Cloud Migration overview

This blog provides a Cloud Migration overview and insight in to what is involved.

Cloud Migration initiatives can appear complex and out of reach of all except large enterprises. However,  Small and Medium businesses can benefit significantly from successfully adopting the Cloud.

We’ve worked with many large customers on complex Cloud migration projects.  Each initiative is different however there are major commonalities that we feel it worth sharing to prepare you.

As we embark on some new exciting projects for customers, this feels like an ideal time to re-iterate our thoughts and tips that we share with all our clients.

Cloud migration overview

In our current world, where more businesses have been forced to quickly digitalise their services and workers have been displaced from colleagues, there is an ever growing need to offer cheaper, fast, flexible, scalable and reliable services to survive and thrive.

Now more than ever, Cloud adoption is vital to support businesses with delivering their services and products, and to support their customers and workers.



What is a Cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving an organisation’s services, applications or assets to a Cloud-based service provider (for example Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud).  We need to be clear though that migrating to the Cloud is more involved than simply a technology move.  Companies must consider their strategy, ways of working and outcomes; what will life look like once an application or service is in the Cloud?



What are the benefits of Cloud computing?

Cloud computing can offer businesses many benefits including supporting remote working, quicker access to data, faster time to deploy applications, cost reduction and many more benefits.


We’re seeing a big push for large businesses to reduce their expensive in-house or physical data centre use and realise massive cost savings by migrating to Cloud services.  Typically, large enterprises are also able to vacate costly premises once they complete a data-centre migration to the Cloud.


A note of caution though; a poorly managed Cloud migration program can result in higher first-year run costs especially if you just migrate as-is assets to the Cloud.



What does a Cloud Migration programme involve?

A cloud migration programme typically takes on three distinct phases as follows.  We recommend you follow these in order:

  1. Strategy – businesses need to be clear on why they wish to used Cloud services and how this will impact the way they work or do business. As a business, what do you hope to gain by adopting Cloud services?


Once you’re clear on why you wish to move to using Cloud services, you can begin to formulate a Cloud Migration Strategy.  We know from experience that there are certain types of applications that are great candidates to move to the Cloud with ease; others we know to be problematic.  If you haven’t already, do you wish to include the set-up and roll-out of Microsoft 365 as part of your overall Cloud adoption strategy?


  1. Discovery and Assessment – once you have an agreed Strategy, the next step is to gather an inventory of every asset that your business runs. We need to thoroughly review each item to assess whether it can (or even needs to) be migrated to the Cloud, the recommended set-up when in the Cloud, ease for which the asset can migrate to the Cloud and an estimate of the cost/resource/time to migrate.


The outcome of this Discovery and Assessment phase will result in the production of a Business Case showing projected Cloud costs for all applications or services that a business wishes to migrate to the Cloud.


  1. Cloud migration – this phase takes care of planning and executing against the approved Business Case. A clear Roadmap is produced to shows what assets will migrate and in which order, highlighting any dependencies and constraints.


Using the Migration Scope and Plans, businesses begin migrating applications and services, usually getting some simple solutions live in the Cloud as ‘proof of concepts’, enabling the process to be fine-tuned.  Migrations can be straight-forward however even the simplest of application will require some tweaks to enable them to work in the Cloud.


The ultimate goal is to ensure that businesses become Cloud-native; that is to say that every new application is built in the Cloud.


What are the various types of Cloud migrations?

Depending on the complexity and suitability of your application or service, migrating the asset to the Cloud may take on a different feel from one asset to the next.

There are three key different types of migration options that will have been recommended from the Discovery and Assessment phase for each asset:

  • Re-host (lift & shift) – whilst moving to the Cloud as-is may be the easiest way of getting an application or service to the Cloud, there are no real improvements made to the application or service and you do not gain a lot other than you’re now running the asset in the Cloud; effectively you’re just moving from one server (or data-centre) to another.
  • Re-platform – this involves migrating an application to the Cloud without making any major changes but taking advantage of some of the benefits that Cloud computing offers.
  • Re-factor / re-architecture – this involves upgrading key components within an application to make use of Cloud services. Typically, a re-factor project will modernise an application to make it more suitable to take advantage of all the Cloud has to offer including scalability and flexibility.


