be, but uncover the who’s and the why’s to define and accomplish the how and what it should be.

Remember, true insight emerges not from assumptions or data only but from authentic dialogue and curiosity.

Do you like to respond? Mail our Team!