Finessing FinOps: How to meet the challenges of Cloud Cost Optimization

What Is FinOps?

FinOps is a strategic approach geared towards managing the cost and value of technology in a business environment. It is a blend of systems, best practices, and culture aimed at increasing an organization’s ability to deliver faster, better, and cheaper results.

FinOps breaks down traditional silos between IT, finance, and business teams, fostering an environment of shared accountability for both costs and outcomes.

As businesses increasingly migrate to the cloud, FinOps has emerged as the key to ensuring that this shift occurs efficiently and economically. It aims to bring financial accountability to the variable spending model of cloud, enabling teams to make informed business decisions.

The industry view – The FinOps Foundation

The FinOps Foundation is a non-profit trade association focused on codifying and promoting FinOps best practices. It brings together a wealth of resources, including training materials, case studies, and industry research, to aid businesses in implementing FinOps effectively. The foundation also provides a platform for FinOps practitioners to connect, share experiences, and learn from each other.

The FinOps Foundation’s primary objective is to promote collaboration across departments, bringing together technology, business, and finance professionals. It aims to achieve a culture of financial accountability, leading to a more efficient use of technology and a measurable business impact.

 Benefits of FinOps

Cost Savings

One of the most tangible benefits of FinOps is the potential for cost savings. By promoting transparency and accountability in IT spending, FinOps enables businesses to control and optimize their expenditure more effectively.

FinOps doesn’t just aim to cut costs; it emphasizes value-based spending. This means ensuring that every dollar spent is driving the maximum possible value for the business. As a result, businesses can achieve more with less, ultimately leading to significant cost savings.

See it, measure it, improve it

FinOps also promotes cost visibility, which is crucial for efficient financial management. By breaking down silos and fostering collaboration between IT, finance, and business teams, FinOps ensures that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of where and how money is being spent.

This transparency allows businesses to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement. It also enables more informed decision-making, as teams can see the financial implications of their actions.

Know who is accountable

A key principle of FinOps is the concept of cost accountability. This means that every team member, regardless of their role or department, takes responsibility for their impact on the organization’s financial performance.

By fostering a culture of accountability, FinOps encourages teams to consider the financial implications of their decisions. This leads to more cost-effective practices and a greater focus on driving value for the business.

First Principles of FinOps

Teams Need to Collaborate

The first principle of FinOps is collaboration. FinOps is not a top-down approach; it requires input and cooperation from all stakeholders. This includes IT, finance, and business teams, who must work together to manage and optimize the organization’s technology expenditure.

Collaboration is key to breaking down silos and fostering a culture of shared accountability. By working together, teams can align their efforts, share knowledge, and make more informed decisions.

Everyone Takes Ownership for their Cloud Usage

The second principle of FinOps is ownership. In a FinOps model, every team member is responsible for their own cloud usage and its associated costs. This encourages individuals to consider the financial impact of their actions and fosters a sense of accountability.

Ownership is more than just responsibility; it’s about empowerment. By giving team members ownership of their cloud usage, FinOps enables them to take control of their expenditure and optimize their resources for maximum value.

You need a FinOps Center of Excellence

The third principle of FinOps is centralization. While FinOps requires collaboration and ownership from all stakeholders, it also needs a centralized team to drive its implementation.

This team, often known as the FinOps team, is responsible for establishing and enforcing FinOps practices. They act as a bridge between IT, finance, and business teams, facilitating communication and ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned with the organization’s financial goals.

Data and Analytics Should be Accessible and Timely

The fourth principle of FinOps is accessibility and timeliness of reports. FinOps relies on accurate, up-to-date information to drive decision-making. This means that teams need access to timely, relevant data and analytics.

These should be easy to understand and readily available to all stakeholders. This enables teams to monitor their expenditure, track their progress, and make informed decisions based on the latest data.

Ensure Business Value always informs your Decisions

The final principle of FinOps is value-driven decision-making. In a FinOps model, decisions are not made based on cost alone. Instead, teams consider the business value of their cloud usage, ensuring that every dollar spent is driving the maximum possible value.

This shift in focus from cost to value allows businesses to optimize their expenditure, ensuring that they are getting the most out of their technology investments. It also encourages teams to think creatively and innovatively, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with cloud technology.

The FinOps Lifecycle

The FinOps lifecycle is a continuous loop that consists of three main stages: inform, optimize, and operate.


In this phase, accurate and relevant cost data is provided to the business stakeholders. This data is instrumental in providing visibility into how resources are consumed and at what cost.

In this phase, it’s crucial to establish a system of tagging resources, creating a comprehensive and transparent framework for cost allocation. This system facilitates clear communication and accountability within the organization. With this information, stakeholders can understand the cost implications of their actions and make informed decisions.


This phase involves identifying areas for cost reduction and efficiency improvement. In this process, you’ll need to examine your current operations and look for opportunities to save money or increase productivity.

During the optimize phase, you’ll need to leverage your data, gained from the ‘Inform’ phase, and analyze it to identify trends, anomalies, or areas of inefficiency. This may involve renegotiating contracts, consolidating resources, or eliminating unnecessary costs.


This final phase is about implementing the insights gained from the inform and optimize stages. It involves executing the identified strategies and maintaining control over financial operations.

In the operate phase, it’s vital to monitor the implemented changes closely, ensuring they are delivering the expected results. It also involves continually tracking your financial operations to identify any deviations or issues promptly.