As per the outcome of the Discovery and Assessment phase, we know that not every application or service can be migrated to the Cloud.  Anything left behind on-prem or the customer’s alternative data centre needs a different approach.


What are the options if you do not (or cannot) migrate to the Cloud?

What about services and business apps than cannot be migrated?  What do we do with them?


As an example, there may be legal, compliance, data residency or contractual challenges preventing a migration to the Cloud.  Businesses may be able to be overcome some of these challenges with work and time, however, these applications will likely stay on-prem for some time.


You may encounter technology barriers to adopting Cloud services.  Would it surprise to learn that we have still seen customers running critical application in-house on 20-year-old versions of Windows and SQL?


Letting old services or applications ‘die on-the-vine’ is an option but not great business strategy.  What happens if you have a major disaster, data breach, would you be able to recover the application?  Highly unlikely we think.


Therefore, for services or applications that cannot be migrated to the Cloud, we need to be clear on the alternative options.  Our choices are:


  • Retain – this is akin to the ‘do nothing’ approach however we recommend that a plan is put in place identifying how long this application or service needs to be retained for. How can the retained service / application be kept current and supported?
  • Retire – can the application or service be retired now? It may surprise you to learn that a simple inventory review can identify up to 33% of your assets as redundant; burning costs when they are not needed.  If these can be shut down, we recommend it.  If a service or application cannot be immediately retired, then you need a clear exit strategy to shut-down as swiftly as possible
  • Replace – the last option is to consider replacing the service or application. For example, can you adopt a new or different SaaS based product or service that will enable you to stop using your legacy application or service?  This may involve a different type of migration project but one that is necessary.



Businesses stand to gain a lot of benefit from migrating to the Cloud; not only with cheaper and more flexible solutions in the Cloud, but also that going through the exercise usually identifies a series of other cost reducing initiatives that can be executed.

Cloud Migration programmes can take time and they can become complex quite quickly; especially in larger organisations with 100s or 1000s of applications and services to migrate.


Having successfully completed many Cloud migration projects, we are well placed to help you with your Cloud Migration journey.  If you would like to discuss further, then please contact us and we will be delighted to talk through a Cloud Migration programme with you.

What are boutique consultancies?

Boutique consultancies – the real alternative to hiring staff or contractors

Does your business need to deliver IT change and programmes/projects?

Are you looking for a better alternative to employing your own staff or hiring day-rate contractors via agencies?

Are you frustrated with spending excessive time trying to find the perfect hire and the long lead in times?

Are the costs with your current provider spiralling out of control?

If so, you’re in luck. Read on. This article is for you and we hope it will help you understand why there is a better alternative; use a boutique consultancy.

Before we talk about what a boutique consultancy is and what it can do for you, let’s quickly address a couple of taboo topics that most large private businesses will be thinking about right now: IR35 and the current Coronavirus pandemic.

How does IR35 impact me?
We’re not going to go in to too much detail in this post about IR35 however we need to be clear before we move on what IR35 is and is not and who it impacts.

IR35 is essentially about ensuring that external temporary resources (off-payroll workers) who are doing the same role as an employee are taxed at similar rates to those employees.

IR35 relates to workers, those fulfilling roles. HMRC defines a ‘worker’ as “an individual personally providing their services”.

IR35 does not apply to true B2B engagements.

As an example, if a large business hires a Project Manager, Business Analyst, Architect and Developer, all as day-rate contractors via an agency, to deliver a project, then the business will have to make IR35 status determinations on those temporary workers. However, if you outsource your project delivery to a ‘Service Provider’, no matter how large or small that third party business is, then these engagements are outside of any forthcoming IR35 legislation.

There has been plenty of discussion recently about how businesses should best manage the forthcoming IR35 changes due to be implemented in April 2021. Needless to say, there are businesses out there (large consultancies, business advisors, agencies, etc) trying to keep the status-quo and whose business model is based upon businesses continuing to use contractors.

Don’t be fooled or misinformed, businesses can safely outsource their projects to ‘service providers’ without being caught up in the IR35 nightmare.

Conserving cash through the pandemic
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought home to businesses and individuals the need to be scrupulous with their spending and to preserve cashflow. With businesses suffering a fall in revenue, loss of sales, potentially more months of uncertainty, yet still saddled with large committed costs, we understand that something has to give.

