Scott Dennull, Senior Director of IT, AtriCure
What are some of the widely prevalent challenges you notice in the IT sector and how exactly can IT leaders overcome these challenges?
I would say that the biggest challenge we have is the amount of time spent on support versus new projects. The smaller your team, the less likely you’re going to have a total separation of these two functions. When you only have two people responsible for storage, servers, and, networks, it’s hard for you to keep the business running and keep up with the demands of the business when it comes to new functionality and value-added solutions.
IT leaders are required to speak the business language nowadays. They are now an active part of boardroom discussions, and they need to align themselves with business objectives and IT priorities. How exactly are IT leaders required to speak the business language and what is the kind of alignment required?
The biggest challenge is that the IT teams today are not only speaking the business but also getting into the depths of it. For example, if you’re speaking to a financial person, say a CFO, you can talk more dollars and cost savings. When you’re talking to the manufacturing VP and other executives, you need to talk with metrics, numbers, and visibility. You need to learn how to speak in their vernacular. So, it’s not only speaking the business but you need to understand the details of the business sectors that you serve.
When you have SaaS, you have to adhere to compliances and regulations that restrict the possibilities and the functionality of the solution itself. So how do you maintain the balance between compliance integrity of the data that you have and the kind of solutions that you’re using?
I think you must evaluate what the SaaS solution is doing in regard to changes. They could be upgrading quarterly or biannually, but the question is, do I really need it? Due to all the validation testing, quality testing, and requirements for BSI and the FDA, is there any direct business value? I schedule my releases to be strategically directed. We do all the major releases, and work to remain within six months of the latest release. We strictly adhere to our system guidelines.
"In all our engagements with SaaS providers, we go through an architectural review to validate if they have a solid security posture"
When talked about scalability, a service solution plays a really huge role. How exactly is cloud technology or SaaS solutions or PaaS solutions leveraged to power the scalability and the growth of the organization?
We are starting with the ERP environment to see how scalable it can be and understand the business plan for the next ten years. I have a cloud-first strategy looking for SaaS solutions first then PaaS. We are using a cloud solution for our operational data store because that is going to be one area that will flex and grow. I do not want to keep buying more and more hardware to support the growth.
What is the inside view of AtriCure like? What are the most common points of discussions that you have with your team?
The big tagline for talent management is hungry, humble, and smart. You need to be smart, you need to know what you are doing, and you need to get things done. We are looking to develop our team by bringing in those players who want to grow with the business because the business is constantly changing and it is changing fast. The company is very employee focused with an aim to keep the employees engaged in whatever ways they can.
Most of the organizations around the world are now transitioning from an on-premise environment to a cloud-native environment. What are some of the benefits of this transition that drive your organization?
The reason we have kept our ERP solution on-premise is because of the need for validation, updates, and control around the quality systems. We are going through a complete process evaluation of the ERP functionality, and looking to provide the best options for a future solution. Automating a poorly designed process is still a poorly designed process. Once we optimize what we have, then we will think through other possibilities. We want to consider a cloud or SaaS solution because it has been hard to keep the environment up to date. What should go to the cloud is a challenge, so we must weigh each application and determine if it is the right application to put in the cloud.
One particular challenge that stands in the way of adoption of cloud is the security of the data that you’re collecting and the service connections that you have to your medical devices. How exactly do you put these security measures in place and what would you look at to secure the devices or internal applications which are there on the cloud?
In all our engagements with SaaS providers, we go through an architectural review to validate if they have a solid security posture. We make sure they have a SLA acceptable to the business regarding recovery. My disaster recovery plan for SaaS applications is holding the service provider to the commitment to get my application backup in “x” hours. Most of our applications can tolerate the short outage risk.