Remember, the FinOps lifecycle is not a linear process but a continuous loop. As you operate, you must continue to inform and optimize, ensuring your financial operations remain efficient and effective.

Sounds easy right? Where are the challenges?

While FinOps can bring numerous benefits to an organization, it’s not without its challenges.

These include:

Finding your way through complex cloud pricing models

One of the most significant challenges in managing FinOps is navigating complex cloud pricing models. These models can be difficult to understand, with costs varying based on usage, data transfer, storage, and more.

The challenge here is not just understanding the pricing models, but also predicting and managing costs effectively. This requires a deep understanding of your cloud services and how they are used within your organization.

To overcome this challenge, it’s crucial to develop a robust cost management strategy. This strategy should include regular monitoring and reporting of cloud usage and costs, as well as proactive measures to manage and predict costs.

Breaking down Organizational Silos

Another significant challenge in managing FinOps is overcoming organizational silos. These silos can create barriers to communication and collaboration, hindering the efficient management of financial operations.

To overcome this challenge, it’s crucial to foster a culture of collaboration and transparency within your organization. This involves encouraging open communication between departments and ensuring all stakeholders are aligned on the organization’s financial objectives.

It’s also important to establish clear roles and responsibilities within your FinOps team. This ensures everyone knows what they are responsible for and how their actions impact the organization’s financial operations.

The Cloud is Dynamic and Scalable. So are the costs.

Finally, one of the most challenging aspects of managing FinOps is the dynamic nature of cloud costs. These costs can fluctuate significantly based on usage, making it challenging to predict and manage costs effectively.

To overcome this challenge, it’s crucial to establish a robust system for tracking and monitoring cloud costs. This involves regularly reviewing your cloud usage and costs, identifying trends or anomalies, and taking proactive measures to manage costs.

How to Build a Winning FinOps Strategy

Here are several best practices that will help you build a winning FinOps strategy.

  1. Encourage Open Communication

Create a culture where team members feel comfortable discussing their concerns regarding cloud costs openly. Open communication allows business leaders to understand the various cost drivers and factors affecting cloud expenditure. This understanding is critical for making informed decisions and implementing effective cost control measures.

Furthermore, open communication also fosters a sense of ownership among team members. They become more aware of their roles in managing cloud costs and are more likely to take proactive steps to control expenditure.

  1. Gain Granular Insights into Cloud Spend

Use tools that offer granular insights into cloud spend. This means using tools that provide detailed information about each aspect of the business’s cloud expenditure.

These tools can help businesses identify areas of wastage, inefficiencies, and potential savings. They can also provide insights into usage patterns, which can inform strategic decisions about resource allocation and budgeting.

Moreover, these tools also provide a level of visibility and transparency that can be very beneficial for businesses. This visibility can help business leaders make informed decisions, foster accountability, and encourage more efficient use of resources.

  1. Establish Clear Cloud Governance Policies

Cloud governance policies are a set of rules and guidelines that dictate how the organization’s cloud resources should be used and managed.

A well-defined cloud governance policy can help businesses ensure that their cloud resources are used in a way that aligns with their strategic goals and objectives. It can also help prevent wastage, abuse, and inefficiencies.

Moreover, clear cloud governance policies can also help businesses comply with various regulations and standards. This can protect the business from legal and regulatory risks, and also enhance its reputation.

  1. Leverage Reserved Instances, Savings Plans, or Spot Instances

Reserved instances, savings plans, and spot instances all offer discounted rates in exchange for a commitment to use certain resources for a set period. This can be a very effective way to reduce cloud costs for businesses that have predictable and steady workloads.

However, it’s important to note that these pricing models may not be suitable for all businesses or all types of workloads. Therefore, it’s crucial to carefully analyze the business’s usage patterns and needs before making a commitment.

  1. Use Budgeting and Forecasting

Budgeting and forecasting are critical components of a successful FinOps strategy. Budgeting involves planning how the business’s financial resources will be allocated, while forecasting involves predicting future financial outcomes based on past and present data.

Accurate budgeting and forecasting can help businesses manage their cloud costs more effectively. They can provide a clear picture of the business’s financial situation, which can inform strategic decisions and planning.

Moreover, budgeting and forecasting can also help businesses prepare for potential challenges and opportunities. For example, they can help businesses identify potential cost overruns or areas of savings.

How does aithentic Help?

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Cloud and SaaS Spend Analysis

Today, cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) is cheaper, faster and easier to implement than ever before. Teams acquire infrastructure and apps for their local needs, and while sometimes they deliver value, often they do not, while the contract or subscription goes on being paid from a departmental budget or an unmonitored company credit card.

Without clear ownership and visibility the cost and risk associated with this infrastructure and applications can spiral out of control  This is the curse of ‘Spareware’.

Our platform provides comprehensive spend analysis and insights for Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud and many more leading SaaS providers, enabling you to regain control, optimize spend and reduce operational and reputational risk.

Spend Visibility and Optimization

From procurement through adoption, expansion and renewal, our rich data model and intuitive visualization tools equip you to make informed and confident decisions regarding your spend.

Expertly designed dashboards and reports help you manage the lifecycle of your cloud computing and identify key actions to improve the performance of your investments, spend forecasting, and offer insight into future renewal needs.