We recognise that businesses are nervous about investing in any long-term change or spending any money unnecessarily, however you inevitably need to spend a little money to save a lot of money.

For example, making redundancies, outsourcing activity, moving to remote working or digitalisation all come with associated costs to make these changes happen. Get them right and you should be able to reap the long-term benefits.

To maximise cashflow or increase profits, you need a very clear strategy and plan. You need to execute efficiently and effectively maintaining strong controls on spend and deliverables.

We still see businesses spending considerable sums of money with large consultancies or wasting money on retaining expensive day-rate contractors unnecessarily; afraid to let go of a solid extra pair of hands.

We’ve recently helped a multi-national insurance broker save £m’s on their IT run costs through our diligent engagement. They literally got over £150 in savings for every £1 they spend with us.

A viable alternative
We see a growing demand for businesses of all sizes to turn to specialist businesses to help them deliver and this is where we see an increase in the use of ‘boutique’ consultancies.

By boutique consultancies, we specifically mean those smaller, more agile businesses that offer a real alternative to relying on the larger consultancy firms or agencies supplying temporary workers (contractors).

What are benefits of using a boutique consultancy?
We believe that there are plenty of reasons for choosing a consultancy over employees or contractors. Here are 6 top factors that spring to mind for us. Let us know if you have others.

1. No need to worry about IR35 assessments – outsourcing your project delivery to a boutique consultancy (service provider) transfers the risk and need for IR35 status determinations from the business to the consultancy. The consultancy takes on the responsibility for determining the employment status of its workers, not you as the end client. Your business can rest assured that it has met its legal obligations in engaging a consultancy (service provider) to deliver on a specific engagement

2. Bespoke ‘Statement of Works’ put in place to deliver every project – consultancies focus on value and return on your investment. Every engagement is the life blood for a smaller consultancy and they will deliver; rest assured of that. With fixed delivery costs, the consultancy takes care of everything that is required from scoping, planning, delivering and transitioning to in-house or external support functions post completion. The Statement of Works and Consultancy Agreements put in place ensure that a client understand how they are working with the Consultancy (acting as a Service Provider)

3. Rapid engagement timeframe – we all know that hiring the right employees or sourcing good contractors via agencies that can take months of lead in time. From advertising roles, sourcing, interviewing, making offers and waiting for workers’ notice periods, businesses can wait weeks if not months to get someone onboard. However, businesses can swiftly engage with consultancies and be up and running within days. When time is against you, a consultancy gives you a superior time to get a team working on your change

4. Expertise ready to hit the ground running – all consultancy workers are experienced, qualified and highly efficient. The consultancy matches the right skilled worker to the assignment from their talent pool. If you have experience of using Big-4 consultancies then you will be too aware that they typically put their strongest players on a project to win the business but then slowly swap them out for more junior staff. Boutique consultancies don’t do that; they maintain the specialists to see through the engagement

5. Bandwidth for any size project – whether you just need a hybrid PM/BA for a quick initiative or you need a large team to manage the delivery of a new solution, a consultancy is there for you. Boutique consultancies have access to the best small businesses and freelancers / contractors and can scale at pace

6. No large overheads – large consultancies, recruiters and agencies have large overheads that they need to recover. Ultimately, the businesses who engage with these firms pay the price with at least a 20% baked in to the price you pay just for the recruiter/agency overheads. These excessive costs can be avoided by using nimble boutique consultancies. By keeping core costs down and only putting in place necessary resource, boutique consultancies keep the costs down for you

There are advantages and disadvantages to using any type of business to provide services. Ultimately, businesses will need to assess their ways of working, budgets and risk appetite. There is no one size fits all approach and clients may well end up with a blended model that makes use of employees, contractors and service providers.

If you would like more information, we would be delighted to discuss further with you how boutique consultancies can help you deliver your changes.

Written by Alec Wright, Founder and Director of AJWright Consulting. Alec has over 15 years leading complex IT change and working with large businesses, recruiters and agencies, both as a client and provider.

PMaaS – Project Management as a Service

Introducing PMaaS

PMaaS (Project Management as a Service) is growing in popularity, especially given the explosion of Cloud business services and the demand to do more with less.  

PMaaS helps you mitigate your project resource costs by focusing on results.  You no longer have to employee someone or hire a day-rate contractor via an agency; you can use a PMaaS provider to give you deliver what you need, when you need it. 


What exactly is PMaaS?

You will be familiar with other “ a Service” options like SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.  Think of PMaaS in the same manner.

I really like the concept of the ‘as a service model’. You only pay for what you need (or use) and you don’t have any unnecessary and/or expensive overheads.  Remove all that wasted spend!  Why pay to have someone sit on the bench waiting for projects to deliver?

With PMaaS, you can simply bring in the project services you need, when you need them, that’s it.

Your PMaaS provider should be skilled in assessing your needs, helping to shape your pipeline and then putting in place the necessary agreements to enable you to acquire PM, BA and Architect type resource when you need them.

Your PMaaS provider should be able to take care of a kick-off workshop, an RFI exercise and a complex delivery.  Simply work with you provider to request what you need and get the resources booked in.

If you then need to wait for budget to be approved or decide to not proceed with an initiative, then that’s not a problem. You can stand down resources until you’re ready. 


What are the key benefits of PMaaS?

  • No recruiters or agencies involved keeps the engagement model simple and directly between the PMaaS provider and you
  • Work with a dedicated Account Manager to manage your pipeline and active resources
  • Performance management is taken care of by the PMaas provider; if a PMaaS resource is not a right fit or not delivering, they can easily be swapped out
  • Knowledge retention, handover and support is built in to the model; you do not have to worry about knowledge drain when a contractor finishes their assignment
  • Reduced lead in times – resource are secured and ready when you need it, typically within days not weeks/months
  • No need to spend time and money training employees – PMaaS resources are highly proficient and ready to work
  • Scalable model – you can ramp-up, spin-down, expand outwards; the choice is your yours
  • Choose whether to outsource your whole project management function to a managed service provider – you can start with just a project by project agreement and move to a fully outsourced model when/if you like


 Check out our PMaaS services page here for more information.


Strategic Portfolio Management

Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM) is crucial in a complex world to drive operational efficiency and alignment of people, processes, information & technology with business strategy.


To realise these efficiencies, you need to understand what technology you are using, for what purposes, who is using the technology and how, what data exists and how this flows around your business, and how all these components come together to deliver against your strategy.  You need this information documented in a clear and cohesive solution.  You need visibility to enable you to prioritise and manage your assets and investments.


It is only when these components are optimised and used effectively that you can realise maximum efficiencies.  Having employees follow inefficient processes or use cumbersome, expensive or obsolete technology are all easy to understand examples of where you could literally be wasting valuable money, time and effort.


Implementing SPM does not have to be done in a big-bang transformation initiative however we recommend that you have clarity around your strategy and high-level processes before you begin.

Consider ensuring you have answers to these questions:

  • What is your business and why do you exist?
  • What services or products do you offer?
  • How do customers want to access your services or products?
  • How is your business organised to provide your services or products?
  • What tools or technology do you use to provide your services or products?
  • What data / information does your business generate or hold, and how does this flow around your business?


We can help with implementing a toolset and process to document your SPM.  We can work with you to put in place a straight-forward approach to ensuring that we can work to drive efficiencies, using our tailored model:


  1. Strategy and Requirements
    • Target state
  2. Discovery and mapping
    • Organisation – services, products, people
    • Business applications and solutions
    • Policies and processes
    • Data flows
    • Technology (servers, devices, networks) inventory
    • Licences and asset lifecycle
  3. Analysis
    • Strategy reviews
    • Health-checks
    • Comparing as-is with to-be
    • Technology utilisation assessment
  4. Opportunities & Solutions
    • Evaluate and select among the implementation options
    • Identify the strategic parameters for change, and the top-level work packages or projects to be undertaken in moving from the current environment to the target
    • Assess the dependencies, costs, and benefits of the various projects
    • Generate an overall implementation and migration strategy and a detailed Implementation Plan
  5. Implementation
    • Process re-engineering
    • Application enhancements or replacements
    • New technology roll-out – vendor packages or bespoke builds
    • Migration to Cloud based services
  6. Measure, control and improve
    • Governance
    • Change management
    • Identifying future opportunities
    • Continuous improvement



Utilising our services, we can help you identify and plan the right initiatives to deliver to your strategy, prioritise your investments, prioritise your migrations, ensuring you get value for money and a business that delivers.


Contact us today to discuss how we can assist you.

Digital Transformation strategy – what is it and do I need one?

Digital transformation certainly seems in-vogue at present, given the challenges that most businesses have faced in the light of disrupted operations as a result of the recent Covid-19 pandemic.  However, what is ‘digital transformation’ and do I need to bother with it?

A digital transformation strategy essentially states why, how and when you need to digitally transform your business.  Every business should have one of these strategies, however, it’s content and size will vary enormously from a large enterprise to small business.

However, a word of caution: before we rush off to sign-up to Cloud services, look to automate processes or buy extra IT kit for employees to support working from home more effectively.  We must take a step back and look at the bigger picture first: your vision, mission and ways of working.

Digital transformation should not be a knee-jerked reaction as mistakes in this area can be costly, time consuming and completely unnecessary.

Whilst some areas of your business maybe in a more urgent need of overhauling or digitising than others, without first looking objectively at your business as a whole, you may be firefighting one area whilst an uncontrollable fire blazes out in another.

Our advice is:

  1. Take stock – dust off your vision, mission and delivery model – update these if they appear no longer fit for purpose
  2. Look at your target operating model and compare this to where you are today (even if today is a ‘temporary’ state – this includes what work needs to happen, by whom, how and where
  3. Identify gaps between current ways of working and where you wish or need to be
  4. Those gaps should then be clearly addressed by one or strategies
  5. Plan out and execute against your strategies

Keep in mind that the above can be scaled and they do not have to be onerous or unnecessarily complicated. 

We can help keep things in perspective and make it suitable for you and your business.

If you would like to discuss the above further, then we are here to help.  Contact us here

How is your vision?

Before you decide to move your business to the Cloud or outsource your IT services, we recommend that you understand and can answer these key questions:

  1. What is your business vision?
  2. Have you conducted analysis (Value Chain, PESTEL, SWOT, 5 Forces and VRIO) on your business?
  3. Do you have a latest What is your business strategy?
  4. What is your IT future state vision?
  5. What is your IT roadmap?


Business vision

Your business vision needs to be clear and concise.  It should convey want you want for your business and what you want to get out it.  For example, when Bill Gates started Microsoft, his vision was to have a personal computer in every home and business; he did not state in his vision how he would make that happen.  Daydream for a moment and ponder where you would like your business to be when you retire after a successful and fulfilling career.  Capture those thoughts and distil them into a few sentences.  Those things that drive you will serve you well.

From this, you need a few snappy sentences that articulates your vision.



Great, now you have a vision for your business, what next?  How do you get to that desired end state?  Firstly, you need to analyse your current state.  You need to be clear on the external impacts, challenges and influences.  You need to understand the internal aspects of your business.  There are many tools and techniques available that you could choose from, however our favourite ones to use are:

  1. PESTEL – Politics, Economics, Social, Technology, Environment & Legal
  2. Value Chain Analysis – of internal primary and supportive activities
  3. SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats
  4. 5 Forces – Threat of entry, Bargaining power of customers, Bargaining power of suppliers, threat of substitutes & Industry rivalry
  5. VRIO – Value, Rarity, Imitability & Organisation

Ultimately, you need a thorough understanding of your business, both looking inside out and from the outside in.  Once you have completed sufficient analysis, you will have a wealth information that will help you identify areas to address and develop.


Business strategy

Now you understand where you want to get to and your current state, the next stage is to conduct a gap analysis.  A gap analysis is simply a comparison of your current state versus your desired state. This will reveal the key blocks of activity that you need to address to move towards your vision and end state.

Once you understand your gaps, you can start thinking about how you intend to close those gaps.  This is where your strategy comes in.  Your strategy needs to address all facets of your business.  At a high-level.  Your strategy could include initiatives to grow your business, to perhaps implement cost saving measures, to reach new customers in other ways and placed or it could be to simply generate more revenue through increased marketing, advertising and sales.


IT future state vision

Technology is utilised to enable and support your business to achieve its vision, goals and to support the business strategy.  Technology must not hinder your business or dictate your processes, product offering or services; if it does, your business will not flourish.  Providing you have a clear business strategy you are ready to state how technology needs to support the business.  Like the business vision, a technology vision must clearly state the desired end state for technology utilisation.

To empathise again, technology supports your business not the other way around.


IT roadmap

Now you have a clear business strategy and IT future state vision, you can conduct a gap analysis and prioritise the delivery of technological change.  Every initiative on your IT roadmap must be tied back to one or many streams of your strategy; no technology change should be initiated that does not move your business towards its strategy and vision.  Your roadmap must also include addressing any security, risk, compliance, regulatory and legal needs.

Every initiative on your IT roadmap must deliver value; whether saving costs, increasing revenue or addressing risk exposure.  Each item on your IT roadmap may then result in one or many programs or projects needing to be implemented.  Again, these should be prioritised and funded in-line with your roadmap and strategy.  At every stage of managing your roadmap, you need to continuously re-assess that your initiatives are required and delivering against your strategy.


A J Wright Consulting can help with addressing all the above key components of helping to drive your business forward.  If you would like to know more, then we would be delighted to assist you.

IR35 – let’s work together

IR35 – a chance for us to work together


As we all know by now, IR35 will impact all public and private business, except for small private businesses, with effect from 6 April 2021.  These new rules put the tax status determination on the client rather than the ‘contractor’ or PSC (Personal Service Company); who currently self-determine their status.

Sounds simple.  It is and really should be.  Too many people are trying to over-egg this, usually for their own gain and to drive their own revenues.

There is far too much scaremongering and hype about what this all means to clients and contracting businesses.  Note I use the term contracting businesses and not contractors.  I don’t like the term contractor as it has connotations of client-controlled one-man outfits, which as we all, is not always the case.

Let’s be clear.  Clients need now and will always need contingent resource, especially for delivering change.  They need a mix of extra manpower and a need to bring in experts.  Smaller consulting businesses offer more choice and flexibility to clients that outsourcing whole project teams to bigger consultancies.  So, who should be deemed as inside IR35 and who shouldn’t?  Good question.  Time to dispel some myths and some of the scaremongering.

Firstly, IR35 is about taxing non-employed workers the same as employees doing a similar job.  It is not concerned with giving everyone the same rights.  Contracting businesses asking for workers rights in addition to traditional contracting day-rates are missing the point.  If workers want employment rights, become and employee and be paid the same as an employee.  Day rates reward the worker taking the financial risk of being in business on their own account.

When clients deem that they have a need to bring in external assistance (whether outsourcing, third parties or contingent workers), they need to ask themselves why. 

  • Why bring in a temporary resource? 
  • For how long? 
  • What skills do I need? 
  • Can I do the job of the temporary worker? 
  • Does my organisation already have those existing skills? 
  • Do I need to closely control what my temporary worker does, where they do it, how they do it?
  • What happens if the assignment I engage my temporary worker for ceases?
  • Am I expecting an individual to personally perform the assignment? Note this one as it’s important and crucial.

Great, so what does this really mean in practice?

Some characterises that would point towards the engagement being inside IR35:

  • Expecting an individual to personally fulfil the assignment i.e. you want the person and not their business
  • Asking for CVs and “interviewing” them as if hiring a permanent staff member
  • Needing “bums of seats” and extra resources under direct control of the client or line manager
  • Having a temporary worker do the job the way you tell them to
  • Being able to re-assign the temporary worker to another assignment as and when you choose
  • Refusing to accept in any circumstances a substitute of the worker

Conversely, the following would point towards outside of IR35:

  • Needing to bring in an expert for a specific purpose and length of time
  • Accepting that you are engaging with a business not an individual
  • Allowing the contracting business to execute the assignment as they deem best to deliver the agreed assignment
  • Allowing the contracting business to swap in and out a suitable and equally experienced replacement
  • Asking the contracting business for a SOW (Statement of Work) proposal, portfolio and/or references; rather than individual workers’ CVs
  • Releasing the contracted worker from the contracted assignment once complete, and/or even releasing them early if their original assignment is no longer required

Before we move on, there are 3 further taboo topics to consider


  • The tool is a very simple questionnaire with an algorithm that produces an output based on the answers given; HMRC would deem someone inside or outside IR35 as a result
  • HMRC allege to stand by the CEST determination, but only when it suits them
  • It’s widely disputed that CEST is flawed and too favourable at producing an inside IR35 result
  • Also, of great importance, is competence and understanding of the questions being asked, to enable you to answer correctly; misinterpret a question at your peril

Working practices

  • What does the relationship between client and worker really look like?
  • How does the engagement manager treat the worker; do they treat them like an employee?
  • This is where a lot of clients would trip themselves up; they want the best of both worlds and it’s not possible

Contracts and SOWs

  • What does your client and agency contract look like? Does it compliment those that agencies put in place for contracting businesses?
  • Do your contracting businesses have statement of works covering assignments?  Do you even know the difference between a contract and Statement of Work?
  • Statement of Works clearly demonstrate a temporary and fixed scope; they will protect you and the contracting business

OK, so taking this all into account, if as a client you still think you are engaging an individual, perhaps because the business is a single-person organisation, does that always point to an inside IR35 assignment?  No, it doesn’t.  3 further factors need to be taken in to account, namely control, substitution and MOO?


If as a client, it is essential to you to dictate to the worker exactly what to do, where to work, what hours to work, how to do the job, then this points towards the worker being controlled.  But do you really need to control the worker this closely?  If you’re bringing in an expert and a trusted seasoned professional, they are capable of delivering against their assignment autonomously and in a way they deem best.  After all, isn’t that why you what the temporary worker?

Let’s not get control in this sense mixed up with ‘assignment’ and giving a worker ‘further’ work.  It’s not the same thing.  Control is purely down to how you control things during the contracted assignment.


Much noise has been made about whether a client could, or should flatty refuse to accept a substitute.  Let’s be clear, if you hire an expert to deliver a job and that expert needs to bring in a short-term replacement, if your engaged contracting business can bring in a substitute of the same experience and knowledge of the project, then what is the issue?  You should be ok with a contracting business bringing in a colleague or sub-contracting the work.

Granted we know that if a worker has been given access to the clients’ premises and/or computer systems, that short term notice to give a substitute the same access can be a challenge, but this doesn’t make it insurmountable.  Both parties need to be reasonable.  If a as client you are ok with allowing a substitute, then what is the harm to your engagement?  Your contracting business takes the financial and reputation risk.  Worst case scenario, you end the engagement with your contracting business and not pay them for the duration of the substitute.  Sounds fair, right?


MOO means ‘mutuality of obligation’.  There are two interpretations of MOO and they regularly get confused; largely to HMRC’s benefit.  They are: 1) contractual law and 2) employment law

Contractual law is basically that you agree to pay someone for the contracted work i.e. one party agrees to do or not do what is said in the contract in exchange for something, usually a fee.

Employment law however would consider MOO as continuous and uninterrupted employment and that the employer guarantees to continue employing the worker and giving them continuous work, as long as they abide by their employment contract.  Essentially, you’re saying, “you do the work and we’ll continue to pay you”

This is where things can get complicated and misinterpreted, especially with CEST and HMRC’s IR35 guidance.

With IR35, a contracting business will be engaged for a fixed assignment.  Their contract should always give them the right to decline an “offer of work” (whether new assignment or extension).  Perhaps culturally, this is where clients and contracting businesses have got muddled, as it’s all to convenient for both parties to renew, however the parties are creating a mindset that if as a client you offer work, the contracting business will always accept.  This is wrong and must stop.

To be clear, for MOO to exist in respect of IR35, this means that if a client offers the contracting business work (whether a new contract, an extension or an additional assignment) then the contracting business is obliged to accept it.  Any other definition when it comes to IR35 is wrong and should be ignored.

So, if as a client, even if you choose to offer more / new work or even feel compelled to offer your contracting business more work, if your contracting business has the right not to accept the offer, then MOO does not exist.  No debates.

To summarise, to stay outside of IR35:

  • Be clear of the assignment and terms of engagement
  • Have a SOW that protects both parties
  • Stick to the SOW and do not pad-out engagements with additional work, unless both parties agree to a new SOW
  • Avoid any early renewal discussions or misleading conversation about continuous flow of work or contracts (it’s tempting if a project timeline far exceeds an engagement period)
  • Allow contracting businesses to substitute workers
  • Let your experts be experts and deliver against the assignment as they feel best

Whilst there are no guarantees when it comes to HMRC, do these things and have a culture and support model for your engagement managers that fosters these good practices and you should be safe with your outside IR35 determinations.


I am not an IR35 expert.  I am not offering legal or tax advice; merely my opinion.  I have spent over 20 years working in large corporations and hired and managed employees, contractors and procured third parties using SOWs.  I have genuinely needed inside IR35 workers and outside IR35 workers in my time.   I have read and re-read latest guidance many times and counselled many differing professional groups.  I do recommend that if you are not sure, should you need definitive legal guidance, then you should seek it.

Software Obsolescence Management – we’re here to help!

What is “software obsolescence management”? Simply put, its the processes and activities associated with preventing your software from being obsolete and causing your security and support concerns. With proactive action, you can stay current, safe and in-support.

Has your business successfully moved off Win2008/SQL2008? Are you still running Win7 on your PCs? Do you still have lots of on-premise SharePoint sites running 2010 or older? I reckon you do. If so, you’re not alone.

How do you move on from here? Luckily, we are here to help.

We have a range of tools and services to firstly help you identify what you are running and where you have exposures. One of our previous clients discovered this time last year that they still had over 6000 active Win2008 servers. Within 9 months, we helped reduce that count to 2500 servers. We’re still working through getting the last of these resolved before July 2020, but at least now the client can see an end to this project.

Working together, we can assess your strategies and priorities; don’t worry if you’re not clear on these, we can help you take action.

Did you know that for most Windows products, you can buy extended support?Big consultancies might simply suggest lifting and shifting to Azure or AWS, however this doesn’t solve the obsolescence problem; you’re just simply transferring the problem in to the cloud.

There are many ways to resolving a legacy estate; there is no one-size fits all model. We can help you identify the best course of action. Solutions can include simply turning off redundant (yet active) servers or performing in place OS upgrades , through to more complex activities issues like unravelling dependencies and migrating databases, migrating SharePoint sites or working with third party suppliers to resolve your estate.

With many products going out of life in 2020, get started today by booking a free and no obligation discussion around how we can help identify your challenges and work together to a brighter and safer future.


PMaaS – Project Management as a Service

Have you heard of PMaaS?

PMaaS (Project Management as a Service) is growing in popularity, especially given the explosion of Cloud business services and the focus on company expenditure.  

PMaaS helps you mitigate your project resource costs.


What is PMaaS and what is it not?

You will have most likely heard of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, so let us explain what PMaaS is and is not. 

I really like the concept of the ‘as a service model’. You only pay for what you need (or use) and you don’t have any unnecessary and/or expensive overheads.  Remove all that wasted spend!

With PMaaS, you can simply bring in the project services you need, when you need them, that’s it.

Once you have a contract and service agreement in place, if you need for example a PM, BA and Architect for a kick-off workshop, great, you simply request what you need and get the resources booked in.

If you then need to wait for budget to be approved or decide to not proceed with an initiative, then that’s not a problem. You can stand down resources until you’re ready. 


What are the key benefits?

  • No recruiters or agencies involved keeps the engagement model simple and directly between the PMaaS provider and you
  • Work with a dedicated Account Manager to manage your pipeline and active resources
  • Performance management is taken care of by the PMaas provider; if a PMaaS resource is not a right fit or not delivering, they can easily be swapped out
  • Knowledge retention, handover and support is built in to the model; you do not have to worry about knowledge drain when a contractor finishes their assignment
  • Reduced lead in times – resource are secured and ready when you need it, typically within days not weeks/months
  • No need to spend time and money training employees – PMaaS resources are highly proficient and ready to work
  • Scalable model – you can ramp-up, spin-down, expand outwards; the choice is your yours
  • Choose whether to outsource your whole project management function to a managed service provider – you can start with just a project by project agreement and move to a fully outsourced model when/if you like


Refer to our PMaaS services page here for further information.



Back to basics

Are your projects on track and intending to deliver to expectations? Are you spending less than you budgeted? Are your project risks and issues under control?

If you’re reading this and these questions resonate with you, you’re not alone.

When was the last time you checked to see if your project was still viable?

So how do you resolve these issues with minimal negative impact on your project delivery? One answer is to take a step back from the day-to-day hustle on delivering your project to check to see if you have the basics in place.

  • Does your sponsor / customer know what they are getting from your project and when?
  • Is your project’s outcomes, scope and deliverable clearly defined and understood by all stakeholders?
  • Do you have clear governance in place?
  • Do you have a realistic and achievable plan including resources and budget to successfully deliver?
  • Do you have clear roles and responsibilities in place?

If you’re struggling to answer these questions or need some impartial advice, then please get in touch to discuss how we can help you.